‘Ballin’ on a budget’ builds character

Carole Hodorowicz, Columnist

All of us have the same dream: to be financially secure.

Unfortunately, this dream is far from tangible while being a college student.

Working multiple jobs while being a full-time student involved in several school organizations is something I pat myself on the back for from time to time. I pay for my rent, utilities, groceries and extracurricular activities all on my own.

I am not the only person on this campus or any campus who embraces this form of independence.

There are so many students who sacrifice their free time and more so that they can receive a quality education and build the foundation for their future.

Although it is not always easy, “ballin’ on a budget” builds character.

Every month, I encounter a week that I have started to refer to as “Hell Week.” It is when worlds collide— my paycheck hits my account during the same time that my utilities are due.

You can say money does not buy happiness, but you cannot deny the adrenaline rush. I reach an incomparable euphoric high when I see the balance in my bank account rise while simultaneously feeling the wind get knocked out of me after the number slowly trickles back down to a single digit number.

During this week, with my reserve of self-esteem as deplete as my bank account, my pantry starts to join in the suffering.

Instead of succumbing to the pressures of “Hell Week” and allowing it to break me (disclaimer: I am no warrior, I have cried alone in my room after realizing I do not even have enough change for a package of ramen noodles,) I challenge myself to allow it to make me stronger.

There are a few things you will never learn in class that I have learned while “ballin’ on a budget,” especially during “Hell Week.”

For instance, you learn how long a single box of spaghetti can last you until your next paycheck. Do not ask me for the math or formula behind it, I am in no way a numbers girl, but with enough willpower, you can make it last up to a week.

“Ballin’ on a budget” has also helped me achieve new levels of confidence that I never thought existed. The first few times I took my loose change to a CoinStar, I felt embarrassed by the amount of pennies I had in my possession. Now, I waltz over to the machine like it is an old friend that has a surprise for me every time I visit.

I have also learned to enjoy the little things while “ballin’ on a budget,” like the excitement of finding a crumpled five-dollar bill that I stashed somewhere in my room or in a pair of pants to brighten a rainy day and the simplicity in a peanut butter and jelly saltine cracker sandwich.

Although the ability to fund my online shopping addiction or buy a coffee every morning is not always in the cards, nothing is more satisfying than supporting yourself.

I have had my fair share of days that I have wanted to find someone to cover one of my shifts so I could spend my time curled up in bed and shut out the world. I have had my fair share of days I have wanted to quit one of my jobs altogether because it feels like that is the only way I can find time to catch my breath.

Every time I find myself at this point, I remind myself that this all part of growing up. If I am not doing it now, I am going to have to do it at some point. Every time I find myself at this point, I remind myself of the satisfaction that comes with working hard, being independent and growing as an individual.

Managing school, work, responsibilities and your personal life now will prepare you for the real world that we are going to have to step in when we all graduate. It is not a dance that is easy to master, but practicing early will help you perform better in the future.

Working hard is not always glamorous. It is not always easy. But it is always rewarding.

Carole Hodorowicz is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].