2020 RFN Scholarship Winner

“What does financial responsibility mean to you?” by Julia Kerns

When I was younger, my parents would always tell me to save some of the money I’ve received, whether I earned it from doing chores, I was gifted it through birthday or Christmas presents, or simply finding loose change on the ground.  I always thought it was a silly concept; why save it when I could spend it on something I wanted at that moment?  What I didn’t realize was that they were teaching me about financial responsibility.  Financial responsibility is a combination of three parts: saving, spending wisely, and making smart investments.  My parents taught me how to start saving when I was younger, but now that I am older, I have learned how to save at a more advanced level.  I work two part time jobs, one as an employee at Chick-fil-A, and the other as a lifeguard for the City of Willoughby.  When I receive my paychecks from my workplaces, I deposit the money into my bank account, then take out only 20% of what I earned from that week’s work.  My savings account grows each time I contribute 80% of my paychecks and this money remains in the account and is considered “untouchable”.  The money I have saved in this account will be used for college expenses, as well as being a cushion for unexpected expenses.  My financial responsibility is also about how I spend the 20% I’ve held back from my paycheck.  I refer to this money as my on hand petty cash.  Spending wisely is the result of understanding the difference between a want and what I need.  Sure, fancy dinners, expensive new cars, and name brands are tempting, but they are not a necessity.  The way I see it, there is food at home that is perfectly good to eat that is already provided by my family.  There are older, less expensive cars that might not be as luxurious, but they still get you to where you need to be.  There are off-brand items that are less expensive and still serve the same purposes.  This mindset enables me to spend my petty cash on necessities such as gas money, school supplies, personal care items, etc.  The third part of being financially responsible is investing money for future use.  My parents have helped me invest some of my earnings into a Roth IRA which will continue to grow over time, allowing me to live comfortably when retirement comes.  I have been adding to my Roth IRA since I turned sixteen, and I intend to continually add to my Roth IRA on a yearly basis.  Making smart investments into stocks and bonds is also a smart way to be financially responsible.  When you own stocks in a company, part of their income is shared with you, earning more money for future use.  I plan on investing a larger percent of my income into the  stock market when I am older and more financially stable then I currently am today.  Today I am not financially able to max out yearly allowable contributions to a Roth IRA.         

Although my methods for financial responsibility have worked very well for me in the past, I am now entering a new phase of my life: going to college.  I am aware of the college expenses ahead of me, which is why I am doing the best I can to save what I am earning at work and by applying for as many scholarships that I am eligible for.  I intend on maintaining excellent grades to help me with more academic scholarships provided by the college I attend, as well as available scholarships offered in the community and in my field of study.  I will also work during the summer, on scheduled school breaks, and maybe even find a job on campus if I am able to balance a job with my work studies and my college volleyball schedule.  I intend to maintain my good reputation of being an excellent student, an active volunteer in my community, and by demonstrating leadership qualities both on and off the volleyball court.  Maintaining this reputation is not only important to me, but it is also important to scholarship committees when they are reviewing future potential scholarship recipients.  I appreciate the time the Redwood Financial Network Judges Panel has spent reviewing my application and  I would like to thank you for the opportunity to apply.