“It was the best of times; It was the worst of times. ” This opening line in Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities accurately describes my money life as well as experience. Money has been a friend to me as well as something that has kept me up at night. Money has resulted in happiness as well as a source of stress. From living with my parents as a child to life in an apartment as a college student, my views on money have changed, developed, and even reverted to views I had in earlier times due to various experiences with money. My money story hasn’t been exactly the most pleasant experience I have faced in life, but a journey nonetheless.
Initially, in my childhood, my experience with money was mostly focused on to save. I grew up in a financially and socially conservative household, and my parents always told me to save my money. Specifically, my dad always told me to save at least 25% of all the money I earn. Anytime I purchased something as a child; my dad would always express concern and remind me to save my money on future items I would have to buy, such as college, a car, insurance, et cetera. However, my parents also may have unintendedly taught me to spend money as well.
When I was a child, my parents often took any money I happen to earn, whether it was given to me by grandparents, a friend, or another source. They explained to me that they were trying to save my money in the future. Whenever I ask for the money, they usually said I needed to save it. On occasions in I did receive money, I tended to spend all of my money as I was uncertain when exactly I would receive the money I accumulate. As a result, perhaps my parents also unintendedly taught me to spend as I tend to spend quite a bit of money and save less like a college student.
Throughout my early adolescence, my money experience hasn’t changed from my childhood. I lived in a small rural town in North Carolina, and life was slow for me when I was a teenager in their early years. There were few shops in my city, and public transportation was hard to find in my town, so my parents were in charge of what money decisions I made. My parents still held on to my money and only let me use my money sparingly. My parents brought most things I would need as a teenager such as Acne treatment products, deodorant, et certera.
As a result, I didn’t put a lot of thought about money during my early adolescence. Although my parents put a lot of effort in teaching me about money as a child, their involvement with money was either a repetition of something I learned in as a child or involved some restriction such as holding my savings. However, experiencing and managing money first-hand is inevitable for any person regardless of how much control another person has over another. During the fall semester of my senior year in high school, I received my first job, a fast food employee at Bojangles.
I didn’t receive a fixed allowance as a child, so Bojangles was the first time I experienced a fixed amount of income. At first, when I started to receive my first paycheck, I tended to spend a bit more then I would have like, however as time went on I gradually began to save more. Most of my spending during this period went to items such as clothes, literary magazine subscriptions, such as harper’s magazine, the New Yorker, and The Economist, as well as some new books (quite expensive) such as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Black Swan Green et cetera.
I was a little uncertain at the time whether or not I made good purchases, perhaps this was due to pressure from my dad, but now I appreciate the purchases I made as I still where all the clothes I buy, read the same magazine subscriptions and re-read the books I brought. My spending habits carried over even when I went back to Bojangles, by the time I went back to college my sophomore I still spent a lot of money and saved a lot of money. During my time as a high school senior I thought I spent quite a bit of money and saved sparingly, but looking back now, I see that I saved quite a bit of money.
At times, I routinely saved up to a third of my paychecks I received from Bojangles. Saving a third of my paychecks now would both be a miracle and practically impossible. Whenever I went to college, I decided to temporarily leave my job at Bojangles due to transitioning from high school to college. This eliminated any fixed income I would obtain for the school although I did work during breaks, so still earned some money as a freshman in college. As a result, I begin to spend more money and save less. Most of my spending at this time went to items such as clothes and renewing magazine subscriptions.
My parents brought me necessities for college and had a meal plan as a freshman, so food expense was not an issue. However, I did have an extremely negative experience with money this year. During my spring semester, I spilled coffee on my MacBook air which happens to cost $1500. I didn’t have this money, so I made a desperate phone call to my parents to ask for money. I reminded them of my good grades in school and involvement in extracurricular activities to persuade them to pay for repairs needed. Fortunately, my parents paid for repairs.
Had my parents been more financially constrained the outcomes and stress from a broken laptop likely would have been completely different. Then there is now, the spring semester, where I learned to embrace the American culture, consumerism, credit cards, and minimum payment as well as spending, even more, earning even less, and working less due to commitments to school. Working more hours than what I work now would be almost impossible for me physically and mentally as I take 17 Credit hours and the classes are much harder than previous coursework.
However, occasionally I do suffer a few breakdowns to earn more money. Currently, I am making minimum payments on credit debt I built up over time as well as having collected overdraft fees for withdrawing too much money from the bank. I think my spending habits were better in high school than my spending habits now. I save more in high school versus now, although for some reason I am happier with my money habits now than when I was in high school. This is probably due to other factors such as typical high-school stress.
Although my money situation is not ideal, my money situation could be much worse if I lived in different circumstances such as not having upper-middle class parents always to give me money. Money has been distressing at times especially when I am forced to watch what I purchase out of financial constraint. Also, I am not exactly financially stable right now as I rely on credit, I make minimum payments due to financial difficulties I am more of in a cycle of extreme pleasure and extreme stress, and sometimes a mix of both.
The purchases I usually make now are more impulsive, eating fast-food because it happens to be convenient and less pleasant, minimum payments. Despite my horrible spending habits, I have found alternative options to save money. In the winter found a cheaper tax option for withdrawing money from a fixed account set up for me by my grandparents. I use this account to withdraw money to pay for college loans. However, I have to pay penalties for early withdrawals from this account so paying for college can be expensive at times.
I decided to look at the account and found my parents held this account and withdrawing with my parents as the holder cost me 40% in taxes. I then calculated how much I would pay in total taxes and this number was 25%. I talked to my parents about this, and they agreed to switch my account over. As I have saved thousands of dollars from penalties this year. My money problems are distressing at present, but I am optimistic that I will take the right steps shortly when I have fewer commitments.
I receive money from my parents when I am in dire need, and I believe I am more than capable resolving my money problems shortly. At my workplace, I am near my evaluation periods, and my manager has told me I am likely to get a raise. Additionally, I will be able to work more, which will lead to a larger paycheck and greater ability to meet my financial needs. I have significant distressing life events before, and I’m sure I can reverse the problems created from my money habits and perhaps even possess even better money habits shortly than I would have if I didn’t face the problems I have at present.