Mellisa M. – Schurr High School

As teenagers, we act on impulses.

I’m really craving a drink1 let 1s go get Starbucks and then go to this new store that just opened 1 50 percent off everything! – and there goes 15 dollars on some sugary concoction and clothes for an already full closet.

Money, a seemingly innocuous piece of paper, has the power to create class divisions, provide opportunities, allow one to lead a secure life, and also measure success in this capitalistic country. It can cause greed and competition, success and failure, profit and misfortune. However, until we grow up and enter the real world of taxes, mortgages, and interests, we do not know how significant money is. We spend on things we do not need until suddenly- impulsive spending leads to an empty  wallet.

As a child, I thought that green piece of paper was something I can use to buy books and collectable erasers that others can marvel at, something I can show off to my friends who  would always buy pencils and stationary at the library.  But then an epiphany came to me at the age of 10, when I woke up in the morning to the sound of my parents arguing with each other.

We don’t have the money to buy that; we need to pay these bills for the car and the mortgage for the house first and then I need to go shopping for food again.

The fog of sleep went away as I abruptly sat up in my bed, eavesdropping on the conversation, wondering what a mortgage was, and wondering whether buying books and pencils was worth the waste of money- a thing that caused my parents to scream at each other. I wondered whether spending my money on that dress was worth it, whether buying my light-up flip phone just so I can text my friends was necessary. I was determined at a young age to be careful about spending. For some reason, I started crying, drops of tears stained my cheeks as I angrily wiped them off. I did not want my parents to suffer like this just because of my spending. I then decided not to buy any more friendship bracelets or clothes I would not wear later on. I put down the collectable erasers I wanted to use and books I wanted to read, telling myself that I already had those items and I did not need them. As a child, saving one dollar began to add up to a hundred dollars, and I cherished every single one.

The habit continued into high school, where I rarely carried money to school and tried to subdue my teenager impulses to spend. “Why don’t you have money on you?” my friends would   ask. Well I have exactly 7 cents.  Laughing and teasing followed my remark.  “Can you go out tomorrow?” they would ask me again.  Okay let me ask first how much money should I bring?  “About 20 dollars,” they would say- and I felt the familiar anxiety that always came with the task of asking my parents for money.  Yeah, sure. The usual hesitance followed right after.

As a young adult, I was already skeptical about spending money carelessly, always repeating the mantra of “earn it, and then maybe you can buy it,” into my head. Although I sometimes gave in to the temptation of shopping, I always felt anxiety about asking my parents for money, especially when they already had to pay for my sister’s tuition and eventually all of my college applications and fees.

A hundred dollars for one application? Why can’t you just get a full scholarship!I bit my tongue so as not to refute and yell back the unspoken words of, “Well maybe I’m just not good enough to get a full scholarship and there is just so much competition.” But all that I could manage was in a small voice.  I’ll try.

When I attended the Think. Tank. financial workshop and was shown why one should not spend impulsively, I was even more determined not to give in to the temptation of spending. I began researching more on why one should save money and not constantly spend it, and saw that impulsive spending can lead to bankruptcy and a rather unfavorable life-style where one would work for enough money to buy food and survive instead of working for pleasure because they wanted to be in that profession.

I thought about the arguments my parents had about money, and decided that I did not want them to go through that. I wanted them to be happy and not spend some mornings stressed out over a single bill.

In the future, when I am an adult worried about taxes and debts instead of homework and intimidating teachers- I will learn exactly why I should not buy a four-dollar drink or a band tee from my favorite group. I will learn to save and watch the money grow- blossoming into a fund that supports my family and my future, blossoming into a net of stability and happiness.

I will try to put aside at least 10 percent of my income that I receive from a future job into a savings account, spend some of it on food and necessities and not give in to 50 percent discounts on trendy clothes or holiday season sales.

“Your parents don’t have a lot of money, so don’t spend all of this okay?” and they handed me 10 dollars, a small amount for any billionaire but a large amount for my rather small 10-year-old chubby hands. “Okay.” Whatever it takes so they do not argue too much again.