Everyone has their own truth. Their own story. Mine now revolves around money as a vehicle to future experiences. I know what you’re thinking – I’m some money obsessed freak…I promise that isn’t the truth. I’m just scared to death of being broke.
- “I’m scared to death of being broke” – Lance
I grew up in a typical nuclear family – 2 parents and 3 kids each about 3-4 years apart. My dad starting working (along with his older brother) at a very young age to help support his mother and contribute to the household income. While he didn’t go to college, he’s done pretty darn well for himself and recently retired due to a medical issue. My mother, whose father owned a small car lot, attended a little college but never graduated. She worked for the same company over 30 years and recently retired and went back to work part-time.
My mother and father are extremely hard working people that provided a wonderful life for me and my siblings. Growing up I felt no different than the rest of my peers. Sure there were some who went on extravagant and luxurious vacations to Africa. There were kids who drove BMW’s or Mercedes at age 16 – but that isn’t NORMAL is it?
We went on family vacations to the beach and to national parks. We spent time with family and friends celebrating holidays and enjoying each other’s company. Each of us 3 kids got their license and a vehicle around age 16. We’ve all gone to college and are starting our path to being successful. I’m thankful for my parents and everything they sacrificed for me and my siblings. The point is, I never felt disadvantaged or inferior at any point.
Now that I’m the ripe old age of 27 with all these years of wisdom…(can you sense my sarcasm?)…I have a slightly different viewpoint. I still never felt anything other than normal growing up.
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My change in perspective comes from seeing how my parents are doing today. They are still both incredibly hard working and have given everything they have to make sure their kids have more than they did when they grew up. I just wonder if they forfeited too much of their hard work for our benefit and have much less for themselves as they are nearing retirement age.
I wonder if they were followers of My Blog or some of the other wonderful personal finances resources online would they know about smart money tips that would position them for long-term financial success?
Maybe we would have eaten out less. Maybe they would have saved more and purchased less expensive vehicles for us kids that didn’t require financing. Maybe they would have put more thought into retirement and long-term finance topics. Maybe they would have it easier today.
After High School | During College
College was incredibly stressful for me. It wasn’t just the sheer number of class assignments, the constant studying or the frequent tests. I was beginning my path to understanding personal finances. At this point I wasn’t aware of books that could have helped me, I just knew the basic rule of spend less than you make. This is difficult when you’re paying for tuition, housing, and food all while going to school full time.
I worked several jobs throughout college. I maintained one throughout my entire time in college and would add on an additional job or 3 when I could. At one point I was working 4 separate jobs. I was lucky enough that my parents were able to help, specifically when things were difficult. I’m sure my mom remembers those times when I would call in an anxious panic and crying due to the immense amount of stress I felt.
I was able to pay for most of my tuition over my 4 years in college through these jobs. But the kicker here is – I STILL GRADUATED WITH $90,000 IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT. Sigh.
This came from housing, food, books, supplies and interest capitalization.
When I graduated college I felt like a bad a$$. I graduated from a great school, with a great degree and a high GPA. On top of that, I started my professional life at a consulting company where I would travel and make a great salary. I was set!
I purchased a BMW because I felt that I deserved a nice car. I went on several vacations because I needed it. I purchased the new iPhone year after year. I was going out to bars, spending money on fancy meals, drinks, and cabs. I wouldn’t say that I was broke, but I was spending a lot of money and I wasn’t happy with the amount I was saving.
It was at this point I developed my extreme fear of not having enough money. Not that I needed to be rich and live a life of the rich and famous. I realized that working 4 jobs in college and then having a high-paying job right out of college wasn’t enough to pay for my lifestyle. So I needed to change my lifestyle. I needed to make a choice. So I did. And now I fear I could fall back into making poor choices that’ll greatly impact my family. I’m intent on not letting that happen.
Me – Today
I decided one day that I’d had enough. I sold my BMW and purchased a Honda Civic. I cut back spending across the board including getting rid of cable, negotiating every single bill I had and I got a roommate. With all of this change, my life seemed so much more meaningful. I was no longer concerned with what people thought of what I was driving, wearing or doing. I was happy with myself and my choices.
The man I am today is entirely due to the incredible job my parents did raising me and my thoughts on finance come from seeing my parents and tons of people I know struggles with money.
I’m going to build a solid foundation for financial success while I’m young, not married and don’t have kids. I live frugally, spend less than I make, max out my work 401K and invest in real estate. I plan to ramp up these efforts over the next several years in hopes that the foundation I’ve built continues to grow and eventually positions my family and future generations for success.
I don’t want to live an extravagant lifestyle. I don’t need all that. I want to be financially free to the point that I don’t have to work the rest of my life at a job I hate to only make enough money to support my lifestyle. I want to retire from full-time work at an early age so I can spend valuable time raising my kids and supporting my family.