April 17, 2015
You may have heard the phrase “Too many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like.” It rings true especially when considering the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality so many of us have these days. Let’s say someone you know gets a new car and you want a new car. Personally, I was always curious how many people I knew in college who bought new cars and Louis Vuitton bags — weren’t we all broke?
I have the goal of being debt free by 30 and I am well on my way to achieving that! I appreciate my journey on this path to financial freedom and the indirect life lessons it’s taught me and what it means for my future family. My reflection of what led me to this point is mind-blowing. As I spoke with several highly respected people from our community about my journey and my financial goals, I learned that many learned what bankruptcy was before they knew how to drive, and knew what it meant to have your car be repossessed before you had a job. Noting that many of our kids learn about money and grow up to repeat financial mistakes or are misguided about money well into adulthood for reasons that can be addressed early on.
College was my first real experience at managing a budget. I got my first credit card my freshman year. The initial plan of putting myself on a budget did not work — I was eating out and spending frivolously all the time and it all went on the credit card. Clearly, my relationship with money was not a healthy one and one that I did not understand.
While working at my first job out college — I did not save any money. Nada. Zero. As a matter of fact, looking back I had many opportunities to get ahead but instead I chose to be frivolous with my disposable income. If I would have saved as aggressively as I am saving now in my late 20’s, I would have over $20K in the bank right now! Wow. Talk about eye opening.
Now, my viewpoint on life has changed and continues to change. It’s funny how things that were once important don’t matter and the very things that didn’t matter are now important. There is a gradual switch in perspective and suddenly I realized that my future family cannot survive on my bare shelves and empty refrigerator and they couldn’t eat out all the time; I probably needed some extra cash just in case the economy takes us on another roller coaster; and maybe it is a good idea to lay off the Chipotle every now and then. Bottom line: it was time to grow up.
A dear friend of mine put things into perspective for me last year. And she illustrated it terms that I understand and can relate to — flying on an airplane. Our conversation went a little like this: Friend: “What do the flight attendants tell you in case of an emergency?”
Me: [Blank stare]
Friend: In case of a change in air pressure, an oxygen mask will appear. If you are sitting next to someone that needs assistance, put your mask on first and then assist them.
Friend: Meaning: before can help anyone else, you need to help yourself.
Me: [Long pause] Wow. That was deep, but I get it.
Moral of the story: Take care of Connie first. Duly noted. Putting on my oxygen mask now.
Connie is a hospitality sales professional with a strong passion for traveling, trying new restaurants and shopping. She is a native of the DC Metro area, a 2014 Summit Credit Union Project Money contestant and an active member within the Madison community through the Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and the Madison Network of Black Professionals.