2009

Writing Contest: Semifinalist

Real World Money

Amy Dgien, Baldwin High School, Pittsburgh, PA, (Teacher: Natalie Grattan)

Many people are unaware of the value of money and the amount of hard work required to keep track of it and the willpower they must have not to spend it. This is where I have an advantage over them. While I have not had experiences living on my own or buying my own personal items, I have been keeping track of my own money since I was a child. When I was about 3-years-old, my parents opened a savings account in my name which, until I knew what it did, held the money I received from family members for birthdays and holidays. Then, at about 6 years of age, I started to receive an allowance. It started as just a few dollars, then increased as I grew in age. When I started keeping track of my own allowance, I obtained a type of banking system, which had three different slots to keep money in; one titled “Spending,” another titled “Saving,” and the last titled “Invest.” I was taught to divide my allowance each week between these three sections. This way, I would be taught how to keep track of money, learn how to save money, and formulate my own budgeting system.

Two summers ago I started working at a local water park; at the same time I opened my own checking account to deposit my paychecks. I was advised by my parents to split up the money I earned so that half of it would go into my savings and the other half I could use for spending. This worked out very well because I was never one to spend a lot of money. After shopping with my mom so many times I learned how to determine if goods were worth the money they were advertised for or if I should wait until they went on sale. This learning paid off so much that the following year I changed my system to putting two-thirds of my earnings into my savings and one-third into spending. My mom advised me to keep all of my money in two different sections within my savings account, one called savings and the other called spending, this way I knew how much I could, and I could not spend, and all the money earned 2% interest. This upcoming summer will be my third year working at the water park. I am planning on putting almost all of my earnings into my savings portion of my savings account. Also, this summer, I plan to install Quicken onto my laptop and learn how to use it so I can keep track of my spending electronically.

These experiences have taught me a lot in the past couple of years, which I believe to be the root of my interest in majoring in accounting in college. I have already passed an accounting course at my high school and am currently enrolled in a second accounting class and in an AP economics class. The knowledge that I have retained over these years spending and saving money and learning how the economy works has forced me to want to save my money even more. Given what I know about the current economy, I feel that it is extremely important to understand how to manage and save money. College can be very expensive and one of my goals is to graduate on time with as little debt as I can. I am very much ok with using my money to pay for books, rooming, and even tuition. The more of my money I use to pay for college expenses up front, the less money I will have to pay back in the future and the less I will have to worry about going into debt. Therefore, I will be able to spend my money or save it for anything I want.

Now saving this money may be bad to others because I don’t use it to buy the latest forms of technology and keep up with the latest trends, but that personally doesn’t bother me. I am content with keeping my cell phone until my plan is up and keeping my now two-year-old iPod until it breaks. I guess this is just another way I understand money more than others. I have learned what I need to get by, I’ll wear my clothes until they no longer fit, I’ll live in a tiny apartment if that’s what I need to do to save more money. I am under the impression that if I don’t need the newest and greatest “toy” there is no use wasting the money on it. Given these experiences of saving and keeping track of my own money, I will have an advantage over the other kids of my generation in the future.

Composition has been lightly edited.