Picture from: http://holmanfence.com/
It's kind of a counter-intuitive idea: boundaries bring freedom. Yet, you don't really know this to be true until you truly give it a try. When you put up a fence around your yard, it gives your kids or dogs the freedom to roam wherever they want without the worry of them going too far or getting lost. If you didn't have a fence you would be on constant worry where they were, what they were doing, who they might encounter, etc. We have to put fences up in a lot of areas of our lives; in our relationships, in our time management, and in our finances. I'm strong believer that by putting up these fences and putting boundaries in place you are granted this freedom from some of life's stresses and worries.
I have three words for you. Budget. Budget. Budget. When you hear these words as a college student with limited funds it is daunting. How can you budget when you have nothing to budget? This may be true, but chances are you have some kind of income whether it come from your parents, work study, or part-time job. It is important to know where that money is going. They don’t teach you these things in high school. I like to think of college as the bridge between life under your parents' roof to life under your own roof, or to “adulting” as some people might say. It is a time to develop habits you should have in taking on life’s responsibilities. So, whether you have $2.50 or $250 in your bank account, budgeting is a very important habit to get into. I’m in my senior year of college and I’m just now witnessing the importance of it.
I have never been a planner or very good at organizing, I just take life on as it comes and wing it as I go. This worked pretty well for a long time. Even in my first year of college it didn’t put me into many deep holes. In my sophomore year of college, I got the first planner that I committed to using. Before, I would get so stressed and discouraged by using planners that I’d give up on them. I now have been using the same brand for three years! I keep track of my assignments and projects, my tasks that need to get done that week, the things that need to be delegated and most importantly the time frame of what I’m doing and when. This allowed me to know what I had for free time, for study time, for everything. Then, when I was having time for myself, I didn’t have to feel guilty about not doing something else because everything had a time slot. I share this because I learned that by setting up boundaries in my schedule it allowed me to have freedom in my free time; freedom from guilt, from worry or anxiety, and freedom from life’s stress. By having a schedule and a plan, I was able to be more down to earth, more productive and more relaxed, which are all the reasons of why I didn’t want a plan at all.
Budgeting works the same way. By setting up a budget and boundaries in our finances, we are given a freedom: freedom from the worry that this money is suppose to be used for something else. You will have freedom from the stress that you are going to be short on a particular bill when it comes up. Additionally you will have freedom from future anxiety when you are able to budget for savings. Whether it’s a lot or a little you can get in the habit of budgeting what you have. Some aids to help in this process is to ask someone to help you. Look for resources that teach about budgeting, and find a budgeting buddy and grow in budgeting together (this also makes for great accountability). It is going to take some time to build the habit, and you may go through some discouragement as you start, but persevere and figure it out, because your future self is going to thank you. The responsibilities are only going to increase, so don't let the stress of responsibility increase too. If you can be trusted with little, you can be trusted with much.