Students reflect on their knowledge of their family’s financial status
As second grader Nitya Kondapalli walked along a cracked gray road, a glint of copper caught her eye. She bent over and picked up a shiny penny to add to her collection. After hearing her dad talk about the family’s lower financial status, Kondapalli was eager to help earn money any way she could.
When she handed her parents a piggy bank full of coins, they smiled and reassured her that her family was well off, and the comments were just jokes to urge her mom to spend less on groceries. But Kondapalli, currently a senior, says she is just as clueless about her family’s financial status now as she was back then.
Class of 2018 and MVHS alumnus Anirudh Chaudhary has a different situation. He considers himself to be aware of his family’s financial status, as his parents tell him about their major expenses. His knowledge about the mortgage, health care costs and salaries is important to Chaudhary because of the perspective it provides, especially as he leaves for college.
After having conversations with his parents about his family’s money, Chaudhary applied for his first job as a cook at 16 and has worked ever since. Knowing his financial status urged him to become more self-reliant and depend less on his parents for money.
“It helps you sympathize a lot with your parents when they’re stressed out,” Chaudhary said. “It makes you a lot more humble when you understand what your parents go through.”
After working for almost two years, Chaudhary learned how to manage his own money. Working gives him an emotional attachment to the money he earns, and he’s proud of his ability to cover some basic expenses as he enters college.
On the other hand, junior Abhinav Agrawal is informed of the fact that his family is more affluent and he says he has rarely been told that something is too expensive. As a result, he doesn’t place much value on money, believing it to be something that comes easily to most individuals.
“Money is...not that hard to get in my opinion. I do my best not waste money, but I still spend it as much as I want,” Agrawal said. “I did that before I knew how much money we had, and I do it after knowing how much money we have.”
Agrawal first witnesses the impacts of his affluence when he was young. He noticed he always seemed to have nicer toys than the other kids, such as the latest DS. Agrawal began to inquire about his family’s financial status to satisfy his curiosity, but was only trusted with the information recently.
“One day, that money is going to be mine, so it’s important for me to know how much money we have so I can plan ahead for the future,” Agrawal said.
For Kondapalli, planning for the future currently revolves around applying for college. When thinking about which schools to apply to, she wishes that her family would share more about what they can afford.
“I think I have a general idea about how much my parents can pay for,” Kondapalli said. “They’ve never [said] ‘we’re going to reject a school because it [costs] too much money.’”
Agarwal’s parents have a similar philosophy. Although college isn’t as immediate for him, he finds it helpful that he has one less thing to worry about. His parents tell him not to think about funds, and encourage him to apply to whatever school he wants.
Chaudhary’s parents, however, were not as transparent with him during his college application process, which led to him having difficulty selecting which schools to apply to.
“I wouldn’t have bothered applying to a lot of the schools I did,” Chaudhary said. “It was the college application process that made me aware of how much my family earns and how much we can afford.”
Chaudhary needed a student loan in order to attend a UC school. Although daunting at first, that action has provided him with the motivation and goal of being successful after he graduates. Chaudhary views his current financial status as something to improve upon, rather than a standard to be met.
“It gives you a perspective on where you stand,” he said. “[As] being someone who’s going to college now, its a baseline of [improvement].”
Graphic by Sarah Young