What Financial Responsibility Means to Me
by Laura Bett
Financial responsibility is managing how I earn, spend, and save money so that I can enjoy life while also ensuring I have the financial resources available for future endeavors. For me, financial responsibility is also prioritizing my education to achieve financial independence. As I have grown older, I have learned that some ways of earning money can compete with my educational goals. I have gained an appreciation for the time it takes to earn every dollar and the challenge of finding a balance between saving and spending.
My parents have demonstrated financial responsibility in the way they have raised my sister and me. They created college savings accounts for us when we were born, and have always stressed the value of education. My parents work to pay for what I need and allow me to focus on school. They have also taught me to spend thoughtfully. If I needed a new backpack for school, for example, my parents would spend extra money for a better quality and longer-lasting item. If I wanted an expensive toy, like an American Girl Doll, however, I learned to wait until a special occasion or use the money I had saved from birthday or Christmas gifts.
To have a steady source of income to spend and save, I started my first job as a retail sales specialist at REI in the summer of 2022. During the school year, I only work an average of ten hours per week because my education is my top priority. Some of my classmates work long hours during the week to have more money for entertainment or fashion; this leaves little time to complete homework and they fall behind. Not only are they spending as fast as they earn, but they are also risking the long-term benefits that their education can provide.
Though I also enjoy occasionally treating myself to new clothes or experiences, I understand that the cost of a sweatshirt is almost equivalent to a day of work. Always spending my entire paycheck on a few miscellaneous purchases would be irresponsible. I prefer to save my money for long-awaited desires rather than unnecessary impulses; so with each paycheck, I allocate a percentage to expenses, like gas, and discretionary spending, and place the rest in savings. Having money in my savings account gives me flexibility and freedom to attend the occasional concert with my sister, spontaneously treat myself, or choose a perfect gift for family or friends.
As I approach the end of my high school senior year, I am mindful of saving for college. Though my parents will help me pay for tuition and meals, I will have an increasing responsibility to cover other costs such as travel, outings with friends, and food not included in my meal plan. I am confident that the lessons I have learned so far will lead to financial responsibility and help me achieve my goal of becoming financially independent when I graduate from college.
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