This is a college essay from a student who applied for the Golden Financial Services scholarship. To apply for the scholarship, students need to come up with a new program to deal with credit card debt. The plan must be different from the existing debt relief options. If you like this student’s essay and believe they should win the scholarship, simply click the “thumbs up” button for this post.
I have had some interesting conversations with my parents about credit card debt and finances in general. When I was 15 my grandfather and I set up my checking account and I received my first debit/credit card attached to this. Over time, I learned how to make deposits and withdrawals and how to review my account statements.
The money I earned from working at camp, at odd jobs and babysitting assignments would go directly into this account. In addition, I would put any birthday or holiday money in as well. This type of account gave me some early knowledge and I believe that it has been very helpful in keeping me focused on not spending what I do not have!
The new credit card relief plan
I’d like to see a program for teens in this country that would require them to get used to a debit account. Work/study programs in schools and community involvement would be two ways to introduce incentive plans and management to teens and young adults.
One of the components of my financial requirement at Colby College is that I must be directly involved in paying for part of my tuition. I am being asked to contribute a sum (which I will earn independently either during the summer or school year) and I am being asked to participate in a work-study program while attending school. If there were a similar program set up in high schools, teens would learn the value of education.
There are so many ways that teens could help out schools-assisting with cleaning and upkeep, general maintenance, assistance in cafeterias and kitchens, or as teacher assistants or athletic interns. Schools would have invested students, extra help in all areas and all participants would have a connection or investment in the school and community.
Tax money could be used to “pay” students on debit cards and these funds could in turn be used to purchase meals, snacks, transportation, supplies or equipment. This would be just an introduction to managing funds that would build a foundation for teens to use in their adult lives. By having the opportunity to learn these valuable skills in a managed environment, they would be able to get a taste of what money management will be like later in life. And because it would be a debit system only to be used for designated goods, it should prevent abuse or misuse.
As far as helping consumers to resolve their delinquent credit card debt, I would love to see a program that would involve community service as an opportunity to earn funds to pay off that debt. While the work-study/high school program I discussed above would help people to build foundations to avoid future debt, there are always examples of people who do get into debt crisis.
The opportunity to give back to communities and work above and beyond regular jobs could offer people the chance to get ahead. From what I have observed, people who end up in debt often do not have the resources or time or ability to fix it in a reasonable amount of time. So, it becomes a vicious cycle of frustration and inability to ever get ahead of the problem. However, if our communities offered financial incentives to do the community work needed, the funds raised by helping out could be applied towards the debt.
By applying through a central office, people could enlist in needed services where they would be paid in credit towards a designated debt. I can imagine this being helpful for personal debt issues but also for outstanding taxes or even medical costs. This would of course require oversight and central coordination, but if we could see beyond that and realize what good it would bring to our communities and the people living in debt, it would be worth the effort! We could take care of so many community issues.
My proposed credit card relief program is different from the existing debt relief programs.
They require the consumer to take action and contribute hands on to earn the funds to be applied toward the debt. This approach is appealing to me because I am a believer in being invested and involved in community.
Maybe this comes from my rather unusual upbringing, living in independent and boarding schools where my parents have worked. I observed students participating in jobs all over the campuses where as a part of their education they were asked to physically contribute a helping hand. I realize that it would require incredible work to set up, but if we could commit to the task, I know it would make our world a better and financially more solid place to live.
About the Student:
As a student-athlete, I have learned to incorporate many activities into my life. I enjoy school especially history, Spanish and the broadcast journalism courses I have taken. I’ve been involved in Harvard Model Congress, a state Spanish competition, National Honor Society and Student Government (school VP this year). After the school day, I spend my falls as the kicker on our varsity football team, the winters as a forward on the varsity basketball team and the springs either on the track team (high jumping and running the 400) or attempting to play lacrosse. Weekends are typically filled with social times with my close group of friends, working on my school projects, practicing my kicking and spending time with my family. My parents and my sister (who is 16 months younger than me) and I live in Palm Beach Gardens Florida. We have been here for almost 3 years as my parents who have both worked in independent school education work at the school we attend. Prior to Florida, we spent two years in Little Rock, Arkansas which was a completely different culture and locale. Ultimately, I call Bridgton, Maine home as that is where the majority of my extended family lives and where I was born and raised until the age of 13. Luckily, I am able to spend my summers working at a summer camp in Maine. It is a special time for me to reconnect with my family and to work with great kids.