I grew up in a modest family. We were far from being poor but we never went on holidays anywhere besides my grandmother’s house, for example, one hour drive from where I used to live.
My dad was the only one working and my mom was raising us. If we ever had money problems, my parents never really showed it to us (my little brother and me). What I can remember is that my parents were smart with the way they were shopping for the household.
They never had credit cards and as far as I know, they never had massive debts. They lived within their means and were satisfied with what they had.
WHAT IT MADE ME
I always feared having money issues. Growing up, I was extremely responsible with the way I managed my money. I moved from my parents’ house at 24 and I knew one thing: I would never ask my parents for help if I could find money on my own. It meant I took underpaid jobs, lived a life on almost nothing for a few years. I have actually asked my parents for help a few years later but to me, it shows that I am still capable of asking for help if I need it.
WHAT I DISCOVERED
It’s crucial to understand what money means in this world. What it means to us as individuals (freedom to buy what we want? Freedom to buy a house and legacy to future kids? Freedom to travel?), what it means for others (for a bank – a business), for others (power, a problem they don’t want to have).
Spending it is fine but how much do you need to work to get what you want? Is it worth it now? Will the purchase be it worth in 5 years? Those are questions it took me time to come up with while earning my first (low) salaries.
What about credit cards? Is it bad to have one? I have always been wary because I knew for a bank, a credit card is a way to generate money. On my end, I believe using one is fine when we know that it’s an advance on money we’ll be paying back in time.
I took my first credit card when I decided that I didn’t want a low paid job anymore but needed time to find something closer to my interest or area of expertise. It meant I was living off my credit cards for a few months but to my mind, I thought: “the next job you’ll be getting should have enough money to allow you to pay back this money you don’t have”. I saw this money as an investment on my potential.
Paying for courses, tools to help me develop my skills, anything that I knew could improve my life in the long term is a welcome spend on my card. I would love to have savings that I could use to pay off all those things but I had to be responsible early on and pay bills and also enjoy the life I was living (spending money on holidays is a luxury but to me, it is the best kind when you get to see the world).
WHAT I WANT TO UNDERSTAND
Interest rates, investments, pension plans, insurances, cashback, transaction fees, I had no idea what those terms meant for a long time. I think as we are all trying to understand what it means to be a grown-up, we should have a better understanding of how the financial world works and how we can get something out of it. Banks are businesses that use our money to generate more money: how do I get a tiny slice of that if I can?
Asking for help when it comes to accounting is always a great idea. I believe there are free financial advisors willing to share their knowledge if asked. Some of them are biased, mind you, and that’s why research is important.
There are apps that allow you to invest money (please read all the T&C before signing up), there are plenty of options for retirements: my point is read about all those stuff and get some financial goals for the upcoming years so you can beat the system!