When I was growing up, my wise mom (an English teacher) would often say:
Paper will lie still for anyone to write on it.
Paper – or a blog – for that matter. So why listen or believe me about what I write about money? Everyone has their own story and here is mine.
I grew up the third daughter of a loving, Christian family. When I was little, I had no concept of how much money we did or did not have. I think that is probably true of most kids.
My grandparents lived through the Depression in the 1930s. One of my most vivid (and odd) memories of my grandfather was the fact that he kept about 500 empty milk jugs in a shed behind his house because he learned to never throw anything away because you might need it. Decades after the Depression, my grandmother would tell me how many sheets of toilet paper I should use = 4! I mean, who can wipe with four sheets of toilet paper?!
Now, on one hand, the Depression was an arduous and difficult time that emotionally scarred many of the people who lived through it, but I believe that we learn more during hard times than in good times. In the good times, we enjoy. In the hard times, we learn.
The Depression shaped my grandparents and their actions, which influenced the way that my parents thought about money. My dad is handy with woodworking and built the majority of our house. He taught me how to change oil in a car, hammer in a nail as he built our front deck, change a tire, shoot a shotgun, look for ‘sign’ (i.e. deer poop) while walking in the woods, fix stripped screw holes with toothpicks, dig up potatoes, along with about 1,000 other extremely useful tips and skills. My mom was a super-saver before there were a 1,000 blogs about moms-that-save-money-so-that-their-family-could-be-awesome. She used coupons at the grocery store, hung laundry to dry outside leaving our sheets smelling fresher than any dryer with ‘breezy freshness’ has ever done, cooked amazing home-grown vegetables, sewed awesome Halloween costumes, taught me how to do my own laundry, make a bed, and a never ending list of other items. I watched my parents tithe at my church before paying other bills, pay for their cars in cash after saving up the money, drive cars for a decade or more before buying a new one, and never having a mortgage because my dad built the house as money was saved up.
My parents influenced who I became and a part of me has always loved saving money. I was notorious for talking my grandmother into buying me things (primarily McDonald french fries) so I wouldn’t have to spend my savings. It was many years later before I realized what an amazing gift my family had given me by teaching me early how to manage money responsibly.
So how has my life turned out?
- Unlike many graduates, I didn’t leave undergraduate school with debt but actually got a disbursement check for $1,000 in scholarship money that I got to take with me.
- After I got my first job, I immediately started saving 10% toward my 401(k) annually, which was one of the smartest things I have ever done. Within seven years, I should be financially free if I wanted to stop working my day job.
- Five years after I began working, I went back full time to a private graduate school to get my MBA. This time I did leave with $55,000 in debt but I kept it from being twice that amount by picking a 1-year MBA program. I worked in finance and wanted to stay in the finance area, so a 1-year program was a great fit for me as I did not need a summer internship to switch careers. Also, I was out of work for only one year, only had to pay for one year of school, and had to pay for only a year of living expenses. After that, I lived with roommates, saved money, and paid off the $55,000 in debt in less than 2.5 years.
- After having no debt, I must admit I was not as sure what to do next with my money. So I saved up money for a 20% down payment for a house, which was purchase in November 2014. Currently, I am working on paying the mortgage off in only 5 years. So far I am 11 months into the 5 years and still on track.
- I also pursued and achieved the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation, which is a three year self-study program. Must admit that was not the most fun time in my life given the excessive amount of time needed to study but what doesn’t kill you – makes you stronger.
So what now?
So now, I want to give back or pay it forward to others. I have already had a lot of fun just starting this blog with wonderful ideas from my spectacular niece and nephew (Eva and Luke). Eva came up with the blog name “Some Cents About Money” and both of them helped me buy the domain and get started writing. Kudos to some of the most creative kids I know!
I am also excited about learning more as I write the blog as life is more full when you never stop learning.
Let me know your story! Look forward to this journey of learning together.