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What My Parents and Ice Cream Taught Me about Budgeting

How one college student learned saving and budgeting from a very early age

We learn our financial habits at a very young age and it’s important for parents to make saving and budgeting a part of their children’s education. They may not always be able to budget as well as you like but the seeds of financial responsibility will eventually bloom.

Today’s essay is by Kylie Forbes, a student at Kent State University. Her story is an important look at how parents can gradually teach their kids about saving and money through taking responsibility for their own bills.

Check out Kylie’s story and please share on social media. The most-shared essay on how parents can teach their kids about money will win our $500 personal finance scholarship, announced August 31st!

Looking for more ideas on teaching you kids about money? Check out this huge roundup post of 36 expert ideas on teaching kids money saving tips.

My First Money Lesson about Saving

I can still remember the day my father sat me down for our very first talk regarding money. I was around the age of nine or so at the time. That same day, he and I had gone to the pool in my town. After an hour or so of thrashing around in the water and attempting to swim, I’d gained a bit of an appetite, and thus came running back to my father in search of a snack.

After fumbling around in the family beach bag, he finally tossed me five dollars to get an ice cream bar at the concession stand. When I returned, he asked for the change. My only reply was a very sheepish look. After I had gotten my ice cream bar and four dollars change, I decided it best to buy my new friends that I’d made while waiting in line ice cream as well. Later on, once my father and I were back at home, he explained to my young mind that spending money without thinking isn’t a good habit. In the end, I batted my big brown eyes and apologized. Being daddy’s little girl, he wasn’t upset for long.

Learning to Save Money and My First Job  

As the years passed, any money that I’d gotten my hands on was quickly spent on anything I could impulsively think of at the time. Whether it had been a new shirt at the mall or candy at the store, I wasn’t known to be much of a money saver. Christmas and birthday money was gone within weeks of receiving it. Once I finally became of age to get a job, my parents immediately pushed me to find something to keep me occupied over the summer. I ended up working the front register at my local Wendy’s fast food restaurant.

learned budgeting and saving from parentsAt sixteen, saving my money continued to never be an option. My parents quickly took control of the issue and began asking me to pay for my cell phone bill. If I didn’t, my phone would be shut off for the rest of the month. This threat instantly created a goal that I strived to achieve monthly.

When I finally got my car at the age of 17, my monthly saving goal rose quite a bit due to insurance. This also created the newest threat of my car being taken away if bills aren’t paid. Though it was a rough transition from what my habits with money once were, I truly thank my parents for breaking them and showing me how important it is to save money.

Sometimes the threat of not having a cellphone or car is the only way to reach kids about saving and budgeting. Eventually, they’ll need to switch to saving to have things in the future rather than the immediate reward of having something now.

One of the most important tools in learning to make saving a part of your budget is to really visualize the things you want for the future. Don’t try saving for some vague idea of retirement decades in the future, it’s just not enough motivation. Develop a mental picture around where you’ll retire, what you’ll do each day and other benefits to a lifetime of saving. Make your goals real and imagine your picture a few times a month when you need motivation to save money and budget.

Technology to the Rescue to Help Teach Budgeting

Today, as a young college student that’s just scraping by with a minimum wage job and also taking summer classes, I now understand what it takes to save and truly be responsible with money. The summer before my first semester at Kent State, my mother quickly opened my eyes to how much money was really going out to help me get my education, and how important financial stability is to a student in college.

As a nurse at our local emergency room, my mother works over 40 hours a week to try and make a dent in my student loans, not to mention keep a household afloat. I thank her every day for her love and strong support in my dreams, as it easily reflects in how hard she works to pay my tuition every month. My phone bill and car insurance payments have recently been taken over by my parents, as they know that my work hours have been cut very short due to my summer classes.

Education comes before everything in my household, and my parents want nothing more than to see me succeed and achieve my dreams of becoming an Occupational Therapist. With the help of an app called “My Weekly Budget”, I have been able to continue to be successfully responsible with my small finances. The app helps me to keep track of my day to day spending, and has trained me to stop overspending and buying impulsively.

Budgeting is tough, especially when you’re carrying a full schedule of courses and working for peanuts. Top it off with the fact that most of us have deeply-learned financial habits and sometimes you need to trick your budget to save more money. Check out these five budget tricks you won’t believe actually work!

Being a very busy college student that’s always on the run, I don’t always have time to check my bank account online and see what’s in there after my monthly apartment rent is taken out. Luckily, the app keeps me up to date on my weekly spending amount I set for myself. With the support of my family and friends, I will continue being a financially responsible college student and achieve my goals I have set for myself along the way to graduation.

I want to thank Kylie for her essay on how she has learned to budget over the years. It’s tough budgeting and saving with all the other stresses of life and a limited income but the good financial habits young people learn early will make them better savers as adults. Be sure to support Kylie by sharing the article through social media and check in August for the winner of the personal finance scholarship.

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