Accept the challenge: budget by not buying.
Budgeting is a lot like pushups. I dislike pushups and do not really love to budget either. I mean, who doesn't want to spend money and never face the consequences of a limited budget?
But I have to do pushups if I want to rock triples off the fence in DePauw softball games, have strong arm muscles and look nice in a dress. So, I do them.
Likewise, I budget my money not because I love limiting myself, but because my money is not endless, and I strive to be responsible.
Pushups are hard. Budgeting is hard. Budgeting is like the pushups of being a responsible person.
Over Winter Term, I challenged myself to exercise hard for all 31 days of January. By forcing myself to face my distaste for push-ups, I realized that I could do them. It was hard to get off the couch during a riveting marathon of Friday Night Lights and travel in the cold to Chicago's Cardinal Fitness. But I did it for the sake of pushups.
Now I am doing the same with my money management. My new challenge is to not spend money this semester. That's right. No trips to Walmart. No meals from Buffalo Wild Wings, Casa Grande or Almost Home. No online shopping of any kind. Not a penny will be spent on things I do not really need.
I will allot myself one tank of gas per month to help me get to softball practice and back. I have also given myself an emergency fund of $25, just in case. But, I hope that by the end of May, I will be $25 richer.
Of course, my Tiger Card does not apply to this challenge. A girl's got to eat somewhere! Plus, we all know that the money on our Tiger Cards is "Monopoly Money" and must be spent eventually, for the sake of losing it all at the end of the year.
By forcing myself to face my willingness and proneness to spend too much, I am facing the pushups of becoming a responsible, independent adult.
The challenge has been posed: to do the muscle work of responsible money management for four months in hopes that I learn more about myself. I want to learn about myself not as defined by my new sweater that I bought online, a shiny new DVD or a chicken flatbread from B-Dubs. I want to do these theoretical "pushups" to prove to myself that I can do it. For I am not a person that counts her worth in the "stuff" she has, but rather the worth that is inside her, that cannot be seen.
How hard can it be? If I can do real pushups proficiently, then this should be a breeze, right? I guess I'll find out.
Budgeting is like pushups, difficult, but with great reward. Accept the challenge.
— Hendrickson is a sophomore from Indianapolis, Ind. majoring in English writing and communications. firstname.lastname@example.org