What would you tell your younger self about money?

by Kristina Tahnyak on May 20, 2015 · 2 comments

money lessons, money matters, finances

Do you ever wake up, look around and think how did I get here?  I had my AH-HA moment earlier this week.  I woke up Monday morning in our king size bed, in our 1100 sq ft apartment and thought to myself I can’t believe I live here.

I’m grateful for everything I have

I used to be so broke I couldn’t even afford to eat three meals a day, now I live in a beautiful apartment in a historic neighborhood.  After the market crash Nick and I had to move for financial reasons and we lived in just over 500 sq ft for six years.  Now we use the phone intercom when we want to talk to each other – My, my how life can change.

I had major financial distress after the market crash, but the truth is my money troubles started way before 2008.  Actually to be totally honest they started ten years before that when I applied (and was approved) for my first credit card.

I will never take money for granted again

I have been drowning in debt twice in my life, once in my early 20s and once in my late twenties.  Now I’m 35 and for the first time in my life I can actually say (hopefully without jinxing it) that I am O.K. with my money.

I am thankful that I was smart enough to get out of debt and turn my life around – even though I was dumb enough to get into debt twice.  I know some people aren’t as fortunate because financial distress can do long term damage.  Considering all the trouble I’ve caused myself when it comes to money I honestly can’t believe I am where I am today with a great 9 to 5 job, a growing side business and an apartment I can actually afford.

I’m sure I could have achieved this a lot sooner if I had learned how to manage money in my teens, but hey, shoulda coulda woulda.  If I could go back in time and give myself some money advice this is what I would say…

Get a credit card with a low limit

I applied for a VISA at 18 and was approved for a $1000 limit.  That first mistake opened the floodgates to more credit cards, more loans, a line of credit and a new car.  I loved being approved, it made me feel like an adult.  Looking back on it now I should have just got a card with a $500 limit and never looked back.

College isn’t free

Teenagers may not realize just how quickly college creeps up.  A higher education is expensive and sadly it’s a luxury not everyone can afford.  If teenagers start working part-time while in high school they can save up for college.  Until we live in a world where a college education is free it’s up to the students and parents to save and make sure the younger generation can afford to continue learning.  If I would have started saving for college I probably wouldn’t have had to work two jobs during my four years in college.

Start saving in high school

I moved out at 18 with  $200 dollars in the bank and a part time job.  Looking back on it now it probably wasn’t the best decision in the world but it made me a better person and a harder worker.  When people ask me where I get my ambition I always attribute it back to the day I moved out.  I had to hustle hard because moving back home wasn’t an option; so even though I didn’t know how much bananas cost I had to make it work – and I did.



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather May 21, 2015 at 2:56 pm

I’d tell myself, “Don’t go to the mall because you’re bored! It’s not a hobby…only go when you actually need something.” So many waste days at the mall buying clothes I didn’t need and wouldn’t keep. I could have saved so much by just focusing on building a wardrobe of quality, timeless pieces. I should have found a better hobby!

Also, “start saving for retirement ASAP.” I ignored the military’s retirement plan for my first 7 years in the Army! I missed a good opportunity.

2 Lisa May 28, 2015 at 8:07 pm

I would tell myself to start saving in a Roth IRA as soon as I was 18! All that retirement savings i could have had… *sigh

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