By L. Marie Joseph
It has been several years since I have graduated from college. During my 20s, I had no emotion with money. I spent every nickel I earned and selfishly brought every new and shiny thing excited me.
I bought a brand new car.
I ignored my student loan debt.
I never gave money to any charity.
My paycheck was already accounted for before I received it.
I stayed broke, but I had lots of fun.
Once I turned 29, I realized I had nothing to show for my years of earning nice money. Here I was a college grad, making a nice income but remained broke. What made me change? Me.
Marriage was looming and I knew I needed a plan very soon. My husband-to-be was very good with saving, unlike me. I started paying attention to my money. I stopped being a spender and started saving money and building wealth. I also paid off my car and paid extra towards my student loans.
I was making progress just by being disciplined and toning down my lifestyle. At 31, we were able to buy a house and save for expenses. At 32, we became pregnant with our first child. Life was much better than my 20s. It was fabulous. Nice home, little debt, no credit cards or car notes. I read every book I could find on personal finance and I noticed one thing: many of them had advice that I could not relate to.
When you are the first in your family to graduate from college and the first to hold a white collar job, you have no one to mentor you in the world of careers and money. I had to change my thinking and mentality when it came to money.
I started saving a percentage of my income instead of spending it all. I changed. I now have money in the bank, money in investments and our child’s college fund is intact. I’m living a stress free life because I changed!
Most of the time it’s the way we have been taught that makes us shy away from a subject. I read hundreds of personal finance books, but very few actually pertain to my personal situation with money. Most were too sophisticated and targeted towards an older generation. I was not into annuities, asset allocation and p/e ratios. I was just a young college grad trying to find my way.
L. Marie Joseph is the author of First Generation White Collar: A practical guide on how to get ahead and not just get by with your money you can follow her on twitter: @lmariejoseph