As an 18-yr-old university student, I got myself into a financial bind. I look back and on the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that bad, but it was what I needed to get on the right track financially. Read on to see how one hot pink lava lamp caused me so much stress, I didn’t want to get out of bed…
That Lava Lamp – Sigh
When I graduated from highschool, I went straight to university. At the time, I applied for a credit card from a bank offering a free lava lamp if you signed up. I was mesmerized by this pink lava lamp and signed up for the card in about three seconds flat. Happily toting my new acquisition to Psychology 101, I had no idea how much trouble I was in for.
My Money Background
I was never great with money. The minute I got it, I would spend ALL OF IT. My mom took me to the bank at the age of 11 to open my first savings account to teach me how to manage money. She made me deposit all of my paper route money every two weeks to teach me the importance of “having a nest egg”. As I grew up, I valued that, but still had no idea about being financially stable and literate. Why would I? I had Mom and Dad to fall back on.
Before I get back to my story, I want to tell you about stnce.ca , which has quickly become a favourite website of mine. Committed to encouraging women to confidently take ownership of their finances, the site offers insightful videos, articles, tips and tricks to empower our community from a financial perspective.
Prior to launching the site, stnce.ca conducted some studies and discovered that women tend to underestimate their financial knowledge and defer ownership – usually to their partners. They had women complete a financial literacy test and only 61% of women did well, and of that group, only 30% of them felt confident in their answers!
At some point in our lives, 90% of us will have to be a sole decision maker in our relationships, so stnce.ca strives to bridge that knowledge gap and offer us tools to become more self-reliant, self-assured and well-informed about our own money. Oooooh….that feels GREAT typing that!
Now, back to my story….
Racking Up Debt In Record Time
During my first year of university, I racked up $2000 worth of debt on that card (which, btw, had a horrible interest rate). I could barely afford to make the minimum payments because…”starving student”, so I didn’t. Soon enough, a persistent debt collector started calling and threatening me with all sorts of scary stuff. I ran crying to my mom, but she turned me away and told me “You’re an adult. Figure it it out.” I slinked back to my room, looking sheepishly at a pair of candy red platforms that I used my last $60 to buy. I officially felt helpless.
The Turning Point
The following day, I returned those shoes, went to the bank and put the money towards the credit card debt. I asked the bank teller if there was someone I could speak to about my predicament. She took me to see a kind financial advisor by the name of Carol who was both understanding and knowledgeable. Carol took the time to listen to my problems and give me some solid advice without making me feel stupid. We talked for about an hour and I was surprised to learn that I knew a lot more about personal finance than I thought, which boosted my confidence. Carol sent me on my way and I left feeling empowered and determined to kick that debt to the curb.
With lots of begging, I persuaded my manager at the grocery store where I worked as a cashier to give me a few more weekly shifts. Within six months, I managed to pay off the debt and treated myself to a manicure. I was PUMPED! This took the sting out of not being able to go on a trip with my friends because I was too broke to go. I felt ok about missing out. After all, I was debt-free. For the first time in months, I felt like I could breathe because that weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
An Experience I’ll Never Forget
Having some nasty debt collector call me was an experience I never wanted to relive. Soon thereafter, I started automatic payments to a savings account, and started rebuilding my credit by – get this – getting a cell phone. Those regular payments put me back on track along with teaching me the value of budgeting. In a couple of years, I got another credit card with a limit of $500, made small purchases monthly, and then paid them off immediately. This repaired my credit rating relatively quickly.
Grateful To That Lava Lamp
Fast forward many years later, I now have a great job, a fun and thriving side hustle, mutual funds, a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and a savings account with enough money to cover life expenses if anything were to go wrong. A monumentous moment for me was buying my first car. A few years after that, my husband and I bought our dream home thanks to careful budgeting and hardcore saving. I couldn’t have done it without having that scary experience as a young woman. AND I kept that tacky lava lamp as a reminder to treasure my financial security.
Resources stnce.ca Offers To Empower Women Financially
The stnce.ca platform is hugely informative and fun to read, offering up highly readable articles written by many women just like you and me. There is a wealth of material on personal finance, investing, real estate and retirement planning.
One of my favourite articles is “The Empowered Woman’s Guide To Investing – Part 1” and their awesome “Ask An Expert” section. The advice is great without making a woman feel talked down to, rushed or that she needs a lot of money to start investing.
Another wonderful resource is their “Confidence” page. It tackles tough issues like how to leave a financially dependent relationship and how a medical illness can rock your financial stability. It’s so important for women to be financially-free, and stnce.ca offers up the tools do so. After arming you with the right tools, stnce.ca will make you feel great by being able to stand on your own two feet…hopefully on a stack of money!
Be sure to take a look at their “Events” section too, which offers up some great future opportunities for you to connect and network with like-minded women.
Today, money no longer scares me and I relish in saving it instead of treating it without respect. Nowadays, I can walk through the mall and not be tempted by sales, or yet another pair of shoes I don’t need. Remember, there will always be another sale! And when you hit financial goals, be kind to yourself and go out and reward YOU. Doesn’t have to be huge…just be sure to enjoy it! My reward of choice? ICE CREAM.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments! And check out the stnce.ca site and let me know what you think!
*This post in sponsored by stnce.ca, but I love the stnce.ca website and highly recommend it.