Why are you in school? C’mon. Why are you in school…really?! You must have grand expectations for your future career goals and are thinking of other great things to do with your degree. Believe me, everyone here at Tulsa Community College is hoping that these come true for you. But, at the end of the day (for many students at least), it comes down to one word: money. Of course, students want to be a success in the workplace and at life. It’s also nice to have a little financial security too. I suspect that you have thought about your dream home. You know, the one with the theater room and the backyard Koi pond. You might also have dreams about the perfect car to take you and your family to your vacation home in Aspen. Am I close yet?
While these dreams are not entirely unrealistic, they can be difficult to achieve. Unfortunately, many students have the impression that someone will greet them at graduation with an awesome job and a large starting salary. Some students might be this lucky, but it doesn’t really happen for the rest of us. You will need to (what some people call) “pay your dues” and work your way to that six-figure dream job. It will take some time, but be patient. And, if that job never comes, you can still live very comfortably with a bit of money management.
For millionaires and minimum wage earners alike, proper money management really comes down to knowing the difference between two very simple terms: “wants” and “needs." Do these terms sound familiar to you? They should. These are ideas that even your middle school instructors tried to explain to you as you slep…I mean, paid close attention in their classes. Do you know the difference between “wants” and “needs?" If nightly gaming marathons have erased these terms from your vocabulary, let me try to help. Here is a very, very basic definition:
“Needs” - Items that contribute to your daily survival:
· food/drink (and I don’t mean steak or beer – ramen noodles and water could work)
· hygiene products (toothpaste and deodorant, not perfume and hair products)
· clothing (yes, you can still be “cool” without name brand clothes)
· shelter (basic utilities are included here, but not cable television)
“Wants” – Everything else.
Once you truly start to understand and embrace these concepts, you are able to budget your monthly income wisely and carefully.
Activity: Let’s try something. I am going to give you a list of items, and I want you to determine which of these are “wants” and which of these are “needs.” Ready? Set? GO!
|20 oz. Dr. Pepper||Perfume / Cologne||2007 Honda Civic EX|
|McDonald's French Fries||Can of Red Bull||Netflix Subscription|
|High-Speed Internet||Concert Tickets||Playstation 4|
Did you see my little trick here? While you might feel that some of these items are “needs” in your personal life, these are in fact all “wants.” This means that your life would be just fine without them; there are suitable alternatives. In fact, I want you to take a few moments and think about (or discuss with your classmates) why these items are “wants” and what you can do to replace them with cheaper alternatives.
Now that you understand the basic difference between “wants” and “needs,” I would like you to do something. On a piece of paper, make a list of the wants and needs in your own life right now. After you review the list, is there anything you could do differently to help your money management? Take a few minutes to complete this, and be prepared to discuss your findings with the class.
Please follow the link to view the document containing the exercise. You will need Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office to view the document. Adobe Reader can be downloaded at: https://get.adobe.com/reader/ . You can download Microsoft Office through Blackboard: follow instructions on the “Student Resources” tab.
Read all instructions for the exercise thoroughly.
That’s it for me. Thanks for your attention and your work through this activity. I know that managing your money can be a bit stressful, and there are always new things to think about. With proper techniques and a positive attitude, you can do it! And, while this scenario has you living on your own, this is still a few months/years away for some of you. So, in the meantime, please go home tonight…and thank your parents for everything they provide.
For those of you who are already living on your own and managing your monthly finances, how was this exercise? Was it close to reality? Are there any missing items? If you don’t mind, would you take a few moments to discuss your reality with the class? I know they would be very thankful to hear from you.
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