2017 Scholarship Winner

Essay

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Graham Atwater

The Citadel

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Anybody’s financial stability can change in a matter seconds due to any number of unfortunate circumstances. Even those who make comfortable incomes can fall victim to unforeseen events and end up paying the price of paltry prevention. For this reason and through several different methods, I have made it a point to ensure that my family, my wife, and I will be as financially sound as possible for the rest of our lives.

The ability to create and remain faithful to a personalized budget is one of the simplest yet most important means of maintaining financial stability. My wife, Elizabeth, and I maintain a budget so we can track where every dollar of our income is spent. We can easily understand which areas of our expenditures are overfunded and which areas need more funding. Proper allotment of our money each month also allows us to focus our long and short-term savings towards larger, more important purchases in our lives. For us, creating the budget is the easy part…the real test comes in sticking to it! (“Of course I NEED a motorcycle, everyone will make fun of me if I wear this motorcycle helmet I got on sale in my car!”)

Second to a savvy salary spending strategy is securing a sound saving system. Saving can easily be classified as either short-term or long-term, and a mixture of both delivers the best of each type. By saving money in a short-term, accessible medium, such as a savings account or money-market account, I am able to have a tangible reserve fund in the event that I need cash quickly for an acute emergency. The long-term accounts I maintain are retirement accounts that I will rely on when I eventually retire. These are currently invested so that they will continue to grow throughout my career, hopefully yielding a sizeable post-career return. Contributing to both of these types of accounts out of every paycheck helps guarantee that my family will be covered financially should an emergency occur and that Elizabeth and I will eventually be able to retire rather than literally working until death.

The last method I employ to make sure financial stability does not elude me is by pursuing careers that will offer stability and always be in demand. For some lines of work, this is much easier said than done, but for young adults who are still in school or anyone looking for a new career, this is advice that can be applied. I am currently studying as a student of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Citadel. Computers and electrical systems are becoming more prevalent in the everyday interaction of every single American whether it is realized or not. These systems are becoming exponentially more complex and embedded; As long as they exist they will require engineers to design and test them.

By combining these methods I am sure that my family and I will likely never have to experience financial instability and its accompanying stresses.