College students should learn to manage their money
Remember when you were a little kid and your parents gave you your allowance? You would eagerly rush to spend it, maybe even that same day, because that dollar was burning a hole in your pocket and you needed to buy candy or some other useless junk.
That might seem like something that happened a long time ago, but some of us never grew out of the habit.
Recently, a 22-year-old college student called into an Atlanta radio show, The Bert Show, to share with listeners how she blew her $90,000 college tuition fund on a trip to Europe and new clothes. The rising senior, who went by Kim to protect her identity, now has to come up with $20,000 to pay for her remaining year of school.
In a follow-up segment on the show, Kim blamed her parents for her financial woes.
“Maybe they should have taught me how to budget a little bit more carefully,” she said. “They never sat me down and had a real serious talk about it.”
Now, I do not believe that this student’s parents are at fault for her outrageous spending habits. She must take responsibility for her own actions; she’s an adult, and she’s accountable for the decisions she makes, financial or otherwise.
But, she does raise an important point about parents and their role in preparing us for our futures, which include, hopefully, a lot of money.
I can confess that I know next to nothing about how the financial world works. The stock market is an enigma that, quite frankly, I’m afraid to even think about. Checks confuse me and I even have a hard time working the vacuum tubes at the bank drive-thru.
Despite this, I’ve tried to learn everything I can about the money I have and the money I hope to make in the future.
My parents have always impressed upon my siblings and me the need to budget effectively and save what we earn. I’m naturally a frugal person, so I’ve never had a problem with putting my money away for safekeeping. I keep a constant eye on my accounts and even have my bank text me when I make a purchase, so I know exactly how much I spent and how much is still left of my account balance.
I think a lot of parents assume that their kids will just learn and pick up on these things by themselves. Some might not think it’s necessary for them to sit down and have a frank discussion with their kids about finances. They think that their children will learn it in school.
Personally, I have never in my life had a teacher talk to me about anything remotely related to personal finance. I took economics like every other kid, but all that did was teach me about how our economy works.
It didn’t teach me how to write a check. It didn’t teach me how to balance a budget. It didn’t teach me about loans, interest, credit and everything else I would need to know to become a functioning member of the financial world.
That’s where parents step in. They can teach us, the next generation, how to take over the economy when they’re gone. They can show us how to deal with our money, how to save and budget, so we can prosper in the future.
It is, however, not all their responsibility.
We have an obligation, to ourselves and the future society we will carry, to learn about money and how to handle it properly. That means we have to become involved in our own financial situations, without making poor excuses or letting ourselves live in blissful ignorance.
We can’t continue to be little kids, spending our allowances the day we get them on candy or toys.
Sure, we should treat ourselves every now and then, but those decisions should be made wisely. Part of becoming an adult is realizing just exactly what is worth the price.
Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.