By Samuel Woo
Financial responsibility is more important than ever in today’s society. In a growing culture of apathy and ignorance, I believe that it is vital for people— especially in the younger generation— to take charge of their financial situations and lay foundations for their future.
I would consider myself lucky to live in a home that values financial responsibility. Ever since I was a kid, my dad has taught me the basics of finance, just like his parents and grandparents did to him. From emptying my piggybank into a coin machine to applying for my first job as a referee to discussing the stock market on long car rides, my dad has always incorporated important financial lessons within our conversations. Through these moments, I have found that financial responsibility means fundamentally two things: knowing how to manage money and knowing how to spend money. These two concepts require much wisdom, discipline, and sacrifice on the part of the individual and are not always easy to do well.
When I was young, I loved organizing money into neat stacks and towers on my bedroom floor… and that was all I knew about managing money. Only until around eighth grade did my dad begin teaching me the importance of real-life money management. Not only did I learn how to save money within bank accounts, but I also learned how to set financial goals for those savings. I learned that good money management requires a sense of planning— both for the present and future— and also a sense of awareness of where money is kept. Now, as I head toward college, new management challenges will arise, such as staying out of debt and budgeting for expenses.
The second part of financially responsibility is the art of spending money. Unlike managing— which deals with financial organization and safety— spending is different because it means the active utilization of money. As teenager, I realize that overspending can lead to bad habits, especially when most purchases nowadays are a card swipe away. Although I am occasionally guilty of overspending on stuff like fast-food or clothes, I also try to set limits on what I buy and prioritize “needs” over “wants.” In addition to this, I also invest my money. By investing in things like mutual funds, I am utilizing my money in a productive way that sparks financial growth. Although spending wisely is difficult sometimes, I believe that doing so will produce a greater, more long-term reward.
The closer I get to leaving home and living on my own, the more I realize the important of financial responsibility. Although I am still learning how to manage and spend my money, I know that setting a good financial foundation for my life now will help me accomplish so much more in the future. I plan to use what I have learned from my family and past experiences to live a financially responsible life and to empower others to do the same.
The Freedman Financial Associates Inc. Scholarship was created to heighten the awareness of personal financial planning, and fiscal responsibility among graduating high school seniors. Now in its 21st year, the Freedman Financial has collectively awarded more than $20,000 to past winners.
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