Updated: Oct 23, 2019
Yes, “You only live once” but this logic can lead you to struggle and hinder your financial success especially as a student trying to get an education.
By: Julia De la Puente
Getting Job Skills and an Education is an important investment in yourself
We’ve all heard the university student motto, the ever so loud and seemingly inescapable “I am broke”. You yourself probably have said this famous phrase a number of times. But what leads you to being broke and; is there a way out? In today’s world, a purchase is literally just a push of a button, which leads to instant gratification and no need to wait. Why not? You see your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter friends or followers buying products or services such as vacations. In fact, they appear not to be struggling at all and seem to be happy and having fun. You can begin to question yourself and ask why should I not buy what I want, even if I end up broke. In fact I’ve heard this phrase “I am broke” being thrown around with a subtle pride. You might not notice it a first but there is a kind of destructive joy that comes from being reckless with your spending, or life in general. People who meticulously allocate money and restrain from mindless spending tend to be called “uptight” and are told to “live a little”. This is a problem because being frugal is not being uptight, it’s being financial responsible; something that requires discipline; something that can be hard to do in a world of instant gratification. It’s simply too easy to buy things.
“Being frugal is not being uptight it’s being financially responsible"
Take control of your finances
The first thing one needs to do is to take control of their financial life. This is not easy because we are hardwired to give more value to instant gratification rather than long-term success, and our bank account takes the blow. It’s hard when that Hollywood rock star voice tells us to “Go out tonight! Buy everyone a drink!”. This is the voice of reckless spending that can win out most of the time. In fact, studies have shown that if we try and suppress our needs for instant gratification we end up with high anxiety.
“Yes, it’s the coffee example but the point is clear You need to start thinking long term with your finances"
Here’s an example. Let’s compare buying coffee beans rather than buying a cup of coffee. Buying a cup of coffee at your nearest cafe seems like a convenient and low effort choice, instant gratification. Contrarily, going to the supermarket, standing in line, buying the coffee beans, carrying your groceries home, waking up a bit earlier to make your own coffee, sounds like a lot of work just to get a hot drink. Now let’s compare these two in terms of financial success. Let’s say you spend $1.50 each day on your cup of coffee, you’ll be spending around $45 for coffee per month (30 cups). If you decided to buy a 12 oz bag of coffee beans for $15 you would get around 60 cups of coffee out of it for a third of the price. In this example if you choose long-term success over instant gratification you get twice as much for a third of the price. My point is simple and I consider this the golden rule of good money management, “always think long-term”. Thinking long term will pay dividends later in life, especially when it comes to retirement planning because the faster you start, the farther ahead you will be later in life. You will not regret holding back that instant gratification and using your money for example to; pay down debt or to start a small retirement plan.
“You’re now the decision maker and you have to start thinking about your financial goals"
Like myself, being a young adult you will find most of the money management decisions were made by our parents and the future was something that rarely worried us. However, as we have gotten older we are starting to make the tough decisions. The first decision we took with our future in mind was to determine what we wanted to study. Now as a university student it can be hard to start thinking in terms of months rather than days, but this is the first and most important thing one must understand about personal finance. If this is not addressed financial success is almost impossible. I propose a new motto, ditch the “I’m broke”. How about you “Invest today with tomorrow in mind”?