|Managing Money: From the Mentors
The most important thing when it comes to budgeting is figuring out what is important enough to buy. No matter how much money you make, this should be a question in your mind before you buy anything. A lot of my friends go out and buy ridiculously expensive items with their own hard-earned money. These items will be gone in a year or two, but they buy them anyway: tire rims, stereo systems, iPods and other "cool" things that they really don't need. I think that by not buying these things and just spending your money on what you really do need, you will budget your money much better and have more money later on. For the most part, I spend most of my money on food. By only spending money on food, I always have enough when I am hungry! So you really need to choose what is more important to you and budget your money around that.
I only had two sources of 'income' in my pre-teen years. One were the 'red packets' I received for Chinese New Year. My grandparents and parents were usually generous enough so that I won't be broke throughout the year. The 'red packets' also carried blessings for me so they are especially meaningful, and I saved up a large part of them. The other occasion for which I was given money was summer time. I usually spent my summers with my grandparents and my sister and I each got a huge allowance for those two months. We carefully drew up shopping lists way ahead of summer (like during
spring break) and we noted down each of our expenses in detail, like where we
bought it, the day we made the purchase, and how much we spent on it. It was a good experience and also good practice, I think. I spent most of that money on books and also some on clothes.
I feel I manage my money pretty well. I keep track of what money goes where. I make sure I only keep about five to ten dollars in my wallet for emergencies (like "whoops, forgot breakfast!"). I try not to spend money on leisure things like CD's, DVD's, and headphones, although those could arguably be essentials (just kidding). I do not have a job. I get money from scholarships and financial aid related things. I am a full-time (or rather over-time) student and 95% of the money I save up goes to school. The other 5% goes into stocks and mutual funds, and savings. So for now, my budget is tight. I think it's important to have money on hand, but not too much because then you will be compelled to spend it. Having a balance of your money between savings, necessary things, and fun stuff is also a good idea. Try to figure out what percentage of your money goes in each category based on your priorities. Maybe you don't need to save a whole lot of money, so a greater percentage would be in fun stuff or school. But it is always important to save some money. Good luck! Remember that money is fun. Don't get caught up in working hard, but in working smart!
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