Learning the Hard Way

December 17, 2007
By John Hwang, Coquitlam, BC

‘I can’t wait until I get out of here!’ ‘I wish I was eighteen!’ ‘I hate my parents, I’m going to run away.’ Sound familiar? Most teens can’t wait until they live by themselves. But, I can’t. I’m not a ‘seven year old boy.’ But, after spending about five months living by myself, I realized how much work our parents have to deal with. They may look as if they don’t need to do anything, but trust me; they have more difficult problems than school.

Living by myself had pros and cons. The pros were: I’m free, I get to do whatever I want, and bye cold, cruel world. The cons were: oh my gosh, I spent fifteen hundred dollars in two months, what do I tell my mother? I wish I could hire a driver, as buses take up so much time. How the heck did my underwear turn from blue to yellow?

Let’s start with the pros. I had my own bank card, cell phone, and bank account. I hung out with my friends a lot and we had lots of fun together. I went to sports drop-ins often and went around malls. All those weren’t possible when my mom was here because she wouldn’t let me be free.

I learned how to get around the city without help. My friends and I did some mischievous stuff, such as transforming a water bottle into a deadly weapon with dry ice (I don’t recommend anyone trying this, as you might end up in the hospital with sixty plastic pieces in your skin.)

I text messaged my friends, phoned them, did some prank calls, and swiped my card on every bank machine I could get my hands on.

Later, I found myself reading the numbers on the bills. It’s not hard to imagine, just think sixty-two with four zeroes behind it. Actually, it was more like twelve with a zero behind it but how much do you have to work for a hundred and twenty dollars? If you work at McDonalds, it would take a long time.

Now let’s go into the Cons. Having a cell phone, bank card and lots of money is tempting although we have to learn to not spend a hundred dollars in one day. Budgeting your time and money is a vital part of life. It can mean either life or death, trust me I know.

The first three months I spent huge amounts of money, about a thousand and five hundred dollars on junk food, clothing and accessories. That is enough for an African child to go to school, have a home and put food on the table. Pretty ironic because I feel sorry for the poor people but I’m not contributing, perhaps the total opposite.

Junk food isn’t healthy for us, but the bigger problem is: if you get addicted to it, then you are going to use hundreds of dollars in a few months! I learned that the hard way. For the rest of the two months of living alone, I had only $56 to survive on. Luckily, I had temporary custodians looking after me so food and shelter wasn’t a big problem.

Purchasing new clothes are pretty tempting, and if you give in to those temptations you are going to go mad and spend money like a crazy chimpanzee. Money is hard to gain, but so easy to spend in a very short time. If we started working for our own money then we would think three times before purchasing a jacket or a PSP.

The important thing is that you have you have self-control over yourself. Parents guide you so that you learn how to spend money wisely and learn how to gain money.

Another bad part was that buses took too much time. When my parents were with me, they drove me so it was less time-consuming. When I started to take the bus, I had to make good use of the time that I had.

If you’re still thinking that you are the best and you’re ready to live alone, be my guest. But, I’d bet that you would come back to your parents with an empty bank account. I learned that the hard way.

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