The importance of priorities is something that has been preached to me for a long time, but once I got to college and began having to deal with my own finances I truly understood the importance of priorities. Having to monitor and maintain my own finances showed me that while many items have similar prices, not every item has the same value.
When I first got to college, I would go out with my friends and spend money on food, entertainment and gas regularly. I didn’t think about it too much because I was enjoying myself and wanted to experience new things. Sadly, I very quickly realized how much money I was spending and began to stress about how I could afford to regularly go out with my friends. Through this stress I began to realize that going out with my friends and spending money didn’t have to be something I did so much that I caused financial problems for myself. I could still have plenty of fun with my friends and even go out and spend money sometimes, but I had to prioritize my spending.
This realization made me question everything I was spending my money on. Going out with my friends to grab a coffee was now something I began to question rather than just doing it. While this questioning did cause me some extra stress initially, it eventually ended up helping me out a lot. Instead of questioning if I should go out and spend money and deciding not to, I would just decide I would go out with friends and not spend money. The whole reason I was going out in the first place was to enjoy time with my friends and have fun, so why did I need to spend money for no reason while doing it? Instead of grabbing an expensive meal or drink, I began realizing that my main priority was to enjoy time with my friends, not spend money, and my actions should show that.
By prioritizing what I actually cared about, I began to stop wasting money on pointless things and was able to save money for things that were important to me. If a new video game came out and I was debating buying it, I would ask myself where in my list of priorities that game fit into and if it was worth it. If I decided that the video game did not align with my financial priorities then I wouldn’t buy it and I would save that money for something that was a top priority for me. Whenever I make a big financial decision I always try to think about my priorities and see if that purchase aligns with my priorities. This can be very difficult at times, especially when I really want to buy an expensive pair of shoes, but if buying those shoes means I won’t be able to afford a whole lot of food next month, I have to make the right decision for myself. Food is something I view as a very high priority, and as a result, I am willing to budget extra money into my food expenses but I make sure to use it the right way. While food may be a high priority, a $15 meal at a restaurant is of far less importance to me than $15 worth of groceries as I know that one can last a lot longer than the other. I would be far more willing to spend that money at a grocery store because it will help me have food over a longer period of time rather than just that night, and since food is one of my main priorities, this makes sense for me.
Having priorities does not mean that I completely fail to have any fun because I refuse to buy anything that doesn’t meet my specific requirements. If my friends are going out for food but I know I can’t afford it or do not want to spend a lot, I will either suggest doing something else or just buy something small. Since enjoying time with friends and being financially independent are two very important goals for me, I do my best to try and balance both of those things to ensure that I can still have fun but not lose track of my priorities.