This I Believe

Fengning - Doraville, Georgia
Entered on December 20, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Saving the Dough

Money slaps the faces of the poor everyday. Just through MARTA, I’ve seen it abuse countless victims: teenagers who can’t afford college, alcoholics, new immigrants, tired workers, old women, young mothers, and mothers who bring their children everywhere because they can’t afford babysitters. If life was a House of the Dead video game, though, these people would have the highest scores. These are the players who survive given the least ammo. They take their 20,000 or less a year and keep the buttons moving.

These people can’t afford regular movie theater trips. A Hispanic laborer I met was off to his second job that day, at four in the afternoon. He was so exhausted that he almost fell asleep during our conversation. Most of these people don’t have air-conditioning either. One woman told me that she sleeps in a one-story house with twelve other women.

Yet these are people who inspire me. They made mistakes in the past, but they continue marching forward, even when hanging from the bare minimum. Because of people like them, I believe in saving money.

Even alcoholics inspire me. An alcoholic takes all his cash and spends it on what’s important to him. One MARTA alcoholic’s corduroy jacket was ripped along a sleeve and his boots were badly scratched and full of holes. His hair looked like the head of a dirty mop and his teeth resembled ice cream sandwiches with half the cookie parts gone. But he had his vodka. Therefore, he was happy.

I don’t quite look like a bum, but most of my clothes are approaching their three year-old birthdays, and I refuse to spend money on a haircut. I’m happy because the more money I save, the more I can donate to people like my MARTA friends, who would benefit more than I would from the extra dough.

Saving money involves sacrificing. It means walking by rows of candy bars and just admiring their glossy wrappers. It means mending holes in T-shirts and stabbing my fingers with the needles. It means waiting an hour for the MARTA bus, avoiding trips to Jack and Jill’s, and copying problems from my friend’s math book because I’ve bought the older version for eight dollars. But saving money is important to me, because I have the power to give away something hard earned.

It’s really a selfish concept. I save money for my psychological benefit. I do it, because it makes me feel less guilty. Who made my mother a middle class American anyways? The joy I receive from “becoming” low class is almost as profound as donating money itself. The happiness I get from “being” poor, makes its opportunity cost whither like spinach leaves in the microwave. So in the end we all benefit. Except maybe my mother and my boyfriend who both think that my philosophy is absolutely crazy.

I thank my MARTA friends for their encouragement. I believe in saving money, because that’s how I find my happiness