Financial Freedom

Growing up my parents desired to teach me skills so I would have financial freedom. They instilled in me the importance of savings and the value of a dollar. I began babysitting as 12 years old, held a job throughout high school and worked part-time as I studied in college.

My parents opened up a savings account for me at the young age of 5. I would stash away a few dollars here and there from Christmas, birthdays and other money I earned.

I’m so thankful for my parents wisdom in teaching me the financial principles of saving, investing and living on a budget. I also have had the blessing to see my grandparents legacy from living on those same principles for decades and having a secure, early retirement.

Student Loan Debt

When I was in high school I applied to one college- a private school in Orange County. It was the only school I wanted to attend and I put all my eggs in that one basket. Luckily, I was accepted into the specific university. But even with my academic scholarship, the tuition came with a high price tag. My parents were kind enough to offer financial support but still required me to pay a portion. I took out a small loan of $5,000 for my freshman year. As the year progressed I realized I didn’t want to accumulate student loan debt. I recognized I could attend a state school and get the same degree for much cheaper. In fact, the remaining three years of education at a state school would cost less than one year of private school tuition.

With that, I moved back home. I saved even more money by completing my GE at the local community college (a route I highly recommend).

I applied to San Diego State University and prayed I would be accepted since my Major was impacted. God answered that prayer and two years later I graduated with honors and a distinction in the major from SDSU with NO STUDENT LOAN DEBT!

During college I worked as a nanny and had other various side jobs to make cash in order to afford gas, pay my bills and have some fun money. My parents let me live at home rent free (a huge blessing since the cost of living in San Diego is crazy expensive). Yes friends, it’s possible (and even encouraged) to work while in school! As you can see, it didn’t negatively affect my studies since I graduated with a 3.73 GPA. In fact, it taught me the valuable lesson of time management.

Car Loan Debt

I looked at my car loan and was sick and tired of paying payments! I got fed up and fired up. I started looking at ways to earn extra money to put towards the car loan balance.

Another way I earned extra money was babysitting on the weekends (on top of nannying during the week). It paid pretty well at about $20/hour.

During the holidays I worked like a maniac. I worked 100 extra hours in the month of December. I sacrificed time with my friends because I saw the finish line in sight, willing to endure a short-term pain for a long-term benefit. My friends probably thought I was crazy. But, with the $2,000 extra cash in hand, I walked into the bank to pay off the remaining balance of my car loan. The bank teller was so impressed by my responsibility and shared her encouragement for me to continue on the prudent path I was on . As I got into my car I felt different. I felt free! The bank didn’t own my 2007 Jetta. I owned it free and clear!

I crunched the numbers and car loan debt is not a good way to build wealth.

Since that day I haven’t gone back into debt. I bought a new (used) car recently and paid cash. If I want to go on vacation then I save up the money and I definitely don’t play the credit card games to earn points.

Financial stress can cause major issues in relationships. In fact, money troubles are the #1 cause of divorce in North America today.

You don’t have to wait til your married to get out of debt. You don’t have to wait til you’re “all grown up” to learn to handle your money responsibly. Start to learn and practice financial wisdom today. The earlier you begin, the better. Here are a few steps to get started:

  1. Live on a budget
  2. Pay off debt (learn about the Debt Snowball from Dave Ramsey)
  3. Learn to live below your means. The key ingredient is contentment!
  4. Save- Have an emergency fund (a seperate savings account set aside for unexpected expenses like car repairs, fixing an appliance, etc)
  5. Invest 15% of your income for retirement
“We often overspend because we are trying to fill an emotional gap in our lives. No object will ever satisfy your soul” -Dave Ramsey

I recommend taking Financial Peace University. You can take it in a group setting at a local church or online. Dave Ramsey teaches practical steps to control and manage your money. It is common sense for your dollars and cents. Investing the time to take this course and learn money management principles will be time well spent with a substantial return on investment.

God has entrusted you with resources. Are you being a good steward of the talents and treasures He has placed in your life to manage?

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