Path to Financial Literacy and Responsibility Part 1

Since I wrote my reaction on a piece about how women should analyze men’s wealth almost a year ago, I’ve gone through a lot of financial changes. It’s been a long battle living on my own, paying bills, knocking down my debt and saving. My second  hurdle in my journey was eliminating all of my credit card debt, which I paid off at the top of this year. Even though it was only $1.2k of debt, it felt great to get rid of the burden, which is like a prerequisite to seriously start my journey to financial literacy and freedom with a clean slate.

It all started at the last quarter of 2015, I had a credit card and overdraft debt racking up $1.5k. I was constantly late with payments and my credit card was constantly over the $1k limit. This particular time I tried to use my credit card when it was just under $1000, not enough to technically buy what I wanted but enough to make one purchase knowing damn well I’m going over the limit. I was rejected and I saw Mutombo waving his finger at me on the screen.

When you get declined, that shit is like rolling 1, 2, 3 the first turn during a Cee-lo game. I was pissed but had to find out what dafuq was going on with my card, I mean I’ve made purchases like that several times before. I went into the bank, talked to one of the tellers and he told me my account was suspended because I wasn’t getting the minimum payments down for several months. I was just putting in what I needed to make online purchases. I didn’t know credit card companies were savage like that.

That’s when I had a financial epiphany, I was living check to check with $1.5k debt and no money saved and I just turned 26. Shit felt embarrassing but it would have been more embarrassing if I decided to do nothing about it. The vacation pay I saved up at work was my hidden ace. I save my vacation every year for December time and that year around October, I had to use it to help wipe my slate clean. I realized that I have never once used vacation money to go on vacation and now I resorted to using it for debt. That was my second epiphany.

Well that was tough shit with the water splashing, I used vacation funds to pay off my credit card debt and overdraft protection after one more month and I was debt free by December 2015. I closed down my credit card and bank account to let that phase stay behind me and I opened up a new checking and credit card with a different bank and vowed to do it right this time. I got through my first hurdle almost with ease.

Life has a funny way of pulling you back, progress is never a straight line. Mid-December, on my way to Kickboxing class, I was in a rush to catch the bus and ended up getting hit by a car as a pedestrian while jay-walking. That shit hurt like a mutha fucka, the bumper hit my back leg, which caved me in backwards. Hood hit my back and my head cracked the shit out of the windshield of a SUV type vehicle.

I was nearly knocked out, someone helped me up and onto the bus I was rushing for. I couldn’t remember much, only glancing at how the windshield looked bust and rippled. There was a lot of ringing in my ears and my senses was all over the place, I could barely keep my eyes open because of the pain. Remember when you played Sonic and after getting hit, Sonic character blinks with all the coins flying everywhere with the ringing?…..Yeah that’s the best way to describe how I felt.

literally how I felt real shit

Long story short, I was sent to the hospital after ambulance arrived. Luckily, I didn’t have any broken bones, just deep muscle tissue damage and was able to walk out of the hospital several hours later. I give thanks to this day. Pedestrians getting plastered and killed by cars in the city was around 10 for that month I believe.

I dodged a bullet but I was out of work for 2 weeks, so you guessed it, I was using my brand new credit card again to take care of expenses. By the time I knew it, I had credit card debt again, this time $1.2K my new limit. I thought to myself, it could have been worse, I could have been hit by the car when I had debt and would have been extremely fucked. In retrospect, I was paying about $30 on average for overdraft fees. That’s about $360 I was keeping in my account annually going forward.

My second hurdle, paying off my $1.2k of debt which took me a year while living on my own and paying bills. I recovered from the accident and paid of my debt once and for all at the beginning of this year. Now I don’t use my credit card now unless I have the money already made. I’m not fucking around anymore with my finances.

I’ve already seen my money I was paying for interest and late fees back in my pocket which I give thanks for. It was around $50 I had to fork over every month in credit card interest and late fees, that’s another $600 annually I was giving up. I never thought about how these fees added up. That was almost a rack I was pissing away each year since 2013-2014 to a bank simply taking advantage of my financial illiteracy.

Paying off my debt is not enough though, saving money is my next step. I am not living pay check to pay check anymore which I haven’t been able to achieve until I paid off my debt. I’ve been contemplating a lot of how I would save more money. My mind is moving into making investments because money doesn’t grow in a savings account. I’m on a mission to wipe out the mistakes I made since living on my own since I was 21.

Then it hit me, I could save a lot more money if I’m not paying rent. Sounds crazy right?!?! Well the only way I could do that was move back in with my mom….. Yes, I’m moving back in with my mom dukes at the tender age of 27 and no its not a basement I have my own room haha. It could have been worse, I decided to move back in, I wasn’t forced or evicted with no choice.

I’m actually coming back to my mom’s nest with a better grasp of being financially literate then I did when I left. I don’t regret living on my own but I left willing to get myself in debt and didn’t realize it. I’m coming back more financially mature now and wont be a stress to no one. I can take care of myself like I’ve been doing for the past 6 years. I’m just fortunate enough to have a roof over my head and I urge anyone who has the same opportunity to do the same, if you haven’t already. When your young, moving out your parents is a fantasy but the fantasy didn’t explain how we had to be ready for it.

I mean I could save 10-20% of my income on my own for the next 10 years and build something, or I could just suck it up and save 50-60% for the next 3 years. I don’t regret a thing and have grown tremendously living on my own but if I could do it over, I’d do things differently. To further break it down, I spent about $10-11k each year to live on my own. Almost 6 years I spent $54K to live on rent. I refuse to dwell on the past but god fucking damn…….

Next time I move out, it will be for good after making sound investments. I could go into further detail about what I want to invest in the future and how but it doesn’t matter right now. I can’t get to far ahead of myself without making the initial steps first. That first step is saving and building that capital. Its easy to dream but its the dream chasing and crafting that will get you there.

Peace and Blessings to All

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