Hey there, Aliah here. At some point we all come to a time in our lives where money begins to play a pretty big role. It influences our lives heavily in today’s society, and therefore dictates our standard of living, our satisfaction; even, in some cases, our happiness.
There exists an actual principle called “the more the better”. What this denotes is fairly obvious; the more you consume as a consumer, the better off you’ll be. This can pose problems when it comes to this “time in our lives” where we’re in the transition state between being dependant and independent. Last fall, I began my first term of university. As you can imagine, it was a pretty exciting time of my life: a new location, new friends–a new lifestyle. On top of all of this: a new budget.
Most of us have had adequate practice in balancing funds come this time in our lives with part time jobs and whatever expenses we face in high school, be they phone bills, car insurance payments or even just an evening at the movies and some food once in a while. Savings, too–I worshiped my savings account. What comes next can vary slightly, depending on your allotment of spare time and/or time demanded by your studies. In the chapter of my life that followed high school, my studies weren’t as merciful as I had hoped they’d be when it came to spare time, so I didn’t take on a part-time job. What this means is that… I had a finite quantity of money and ongoing expenses. To be fair, my student loan peeps allotted me adequate money for survival during my first year of studies: we’re talking a couple to a few grand, depending (emphasis on that). However, though this may seem like a dream-come-true or like I could’ve begun considering what colour I wanted my Ferrari to be (lol jk), vividly bear in mind that living expenses can change a lot in the transition from dependence to independence. I try to be pretty responsible with my money; I’ve learned to appreciate the value of a dollar, but that doesn’t change the fact that the government wants you to owe them as little $$ as possible.
You discover pretty quickly that you don’t have as much money as you thought you did. I did, at least. In such a situation lies the value of budgeting. There’s no doubt that creating a budget (figuring out how much money you can comfortably spend over a certain time interval-something Catapult advocates) is extremely beneficial when it comes to learning how to live within your means; something I didn’t feel was necessary in my first term due to overwhelming funds. However, my initial perception of this freedom was flawed; come the following semester, I owed more than I was allotted. Thankfully, I had some leftover funds remaining from the previous semester so I didn’t have to get a part-time job that would compromise my studies. What I did have to do was develop a self-awareness when it came to my expenditures; sort of like a mental budget. I pretty much continually evaluated dollars spent over time, and compared that with how much time I had left to stretch the funds I had leftover. If I hadn’t gained the skills required to do this, I would probably be immensely more stressed about finances than I currently am. Handling a finite amount of money over a finite amount of time requires such skill, and I am very thankful to have had Catapult assist me in my application of this skill in the real-life circumstances that followed high school.
Best of luck in your future endeavours, fellow Catapulters.
Aliah, Catapult 2012