Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

When I was growing up money was tight, or non-existent, so I didn’t learn much about how to handle money from my parents. I did learn what NOT to do financially and I have tried to live by doing the opposite of what my parents have done and I think it has been ok so far.

My piggy bank.

I can’t help but think, “I wish someone would have told me about…” when I was growing up.

My dad's piggy bank. hahaha

Growing up I did have the normal babysitting, paper routes, lawn mowing jobs but I was never able to save the money past putting it in my pocket. Once I hit high school my mom did open a checking and savings account for me, but money never seemed to stay there long either. In college, my checking account was set up so I had to keep $500 in it at all times, which was a good lesson in building up my account.

I received my first credit card in college and didn’t know what to do with it or how to use it. I charged lots of dumb things on it that took a LONG time to pay off. I bought a Playstation on credit and it took me almost 2 years to pay off. I didn’t learn my lesson though. I kept charging and kept owing because, well, that what my parents had done.

Knowing what I know now, the blueprint set out by my parents had me designed to repeat their bad money habits and not to succeed financially. Some things like having a set limit in my checking account that I don’t let my account fall below is great but everything else I learned the hard way and on my own.

If I knew then what I know now about savings, credit cards, loans, and investing I would have a lot more money in my pocket and would be paying less of my hard earned money to everyone else.

What did I learn from my parents?

Well, I learned not to purchase anything on credit that I can’t pay for outright (still working on this one). I learned to sacrifice things I want for things I need. I learned that after 7 years your credit history is cleared, even though my parents still blame each other for their current financial mess some 18 years after getting divorced. I learned the value of hard work and when to ask for help.

What didn’t I learn from my parents?

Basically everything important. I didn’t learn the power of compound interest. I didn’t learn how to budget. I didn’t learn the importance of using credit correctly. I didn’t learn that I should have found other ways to pay for undergrad and grad school because now Sallie Mae owns me. I didn’t learn how the value of my credit, my dad always told me that all I have is my name (my honor) and my credit. He would say, so don’t let anyone mess them up. I didn’t learn not to put utilities, credit, cell phones in my name for other people (I got burned a couple times on this one, but in my defense the people were family so I figured I would be ok, WRONG). I didn’t learn about retirement planning because my mom feels it’s a waste, but I plan on retiring so I need to plan.

What are some of the things you wish someone would have told you growing up about money and finances?

What are some of the things that someone DID share with you that helped you learn how to handle your money?


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