Monday, May 25, 2009

The Learning Process

Everyone has a unique financial journey. Most people dont like to talk about it much. They dont want to tell anyone else about their finances. I understand wanting to keep some information private. However, I think part of the problem with the economy is that people dont talk about finances so they dont teach their children either!

I was lucky that this wasnt the case for me. My parents made sure to teach me about finances from a young age. I had my first bank account when I was only 1 year old. I dont remember life without savings being important!

When I was a little bit older, my parents took most of the money from my savings account and put it into a mutual fund. This was back when people still regularly got the newspaper everyday rather than just checking the internet! My Dad taught me to read the information in the newspaper about how the mutual fund did that day. I dont think I followed it for more than a month, but I did know how if I ever wanted to check again!

I never had an allowance. I remember asking my Mom about it once. I was jealous because so many of the other kids at school talked about the allowance they got. Mom gave me an option. She would either give me an allowance or pay for my activities - like field trips and Girl Scout dues. I chose not to get an allowance because I realized that she was paying for plenty for me.

When I was old enough, about 12 or 13, I began babysitting. Mostly, I babysat for some of the neighbors down the street. It was never a lot of money and it wasnt always regular. It was a start though, I was earning my own money! I did spend some of it, but most of it made its way to the bank.

I didnt get my first 'real' job until I was 17. My Mom worked at a hospital, so she had to work every other weekend and 1 late evening each week. She couldnt work around her schedule to take me to a job, so I couldnt get one until I could get myself there. My Dad provided me with a car and paid for insurance. I was finally able to get a job!

I worked at a grocery store for the rest of my time in high school. My only expenses were gas and whatever I wanted to do! I was able to save most of my paychecks.

The summer before I started college, I babysat. I got paid $200 a week and was thrilled! I dont think I could have done better anywhere else. The timing also worked out perfectly so that I could earn as much as possible.

Through college, I had several different jobs. I babysat for 2 more summers. One of those summers I also worked at Kmart. I had two seperate on campus jobs in college. I worked in the snack shop on campus. I only stayed there for 1 semester. I also worked at the campus safety office. I worked at the desk. The job I had most of the time I was in college was working at a local bank. I worked there for 2 1/2 years total. There was only 1 semester in college that I didnt work - I did a study abroad program instead.

After college, I began working in the lab where I am today.

I worked a lot of hours while going to school. I still work a lot of hours between my two jobs. My goal never changed: no debt! I was lucky in college. I had a good scholarship and my parents paid the rest of my tuition. I worked to pay my living expenses. It wasnt always easy, but it was worth it!

Jim came from a bit of a different background. He has had jobs and worked hard his entire life. He made some choices that led to some credit card debt before I met him. When we met, he was living with his parents and working on starting to change that.

There were a few times that Jim and I were both working 80 hours a week. That way I didnt need money from him to pay expenses for the house or food and he was able to pay down his debt. That really wasnt fun!

I never had credit card debt of my own. But I learned from Jim that staying level isnt too hard. Digging out can be near impossible! I never want to have to do that again.

Within the 2 years that we were dating, Jim was able to pay off all of his credit cards. We started our marriage with only minimal debt.

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