Editor’s note: Mackenzie Condon, a sixth grader at the Edgartown School, is the first place winner in the essay contest Honoring National Teach Children to Save Day sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank’s Economic Literacy Campaign. Titled Need Vs. Wants, her winning essay follows.
If I had the opportunity to provide a family with all its financial needs for a year, I would stick with the basics, but include things that would carry this family for years to come. My idea is kind of like the old saying: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
One example would be education. To me, education is the best way to set a child up for the future. These days college is crucial for success. In fact, education — college in this case — would create better job options, which would create more money for the future, which would create a better life for the next generations of the family. So just education on its own can make a better life for many people, for many years.
Another thing I believe is important in a family budget is healthy food. Junk food and candy often create cavities and other bad medical conditions and issues. In fact, junk food increases the risk of having to pay more for these medical issues. I believe that you are what you eat. So if you eat lots of unhealthy foods, you will not be a very healthy person. Some nutritious food ideas would be: beans, vegetables, fruits, chicken, milk, yogurt, etc.
The next thing I think is very important is housing. I think a good home should include a kitchen, one or more bathrooms (depending on family size), bedrooms (two to four) and a living room. I think a yard would be nice, but a more wise way to save money would be to buy a house near a park.
I also think extracurricular activities for the children should be included in the budget. Sport uniforms, equipment (baseball bats, hockey sticks, soccer balls, etc.) can add up to a lot of money, but I believe it is worth it. Sports can teach you determination, perseverance and what it’s like to work hard at a goal. These are all things that will carry a child far in life. Sports can also build strength and make sure kids have a healthy weight. Sports is a great way to stear clear of child obesity. Also, if you become very good at a sport, you could possibly get a college scholarship. Even if you weren’t exceptional, colleges like to know you’re well rounded.
I think music is an important part of a child’s life as well as sports. If you play an instrument it is an activity you can enjoy your whole life. Just like sports, colleges offer scholarships to musicians that excel. And of course music is another way to become well rounded.
Technology and electricity are also very big parts of children’s and adult lives. This year I’ve had seven assignments that had to be done on a computer on Google Docs. If I had not had a computer at home it would have been a lot harder since I would have to go to the library which I might not have had time for. So I think a family computer would be needed. I also think one family television would be nice, but is definitely not a need. Depending on how tight money was the family may or may not get a television. A home phone would also be needed for communication.
Transportation is a big part of most people’s lives. I know if my family did not have a car, things would be a lot different for me. I don’t play one sport in my town except track. Gymnastics and tennis are a big part of my life, but they’re 20 minutes away traveling by car. That’s why I think a car is ideal in a family. Kids cannot ride buses until they are somewhat older. Kids also can’t be too young if they’re going to bike or walk somewhere alone. So I believe a car would be needed.
Money for doctor appointments should be put in the budget. Doctor appointments are crucial for adults as well as kids. Appointments are important because someone could have a serious problem that they might not know about until it’s too late. An example would be Lyme disease. Lyme disease can be deadly and we have so many ticks on Martha’s Vineyard that it could happen easily. You might think it’s just the flu at the beginning. Eventually you would realize it was something worse, but it could be too late. Lyme disease is just one example of a bad disease or medical condition that could happen any day. That’s why doctor appointments are so important and should have money set aside in the budget.
Dentist appointments are important as well. Cavities happen easily, especially with kids. A dentist would be needed to tend to an issue. Other diseases or dental issues like gingivitis could occur and a dentist would be needed. There are uncountable amounts of dental issues that can be prevented from one appointment annually or every six months.
I believe things that are put in this budget should be sustainable for years to come. They should be helpful later in time. Banks can also help families financially. It’s important to save your money in a bank because you can earn interest. Also if you run into some type of trouble financially, you’ll have the money you saved. Banks can also give you loans if you ever need one. In conclusion, if I could provide a family with all its basic financial needs for one year, I would include things that would help for years to come.