x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Teen Life: An afternoon of money matters

As I have just a year of school left, the time has come, mummy dearest decided, to initiate me into the world of finance.

Saving or frugality are not words that exist in the dictionary of most teenagers. Money, to us, has but one obvious objective - it exists to be spent. We appreciate that life is short and should be lived to the fullest, that worldly possessions can give great happiness and therefore it is better to acquire as many as we like. We have enough good sense not to end up as miserly Scrooges, because look where hoarding up his money got him: forgotten and unloved at Christmas, with a trio of crotchety ghosts for company.

Trouble is, many of us have absolutely no idea about how to manage our dirhams. All I've really cared about is if I have enough emergency money for an extra snack at the school canteen and a steady flow of shopping sprees.

As I have just a year of school left, the time has come, mummy dearest decided, to initiate me into the world of finance and have me accompany her to the bank as a "lovely treat". It won't be long before my peers and I step out into the big, bad world and promptly fall into debt, as students with new-found-freedom are wont to do, she said. It won't do to find out we have no idea on how to deal with all those cheques and forms and things we've seen the adults dealing with so often, she said.

So off we trotted to the bank and this time, I was supposed to take an active interest in whatever was going on. We would be withdrawing a small amount of cash and updating our account, whatever that means. We took our place in the queue and argued a little with a mustachioed man who marched up to the banker bloke and demanded that he be served first because he was first in the new, second queue.

Banks are lovely places to look at, with signs everywhere offering different types of loans and pictures of students graduating or happy people holidaying in the Caribbean. A thing I've noticed about the people sitting behind the desk at banks is that they always look immensely pleased with themselves, with a slight, smug smile playing on their mouths. I would, too, if I was in charge of all that money.

The mind tends to wander at times like these; mum signed on lots of dotted lines, the banker bloke typed away on his computer and the mustachioed man, now behind us in the queue, muttered unintelligibly under his breath.

The most exciting bit was the discovery that I had my own bank account for minors, something I had apparently been told but had irresponsibly forgotten. So, I really could access as much money as I liked whenever I wanted, I thought. Turned out though, as it always does in this cruel world, out to get teenagers, I needed a guardian's signature.

An instructive enough visit, but there really is a lot the world could learn from teenagers about what constitutes an afternoon treat.

The writer is a 17-year-old student in Dubai.

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