Pay Day is the best day, right? The mythical happiness that comes with pay day is, more often than not, quickly dashed by the reality that is displayed all over your paycheck. I remember the day I got my first real girl paycheck. I had been given scholarship money in the past, so I knew how to deposit a check, but this was going to be the first time I was paid with a real life pay check by a company for my work. I had taken a job in the School of Music at my university, and I was eager to receive my first paycheck. Since it took two weeks for direct deposit to be set up, I had to trek over to the student services building and pick up a physical check, something not many people see anymore. It’s a shame that people don’t see that check though, because it carries with it a harsh reality that makes the sun shine a little less brightly on pay day. Here are four lessons I learned from my first paycheck, the shining emblem of adulthood I had been waiting for.

 1) Taxes suck

Looking at that first paycheck, I was rudely confronted with the reality of just how much was being taken out of my paycheck in taxes. I was making above minimum wage, a nice wage paid by my university to its students, but I wasn’t taking that much home when you looked at how taxes were taken out of my paycheck. Nothing can incite the fury of a millennial conservative faster than taxation, and seeing several dollars every single week go towards a fun that we know is failing and that we know will not be around for us to reap the benefits of is frustrating, to say the least. I was astonished by how high tax rates were, then I realized that I lived in an extremely liberal state and I should just get used to it for the next four years. That reality check reminded me that to make as much money as I intended to, I needed to pick up some extra hours, even though the government will just tax that too.

 2) Regulation is awful

Thanks to fun government regulations, my school limits the number of hours we can work on campus every week. This, coupled with high taxes, makes for one angry student. Why
does the government get to decide how many hours I am capable of working? Why is that not a decision left up to me, the happy little worker who would love to pick up some extra hours every once and awhile to afford pretty things, or you know…the extravagant tuition? Government regulations like these punish hard workers and take away incentives, and ability, for people to work a little harder for a little more reward. If the government wants us to succeed, why do they make it so hard?

 3) Budgeting is hard

I tried to be a real adult. I really did. I promise. But making, and sticking, to a budget in college is really hard. In the real world, you know how much your rent is, your cellphone bill, your car insurance, etc. In college, there is too much fluidity to really budget. Who knows if you’ll have to buy a new pair of boots because your last ones got ruined by a rain storm? Who knows what weeks the dining hall will be good and which you’ll need to survive on Papa Johns and Panera? Who could predict the mental breakdown that would lead to you buying six Lilly Pulitzer dresses at 3AM? Maybe we all need to learn a little more self-control but trying to budget out a few meager hundred dollars every week to groceries and medicines and toiletries and entertainment and savings is extremely difficult when college keeps throwing fireballs at you.

 4) Paid internships are a blessing

Honestly, how can people afford unpaid internships? With how little I make at school during the year, how could I afford not to make money during the summer? How could I afford to pay outrageous DC housing prices, and eat, and have fun? I couldn’t. It’s as simple as that. Seeing what comes out of a paycheck has just made me even more grateful that I get a paycheck during the summer, when so many of my friends are working on the Hill and not getting paid while still paying thousands of dollars for housing. While my summer paychecks are still taxed heavily and my hours are limited to when the office is open, I can still pursue weekend and evenings jobs and other side hustles, and I’m grateful to have found a paid internship that makes pursuing my dreams a financial feasibility.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member