Confessions of a So-So Saver

As a child in Ukraine, Yevgeniya Muravyova knew her family didn't have a lot of money.

When she moved to the United States at age 7 with her mother and two sisters, things weren't much easier. She learned the importance of setting money aside for the future.

The true confessions of a mediocre saver to help you learn more about how to save money.

"I learned that it is important for future mishaps or anything unexpected, but it is also very difficult to save money when an individual lives paycheck to paycheck," says Muravyova, now 21 and a junior at the University of Syracuse where she is working on a double major in English Textual Studies, and Writing and Rhetoric.

"Saving money seems to be very contradictory because it is supposed to save an individual from stress in the future, and yet it creates stress in the moment," she says.

When it was time for college, Muravyova's mother couldn't help pay the costs. Muravyova didn't get any scholarships, but did receive some grants. Loans are paying the rest.

"The grants pay about half or a little less than half of my college tuition, but I have four loans every semester," says Muravyova. "So far in loans—without interest—the balance is $80,777. I will owe roughly $100,000 after I graduate."

Yevgeniya’s Top 5 Savings Goals

  1. Money for rent/housing.
  2. Future grocery bills.
  3. Trip to Mexico.
  4. New cellphone and future phone bills.
  5. New purse.

Yevgeniya’s Top 5 Spending Leaks

  1. Organic groceries.
  2. Organic personal care products.
  3. Going out to parties and having drinks.
  4. Going out to eat in restaurants.
  5. Home decor.

She expects to borrow more to attend graduate school.

The loans may cover tuition, but they don't cover everyday spending money. So, Muravyova works at a supermarket during her summer, spring, and winter breaks. She also saves the money she gets for holiday or birthday gifts to use when school is in session.

Still, there are times when she runs short.

"My mother is sometimes able to help me pay a missed phone bill or give me money for food when I am at school, but it also creates stress on her because it is a setback to her paying her own bills," Muravyova says.

While she hasn't been able to save for long-term goals, she has had some success with short-term savings for regular and expected expenses.

"These types of savings are a bit easier because they are visible and tangible. If I want to participate in a school activity of some sort, I save money for that," she says. She adds that it is harder to save for things in the future—such as unexpected emergencies—that may or may not happen.

Muravyova says her biggest challenge is learning to balance future expenses and savings with wanting to enjoy today.

"Being a college student, I enjoy going out with friends or indulging in materialistic pleasures such as shopping, so my setbacks tend to be just trying to enjoy life," she admits.

"I highly enjoy traveling and feel that despite the fact that I am not part of the upper class, or even the upper-middle class, for that matter, I still should have the right to enjoy myself, which makes saving complicated."

Muravyova says she's still trying to find the right balance, and she feels very strongly that people should live life to the fullest while they can.

"What is life without any fun?" she says. "However, I have also learned that, without savings, those unexpected mishaps create more stress than they should and that is a problem in itself."