Jennifer L. – Oxford Academy


I come home and saw nothing – literally. My home, my life, my world as I had known it destroyed before my very eyes. Everything in my house was trashed. Pieces of glass scattered on the floor and everything I called ‘mine’ from the sentimental family photos to the valuable laptops, cameras, jewelry heirlooms, televisions had suddenly disappeared without a trace. This all happened on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm. Seven years later, and yet I still remember all the details from the sight. Everything I once valued gone, just like that.

This experience definitely opened my eyes to treasure what I have since my belongings are all a product of my parent’s hard work. Without a single penny in their pockets, my parents immigrated to the United States, sacrificing their familiar lifestyles in hopes for better opportunities. Once they landed on American soil, they immediately went in search for a job to make ends meet. In spite of their poor mastery of the English language, their heart and determination allowed them to survive and achieve stability in the middle class. Their abilities in overcoming adversity inspire me to constantly give my all in what I do. Unlike my parents who faced challenges by being born in an impoverished Vietnam, I have been fortunate enough to have been given a life full of endless possibilities. I have the freedom to follow my own dreams and plan to take advantage of opportunities to give back to my parents and make a difference in the world.

One necessary step to accomplish my goals is reaching financial stability, like my parents. Through Think. Tank. Challenge, I learned the needs to be financially independent and the ways in which I can reach it. “Financial Independence is a peace of mind,” said Rose Macias, our school ambassador for this program. At the Financial workshop, I was able to learn more about the idea of saving and what it entails. The concept of financial independence is living within one’s own means, eliminating debt, and setting goals to save. As the economy changes every year, prices are constantly rising while minimum wages barely increases. This is all due to inflation.

The current annual average inflation is at a rate of 3.22% and it is important for us, as students, to grasp this idea of money always it is fluctuating or else we will continue to be ignorant to the volatile nature of the economy. Because the value of money is decreasing, I need to start saving now and find a way to make enough to keep up with this fluctuation in money. An example would be getting a raise to balance out the inflation rate. When I have a job, it is important to get a higher wage every year to keep up with inflation or else my spending will have to be reduced even when the prices of products are increasing exponentially as well. In looking for a job, I also have to ensure to look at the benefits the job provides, whether it’s insurance or retirement plans. In terms of retirement, I need to look if I am under a pension and if the company offers a personal savings, such as a 401K.

This idea of financial independence is also important during my college career. With student loans, I need to pay back my debt but also have enough in my savings in case of emergencies. These tips I have gained such as creating a savings account, understanding rate of returns and the risks, and the Rule of 72 which is dividing 72 by the interest rate to estimate the number of years it takes for my money to double, is essential to financial independence.

Think. Tank. Challenge. opened my eyes about how crucial it is to be financially literate in understanding how the real world works. This program inspired me to start saving early and find ways to be financially secure. It is crucial to understand these concepts so I and the ones I love won’t get taken advantage of for our lack of knowledge.

“Save More, Spend Less” will be my motto. Just like “work hard, play hard,” I have to save as much as I can, and then I can indulge what I have left to make my life fulfilling and happy.