Two Arlington, Virginia high school students have added to their savings by winning first and second place in the annual America Saves Essay Contest organized by Northern Virginia Saves. To enter the contest, students in grades 9-12 wrote essays on the theme, “Saving Involves Self-Motivation and Delayed Gratification” and took the saver pledge. A panel of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Master Financial Education Volunteers judged the 51 essays submitted from all four high-school grades from 7 high schools in Alexandria and Arlington, VA.
First place winner Annabelle Bailey, a 10th grader at Washington Lee High School, received $650 for her submission about saving toward her goal “to walk on all seven continents before my 18th birthday.” She explained, “This probably stems from my early childhood abroad as a military family member. My time in Seoul, Korea, and trips to China, Vietnam and Japan fueled my desire to experience as many sights, sounds, and even tastes as possible. When I returned to the States…I learned…that it would be significantly harder to travel abroad. Not one to back away from a challenge, I decided that I would take matters into my own hands. But I needed a plan that my parents would agree to.” The agreement was for Annabelle to pay half of her travel costs. She “had to save everything, babysit, and did several fundraisers! It was hard to not do some of the things my friends were doing, and I was reluctant to give things up. I had to trust that the months of saving up would pay off.” Her trust was rewarded with a trip to Australia. She continues to save toward her goal of travel and hopes to reach Antarctica soon.
Second place winner Aysia Moten, an 11th grader at Wakefield High School, received $400 for her essay about saving toward her goal to buy a new iPhone. She said, “I started my first and current job in July of 2014. From a young age I knew I wanted to get a job, and make my own money. I never knew how much I would love working until my first time opening up a white envelope given to me by my boss, which would be my very first paycheck. I quickly began thinking of ways to spend my money, when my Mom suggested I put half into savings.” She started transferring about $30 per paycheck into savings despite the challenge of paying commuting costs to get work. In order to achieve her goal, she “didn’t mind working extra hours or even helping out around the house more. I realized soon after buying my phone once you save up and pay for something with your own money, you take better care of it and cherish that item more. Making sacrifices and keeping an open mind help [make] saving money for a big purchase worth it.”
CommonWealth One Credit Union of Alexandria donated $500 towards the essay cash prizes, and Arlington Community Federal Credit Union of Arlington donated $300 towards gift cards for students who attended the award ceremony, but did not win one of the cash prizes.