Isaac G. – McBride High School

The lessons of the Think. Tank. Challenge have influenced the choices I make in regards to money, my goals in high school, college, and in life. Even though I am a young teenager who still has a lot to learn from life experience and others, I firmly believe that the choices and decisions I make now will provide positive results in my future. A controversial topic that I am faced with on a regular basis, at home, is the amount of money my parents spend on a weekly basis buying fast food as the family dinner.

I am fortunate to live in a nuclear and loving home. We are a hardworking family that seeks to constantly better ourselves while helping others. Both of my parents have a full time job and although they are energetic and always willing to help us, I know they are tired when they come home from work. The idea of cooking at home after a long day of work may be perceived as an inconvenience as people normally desire to arrive home, rest, and have a warm meal ready at the table. My family, however, prefers to invest time in doing homework and extracurricular activities after school or work. Eating fast food, almost on a daily basis, at home quickly became a habit. It was instant gratification that could fulfill our hungry evening.

My mother and I attended the Think. Tank. Challenge workshop to hear more about scholarship opportunities to better prepare me in attaining my goal in life while going through college.

During the workshop our Ambassador shared a personal life lesson that was very valuable to my mother and me. On the drive home, my mother and I discussed the information session and immediately realized that there was one thing we could change about our habits that could make a huge difference in the way my family saves money for our future and simultaneously providing a healthier life. As a teen in this new generation, I have seen many grandparents be challenged by the inability to retire due to insufficient funds. I am unable to speak for other elderly people, but I’m now that my grandparents went through a tough life where the only way to move up in society was to work non-stop. During their days, saving money was not an option, but rather a definite incapability because they needed to provide.

The lessons I learned from the Think. Tank. Challenge were more than a lesson, they were another way of seeing an opportunity to better our family as a team. It has opened my eyes to many possible choices available to me to become financially comfortable in the future. Money allows us to provide for necessities and it should allow us to obtain “wants” if earned. If we save and spend our money wisely, the opportunities can be endless. The amount of money my family spends on fast food is very costly. If I marry, the lessons I learned during the workshop, and the issues my family face, the outcome of the relationship will be a fruitful one. For instance, if we restructure our evenings and everyone in the family works as a team to cook together, the money we are saving can be placed into a retirement fund for my parents. Some of the money saved at the end of the year can be invested so that once it matures, some extra money can be used for my children’s college.

The lesson and guidance I received at the Think. Tank. Challenge can be incorporated within my family and, in time, the same teachings about investing in your future and self can be passed on to the next family generations. The workshop opened my eyes about how I invest my time and money. The time I spend on my phone will be spent studying more and volunteering. I know that colleges do not always look at how much time is spent on social media or the time spent with friends, but I plan to change some of my habits. I am a self-motivated individual and I plan to take initiative to learn more about financial freedom.