The following is a personal story from one of our contributors about some of the tough financial lessons she has learned over the course of her childhood and early adult life. The importance of saving, living within your means, and using debt responsibly are lessons we can all benefit from.
I was born in February of 1983 to a single mom who already had two kids. My father and mother died in 2005. My father was a clever man but he never finished high school and provided little financial help. My mother was a certified nursing assistant. She worked hard and struggled to make ends meet. We lived in public housing. One of the many crises that made a real impression on me was when my mom had a flat tire while we were driving. Yes, a flat tire. I was 13, but I will never forget the anguish it caused my mother. The hole was on one face of the tire and it could not be patched. Mom did not have enough cash to buy a new tire. She had to call family members and beg them to lend her the money.
On that day, I promised myself never to be so poor that I had to beg for cash. Living pay check to pay check forced us to get by with patching tires rather than purchasing a new one. I learned that patching things is temporary and only leads from one emergency to another. There were many other similar situations that ultimately shaped me into a penny pincher. I got a job when I was 15. I attended school and pushed myself hard. How did I pay for school? Like many others, I received regular assistance in the form of grants, student loans, and credit cards to cover most of my expenses and costs of education. I should have realized that too much credit can be debilitating. My mom sometimes used loans to support our household. The loans usually put an enormous strain on her. Seeing my mom struggle was hard for me. I grew up with insecurity and a lack of self-worth. I understood money was important, but did not understand how to manage it.
How am I doing now at 33? I am happy with my finances at least. I support one kid (6) and a niece (10). I am a freelance writer. I earned about 15,200.00 pounds last year and look forward to earning more this year. I own my home and have a mortgage payment of 900.00 / month and pay extra to pay it off faster.
Most importantly, I do not have any credit card debt. I am trying to save more because I do not have a financial safety net. Like many British, it seems as if the everyday costs keep mounting making it harder to save.
I learned some tough lessons. These lessons have impressed on me the importance of financial literacy and security. I also know that life is unpredictable and bad things do occur to good people, so it is great to be ready at all times.