I always say that I was groomed to be financially ignorant. I grew up in a house where money was never really talked about and was never an issue. Conversations about money consisted of “don’t worry about it” or some form of speech about how we had so much of it. This type of upbringing led to a future of impulse purchases and a lack of understanding the worth of a dollar. If I wanted something, more often than not, I got it. Now, I’m not saying I never heard the word “no”, but typically when I asked for something, I got it.
I played soccer throughout my childhood and became pretty good at it. My teenage years were filled with soccer activities such as daily training, weekend games (including travel in/out of state), and summer camps, all while playing for multiple teams. You can say that my job was playing soccer because there wasn’t time for much else after that and school. I didn’t have my first actual job until the summer before my first year of college, which was just to make some extra cash for myself.
College is typically a big financial decision. However, for me, it was a soccer career decision. Academics and finances played a very minimal role in my decision. After all, I had always been a less than average student and never had to manage money. With a partial sports scholarship, I attended an out-of-state University with a strong academic reputation in a major metropolitan area. It was always my understanding that if I received a scholarship, then everything else would be taken care of. Long story short, the results were poor grades, academic probation, money troubles, and no real job opportunities. It was time to come home.
When I got home, my father handed me a student loan bill and said, “Here is the debt you owe.” I was caught off-guard by this since I thought it was “taken care of”, but instead I owed around $20,000 in student loans and credit card debt. For a financially ignorant young adult with no job, it was hard to swallow (yes, it could have been a lot worse). A family friend took a chance on me and got me an interview for an entry level job with the company she worked for. I soared. I was not a good student, but I was an excellent worker and a quick learner.
After about a year or so of working and living on my own, with no savings and making minimum payments on my debt, I was no closer to being out of my financial hole. I couldn’t even get approved for a basic credit card. It was at this point that I took a serious interest in personal finances and economics. I wanted to know how everything worked and how to dig myself out of this hole.
Over the next few years, I expanded my understanding of finances, made a plan to start putting a dent in my student loan, and reigned in my impulse spending to start living within my means. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough. Liann and I were dating at this time and we were challenging each other to learn how to become financially free. So in the following years, my finances were kicked into overdrive – straight into ludicrous speed! Living well below my means, I paid off my student loan within 2 years, squirreled away over 1 month of bills into savings, and grew to a “very good” credit standing all while contributing 8% towards retirement.
Now I live debt free and experience my financial freedom every day. I look forward to sharing my experiences and money saving tips I have learned over the years with all of you.