Being a college student, there will always be times when you identify as "broke." That doesn't always mean broke in the objective and literal sense, but it's fitting all the same. But, regardless of whether or not you think you're broke, as a college student, you're almost always on a budget.
Living on a budget is stressful, to say the least. And while every budget is different and relative to income, college inevitably means just scraping by.
Even if you have financial support and/or come from a family of money, there will be times when spending habits force you to budget. Such as making a grocery list or only what you need instead of what you want. Times when you plan out and realize you only have enough to cover bills and rent. Those and many more college stressors can make you feel overwhelmed.
But, when those times come, when I feel overwhelmed and completely stressed-out, I take comfort in the few luxuries I have allowed myself.
Luxuries are relative to each person's lifestyle, but for me, they include things like candles, wax melts, face masks, take-out/delivery once in a while, a few impulse buys when shopping, and décor for my apartment. No, I don't buy all of these at once. But, I do think that having and allowing yourself a few luxuries can help relieve some stress and self-esteem damaging thoughts.
When you end up living on a budget, which inevitably happens at times, you can start to develop ideas and thoughts that hurt your mental health. You can start to think things like "you're not worth it," or "if you bought this, then you're not being financially responsible," or "if you can't manage your money now on basic things, how can you manage after college." And those are just some of the thoughts that can pop into your head.
I've lived my life on some version of a budget for as long as I can remember. That doesn't mean that I have almost nothing, or that I am always scraping by, but I do mean that I've developed a certain perspective on items and money.
I don't think I'm perfect about handling my money, but that's fitting for a young adult. I do think though that by allowing myself luxuries when possible, I am being responsible in other aspects of my life.
This might come off as materialistic, and to some extent it is, but generally, everyone needs some change and difference thrown into their lives to keep it exciting and manageable. In this way, luxuries can actually be considered necessities, because these "materialistic" luxuries bring joy and peace of mind to life. A peace of mind that reassures you in your actions and choices.
Sometimes you need that immediate satisfaction of that food you're craving or a new piece of décor. Little things, while they do add up, also help level-out the constant stress that college requires.
And, for those of us who don't have much money to spend or who want to be as financially responsible as possible, there are ways to have your version of luxuries in your life. I grew up on deals, sales, and clearance, and there's nothing wrong with getting what you want for a bargain. I just have to try and remind myself to see something for its value to me as opposed to its price tag.
I'm not sure if there is a perfect balance or a perfect science, but I do think that self-love and confidence can come in many forms. And it's okay if that form is sometimes a new purchase or luxury if that's what you need to remind yourself that you're worth it.
In the end, money can buy a version of happiness, but it can't buy true happiness. And as long as you remember that while you budget, you might just find your version of a balance in your life.