Paying for the “unnecessary”

Living in Princeton, it’s not uncommon to have peers who are privileged enough to own beach houses, have long-standing memberships at ski resorts or travel the world every summer. This could be jealousy-inducing for someone who has never been skiing and whose regular summer trip is to see family in Michigan via a 12-hour car ride. But there is something valuable about every way of living and I appreciate the standards my family has created for me in my life. We have what we need, and a lot more of what we want than most people on planet earth. My parents have required that I work for things that are really important to me, so I help to pay for my ballet tuition. I haven’t been able to have a regular job because hours would conflict with ballet. I have babysat and done odd jobs during the summer in order to consistently contribute to ballet tuition and things deemed “unnecessary,” such as overly-expensive shoes or the third movie of the month. That commitment has given me a greater appreciation for what I have and what I think is worth working for. In college, I will be prepared to take on a work-study job so that I can start to pay for myself. We’re supposed to be ready for life when we’re done with college, and that definitely includes a solid understanding of how to finance our existence. So just as my brother has before me, and my sister will after me, I have been phased into that financial responsibility, a transition ingeniously and smoothly orchestrated by our parents.