Crystal G. – Lakewood High School

Think. Tank. Challenge- What Influence has it had on my Money and Goals?

When I was young, I did not realize the importance of money or really have an idea about what it was. I could have told you it was green, had the faces of past presidents, and that it had a funky smell to it. Fast forward a couple of years later and I finally figured out it was the main item we craved to have an abundance of. The catalyst of our economy. I started working and figured it that it was not easy to earn, but easy to spend. Not only had I suddenly become exposed to the urge of “needing” things like clothes when I grew out of them or shoes when my previous ones looked more on the grungy side, but I wanted anything and everything that was “in” in that moment. More shoes that I knew what to do with or would only get one use out of in a month, and clothes that have been in my closet with the price tags still attached. My parents brought it to my attention that I was foolishly spending my money and that saving it was best, but my excuse was that it did not come out of their pocket and I had endured eight­ hour work shifts and sleepless nights doing homework when I worked on school nights. There was no way my parents were right, it was MY money and I could do whatever I wanted with it. Of course, like any other thing your parents tell you, they ended up proving why I was the child and themselves the adult.

Senior year rolled around and the sheet of activities was in my possession. A saw money signs everywhere. Cap and gown, senior portraits, yearbook. I figured I had enough time to save money, until college application season stealthy approached and I had adults telling me from every which way that I would need to pay for books, housing, transportation, my entire education was not free anymore!

Scholarships became a resource for me to not be stuck with college debt for as long as I live, but it was obviously not going to cover all my expenses. When I attended the financial workshop, there was many things that stood out to me, but the one thing I related to at a grand scale was that instead of saving what is left after spending, I should spend what I had left after saving. In that moment, my parent’s voices and nagging comments (at least that is what I had originally thought of it as), came back to me. I had been foolishly spending my money, surviving check by check to buy things that had no value. I could have started a yearlong savings account with a simple ten dollars a day rule and I would have $3650 dollars in my bank account rather than in boxes, bags, and my vanity desk.

I know that I finally came to the realization that learning how to save and spend money a little late, but not entirely when I was completely out of it or out of time to fix what I have done wrong. This is exactly what the process of writing this essay has taught me. My goals remain the same. I still want to graduate in a white cap and gown, (which will happen as of now) graduate college with a career path in Human Resources, and acquire enough money to allow myself to not live paycheck by paycheck, but rather have extra money in case of an emergency because there are things that will and can happen that I have no control over. I would much rather have my money increasing in my bank account, than having it put into item$ that at the end of the day will not help me support myself until the moment I take my last breath.