Mar 012012
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A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would share my English class essays.  If you recall, I shared a paragraph my teacher asked the class to write as the first assignment.   Our second assignment was to write an Exemplification essay.  Here is my final draft.  I got a 97% and again, I’m surprised by the grade I received but feel great about it = )  Best of all though, I didn’t need as much help from my personal editor (oh dear hubby o’Mine).  This means I’m getting better and more comfortable with writing = )  Let’s see how long it lasts, lol!

Please note the essay does not contain my teacher’s the revisions .

Messed Up Priorities

I did not grow up in a high income household, but my parents did their best to provide for my brother, my sister and me, with a modest home, and more than just our basic needs.  My brother and sister liked to wear name brand sneakers and clothes, and because I knew my parents struggled to afford just the family’s basic needs, I was happy with whatever my parents would get me.  I did not mind seeing my siblings with their new sneakers while I wore my worn out canvas sneakers.  Even though my parents managed to give their children good quality items and make sure there were plenty of pretty boxes under our Christmas tree, they unfortunately did not prepare for emergencies or their retirement.  Many people in the United States are struggling or will be struggling in the future because of overspending on things like smartphones and mp3 players, buying expensive vehicles, and purchasing homes they can barely afford.

People often say they are unable to meet their financial obligations, yet many of these same people manage to obtain a slew of unnecessary items.  People complain about the ever increasing price of groceries and gasoline, and not being able to make their rent or car payment, yet, these same people buy things such as mp3 players, smartphones with costly plans, and even manage buy a daily cup of coffee on the way to work.  While things like a smartphone and mp3 players are nice, they are not essential elements for most people’s lives.  The same goes for buying coffee every day at Starbucks or eating lunch out instead of packing your meal.  Yes, these items are convenient and make life easier, but such short sighted use of one’s hard earned money can have negative repercussions later in life.  I think it is time that we as a society make responsible personal finance a cultural norm.  Financial responsibility means knowing that just because you can buy something, does not mean that you should buy it.

Nowadays, many working families do not have money to save for emergencies or retirement, and one reason is because people overspend when buying or leasing a new car.  Cars are expensive, and for this reason, a lot of people chose to lease a vehicle instead of buy it.  While the payments for leases are lower, the total cost to the consumer is masked with up-front fees and excessive mileage fees.  People who lease cars are married to the vehicle whether they love it or hate it, unless they pay substantial termination penalties.  Often, individuals who opt to buy vehicles spend more than their finances comfortably allow.  One of the most common mistakes is people shop for their cars by monthly payment instead of considering the overall price.  It is important to consider the total cost of a new car when making a purchase and not just the monthly payment.  Shopping for cars by monthly payments can lead to higher interest rate and longer term loans which means a higher overall cost of the vehicle.  In order to be able to save as much money as possible, it is important to take a realistic account of one’s needs and desires.

Electronic gadgets, buying gourmet coffee every day, and purchasing expensive cars may be the culprit for many peoples’ financial woes, but these things certainly do not deserve all of the blame.  For example, a major cause of financial strife in the United States comes as a result of poorly prepared and inadequately educated home buyers.  Home ownership is not for everyone.  Buying a home may be the American dream, but it can quickly become a nightmare for people who do not buy responsibly.  People are taught to go to school, get a job and buy a house.  What people are not taught, however, is how to buy a house, or if it is even the right thing for them to do.  Making a mistake when purchasing a home can lead to financial ruin.  The typical American mentality that bigger is better extends to the homes they buy.  People often try to get as much house as they can, using little to no money of their own.  This means that their monthly mortgage payments will be high, and they will not be prepared when something goes wrong, and they need to shell out money for an unforeseen emergency.  Another common problem is when home buyers acquire an adjustable rate mortgage on their home.  When interest rates are low, an adjustable rate mortgage can be enticing, but if interest rates go up to high, finding enough money to make the mortgage payment can prove impossible for some homeowners.

I had a happy childhood with devoted parents who provided everything that I needed, and was happy receiving all that my parents provided; I would have preferred not to see them struggle to buy material items.  I would have rather preferred that they prepare for their future.  Don Robinson said, “One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish needs from greeds.”    Material items, like electronic gadgets, expensive cars, and fancy coffee offer short lived gratification at the cost of potentially not leaving enough money to cover obligations.  People’s needs should outweigh their wants.  If people continue to consume the way they currently do, and not save money for their future, I fear an extremely hard road ahead for many people.


As always, feel free to share your thoughts, but please be nice = )


~ L.

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