Money (insert Beetles tune here)

Having finished the first draft of my National Honor Society essay on character (it's about two lines too long so that's why it's a first draft), I realized how important money has become in my life.

I used to think that the economy hasn't affected my family that much money wise. Before the crash we drove two Toyotas, didn't eat out a whole lot and enjoyed an existance that was definitely middle class. Most of that was by choice - we could have stayed in Germany and been upper-middle class but that came at a cost - being away from my sister in college.

Paying for Maggie's college meant we were a little more frugal - we didn't go out to dinner quite as much - and it was important for her to keep up her grades for the scholarship.

Four years later with my sister teaching in China and my senior year of high school, I can definitely tell a change has come about in our way of life.

I lost about 20% (give or take) of my college savings fund due to the stock market. Iowa College Savings Plan has the money I recieved from my grandmother's inheritance and the money my father puts in every paycheck and part of that is in the stock exchange. Needless to say, when it tanked, so did my savings.

However, I'm up to a respectable $31,000 in my fund with a special bond from a family member to only be used for college.

Looking for colleges I was pressed with the idea we had to be able to afford it. This caused some major stress so I was happy when I was guarenteed (even before admittance) $12,500 at Carroll University. It meant that college would not be as much of a financial burden on my parents.

And yet, I can still see the stress. We never go out to eat anymore and leftover night has become common. My mom has been cooking less meat (probably healthier for us) and loads more chicken. She's a coupon-aholic and shops around for the best deals. In many ways this is good for my family. We save money and live healthier. But it comes at a cost.

It comes at the cost that I have to wait for payday to ask for anything - even something as simple as a binder for school or ink for the printer. It comes at the cost that I have to buy my own clothes now because I know we can't necessarily afford my new taste in Gap.

And yet, these aren't things that bother me as much as some things. The biggest thing that bothers me about money is how my mom talks about it. She argues if the insurance company overcharges her $10 or if the morgage doesn't realize that she sent two payments instead of one. Things my mom would never take advantage of before have been taken advantage of. Like the Dollar Store. I know that dollar store vitamins have been studied for not having the right nutrients and actually occasionally being dangerous. But I now have dollar store vitamins.

I don't mind that - as long as I stay safe. But I hate hearing constantly about money. We don't have any more expenses than we did before the economy tanked. My sister's college money is now going into my account and I still get the same amount of allowance. If anything, we're actually doing better because the bonuses are better. But it constantly is brought up. I honestly dislike it. I would rather be oblivious to our financial situation than know what I know now because of Mom's commenting.

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