A happy meal toy is equiva¬lent to a rent check.

Growing up, I can honestly say that Christmases were amaz¬ing. I used to come downstairs to a tree filled with neatly wrapped boxes and bicycles. It was my sister and I so everything was pink. There was Barbie, Barbie’s dream house, Barbie’s corvette, Barbie’s horse and carriage and Barbie’s pets. There was the Easy Bake Oven, Hungry Hungry Hippos and The Land Be¬fore Time movies on VHS. And as the years went by, I noticed that the amount of presents got smaller and smaller. However, the price tags got larger and larger.

Barbie and all her accessories were replaced with Gameboys, then the Gameboy Color, the Gameboy Advance followed by the Gameboy SP. Along the way there was the Dreamcast, the original PlayStation and the XBOX. Not to mention the extra controllers, memory sticks and games that had to be bought separately.

My dad always told me “Happy Meal toys aren’t enough anymore.” I never knew what he meant. But now I do.

When I was younger and asked for something, it was usually something smaller, cheaper and more affordable, like a Skip It or Bionicle. But yet it still put a smile on my face. And now that I am older, the small little toys don’t do it for me. It’s not that I don’t want them. They’re just not what I need. Barbie’s Corvette is now a Ford jalopy that constantly needs gas and maintenance, Barbie’s Dream House is a rent check for a decent apartment, Barbie’s pets are now clearance puppies that need down payments, shots and food and Bar¬bie herself, who I used to carry on my arm, has been replaced with the want of an Ed Hardy or Dooney and Bourke.

According to USA Today, young adults are the largest group of people who will have accumu¬lated the most debt. It was cal¬culated that the majority of debt will come from college loans, fol¬lowed by installment debts (auto loans, rent, etc.) and then credit card debt.

If that didn’t worry me enough, young adults are now changing their career choices to jobs that will help pay off loans and debt. According to USA To¬day, 22 percent of people have taken jobs that they otherwise wouldn’t have because they needed money to pay off student loans. Twenty-nine percent say they’ve put off or chosen not to pursue more education because they have so much debt already. Twenty-six percent of people have put off buying a home and a smaller percent of people have put off getting married or having kids for that same reason.

Young adults have actu¬ally been given the name the Boomerrang Generation because 19 percent of us will move back into our parents homes in order to save money and cut costs.

I see a lot of my peers trying to work their way through school, but times are different and it’s a lot easier said than done. This is why I don’t understand people who slack off during school or fail classes in order to take advantage of the free money given.

Right now, like most people, I am working just to get by. I got to school because it is the “right” thing to do. But sometimes I wonder if I can afford to stay in it. Lucky me, I have a good support system that pushes me to stay in college. I will be the first in my family to graduate. I just hope that people who are feeling like they are at the end of their rope can just keep holding on. Things can only get better from here.

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