The Value of $200

It took me a while to understand two things: math and money. Math came easier to me as I grew older, but money? Whew, that was terrifying. I don’t know many things about money, such as how to file out tax forms, how to manage a bank account, how to determine income, and I still am ashamed to admit that I forget how to fill out deposit slips from time to time (update: I’m perfectly clear on the deposit slips now). However, I do understand the value of money and the amount of work it takes to earn it, because let’s face it- somewhere down the line money was earned somehow. I may blow it, but I know a thing or two about working for it. This brings me to my next point of many, and I promise that I have a take-away. You see, after a bit of time passed, I realized that the value of money to other people is different. And not just in the numerical amount. Let’s take two-hundred dollars, for example. Using those wonderful math skills that I acquired while going through school, I’m going to throw out some different things that two-hundred dollars can “buy.”

Two-hundred dollars can buy a meal for 500 children in Africa, and provide 2200 meals (Feeding America) in the United States. It can buy 83 loaves of bread or 164 bottles of water. Or, it can buy 50 Big Macs, or 134 large sodas, or 200 plain cheeseburgers from McDonalds. It can only buy two or three full course meals from a fancy steakhouse (I’m looking at you, Ruth’s Chris…), and it can buy approximately fifteen to twenty alcoholic beverages (only at Happy Hour though!) from a bar such as the one in every Cheesecake Factory. Next, let’s step away from food… Two-hundred dollars can buy five or six pairs of jeans, or a designer purse. It can buy maybe three pairs of running shoes from brands such as Nike (and some customizable shoes run two-hundred alone). It can adopt a pet, or maybe even two or three of them. This money can pay important bills, and allow you to make small repairs on your home or your car. It may even buy a romantic date for you and your significant other. Two hundred dollars can buy two tickets to a concert, or one ticket to a Broadway show with nice seating. You can see a movie alone around twenty-five times if you don’t get popcorn, or you can buy twenty to twenty-five large bags of popcorn. You can visit an amusement park or stay overnight in a good hotel. You could even buy 200 lottery tickets, or invest the money so that it may be worth even more in the future.

As we can clearly see, there are so many things that two-hundred dollars can buy, but there is one thing that it cannot. And it should never attempt to purchase this; no monetary amount can. You. Cannot. Buy. Love.

So many times I have seen someone trying to buy their way into acceptance, or use money as leverage in a relationship. While it can buy so many nice things, the things should never act as a replacement. It cannot buy the bond between a husband and wife, parent and child, friends, or anyone for that matter. If you want nice things and can afford them, then go on and buy what your heart desires. But do not let that replace love. Credit cards and checks do not solve or create  a single thing. If anything, they teach the recipient that it is okay to use money as a solution or primary, sole way of showing affection. That is not okay, and it will never be okay.
So tell your loved ones that you love them, tell people you appreciate them, and focus on the memories that you make. Prioritize love and friendship. There is so much more to life than money; money is only just one aspect of it all. Let all of the great things in your life overcome their numerical worth, and I promise you that you and your companions will become far more happier in the process.


-Emilee Manning

The Value of $200

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