Small purchase leads to worry over financial future

The first thing I noticed about my new apartment wasn’t its view of Peach Street, massive closet or proximity to the police station. No, the first thing I noticed was the kitchen’s apparent lack of a microwave. The horror!

Since I typically return from breaks hauling leftovers, it was kind of a necessity. I immediately searched Target’s website, and I was surprised to discover that the cheapest models came in at around $50. That seemed like too much for a microwave barely big enough to heat a bag of popcorn.

I’m not even sure how much I expected it to be. Before this year, I never had to consider the cost of kitchen appliances. Microwaves, toasters, coffee makers – they were all just there in my kitchen at home, brought by the same fairy who kept the toilet paper stocked.

My grandmother ended up buying the microwave for me, but the situation made me aware of how little I know when it comes to the price of common household items.

If I can barely afford Baby’s First Microwave, am I ever going to be able to buy an oven? A dishwasher? How can anyone earning less than six figures finance the huge stainless steel refrigerators in Sears ads?
And God forbid you’ve seen one of those Dyson commercials with the stately British man talking about “HEPA filtration” and “cyclone technology.”

If so, you probably thought, “What an innovative vacuum cleaner! I’ll take two!”

You may be shocked to know that the least expensive model costs $400 before tax.

At that price, I’d have to be able to ride it to work.

Conversely, I’ve been confused by the distribution of prices at the grocery store since I began shopping on my own.

Liquid creamer costs more than the coffee you pour it in, but only seems to go half as far. Meanwhile, you’ll find hamburger buns marked under 99 cents. They’re enriched, store-brand buns, but buns nonetheless.

Having worked since I was 16, I thought I knew the value of a dollar. What I don’t know is how far a dollar goes. I have a feeling other college students face the same problem.

Maybe that’s why even though “The Price Is Right” has been on the air for more than 40 years, it’s only produced one or two college specials. Drew Carey would ask for the actual retail price of a banana, and someone like me would say, “I mean, it’s one banana, Drew. What could it cost? Ten dollars?”

The debate over the worth of required liberal arts classes rages on, but I’m sure everyone can agree that young people are clueless and overwhelmed when they begin paying their own bills. Colleges would be wise to offer courses on the cost of living. It could be taught by any functional adult, with bonus points available to extreme couponers.

Then again, people can and do figure it out on their own every day, so there’s hope for me yet.

APRIL SHERNISKY
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