Financial Freedom – Part 1 – The Beginning…

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8
I grew up in a modest household.  My parents were never flashy.  As a matter of fact, the house in which we stayed was the house they purchased in 1979 (or somewhere there about).   We never had fancy cars, extravagant clothing or got everything we wanted growing up as a child; however, I never had to want for anything.  My needs were
very well taken care of, yet I never understood why my parents did not want to upgrade and show off that hard earned money.
I got my first job when I was 14 ½.  Since I was making my own money, I was determined to spend it on what I WANTED.  The name brand clothing, the latest fashion accessory… you know, all the things that made you “cool” as a kid.  I couldn’t keep money on me! I was too busy keeping up with the Jones’ that I couldn’t even pay for gas in my car (circa age 16).  I would ask my parents for extra dough, but in teaching me a lesson on responsibility, I was quickly dismissed.  “Learn how to live within your means, Phylicia.  It doesn’t matter what society thinks about your outward appearance.  If you don’t have money to feed yourself, or have money for gas to get you to work where you are making your money, everything else is irrelevant.” I slightly bought into that concept and two years later, I applied for my first credit card to a clothing store.
Fast forward to my freshman year in college. I was without a job (I still had the one from back home, but I could only go home when I could – no car).  I had an “allowance”, but it was not significant enough to keep up with my extravagant lifestyle I created for myself.  Ramen noodles became my best friend. I found myself forsaking a meal for a party ticket.  Freshman 15? Try the reverse.  I guess you’re wondering, “where were your priorities?” My response: not there.  I was too caught up in trying to be with the “in crowd” that I totally ignored my needs and indulged in the “lavish life”… you know, the best lavish life a college student on a budget could live.  I needed money, so I asked the credit card company to up my limit.  Unsurprisingly, they did.  Now, I was able to purchase more clothes and could save a little more in my pocket for food and other necessities. Oh, and to add insult to injury… I got another clothing store credit card!
By the time I was a sophomore, I got a local job.  My “allowance” was still there, but it was so little that it really made no different.  I called myself being responsible and applying for a credit card for “emergencies”.  Everything turned into an emergency and pretty soon, I was racking up on charges.  I would pay the minimum payment to get by with the bill.  I also had the minimum balance you can have in a savings account.  Who cared about saving when all I could do is spend?  I NEEDED things, however tainted my view was on necessities at that time.
That’s when rock bottom came knocking at my door.  Remember that job that I told you I had?  I hated it, so much so, I quit (2 week notice).  Although I prayed about my decision before I did it, I was still nervous.  I didn’t know from where my income would come.  I didn’t have much money saved.  I didn’t have a life plan.  I was in total panic.  I called my parents to talk about the situation – the job, the reason I quit, the assurance I was looking for another job.  My parents were very supportive to the point where they offered to help me until I could get back on my feet.  Not being the one to take handouts, I was reluctant to take anything from them.  I was independent, right?  I was living on my own, enrolled in a four-year university.  I made outstanding grades.  I worked for everything I owned to that point… or so I thought.  I was delusional, and at the moment when my parents offered to help me, I understood one thing: I was not financially independent.  I broke down and realized I needed to have a plan of action should something like this ever happen again (by the way, I was starting my THREE new jobs approximately a week later)…
So, how did I save?  I’ll explain all of that in another blog post dealing with Financial Freedom. Stay tuned!