Chantel H. – Schurr High School

The Think. Tank. Challenge allows me the wonderful opportunity to study how I can develop a healthy relationship with money, as well as learn the skills necessary to live the life I want years from now. Part of the challenge, is evaluating myself; my spending habits, my goals, what I am doing that is helpful, and what I am doing that is unhelpful. It gives me the chance to test my self-awareness. I then have to confront myself, and ask if I have been working towards my financial goals, prior to this challenge. If I have been following through with my goals, then I have the option of maintaining, or changing my savings plan to one that is more ambitious. On the contrary, if I have not been successful, I can figure out the details of my shortcomings, and learn from any mistakes I may have made.

Money is a tool. It is a means to an end. It has symbolized power, evil, greed, sin, prosperity, luck, status, and security. Money only gains such meanings through the management and use of its holders. I wish to use money as a means to afford knocking each and every activity off of my bucket list. Thankfully, I have resources to do just that, such as tricks and tips on the website, as well as the guidance of NuVision Federal Credit Union.

Some of my favorite suggestions include the use of budgeting apps, starting an emergency fund, and setting up automatic transfers to a savings account. In addition to helping me build wealth, these three actions help simplify my life.

I would describe myself as modest when it comes to spending money. Though, I am not without a vice. In the past, I regularly purchased Boba Milk Tea, a Taiwanese   beverage.

Unsurprisingly, my wallet suffered the repercussion. However, thanks to a much needed solution, my wallet is in a much better place. My solution was to gather resources, and learn how to make Boba Milk Tea in the comfort of my own home, which reduced costs considerably. As a result, I am now able to enjoy my favorite drink, and save at the same time. Today, I make an   effort to purchase only what I need, and use, to avoid accumulating an excess amount of stuff However,  in the past, I justified  hoarding, as well as obsessive collecting. Hoarding can very   easily become an unhealthy behavior, specifically relating to people who are safe, and

Reasonably secure in their finances. Hoarding in itself is a behavior meant for survival, and can be useful in the rare event of an apocalyptic war. Presently, hoarding is more likely to promote impulsive spending habits, a greater vulnerability to marketing tactics, and an unhealthy relationship to material objects. Fortunately, there is hope, and it lies in mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness in a time of excess consumption has many benefits. I am in the process of learning how to apply mindful thinking to the way I eat, and live, much like how 1 spend my money.

Cultural norms; such as fast fashion, mainly among young people, promote the continuous acquisition of clothes, and refinement of one’s wardrobe. On one end of the spectrum, people can find themselves purchasing new garments, only to have them be left hanging in the back of their closets, tags still on. Learning to appreciate and enjoy what one    already has, whether that be clothing, games, or new gadgets, will save anyone a significant amount of money in the long run. In addition, learning to prepare one’s favorite foods, drinks, or desserts, may reap the same benefits. For instance, I have saved a large quantity of money from learning how to prepare my own Boba Milk Tea. I sometimes wonder how much more    I could have saved, if I made a change like this sooner than I had in the past. Nonetheless, I have learned a valuable lesson.

I am going to be beginning college this fall, so it is imminent I have a plan on how to pay for it. Currently, I am in the process of applying for scholarships. In addition, I have applied for financial aid. However, that will only take a small dent out of the costs, especially since I very much would like to go to graduate school after attending a four year university. For that, it is    vital I minimize my debt, and maintain a steady budget. During college, I can cut out    unnecessary costs, by being conscientious, and living within my means. For example, I plan to purchase used textbooks, share my living space, have fun on the cheap, and keep an eye out for places that offer student discounts.

With credit cards, I will use them responsibly, and learn how they fully work before I   sign up. If I am living, spending, and eating mindfully, I will not have to curb impulsive     spending, as being thoughtful will be a key part of my lifestyle.  The Think. Tank. Challenge stresses how important it is for us to appreciate and make use of what we already have. This includes making the most of what we purchase, such as our education.  To avoid detours in    earning my degree, I plan to apply diligence to my academics. It is wasteful to skip classes, or sit through lectures without paying my undivided attention.  This can have an impact on my grades, and the duration of time it takes me to earn my degree. In fact, one can be kicked from a college     if poor performance has reached a certain extent. Such an event would waste both time and   money, for the college, and for the student.

During the workshop hosted by NuVision Federal Credit Union, my peers and I had the chance to listen to some very knowledgeable speakers; professionals who had already experienced the life of a student, and young adult. I had the opportunity to listen to the mistakes each had made in their inexperience, why they made such mistakes, and what inspired change. The speakers also shared shocking information about how the economy would affect my generation. Apparently, we will need 2.5 million to retire, with our current living standards. A 401k plan will not nearly be enough. The statistic showed my peers, and I, that we would have to be quite savvy with our money, and earnings, in order to reach that number in the future. In addition, I quite appreciated the chance to visualize money in growing quantities. It was apparent that it also had an effect on my peers. Being able to see the stacks of money grow in parallel with numbers helps one become less desensitized when looking at a bank account. I think most would agree that it is easier to spend money when it takes on the form of a promising, all-encompassing plastic card. The visual stirred excitement within me, and by the end of the workshop, I felt my view of money change further.

For that, I am very grateful to those that make the Think. Tank. Challenge possible.  I have learned a lot of valuable information from the workshop, and feel more confident about the role I have in my future. I feel empowered.