DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and a responsible young lady. I'm very active in school, and I get very good grades. I'm very thankful that my parents give me an allowance of $25 a week, and I do all my assigned chores faithfully. But now comes my problem. My dad is forcing me to put $5 of my weekly allowance in the bank. He says that he is teaching me the value of saving for a "rainy day." Well for me, it rains every day. When my friends go to the mall on Saturday afternoon, I rarely go because I don't have any money. Whenever I attend a school function, including athletic events, plays, dances, etc., I have to buy a ticket. I also have to pay for my school yearbook out of my allowance. So, I usually need all my weekly allowance money to survive.
My parents read your column more often than I do, so I know they will read your answer to my question, which is: Do you think I should be allowed to spend my allowance for whatever I need to survive and enjoy school activities? — Cash Poor, via email
CASH POOR: I do agree with your parents on your allowance. Five dollars is a reasonable amount (20%) to save for a rainy day — preferably in a bank, earning a little interest. They set the rules and are providing you this allowance, so I believe you should honor their wishes and learn about saving money as a bonus to your personal skill set. You still have $20 per week to budget for your personal spending.
However, I am sympathetic to your plight that you are cash poor. My suggestion is to seek a way to earn a little more by doing some extra work at home beyond your existing chores, local babysitting or a neighbor's yardwork, if such a situation might be suitable for you. Be sure to get your parents' permission and approval if you seek such an opportunity.
Finally, I suggest that you also save for a rainy day 20% of any additional earnings, whether earned at home or in the local neighborhood. I trust your parents will agree that's a fine idea. If you earn an extra $10, for example, put $2 in savings and use the $8 to enjoy your activities. You'll now have $28 per week to spend and will be saving $7 per week for that rainy-day fund!
TAKE TIME TO STUDY AND VISIT COLLEGES
DR. WALLACE: I am in the 12th grade, and I am starting to decide where I want to attend college when I graduate in late June. I have good grades and have participated in many school activities. I would like to attend a college or university in my state of Illinois, but we have quite a few.
Is there an easy way for me to find a college or university that I will enjoy the most? — Anonymous, Chicago
ANONYMOUS: Selecting a college is similar to buying a new car. All new cars will provide transportation. Some have bigger engines and more power, while others are smaller but cost less to buy and maintain. In selecting a new car, the buyer chooses the make, color, power and extras he or she wants and can afford.
So, first, you have to figure out what you want in a college. Do you want to live at home (or close to home) or attend a campus many miles away? Would you feel more at home at a large school or a small one? If funds are a factor, state schools charge lower tuition than private institutions do. Of course, all schools provide scholarships — getting one to a particular school may make your choice for you.
What area of study are you interested in? If you know this, it will go a long way in helping you choose a suitable school for your chosen field. Research what various Illinois schools offer in the subjects for career fields that interest you and make your choice from among those with the best programs.
Work closely with your high school counselor and ask a lot of questions. You can't visit all the colleges and universities in your state, but you can visit a few for sure. Talk with people who have graduated from colleges in your state and ask them about their school. It takes time and effort to select the best possible college or university, but it is energy well-spent. Good luck!
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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