Having to budget and only spend money on necessities is hard, but the experience of living frugally in expensive Hawaii was worth it because they learned to be creative and do difficult things, said students and alumni.
Cameron Rondo, a business finance alumni, said he and his wife were newlyweds when they first came to school in Hawaii. “We didn’t know what we were doing and were overpaying for everything.”
He said starting over in a new place can be difficult and confusing. To help with the struggles, Rondo continued, “We had a strict budget for the three years when we were in school.” He said he and his wife went over their budget every week.
“Our friends would go out to eat, but there were times when my wife and I just ate bean burritos for weeks. If it is to stay out of debt, eat rice and hot dogs if you have to.”
Referring to advice from LDS Church leaders, Rondo said, “Live within your means.” He remembered “walking through TVA and seeing huge flat screen TVs in some of the houses when all we had was our laptop at home. We just had the things we needed. We still don’t have anything very lavish or extravagant.”
The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center reports that Hawaii has the highest cost of living of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Josh Dalton, an entrepreneur in residence at BYUH and a BYU-Idaho business finance alumni, said he balanced school, two jobs, and a young family while in college. He said, “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have any other options.”
Dalton urged students to “be creative, be humble, [and] serve others. Live within your means as best you can. To save money we cut our own hair, sewed our own clothes, bought a lot of things at second-hand stores, drove inexpensive vehicles, shopped generic brands and off-season items, and usually ate budget meals.”
He added, “Even though that was a really tough time, it was one of the best times of my life. I’ll always remember my college days with fond memories. It helped me to be frugal, grateful for others, and it taught me that I could do hard things and also do fun things without spending a ton of money.”
Brindlee Fullmer, a sophomore from Arizona majoring in business marketing, said the most important thing is to put the gospel first in budgeting and life. “I put spiritual things first and I’ve seen that when I do, there is always enough time for everything else.”
“It is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be,” said Fullmer when talking about balancing two jobs (one at Student Events and the other at the temple’s Laundry Department).
“I don’t really have a budget. I pay rent, and then with whatever is left over I have to ask myself, ‘Do I need this or is it just something I want?’”
LDS Church leaders teach members to do their best to stay out of debt and budget their savings in order to be prepared for when difficult times arise. Elder Robert D. Hales taught we should be “joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies” during his April 2009 General Conference address.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said in his October 1998 General Conference address, “I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can.”