As I step up to the ATM, my heart begins to race and my card feels hot in my grasp. I reluctantly slide the plastic into the metal beast, type in my pin and hit “check balance.” The wait feels endless.

I clutch the receipt and hold my breath as I turn it over.

Thank goodness. Enough money to get me through the next few weeks is all I need.

A rather large spectrum exists regarding the financial statuses of college students.

Some of my friends live an easier lifestyle. Their tuition is covered out of the pockets of their parents, and $100 magically shows up in their account each weekend to help with daily needs or wants.

On the other hand, some of my friends work hard to afford their daily needs. These are the friends I can relate the most to.
I have absolutely zero parental contribution.

I live off campus, and my rent comes out of my own pocket. I have a heavy reliance on financial aid, and whatever isn’t covered is my problem to be dealt with.

I worked three jobs this summer in hopes of buying a car. Although I’m still working on that, I’m proud of what my savings account looks like thus far.

I grew up in a somewhat financially unstable household. My parents were constantly teaching me about the value of a dollar, most likely because they hadn’t learned about it early enough themselves.

When I was young, I’d listen to the stories of the extravagant shopping sprees on which my friends had went.

I was allowed to get new clothes only when I had grown out of them or the buttons had fallen off.

I’ve never understood materialism or having an overwhelming amount of possessions. I didn’t even get a cellphone until eighth
grade.

The values that my parents have instilled in me have never been more prevalent in my life than right now at college.

I’d say that I’m doing a little extra to get by, but whatever it takes to be present and earn my degree, I’ll do in a heartbeat.

I praise the students who work and still make it to class on time. These people go unnoticed, but it truly is an admirable feat.

It’s hard enough to get good grades in general. Having to worry about groceries, bills and rent, on top of getting good grades — I’d say that’s a whole other battle in itself.

In our materialistic world, it’s hard to keep up.

When your friends want to go downtown every weekend, there goes $20. Perhaps they want to go out for dinner; that’s another $10. Textbooks, notebooks and that stupid graphing calculator add a few more hundred dollars into the mix.

A financially independent person has no choice but to get a job in order to maintain monetary stability.

However, financial independence is an extremely beneficial trait to possess. Your parents won’t (or shouldn’t) be putting money into your wallet forever. One day, to fend for yourself in this big, scary money-sucking world you’ll have only yourself to rely on.

So, perhaps it’s a prudent idea to get a part-time job and start saving now, even if it doesn’t seem pressing.

I promise you that working your ass off and gaining skills of independence is absolutely worth every penny.

Email Courtney Casey at courtney.casey@cardinalpointsonline.com

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<a href="https://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/courtney-casey/" rel="tag">Courtney Casey</a>