How a pack of gum helped me graduate college debt-free

by: Erin Lowry

We all have different reasons behind why we pick the colleges we attend. My reasons came down to a surprise party and roll of Bubble Tape gum.

The weekend before my ninth birthday, my Dad seemed anxious to get me out of the house. “Let’s go to Media Play,” he proposed. The now-defunct retail store used to be my favorite place to peruse cassette tapes, and later CDs.

An hour later we were in the checkout line, and I eyed a roll of grape-flavored Bubble Tape gum (a treat that, like those CDs, is less popular now than it was back then). “Dad, can I have that Bubble Tape?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said and casually threw the gum atop a movie he planned to purchase.

Something Is Wrong Here

To a casual onlooker, this would seem like a typical father-daughter exchange. But that “sure” set a siren off in my head. My parents never just outright bought me anything, except for presents on my birthday and Christmas. My sister and I had to put up a 50 percent stake in any item we wanted. Few things teach a kid how to curb impulse spending like insisting she pays half for the stuffed animal she wants.

The fact my father would just buy the Bubble Tape without asking for that 50 percent meant something was amiss. I wracked my brain on the drive home wondering what could cause his sudden willingness to abandon a core value.

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