Money, Can’t Live Without!

When times get hard, and money is low, sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

The summer after I graduated from college, I moved back home to live with my family. I spent the entire summer filling out job applications and submitting resumes. It certainly wasn’t easy finding a job, even with a BA degree from Berkeley. My parents worried that even with my college education, I was still having a lot of trouble.

Interesting and desirable employment opps were (and still are) difficult to come by in the Central Valley because the market here feels more oriented towards basic office-work (Office Manager, Administrative Assistant, Office Clerk, etc)–at least, that’s what I found the most that summer. Nothing wrong with that, but I was eager to find something I actually wanted to do. Finally, in the fall, I landed a decent job as a Cultural Organizer for a local non-profit, certainly something I wanted to do. I’m glad I waited and didn’t settle for less.

But in that time of endless applications and resumes, I still had to pay my bills! It was probably August…and cutting close to desperation, I did the one thing I could think of doing. During college, I had bought this new silver flute off Ebay to see if I could rekindle a childhood hobby. I must have paid around $200 for it. So then in August, I pawned the damn flute and got a measly $75, which was barely enough for me to make-do that month. I really didn’t want to lose the flute, but I had no choice, I had to give it up.

I think business in pawn shops has gone up because of this economic recession we are in–higher gas prices, foreclosure crisis, higher food costs. People are turning in their goods to make ends meet. There was even a recent article in the Fresno Bee about a local pawn shop that saw an increase in business because customers were coming in on a frequent basis (sometimes the same customers) to pawn all sorts of things, lawn mowers, tools, speakers and sound systems, and other odds and ends.

As part of YO! Youth Outlook’s Blog-A-Thon this week on the topic of “money”, The Know youth took time to think about their own financial struggles. If it is hard for adults to make and save money, it is even harder for young people. But one thing we discovered and agreed upon in our discussion was that with being broke comes a certain sense of humility and gratefulness for the little things we have in our lives. Some of the youth acknowledged that by being poor, they had better relationships with people. Marcus pointed out “when I’m poor, I go talk to people” and Laqusha mentioned that when her family is broke, they “spend time at home together having fun, watching movies, playing games, writing out rap lyrics…” Makes you think twice about wanting to be filthy rich. –Mai Der

Jaleesa, 18
Right now, I’ve only got about $1.12 in my wallet. I don’t really like money. I never really have. But no matter how hard I try to avoid it, it always comes back to slap me in the face. It always shouts out “You need me. You want me. You can’t do a damn thing without me.”

Sometimes I find ways around it. I stay home and try to do something productive. Even on an empty stomach, I write, draw, or clean. I use my mind and create. Just because I don’t have money doesn’t mean I’m paralyzed and doomed to a life of boredom. Lack of money has taught me to appreciate what little I have. So maybe in the end, I’m rich. Not with money of course, but with values, patience, and the ability to be frugal.

I can’t tell people to hold on to money. But maybe someone can learn from me that even though it may not be easy to be broke, it’s still possible to have a fulfilling life. Money, to me anyway, isn’t the most important thing. I know I can still have fun without it.

Gracie, 16
Money, something I know I wouldn’t be able to live without due to the fact that there is always something out there I might need, or just can’t live without. Society today is basically formed around one thing, and that’s money. If you don’t have money, it’s like having no voice.

I know many people struggle trying to earn money but for me that’s a different story. I do everything I can think of to earn money without having a job, such as yard work, baby sitting, house cleaning, selling pottery and pet sitting. Some weeks it can be difficult for me to earn money due to the fact that there is simply nothing I can do.

Every week my friends are always asking me if I’m able to go to a concert at the end of the week and sometimes I have to say “no” because I have no money to go. But sometimes they are generous enough to pay for me even though I don’t like them to because it seems like I am a burden, but I pay them back once I get money. And to be honest, I don’t know much about the economic situation because my parents are financially supporting me, unless it’s for shows, movies, or the mall, then I’m on my own with that.

Kevis, 17
Twenty-eight dollars…that’s all I have in my wallet. Two of those dollars are for gas in my lawn mower. Money is a rare object when it comes to my pockets. I only got a few ways of earning money. They consist of going to The Know meetings, my job sometimes when they have work (which is as a culinary staff/waiter), and working for my mom and grandfather. Usually when I get money I go buy shoes, or I buy stuff on Ebay. But mainly, it’s shoes, clothes, and games.

I think the main problem with money nowadays is that you can blow it all so fast, it’s basically useless. Gas prices are skyrocketing and food prices are blasting off. Twenty eight dollars for a bike chain that goes on your pants. One hundred and sixty eight dollars for a thin hoody with a skull on the back. Three hundred dollars for a pair of authentic Bapes. Five dollars for a foot long sub at Subway. And three dollars and seventy nine cents for nine-tenths of a gallon of gas at the gas station. These are just some of the examples of why money has become scarce. I truly hate it.

Chanda, 18
Everywhere I go there is a lot of talk about being poor, and not enough talk about the positive things about being poor. I work for a magazine called The Know, and right now, I get paid thirty dollars a week. There are only two meetings per week, so all throughout the rest of the week and weekend, I am poor. I have found a lot of ways to have fun while having no money. I love to read books, go for walks, watch TV/movies, hang out with friends, play with my brothers and sister so that I won’t be and get bored.

I used to be really poor when I was sixteen years old. I was bored all of the time and I would bum and borrow a dollar off of people just to get what I wanted or needed. It was hard for me and my family at that time in our lives, but we never gave up. I kept looking for a job, even if it wasn’t what I wanted, I still took it to get some money. I was embarrassed for asking people for money or having people buy me things I needed or wanted. I finally got a job with the magazine when I was around seventeen.

Once I started earning money, I realized it wasn’t much fun having money either because it ends up getting spent so fast.

Jesse, 16
Mooney! Something we all need for clothes, food, car, bills, and other things. But what we as Americans have failed to realize is that having money has excluded us from family, friends, and other people in our lives.

Think about it, the rich don’t talk to the poor because they have nothing in common. The rich probably talk to some rich people because they want to be nice and not give a bad impression of how much money they have. But as low-income citizens, we find ways to communicate better.

It’s funny how on some TV shows if a neighbor is middle class and the other is higher class, they battle out their money and try to see who can do better. Yet they forget that little “Tommy” needs a winter coat that’s getting ready to bite Montana. When we realize we don’t have money, we begin to accept one another. We play Monopoly or Sorry, we even have a great time watching a movie in the living room together. When we have money we forget about those things and they just get collected by dust. We forget about books that sit on shelves and the pages become yellow with age.

Money, I guess that’s the root of all evil.

This article was previously posted on the YO! Youth Outlook website here.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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