Get Rich Slowly is holding a contest asking for people to submit their financial success stories. With this in mind, I began to reflect on where I am today in my experience with money.
I was raised to be financially responsible from a young age. When I was comfortable with the idea of an allowance somewhere near the first grade my Dad set up a personal Heimlich bank complete with my own custom printed checks. He wanted to instill the idea of writing out checks for things I wanted to buy as well as going over a monthly bank statement. I should clarify this wasn’t a real bank but rather an imaginary one between my parents, who would be the only people on the planet that would recognize my checks, and I. The habit has stuck with me as I now use the elaborate receipt filing system on my real bills that they taught me oh so long ago. It wasn’t until college when I realized how ahead of the game I was, personal finance wise.
Not only did I grow up ingrained with good money habits, but I was also genuinely interested in learning all that I could about finance issues. My friends in college certainly didn’t seem to think to much about their finances as my roommate used to throw away his bank statements without even opening the envelope and the people next door relied on unemployment benefits to help pay for their party habits. It was also a wake up call to see many people were paying for college by taking out student loans in their own names unlike my extremely fortunate situation of a full ride from Mom and Dad.
After college I was already ahead compared to my debt-laden classmates and I landed a good job with decent benefits. I knew I was in a special situation being 22 and debt free. I was anxious for my 6-month waiting period for my retirement benefits to kick in so I could contribute as much as I could into my 401(k). A couple of months ago I set up my 16% contribution with confidence that I was doing the right thing thanks to compounding interest and time being on my side. In August the company announced a Roth 401(k) option that would let my money grow tax free and because I had been reading up about these things previously, I immediately knew it was the perfect option for me to take advantage of.
In the end, my greatest personal finance success has to be the knowledge and wisdom I acquired early on to be able to capitalize on this once in a lifetime opportunity. Money can buy lots of things, but it certainly cannot buy more time.
Thank you Mom, Dad, J.D. at GetRichSlowly.org, and all of the personal finance sites out there sharing their wisdom.