Writing Contest: Semifinalist

Anne Lammers, Larry A. Ryle High School, Union, KY, (Teacher: Sarah Meece)

Ever wondered what it’d be like to be a 24-year-old college graduate with minimal debt and a lavish apartment in Chicago? Perhaps not, but I sure have. While I am only a senior in high school, I dream of the day that I am out of college, and enjoying my life as a young, responsible adult. My high aspirations to live in the beautiful city of Chicago, with a promising career, almost no debt, and a large amount of savings in the bank may seem a little unrealistic, but it is certainly attainable. Sometimes, I wonder when I will actually be able to live my dream. Let’s face it – my generation is all about “now, now, now.” We want all the up-to-date items, the elaborate house and the luxurious car by the time we graduate college. How pragmatic is that, though? I am a realistic thinker, and while sometimes my quixotic views on life sometimes sneak up and influence me, I try to be a young adult who only indulges in shopping and entertainment every so often. I am very self-disciplined with my assignments and I work hard to be the best person I can be. When it comes to money, I do not plan to set low standards.

As a senior in high school, I have been facing the fact that I will be graduating and going off to college. Hence, I am in dire need of money. Seniors often have quite a few events that they can take part in that can be a little expensive when you add all of the expenses together. Most seniors have a car, which requires gas money and insurance payments, and we seniors also may have to pay for prom, college application fees, senior pictures, etc. Fortunately, my father gave me his car, which was paid off, after buying a new one for him. In addition, my mother pays for my gas freely, because I fill it up infrequently (I take the bus to school voluntarily), and most of my college fees were waived. Moreover, I decided not to go to prom this year, for many reasons, and that cut my senior expenses. My mother bought the smallest and least expensive package for senior pictures. All of my parents’ generosity has made it so I have no trade-offs, or major sacrifices. I have prepared myself for the “real world” by opening my own checking account with National City Bank. I also have a job at Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins. My checks are all direct deposit, which I find advantageous since it makes it less tempting to spend my earnings. I only work one day a week, sometimes two, because I like to have a enough time to work on assignments and still have time to do whatever else is needed. I make minimum wage, but because I rarely spend my money, I have a sufficient amount of money in the bank. Anything is better than nothing.

Besides my senior expenses and my job, I have other means of earning money and being able to still have a social life while saving. My neighbors enjoy going out together by themselves for three hours, probably about once a month or once every two months, and I babysit their two children, typically earning $30.00 that night. There’s also the occasional holiday or celebration that often ends up with me receiving some money, such as my birthday, or Christmas. Whether it is from babysitting or receiving a gift, the majority of the time, I put all of the money in my checking account. If I do wish to spend money once in a while, my parents help pay for my social life. If I go out to eat, or maybe rent a movie, they will pay for it. They usually insist on giving me more money than I even ask for. Renting a movie only costs $0.99 to $1.99 at the Blockbuster I rent from, and when I eat with someone, I often split meals with people or order off the kids’ menu and that saves money as well. There are many ways to earn money and also many ways to be smart about the way you spend.

There is always a chance that something unexpected could occur in my life or that something expected is coming up and I must prepare for it. College is certainly expected. How have I prepared for it? I applied to some colleges, and received scholarships for most of them, making it a little bit easier to afford some of them. In addition, my mom filed my FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) information, which we are awaiting to see what kinds of grants, loans and awards may be given. That will most likely be a deciding factor that will tell me which school I will most likely attend in the fall of 2009. My parents are going to help pay for college, paying for $6,000-$10,000 a year. In addition, I am saving my money incessantly so that I can have my own money to have while I am away from home. I don’t want to be completely broke. While college may be anticipated, accidents happen and problems enter our lives unexpectedly. What if my car breaks down? What if I get into a wreck? How will I pay for oil changes and flat tires, or a speeding ticket? In nearly all of those cases, I know my generous parents would pay for such expenses. While some wrecks and problems are accidents, I do my very best to be an alert, responsible driver, to avoid any mishaps. In general, I am going to avoid mistakes as best as I can. I’m going to make sure I don’t spend money too much and too often. If I do spend money, I hope that I am smart about what I buy, paying attention to sale times and hunting more for similar items that are cheaper. I also hope that I do not buy too many superfluous items, if any at all. It can be difficult sometimes, especially as a girl who loves fashion, to not want to be impulsive and buy stylish clothing, which is often expensive. I suppose that is part of growing up – we must learn to make the most of our money and be more conscientious of what we do.

How can I, as a young adult, achieve my dream? Will I ever live in my cozy, condominium in Chicago and have a bachelor’s degree with minimal debt? That seems dubious, and it may be, but I think that if I remain diligent, and steadfast, focusing on making smart consumer choices, I could achieve my dream one day. Maybe I’ll be 30 instead of 24, but all that matters is that I’ll be happy and stable. “In the old days a man who saved money was a miser; nowadays he’s a wonder.” ~Author Unknown.

I want to be a wonder. I will be a wonder.

Composition has been lightly edited.