During my first year of college as I was stepping into financial independence, I was also faced with the decision of what my budget would become. Once again, I could divide my income any way I wanted. So I started asking myself those life-planning questions: What do I value? What is the money for?
During any student’s first year at UVA, the school mandates that a meal plan be bought. All the plans are the same price with variation in what benefits they give. My parents and I purchased the unlimited meal swipes plan, which meant that I could get an unlimited number of meals from the dining hall.
On several occasions, I would invite a new friend to dine with me only to find out that they were an upperclassman without a meal plan or another first-year who needed to be careful with their meal swipes budget. I was thrilled to offer one of my infinite swipes to them, often getting them both a meal in the dining hall and a to-go box so they could take food home.
Providing for fellow students in this way brought me so much joy that, while I was off my meal plan during these past two years, I’ve allocated extra money to my food budget so that I could overstock my fridge and provide for my fellow students. I’d love it when I was able to put a tasty dinner in front of a thrifty student who otherwise lived off of the equivalent of bread and water. “Would you like to stay for dinner?” “Would you care for tea?” Sentences like these brought joyous smiles to my face.
What is my favorite thing I’ve done with money? Feed others.
Megan Marotta is the daughter of David John Marotta. She is currently a third-year at the University of Virginia majoring in Cognitive Science and graduating this May. She is blogging at RichDadRichDaughter.com.
December, 2011 features several money mavens answering this question.