Conversations about money should not alienate students

Sabrina Villanueva Avalos, Opinion Editor

“I’m getting $100 for every A I get.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, I’ll just use my mom’s credit card.”

“Ew. Why can’t my parents take me to the Bahamas instead of Europe.”

Yes, these are actual sentences spoken by actual people who walk these hallways. Some people are extremely fortunate financially, and that is fantastic. What isn’t fantastic, however, is how statements like these alienate those who might not be as fortunate.

As a student with a relatively low socioeconomic status, I know what it’s like to be the less fortunate student listening to comments like these. I know what it’s like to work to help provide for my family and worry about how I’m going to fund my future in college and beyond. I’ve thought about money more than so many others who seem to think that everyone has the funds to maintain an expensive social life. This is what makes it so difficult to listen to my peers brag about brand new cars and vacation plans. For some of us, these have never been possible.

So many students have a constant worry about how their family is going to pay their rent for the upcoming month or making enough money to keep electricity on. Those of us who have jobs to support our families don’t have a stack of money set aside for luxuries; we focus on necessities. I learned how to balance a checkbook before most people learn what a bank account is, and vacations are rarely in the realm of possibilities.

So many students facing financial burdens like myself are unable to attend social outings such as movies or fancy dinners or expensive concerts because we don’t all have access to money all the time. In addition to that, we must deal with those who shove their wealth in our faces as if it were the answer to world peace. Intentional or not, it hurts, and these are the things that we need to look out for. I understand how cool it is that you’ve already visited five different countries before your twelfth birthday, but students need to start being more aware of who they’re bragging to. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind hearing about your vacations; if I went on one, I would talk about it too. However, there is a very fine line between sharing your experiences and bragging about them everyday to those of us who cannot relate to your fortune.

I get it, talking about money is hard and it’s awkward, and many of us don’t know how to do it because it’s never been a worry before. However, it is something that we do need to talk about because whether you see it or not, it is going to be a huge part of our futures. I know the reality of paying bills, affording the necessary groceries and living life on a budget. Students need to start becoming educated on the real role that money plays in our daily lives, even if they are not responsible for it now, and the best way to do this is to start talking about it. Students need to be aware that we are all in different financial situations, so we need to stop talking about money as if we are all the same. While some of us have parents that are able to provide everything from the necessities of life to social outings with friends, others are obligated to work just to be able to afford the necessities and anything extra is a rare added bonus, if it’s even possible at all.

I’m not asking you all to stop discussing your awesome new clothes and your expensive Christmas gifts. I’m asking you to realize that the person sitting next to you may not be able to get all of those things, so be wary when talking about them. When you don’t know how to talk about something, find a different conversation. We all have so many other qualities and the diversity at our school is endless. There is so much more to our student body than money and material goods. Don’t allow your ignorance about money to affect your ability to interact with those around you.