Goalster’s Glimpse: Megan Kutulis, Bryn Mawr

What does financial freedom mean to you?

Image“Four years ago, financial freedom was looming on the horizon: graduation. As a college student, I was used to being poor; the calls home for an extra $50 in my bank account were regular, and I had become accustomed to looking through drawers, in between pages, and in vending machine change dispensers for any spare change I could find. On lucky days I found quarters. When you’re a college student, finding a quarter is the equivalent of winning big from a scratch-off lottery ticket. I assumed that my diploma was my ticket to financial freedom. I was fortunate to have a full-time job ahead of me, only a few student loans to pay off, and a car that, although a clunker, wasn’t costing me anything more than gas money. Like most of my fellow graduates, I thought I was free from the phone calls home to my parents asking for a little extra help this month. Now, four years later and still holding down a full-time job, I’ve found that financial freedom doesn’t just come with a job offer. I’m able to pay for my groceries, rent, bills, and most unexpected expenses every month, but even a steady salary doesn’t allow me to do all those fun things I borrowed my parents’ money for in college—new shoes, dinner with friends, the occasional concert. For me, financial freedom has not been the ability to do whatever I want with my money. Rather, I’ve found that it is the ability to make decisions about the best way to spend my money. Sure, I could buy the newest car. But I’d be paying too much for it monthly. I could buy the new pair of shoes. But don’t the ones I already have work? What I’ve learned in the time that I’ve been balancing my own checkbook is that sometimes it’s necessary to pass up the things I want today for the things I’ll want down the road. By putting away money each paycheck, I might not be able to ensure my financial freedom right now, but I’m helping to guarantee it down the road.”