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Anelle Mensah Headshot

'Livin' La Vida Loca' -- Not La Vida Broka!

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Jupiterimages via Getty Images
Jupiterimages via Getty Images

Following months of restless searching and the continuous submission of applications, acquiring my first job at a grocery chain was perhaps one of the most exciting times of my life. While the prospect of becoming an adult and being a part of their high-stress world thrilled me (HA!), I knew that the actual root of my excitement was finally earning money!

Living in a household where an allowance is a laughable idea, the only source of income I can earn is through working. I began to imagine all of the wonderful possibilities that could emerge from this job -- the independence, the experience, the money -- but then, I had a sudden realization: I was a high school student, and while I was now beginning to shoulder more mature responsibilities, I was still a senior who was easily excited by the newest deals and sales. If I allowed myself to fall further down the rabbit hole of spending, I would never be able to return -- plus, I would have no money left to support my family -- or myself.

As panic began to ensue, I managed to alleviate some of my fears by breathing, then by comprehending the fact that while I had not yet made any outlandish purchases (I have not used my money for anything other than school and financial matters for my family), that could happen -- at any given time if I could not resist the urge to spend. I smiled, recognizing that it was never too late to begin budgeting my money, and began to seek out ways to enact my plan. You do not want limitations placed on you when you are starting to gain freedom, but there will be times when they are necessary. After some thought, I arrived on some methods to bring about some ease to this different and, truthfully, somewhat terrifying idea.

Think Of Money As What Is (at Least, to Me!) -- a Reward

Now, before I received this job, I had not one penny to my name. I was not involved in an internship program or had the privilege of generous family members who were willing to spare a few dollars as allowances, presents, etc. Truth be told, I am now beginning to accept the fact that there is this force that constantly pushes me to act somewhat stingily when it comes to my money. Perhaps, this is the musings of a girl who never possessed a great deal of it, and while I am not a self-proclaimed "penny-pincher," I easily consider myself a saver more than a spender.

This is a peculiar statement, seeing that I love all things fashion and I, more often that not, find myself lusting over the trends that consume our stores, boutiques and malls. However, since I reside in a small town with little access to these fashion outlets, it has made this way of thinking easier to execute. According to Statistic Brain, "41 percent of girls age 13-18 bought 10 or more items of clothing in the past six months." If boundaries are not established, this rate will soar. Do not let this newfound freedom get to your head -- begin to treat money with care, as you should, or this will result in you blowing it all away. Please keep in mind that I am not, in any way, advocating that you suddenly becoming a miser, but be sure to think before you do. Throwing money away on a whim never ends well.


This case may only apply to me, but now that I have this job, my parents are increasingly suggesting that I rely on myself for money. Yes, they are still financially supportive of me in matters that I am unable to handle, but they tell me that "with great power comes great responsibility." Perhaps, you find yourself in a similar situation and are worried with how exactly to cope with this magnificent task.

My advice? Map everything out! Allow yourself funds that you are able to use to purchase that new game you have been eyeing for these past months or that pair of shoes that have been on the top of your wish list for what seems to feel like an eternity. Following that, save money elsewhere. Is money tight at home and your parents feel that they are incapable of mustering the required cash for a field trip you would like to attend or a program you yearn to partake in at school? Stock money in an account intended for savings, a jar that can be concealed from those with sticky fingers, or a piggy back (no judgment here!) if you still own one. Continue this process, regardless of how gradual it may seem, and if you are able to remain both smart and strict, you can achieve your goal in no time.

Be Patient

That idea is definitely easier said than done. As weeks progressed, I could no longer deny the frustration emerging within me as time seemed to be moving -- rather slowly. If you deem yourself to be a chronic spender, this anger is a lot more difficult to control. Consider this: Googolplex states that "many teenagers say that they spend their money within one week of getting their paychecks." If you were to refrain from splurging your income on clothing, food or something with little substance simply because you possess the power to do so, this chance is easier to realize.

You may feel like ripping your head off from not being able to utilize your money as much as you want to and these suggestions may even prove to be such a stark contrast that you may feel unprepared to enact it fully, but remember -- more money is far better no money! There is nothing wrong with a splurge now and then but be mindful of debt, approaching bill deadlines and the amount of money within your accounts!