Tuan D. – Mater Dei High School

How Being Smart with Money Now Can Change the Future

Unlike other teenagers at my age, I was born and raised in a different country, Vietnam. Although I was provided with a complete education since childhood, deep down I’d always dreamed of one day being able to study abroad in United States. Back then, the chances of coming to America were very small, especially for a kid like me from a small town; however, my dream came true, and I was granted the opportunity to come here to study. I was well aware of my wonderful chance, and I never took it for granted. For four years, I’ve always put my best efforts to my education, making sure that I get good grades and embracing the knowledge which I came for. At the same time, I am sure to balance my academics with outside activities such as sports and service hours; this way I can simultaneously enjoy my life and get ready for my next phase – college. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to follow a career in science, either a pharmacist or biologist, because I want to contribute and help the society. However, I am aware that my dream careers in medicine require many years of studying, and the tuition costs a great amount of money. As an international student, that’s a huge challenge for me since I’m not eligible to receive the help from the government provided student loans, and the full tuition might be too much for my parents to handle. The finance for college remains one potential obstacle, and I’ve spent much time trying understand and plan for it. Fortunately, I came across this wonderful Think. Tank. Challenge Essay scholarship program; the ideas presented in the challenge rekindled the fire within me to plan to financially pursue my dream. The challenge reminds me that there are many scholarship opportunities out there that can help my problem.

From the challenge, I learn how to manage my debt and use money more wisely in the future, so that I can have enough resources later one. Indeed, one very interesting fact that I learned from the workshop is that by the age of sixty five, millennials will need $2.5 million for living expenses. It really surprises me how much money I will need, so it’s necessary for me to budget and spend my money smartly. Most importantly, the ideas of Think. Tank. Challenge inspires me to preserve and build wealth. Just saving ten dollars a day starting now can make a huge different thirty years later when saving at a good compound interest rate. Combining all ideas from this program, I’ve come up with my own plan to be economically successful in high school, college, and beyond. The first step for me is to do more research for other scholarship opportunities and be willing to take up the challenge. Though the scholarships might not cover the entire tuition, they can help alleviate the financial burden for my parents and myself. My second step is to keep track of all my spending every day from now, which will enable me to organize my budget and determine my priorities so that I don’t overspend. The third step is to save some of the money I’m given every week, about 30% a time. At my age, this step might not yield a huge amount of saving, but it is a great practice for the future in terms of patience and balance. If I trained myself now to be disciplined with my money, over time, I can develop a habit to save money and avoid temptation to spend excess things. Finally, it is important that I build wealth through saving accounts or other form of good investment. Having some money is a good thing, but it won’t last forever, unless I grow it and have more. Together, this plan will not only enable me to be in the right college but will also make me successful with money for years to come. At the same time, it is not easy to achieve because it requires a lot of patience, self-discipline, and time. Nevertheless, I’m ready to take up this challenge, knowing that one day my efforts will pay off and I can fulfill my dreams.