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OPINION: Seeking Confidence from Financial Independence

Can you truly appreciate the potato burrito or Russian dumplings you had for dinner when you’ve never earned enough money to buy them for yourself?

As we gather for a new year at Western, attention to money becomes more and more prevalent. But for some of us, that attention doesn’t necessarily translate to decent understanding or application.

In some cases, parents may be hanging money over their children's heads, threatening to cut them off if academic performance slips below their standards. In others, students may have just never had reason to learn about money themselves.

The inability to effectively support one’s self later in life becomes an obvious dilemma. But concern should also be raised for students’ mental and emotional wellbeing.

An enormous amount of stress can arise if there is a possibility of parents discontinuing financial support. For students who have never had to stand on their own or who have never learned how to do so, the situation can quickly become a nightmare.

Let that worry compound with the already taxing life of university and you can end up drowning in a sea of anxiety.

But you can eliminate the worry of financial uncertainty by enlightening yourself through education or experience.

While Western doesn’t have a tremendous variety of finance classes for those outside of the major, there are some out there. Finance 215 is intended for non-business students looking to learn about things like budgeting, insurance, investment and retirement.

Parents won’t be able to help forever, and there are plenty of students who already support themselves and are financing their own education. We all owe it to ourselves to feel confident in who we are and how we can make it on our own.

So take it into your own hands, check out the Student Employment Center. Its page on Western’s website has listings for work study and non-work study jobs both on and off campus.

If you enjoy your field of study, take a look at jobs at the tutoring center, or look into working in one of the campus organizations or offices. There are also positions available for custodial work, dining hall service, teaching assistants, etc.

Or you can look off campus for work. While it may not be glamorous, food service and retail jobs are often available, and in a college town like Bellingham, many businesses will accommodate student schedules.

In short, there are options. We are all capable of doing anything we set our minds to (we all got into university after all), and we are all adults who can make our own decisions.

There’s a great amount of satisfaction and self-confidence that comes from getting that first paycheck and knowing that you earned it all yourself. Then there’s the satisfaction of being able to use that money wisely and responsibly that keeps the rush going.

Money isn’t so scary when you get used to handling it yourself. But you’re never going to get there until you take that first chance.

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