You’re Never Too Young, Or Old, To Begin Managing Your Money

As my 27th birthday quickly approaches (coming up in October), my financial situation has weighed heavily on my mind. As much as I think about my writing, I tend to find myself thinking more and more about my financial stability.

For my age and where I’m at in life, I’m doing very well. Aside from student loans, I do not have any ridiculous amounts of debt to pay. I stay with my parents which is great for saving money as they don’t require me to pay rent (I do help out with expenses) and I have only used one credit card in my life (which I only use for emergencies and pay on time every month). I do plan on being out of the house within the next year or so. A coworker told me that I should not rush to move out from under my folks and that she lived with her parents until the day she married. It makes no sense to rush into an apartment and pay for rent and utilities when I have a free roof over my head.

I recently went to the bank to open up an IRA and the banker I talked with was amazed that someone of my age had amassed such an impressive savings record. For the most part, I’ve never been flashy with how I spend my money. I don’t ever need to have the latest clothes and I wouldn’t exactly call myself a follower of trends. I buy the majority of my clothes off the clearance rack from Old Navy, Belk, Sears and stores of the like. I get most of my footwear from Rack Room Shoes and Shoe Show. I know how to catch a sale and how to look good without paying a fortune.

Just as it appeared everything was working out financially, I got a monkey wrench thrown in which may cause my savings to take a temporary nosedive. Of course it’s car problems. My car has been acting up a lot over the past week. My gut tells me it’s something with the transmission, but I’m not completely sure. I put a new used transmission in a few months back and the car didn’t improve too much, but it was still very drivable. This morning I had to pull over on the side of the road on my way to church and call a friend to pick me up. Looks like my car could be on its final lifeline.

Getting another car has been something I’ve dreaded for a long time. I’ve thought about it, but I really wasn’t looking to make that kind of investment until maybe next year. My current vehicle is a 1990 Honda Accord and I made the decision after my last transmission fiasco that I would not put any more serious money into it. I just plan on riding it out until it can’t go any further. However, I wasn’t expecting that time to come so soon!

I’ve been doing some research and talking to some friends about how to go about looking for a car. You may think it’s strange I’m asking people about this stuff, but there is a good reason. Both of the cars I’ve had so far in my life were used (not from a dealership) and I didn’t have to pay a car note on either. Now I’m bracing myself for the reality of shelling out $250 or more bucks per month for a new ride. My goal since getting my first full-time job in 2010 has always been to save as much as I can so that I will have a safety net of funds to fall back onto when I’m married. I want my future wife and I to struggle (I know it’s inevitable) as little as possible financially. To me, that means being able to live comfortably in a decent neighborhood never having to worry where the money for the next bill will come from.

My savings have also taken a tumble due to a huge surge of what I call “unnecessary spending.” Basically, it’s buying stuff I don’t need.

Eating out is my primary weakness. I eat out multiple times in a week, even when I’m not hungry. Thankfully, it hasn’t caught up to me physically (thank God for my metabolism), but it has caught up to me financially. I would estimate that I spend roughly $30 a week on fast food. Instead, I could go the grocery store and buy enough food at that price to last me for two weeks.

A big part of it comes from eating lunch at work. It seems as if every one of my coworkers eats out for lunch and at times I feel like I should too. There have been times, since starting my job, where I have bought lunch with me from home and still end up going out to buy something once lunch hour hits. It’s like a habit that I can’t break, but I definitely need to.

My spending on useless items reached an all-time high around the time this job started (seems like this job was the catalyst for a lot of destructive spending habits). I vividly remember treating myself to six books after my first day of work. Granted, they were from a used bookstore and came to a grand total of $20, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t need them. I already have enough books in my room that I haven’t read to fill a small library. A similar occurrence happened when I bought two shirts from my campus bookstore I totally didn’t need, nor really wanted. I got them because I was shopping with a group of coworkers and noticed they were all buying stuff. In my own jaded thinking I felt that if they were buying stuff then I should buy something too. I did return the shirts a few days later.

Today, my girlfriend and I had our first serious discussion about money. We are both young and making good money, but we need to start laying the foundation for what we want our financial future to be. I never want us to have to live paycheck to paycheck.

Pleasure spending always feels great. That’s why the word pleasure is involved. But after the thrill of the purchase wears off all you’re left with is the realization that you spent a lot of money on bunch of nothing.

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4 thoughts on “You’re Never Too Young, Or Old, To Begin Managing Your Money

  1. I’m about 20 yrs older than you and you have some good financial sense. I would like to add one thing I wish I had of been told at your age. Life (really living life) does not revolve around money or the things we can buy. One can be sensible yet still enjoy a nice place to live, decent car, etc..
    I would say at 27 you should get on your own because you will have no true concept of the real world (paying bills, etc) until you do. You are fortunate to have been able to live @ home and save money not alot of folks get that opportunity..
    Happy car hunting!!!

    • Hey Lynne! I agree with what you said about living sensible. I have always believed that a person should actually live beneath their means. If someone makes $100,000 per year then they should live like they make $60,000. I’ve also heard that the wealthiest people (in everyday life, not celebrities) live the most frugal lifestyle. Not saying that they live like peasants, but they tend to drive around town in a not so expensive car (they likely have an expensive car, but don’t drive it everywhere) and buy a lot of their clothes off the rack instead of exclusively wearing designer stuff.
      For where I’m at in life, I should really be spending way less money than I do (though I am getting better in some areas). I plan on being married within the next year and a half so the time for me to leave the nest is coming soon. Thankfully, staying at home affords me a huge opportunity at saving that many of my peers don’t have. I guess I should consider myself fortunate for that reason alone.

  2. Hey Jeuron,

    Just stumbled across your blog–cool stuff! I’m working on your questions about writing and social media and should have them to you in the next day or so. You are asking all the right questions about money while in your late 20s. I didn’t get to do this until I was in my early 30s. I used to do a lot of financial coaching and worked with Glinda Bridforth (who was on Oprah a few times). I was her client before I became a financial coach and her work transformed my relationship to money and prosperity. She takes a holistic approach to financial management and her work is geared toward African American women (but I think many people can gain from and utilize her approach). You and your girlfriend might want to check out her bestselling books –esp. Girl, Get Your Money Straight which is her first book and there is a chapter in that book on couples and finances. Check out more of her work at : http://glindab.com/

    • Hey Michele! Glad you came by and thanks again for the questions. I certainly appreciate the advice and will check out Glinda’s site. I’m 27 so I’m basically in the early 30s club, so I kind of feel like I’m a little behind the curve when it comes to knowing about finances. One thing that has helped me the most is watching the Today Show on NBC (I was able to when I was out of work, not so much anymore). They have some great segments about personal finances. Jean Chatzky, one of their contributors, is especially good at making finances easy to understand for young people. I bought one of her books earlier this year and really learned a lot from it.
      However, the best method for saving money (my main goal at the moment, though I am curious about investing) is to actually do it. You can read all the books and attend all the seminars in the world, but it makes no difference if you don’t physically find a way to restrain yourself from spending all of your disposable income.
      Saving can be a challenge, especially for an impulse shopper like me, but I have to remind myself of what I want to have by the time I am 30 instead of worrying about the immediate gratifications of today. Of course it’s easier said than done. Sigh!

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