Learning Money-Management Skills Requires Tough Decisions
Bode, Megan, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
During college, I was fortunate to not have to worry much about money. My campus identification card always had just enough "food points" to cover three square meals a day, plus the occasional late- night pizza. For three years, I lived in the dorms, and my housing bill was simply tacked onto the price of tuition. Because my food and housing weren't a concern, I was able to use the money I made through part-time and summer jobs for buying clothes and going out with friends.
I knew that I was extremely lucky to have my parents footing the tab, but beyond being thankful, I didn't truly reflect on the cost of living. Instead, I focused on my studies, my school activities and my friends. I wasn't alone. Many of my classmates, even those with student loans, never had managed their own money before, and were putting off thinking about it until after graduation.
Now, one year out and firmly established in the real world, my friends and I all have quickly learned a lot about budgeting and responsibility. This summer, for instance, I elected to live at home rather than sublet an apartment on the South Side -- a move which, over the course of three months, likely saved me $1,200. My fiance, Matt, and I pack lunch often, rather than purchasing deli sandwiches that each cost about the same as a week's worth of meat, cheese and bread. And we take the "T" into work every day, avoiding the price of gas and city parking rates.
At first, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of giving up something like a comfortable car ride in favor of metal seats and mass transit. But as we got into the routine, I fell in love with it: no stop and start traffic, no blaring of car horns, no worrying that an accident would make me late for work. Instead, I got an extra 40 minutes to read a book, talk with Matt or even just rest my head on his shoulder.
Although I've become semi-savvy about saving, part of what this past year has taught me is that I'm nowhere near where I need to be in terms of budgeting. …