I was 18 when I first started working for my previous employer. I had a few different jobs before that, but this was my first grown-up job in an office. I had to show up on time, and had the directors and VP’s visiting us frequently. I was also fortunate because that particular employee worked around my school schedule. You see, I was eager to prove myself and pretty good at my job, so it wasn’t long before I transitioned into a role (at the ripe old age of 19) where I was making more money that I thought possible.
I loved my work, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that my future wasn’t in that role. That didn’t stop me from spending every penny I made. My parents had no idea what I was making per year, and were under the impression that I was paying for school with my income. While I did pay for my undergrad in full, grad school loans filled up rather quickly.
Its 10 years to the day that I started that job, and I honestly have almost nothing to show for it. I mean, I have fancy clothes, purses, a car thats paid for, but in the grand scheme fo things, that is a drop in a bucket of how much I made. The biggest mistake that I made was assuming that just because someone trusted me enough to give me a grown-up job automatically meant that I was an adult who didn’t need guidance.
As the years when on, I transitioned from one role to another, and took on more responsibility, but money smarts didn’t automatically get included with each grown-up job. I try very hard to not have any regrets; rather I like to think of past experiences as lessons that I can pass on to future generations (or my siblings). I see some of my reckless money traits in my brother at times, and it scares me to think that he might find himself in the same position as me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t horrible, but I should not have student loans. Period.
We all have different priorities, and it has taken me a while to figure out that traveling is mine. I made a conscious decision to shift my professional life around so I wander wander the world a but more than the 3 weeks a year that I was allotted.
The older I get, the more I realize the some of the best splurges have been on experiences for me. And by experiences, I mean, traveling. I can sit down and talk about all the stupid things we did in Greece, or the people we met in Spain, or the adventures in Italian churches. I can’t have the same conversations about the stupidly expensive jeans, or that that unlocked phone that I had to have.
Things I wish I hadn’t done: (Lessons learned)
- There was no need to buy my new Jetta, and then spend $4000 on extras like rims, subs, speakers etc. Yes, I was that girl.
- Those $500 jeans look the same as the $50 Gap ones to everyone else. Put aside the rest of the money.
- The Motorola Razr was not the greatest phone on the planet and I did not need to spend $650 just to have it before everyone else.
- Same goes for all of the HTC TYTN models.
- Torn True Religion jeans are not appropriate for said grown-up job.
- Start an RRSP account as early as possible, especially since my employer matched it.
- There are no need to upgrade cars every 3 years. Most 21 year olds don’t need a brand new Civic, followed by a 3- series. Cars are a not a smart investment.
- Ignoring investment and the lacking the basic know-how until recently.
- The fact that the Mac makeup ladies know your name and wait for you on payday is not a good sign. (Solved this by not wearing anymore)
- Bottle service is a stupid idea when you don’t drink.
- New outfits for every occasion is a dumb idea when the same people are not at every event.
- Ignoring my parents when they offered financial advice and assuming that I knew everything.
- Spending $7000 on Toronto Raptors season tickets is a dumb idea esp since school and work didn’t allow you to go to all of the games and you were too proud to try and sell the tickets.
- 3 Economics courses does not make you an expert in all things finance.
- Budgets are not for poor people or for suckers. Having a maxed out credit card when there is no reason for it is.
- Smart people save money.
- Grown-up job does not mean that are a grown-up.
I would still travel as much as did, but be smarter about it, and learn to have a budget.
The amazing thing about being a PF blogger is seeing all the absolutely intelligent people that write about their lives. It gives me hope.