Writing Contest: Second Place

Andy McFeaters, Franklin Area High School, Franklin, PA (Teacher: Merrill Cowart)

Ever since I was a child, my mother has always taught me the value of the dollar. Whether it was her not giving me a buck for a candy bar or her not giving me twenty just for kicks. I have definitely, albeit begrudgingly, learned what is a smart financial move and what is not.

I have definitely had a good teacher for setting budgets and the like. My mother has always had a yearly and monthly budget. Since I got my first job at age twelve, she has sat me down at the beginning of each month to discuss where I am at financially. I was granted a small inheritance from when my grandma died, and under my mom, plus my income from other jobs, this sum has multiplied greatly.

My mom has always instilled in me a sense of how important it is to set financial goals. She placed upon me the belief that a financial goal must be met and can never be overdrawn. If I say I will save one hundred dollars in the month, she reminds me of this every time I mull a purchase. When I was new to the money saving program, my mom would supplement my savings by giving me an incentive to maintain my Spartan financial record. She would give me five dollars every time I met my financial goals. I know with certainty that when I leave for college, my financials will be in order and I will not be living check from home to check from home, as many of my fellow students will be.

Yet another thing my mom instilled upon me was the knowledge that I will sometimes have to deal with opportunity costs. An opportunity cost is basically like a trade off in which you keep more money. When we would go shopping for anything more expensive than a few dollars we would always price the stores. This pricing was basically my mother and I scouring every store for the cheapest price. She told me that even though you might have to give up a slight bit of quality, it was alright if the money gained by your frugality outweighed the loss of quality.

My mother has managed to maintain a decent standard of living even though she is faced with caring for my brother and me while attending college to get her masters and doctorate in, not surprisingly, economics. Every time a new financial idea showed promise, it would be implemented in our house, typical to amazing success. She has instilled in me the belief that the only way to achieve the high standard of living every American strives to achieve is by budgeting and spending shrewdly to get the most out of your dollar. This is a lesson that was hard learned and will not be easily forgotten.

Throughout any one person’s life, they will be faced with many monetary decisions that will make it tough for them to decide what direction to go in. But, if a person has a good budget and has set adequate financial goals for themselves, these decisions will be a lot easier to make because the individual knows exactly what they have to work with. Also, in order to maintain the high standard of living achieved by properly setting budgets and financial goals, a person must be a master of determining what incentives can be earned by considering opportunity costs. Opportunity costs can make or break a budget, and so attention must be placed on them also. In conclusion, by setting budgets, a person can safely plan out their financial future to insure food is on the table and a roof is over their head.

Composition has been lightly edited.