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What Does It Cost For You To Be You?

September 25, 2008

We are very fortunate to live in DuPage County; it’s one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. Employers willing to pay high-skilled workers substantial salaries are based here such a Lucent Technologies, McDonald’s Corporation, Tellabs, Inc, and BP Amoco. The federal government has also located two high profile centers in our county: Argonne and Fermi National Laboratories. The bar seems to be raised in our community and the cost to live here is much greater than if you lived in other areas of the country. This blog is meant to offer a reality check and really add up what it costs for a teen to “fit in” in DuPage County.

Let’s just tally up a list of the typical items that are a part of your everyday life:

With the exception of clothes and a backpack, most of the above items are more luxury than necessity. They make your life more enjoyable and exciting and allow you to “fit in” with your peers. One could argue that the cell phone is needed for safety and that a computer is necessary for success in school today. However, the fact remains that most of your parents are shelling out between $1,500 and $10,800 per year for you to fit in with your friends. On top of that, there is a monthly cost of $250 to $2,030 to maintain that lifestyle. The cost starts to multiply with more teens in the house.

What happens if your parents could no longer afford the bare necessities of food and shelter? The first things to go would be the list of items above. After that initial shock, the reality of no longer belonging to a community would overwhelm you. From not having a public library card to check out books for school projects, not being able to use computers in the public library, no longer participating in any extra curricular activities that require payment, not being able to invite your friends over to your house, to not being able to admit to your friends where you live. It’s amazing how much we take for granted until it’s taken away.

Can you think of one of those items listed above that you could do without for just one month or even just one week? Could you take that money and donate it toward helping those less fortunate than you? Maybe you could brown-bag lunches instead of buying them at school, forego a movie one weekend, or just stay out of Starbucks for a month. It all adds up and could really make a difference to someone in your own community who doesn’t even have the basics anymore. Remember, it’s the kids who become the innocent victims in homelessness.

So be a kid helping another kid. Put these items on your “TO DO” list this week:

  • Find one thing on the list above that you can do without for just a week or the whole month and donate that money to SOS
  • Sign up for Sleep Out Saturday
  • Ask and a friend or family member to sponsor you
  • Ask a friend to join you for SOS

Let us know what you think of this blog. Do you agree with our list of luxury items? Do you see your friends having this same list of items? Could you live without them? If so, how would you feel about that? Don’t forget to check back next week when we talk about how someone ends up being homeless.

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