My dysfunctional money story might be embarrassing. What’s more embarrassing is that I didn’t ask for help sooner.
My dysfunctional money story starts with my first memory of money. One evening I saw my Dad at the kitchen table with his notebook figuring the household budget. He was writing in a small notebook and tapping on his calculator. I remember watching his actions trying to understand what he was doing. I learned from that experience but unfortunately, I would need more than one lesson. It would take several mistakes before I finally admitted that I needed help taking control of my finances.
My car has been repossessed twice. Our lights and water have been turned off at different times. I had accrued a large debt trying to work several direct-sales businesses like Mary Kay and Herbalife. My wages have been garnished as a result of unpaid debt. We lost our home during the housing crisis. Yes, I’m putting it all out there because when I look back at all the chaos, I know that it was caused by my inability to have a conversation about money.
While watching my dad at the kitchen table, I didn’t ask him any questions about what he was doing. I only watched quietly. Early in my own marriage I still did not know how to talk about money. My husband and I didn’t talk about budgets, bills, or whether we needed help. When we needed to talk about money, the conversation would end up in an argument or stubborn silence.
Writing the next chapter of our money story
My first step was admitting I needed help. I had to learn about money but how? I went to the first place where I could simply get a start in the right direction. I checked out books at the library.
Then I attended workshops and conferences on finances. One of the first money events I attended was a Dave Ramsey workshop at a local church. I got the information I needed to start working on repairing our credit. I would also listen to Suze Orman whenever I got a chance. She is so informative on a range of money topics.
Once I built confidence in myself, I began to tackle our debt issues. Calling a collection agency was extremely stressful but I got it done. I negotiated new pay off amounts. I also picked up a second job to pay down those debts. We cut spending in different areas as well. It took some time, a few years actually, to dig ourselves out of that financial hardship.
I continue to learn all I can about finances, managing money, and building wealth. In addition to attending conferences and listening to podcasts, I decided to take Finance courses at Penn State World Campus. Learning helps me prepare instead of always trying to catch up.
What’s your money story?
The only way you’ll do something different is when you learn that there are different things to do. I had to search out new ways to manage money in order to take control of our finances. What’s your money story? What’s your first memory about managing money? Did you know that your first experience with money will impact your outlook on finances?