As a young kid, I saw my single mom working hard to put food on the table. I remember that we rarely got treats or toys or extras when we went to the store. “We don’t have money for that” or “That’s too much to spend” were commonly heard. I wanted more for my life.
You had to be 14 ½ to get a work permit, so I went to the guidance counselor’s office and filled out the form as soon as I was eligible.
I went to the White Castle that was at the end of our street, because it was the only place within walking distance that hired that young, and I applied. I received a call back and set up an interview. I got dressed up in my best skirt and blouse, and went on that interview. And I nailed it!!
I was offered the job working after school and on weekends. I went home and told my mom, who knew nothing of me even applying. I got that job at 14 ½ all by myself.
Having my own money at that age was both exciting and nerve wracking. Exciting because I could now I could do things like go to Taco Bell after school and get $3 worth of burritos and nachos! My mom didn’t have money for that. And scary because I knew how hard I worked for that money.
I wasn’t willing to part with my money easily. I thought long and hard about purchases before I made them. I remember I decided I wanted to buy a TV for my bedroom, so I saved and saved until I had enough. And even then, I looked at my envelope of cash and debated, it took me so long to come up with that, did I really still want to spend it on a TV? I did. And that’s ok, because I saved for it, and I didn’t make a hasty decision. So I was confident in that!
I’ve been like that ever since. I don’t have to have the name brand things. Just because its expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best. But sometimes the cheapest isn’t worth the savings. From my clothes and kids’ toys, to my cars and homes, I compare and I research. Sometimes it involves extra time, but it’s worth it in the end. Knowing that I spend my money wisely, and that I’m buying something that I really want or need helps to maintain “living within your means”.
As my husband’s and my salaries rose, our spending habits didn’t. We still shop wisely. We have always paid our mortgage, bills, gas, and groceries first. Then we put money in our savings. And with what is left, we carefully consider fun purchases. We have what we want and what we need, and we don’t pay any more than we have to for it.
Anyone and everyone can do it. YOU CAN DO THIS! We aren’t special. We are just determined and undeterred. I said its not always fun, and its not.
But worrying about your bills isn’t fun either. And scrounging when an unexpected expense comes up isn’t fun. And lying in bed at night sick to death with worry about how long you can stay afloat financially isn’t fun.
We didn’t want to run a 30-year long sprint and not enjoy it. We did a stead jog for 9 years and we made it! Our bills are paid, and there’s money in the bank. We’ve made financial plans, long and short term, and we hit those milestones, because we stay the course. And you know what… we are having fun now!