When I was 15 years old, my mom put me on my first budget. I had just gotten my driver’s license, my first cell phone, and had a roaring social life. All of this equated to higher expenses. So as a high school freshman, I was given my first checkbook, my first credit card, and a monthly budget of $200.
Now $200 sounded like a lot at the time, especially to my friends who couldn’t get over my huge “allowance”. But this money had to cover the costs of practically everything in my life (exceptions: medical expenses and extracurricular activities). When my money was gone, it was gone. There was no asking Mom for anything extra. I simply had to wait until the first of the next month and in the meantime, figure out what I could have done differently to stretch my dollars.
What My $200/Month Paid For
- School lunch
- Gas for my car
- Cell phone bill
- Restaurants (with friends, not with family)
- Personal Care & Beauty (getting my hair done, hair products, makeup)
- Savings (10%)
- Tithing (10%)
I quickly learned what was important to me and what wasn’t. As my friends were buying nachos and monster cookies from the classy deli section of the school cafeteria, I was in the regular lunch line spending my $2 on a plain old sandwich. When I’d go to the movies, I soon realized that the $10 for popcorn and soda just wasn’t worth it. I took time at the mall before deciding if I actually needed that really cute pair of shoes. And that super fancy shampoo and conditioner all the girls were buying? I walked right past it and picked up a bottle of Dove.
At the same time, I was also given my first credit card. I was advised to pick one thing to use it for to help build my credit. So each time I went to fill up on gas, I pulled out my Visa and at the end of each month, I’d pay my balance off in full.
To be honest, I don’t remember it ever being hard to figure out how to wisely spend my money. I felt like I had a certain power by being able to choose if I wanted to save my cents or blow it all at once. By giving me a budget, I automatically had more responsibility and control over my money, causing me to become a conscious spender.
By the time I started college, I already had 4 years of budgeting experience under my belt and a pretty darn good credit score. College was already overwhelming enough and I’m so thankful that navigating the world of money wasn’t something I had to deal with on top of figuring out my class schedules and living on my own for the first time.
In the future when I have my own children, budgeting at a young age is definitely something I want to implement. To this day, I am still so incredibly grateful to my mom for teaching me money sense early on in life.
This post is dedicated to you, Mama Rox. Thank you for teaching me your frugal ways and for your infinite wisdom. Love you always!
How did you learn to budget?