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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Extra "Credit" Assignment

I would like everybody reading this to think back to when they were in school.  I realize that for some of you, this will probably be only a few months.  And for some of you, it might be fifty years.  But just go ahead and imagine it for a second.

I want you to think back to some of the classes that you took in school, whether they were required classes or electives.  Which ones do you feel helped you the most in your day to day life, and which ones do you feel didn't?

It's not too hard to list the classes that I felt that I didn't get anything out of it.  One of the classes was gym class, and I stopped taking it after the tenth grade.  Not because I had anything against physical education.  I honestly feel that in the younger grades, it was necessary to have it.  It was more like, I was tired of busting my butt in that class and still only getting a C minus in the course while natural athletes were getting A's.  Not worth it, as far as I was concerned.

I also didn't have much use for trigonometry either.  I'm certain that I know how to cut a sandwich into triangles without consulting the Pythagorean Theorem, thank you.

When it came down to classes that I really enjoyed, I loved my English media class.  Imagine the idea of watching movies and television shows for homework!  Granted, it was one of the easiest courses offered at my high school, but given how tumultuous the entire experience was, I needed an easy course to distract me. 

I also appreciated any class that allowed me to submit creative writing.  After all, writing is kind of my specialty.  I wish I only had a way to legitimately get paid for writing my thoughts out.  Maybe one day it will happen.

Though, looking back on things, I think that I might have been better off if I had taken certain classes in school.  Maybe life would have had more purpose.  I regret not sticking with music classes after the ninth grade.  Although I had gotten tired of the baritone by then, there was nothing stopping me from learning another instrument.  I mean, I wasn't the best singer, but it's something that I wish I had explored more.

I also wish I had found a way to be able to take home economics.  As silly as it sounds, I would have liked to have gotten in to take that class.  Problem is, whenever I tried, one of my required classes always got in the way.  Too bad too.  Had I enrolled in that class, I wouldn't be so paranoid about burning my house down.  But I suppose that I can always find a way to remedy that.  After all, I am only in my mid-thirties.  At least I can use a microwave.  Somewhat.

But do you know what class I REALLY wanted to take? 

I'd have loved to have taken a class in high school on credit counseling, or how to pay bills, or how to determine what mortgage was right for you, or how to balance your student loan payments, or how to file a tax return.  Essentially, I really wanted to take a class on life as an adult.  The skills necessary for one to navigate through life without having to deal with the stress of massive debt.

Unfortunately that was a class that I couldn't take.  Because I don't even think that a class like that existed at my high school.  And if it did, it certainly wasn't promoted.

Not that one could actually promote a high school class that didn't technically exist.

But you know something?  I wish it had.  Because it certainly would have helped me navigate my early adult years without much turbulence whatsoever.  And I am certain that it would have helped quite a few of my classmates as well.

These days, it's hard not to go off to post-secondary education without running into people who want to try and get you to sign up for a credit card.  I don't know if they still do this at universities and colleges now, but back when I was a student, they'd offer up some incentive to get you to sign up for one.  It could be a free T-shirt, or free meals from the university food court.  Or in my case, a free CD with songs that were popular twenty years earlier.  I mean, yeah, anyone could win my heart with a mix tape of 1980s favourites, but signing up for a credit card as a lure?  Not so much.

Granted, I knew what the value of a dollar was, and I already was $14,000 in debt from student loans (which took me twelve and a half years to pay back, mind you).  The last thing I needed was a credit card to put me further into debt.  So, I took the CD, got the card in the mail, and cut it up into eighteen equal pieces. 

That said, it's amazing how many people I knew saw the card as having "free money" and they used it for every single purchase.  They bought beer, books, wine, clothes, spirits, pizza, and bourbon.  It was a magical card that could grant them every wish they desired.  Only in their case, there was no little blue genie that sounded like Robin Williams cheering them on from the sidelines.

Instead, there were several pieces of mail sent to their mailboxes demanding that they pay the amount that they spent along with an interest rate of at least 20%.  Needless to say, they weren't too happy about that.  It seemed as though nobody had taught them the perils of credit card usage.  While it is important to establish a credit history, you have to have some self-control, and it's amazing how many people didn't realize it, or didn't care.

I mean, we're living in a world that is constantly changing, and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses (or Kardashians if you're into that show) is honestly not worth it.  I actually know a few people who have to have the latest iPhone, and who have to have the newest car, or who have to have what the next door neighbours have, only better.  Who wants or needs that pressure?  I have no desire to keep up with anybody when all I really want is right at my fingertips.

Well, okay, I could use a career change, but aside from that, I have what I need.  I don't want to go into debt to impress people I can't stand to be around.  I'd rather be financially stable than have credit card induced instability. 

And I think that if schools would focus more attention on economics and basic adult tasks and less on algebraic equations that one will NEVER use unless you're answering a skill testing question for a sweepstakes, we'd all be better off in this world.

Food for thought.

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