John A. – Cabrillo High School

With the mounting debts and loans people have to carry, more specifically, adults, financial literacy is becoming more important now than ever. Financial struggle is not a concept lost from many people; however, it is not impossible to rid yourself of the burden of debt. As young adults, it is important that we educate ourselves with our finances and realize that it is our responsibility to take charge of it not only to save ourselves from a deep financial hole, but to set an example for the youth in the future. Fortunately, there are a myriad ways to achieve this. As future leaders of our society, we can battle our way out of debt by separating our wants from our needs.

It is absolutely essential that we, as young adults, get out the habit of integrating our desires with our necessities. When a big red sign, reading “50% OFF” in bold gigantic letters, lures us to purchase an item, it does not mean we’re frugal. It merely means that we live under the illusion that we are; therefore, it is empirical that each of us ask, “Do I need this?” prior to making a transaction. It gives us, the consumers, ample time to reflect upon our purchases and our finances. Not to mention, doing so makes us look back on the things we actually need. It also makes us think of how this transaction could place us financially as we ask ourselves, “will I be able to pay rent on time with this?” or “is it really worth it to have to build fire using rocks because I didn’t pay my gas bill?” In order to avoid being confronted by these kinds of questions, make a budget proposal and force yourself to stick with it. For effective budgeting, list your necessities and desires. If you come across an item that you want to purchase but aren’t
labeled as a NEED in your list, then think critically. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Though simple, prioritizing your needs not only illuminates the extent of our excessive money spending but also provides us a proper perspective on what it truly means to be frugal. Various budgeting apps can aid us in becoming better savers. It allows us to oversee our spending and assess what we can do to alleviate our financial standing because the app entitles its users to analyze their spending patterns. In addition, we must set aside money for emergencies, not only
will doing so fund us in the future should an unprecedented event occur, but also illuminates savers the true definition of necessities, hence, gearing up young adults to become financially responsible.

Being debt-free comes with delaying your gratifications as well. This task, simple as it may sound, is arduous for many. Fortunately, we have numerous tools we can use in our disposal to help us overcome this struggle. If we want something, rather than taking out loans, we can set up a trust fund to save up for a specific entity, like a car. Once this trust fund is filled, we may proceed buying the desired item. Doing so saves us the hassle of paying interest fees, as well as keeping up with monthly payments.

By becoming aware of our finances, we empower ourselves through the knowledge that we have allowed ourselves to gain. Indeed, there are a plethora of things people could do to be financially responsible; and although “listing” their needs have lifted a lot of people from drowning on debt and liberated them from their dysfunctional relationship with their finances, young adults cannot solely rely on this list. More importantly, we have to be strong enough to say “NO” on things that serve us only temporary happiness.