It’s been a while since the last installment in this column was released. After our talk on building relationships, it’s safe to say that we’re good to begin actual adulting tasks like budgeting, time management, and securing jobs and internships. Whether you’ve decided to go to college or not, it’s ideal to think about the future and how you’ll be able to support yourself financially. Being in control of your money and time is crucial.
When I first moved out to attend college, I was given a large amount of money for the first few months of expenses, all in cash. The first “adulting” task I had on my agenda was getting a saving account and a debit card. Back in my home country, we mostly dealt with cash, so I’d never really used a credit or debit card before. If you’re considering getting a card, I highly suggest it! I chose a debit card, because I didn’t want to spend money I didn’t already have. (However, collecting credits by using a credit card will be beneficial for you in the future, too.)
Benefits of a card:
There are different ways to save money and budget your spending. To be honest, I don’t recall having read any books or articles on budgeting (although I’ve read a few to research for this article). Coming from a Southeast Asian family, my mom raised us to spend money logically. Her mantra: only buy things you need. Everything else is a privilege. I eventually came to realize that drawing a line between what I want and what I need really makes a difference in how I spend my money.
I’m not here to judge anyone on how they spend their money, especially if they earned it through hard work. But because I’m mostly supported by my parents at this age, I think it’s great to think carefully before I spend their hard-earned money.
You might think that it’s easier said than done, but after a few tries, you’ll realize that it’s easier to say no to buying things than you once thought! I’m going to save you the trouble of reading about tips like writing down everything you bought or setting aside money for different uses. If you truly wanted to buy something, you would cast all that aside and spend the money anyway. The trick is to train yourself to consume less, to realize that you don’t need everything stores are telling you that you need. (Advertising is pretty deceiving, as we all know.)
The key to saving is having a reason for it. You won’t just spend less if there’s no motivation behind it. Why are you saving? Are you looking to travel, buy an apartment, get a dog, or buy your mom something nice? Even if it’s not a long-term motivation like saving for a house or a car, saving to travel in a year or two can be enough of a motivation.
Like budgeting, managing time is about your mentality. I rank the things that are important to me and spend my time accordingly. If work is more important to you than school, and you would rather be gaining experience than taught knowledge, go to school part-time and work the rest. If you want to get a degree and are less concerned about work for now, spend effort on school and complete internships in the summertime. The first step to managing your time is knowing what you have to and want to do. Make a list, if it helps.
Have a brief plan of what you’re doing tomorrow. Sometimes it works for people to plan their whole week, but this doesn’t do it for me. I note important, solid things for the week, but my daily tasks are planned the night before. This allows flexibility—I don’t feel pressured to do anything.
Try to never put tasks back-to-back. Allow time in between so that you don’t suffocate yourself or overwork. This will eventually wear you out and make you work less effectively.
JOBS AND INTERNSHIPS
Back to knowing what your priorities are—knowing whether you want experiences or extra cash. I’m specifically targeting people who are in school, who don’t have the time to build a long-term career. Websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor constantly list open part-time positions. Another option is internships. Some websites that were helpful for me were internships.com, Glassdoor, and Indeed. You can search for the field you want and apply some filters to narrow the results. Often, it’s not hard to get in touch with companies, and all you need is a resume or portfolio.
Asking around and going on social media are also good ways of finding internships. Build a profile for yourself on LinkedIn, start or update your portfolio, and save it as a PDF. While you’re looking, you can still be preparing. Your interests, activities, and experiences with volunteering or organizing events will be incredibly helpful when you’re being interviewed for a job or internship.
Cover image by Rockie Nolan.