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Part 1 of the Journey

People often feel empowered when they hear personal stories of overcoming obstacles. For some concepts to truly resonate with me, I like to hear what someone has done to meet their accomplishments and spend time wondering if their strategies would work in my shoes. One of the biggest things I’ve learned through my years of teaching, and then on to financial planning for families, is that everyone needs a personalized strategy that will work for them.

For example, let’s talk about this whole 4am club thing where people are up before the sun and getting their workouts in. Well, good for them, but 4am is not for me. I know at that hour I have no strength, would need to go to bed at 9pm (no way) and my workouts are sub-par early in the morning, so instead I find a time when I’m alert and strong and workout then.

I love what I do and I have just the best clients, and what I want everyone to truly understand is that when I say that I don’t pass financial judgement, I mean it. So, to perhaps prove it, I’ve decided to write a 4 part series about my own personal financial journey. It’s pretty ugly but I know I’m not alone. I want everyone else to understand that we all have our own journey, don’t be ashamed, and never give up.

Part 1

Adulting 101: University

I had done my best to save for school and was considered a good saver and responsible with my money. Off I went on an exciting and scary journey of renting an apartment, renting a U-Haul all on my own, and settling into paying recurring bills. Back then, bills arrived in the mail and if we were really fancy we paid them through telephone banking. All of those things were a huge learning curve and pretty darn intimidating. I recall the stress of trying to remember when each bill would roughly arrive in the mail and it’s corresponding due date, which was hard work when piled on top of classes, assignments, exams, part time jobs and of course playing the piano daily since I was a music major.

Oh right, of course I chose to major in music because, well frankly I was good at music. Music is one of those educations that didn’t quite equip me for a streamlined career process, do I regret it? Sometimes. There were definitely thousands of other ways to further my education that likely would’ve landed me better off financially out of the gates, but it’s tough to put that kind of pressure on my young self.

Beyond all the monthly ins and outs, I can’t say that I had a full understanding of my student loans and how to make them work for me, but I do know that my first year I ended up with surpluses and was pretty pleased to have some savings to carry into year #2. I was doing great!!! And then it happened, I decided I liked having fun and went and did a lot more of that. Did you know that fun costs a lot of money? Well, more money than I had between working part time and student loans.

By the time I finished my degree, I had a good $38k in student loans, a nice high visa bill, and my new bank balance was a steady -$1,000. Now, I always paid my bills on time and I was never delinquent, because you know, I was good with my money. Despite juggling debts around to make ends meet, I was an absolute sinking ship, off into the world I went to look for work as a musician to pay my bills!

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