The first steps to wealth accumulation blossomed when I was five years old.
“Daddy?” I inquired as my tiny fist wrapped around the sleek shiny morsels placed in my palm. “What would happen if I save all these and never ever EVER spent a penny of it?”
My father’s eyes crinkled in amusement as his mouth momentarily twitched. “Well darling, you’d be a very rich young lady!”
“Would I be a … a kazillionaire?” I delightedly squeaked.
His face smoothed into an earnest expression. “Honey, it’s impossible to save it ALL. You need to spend money to survive. You’ll see, one day you’ll understand better when you’re older.”
My young eyes brightened as I gazed in critical fascination upon the tiny change trickling through my five-year-old fingers. The quarters in the batch my father had handed to me felt heavy and awkward, yet I felt a curious satisfaction from jingling all that glimmering change together and listening to their tiny notes of promise.
Wow, my youthful mind mused. If grownups need this stuff to survive, it must be pretty important!
Unknowingly, even at that young age, I was making a correlation between money and wealth and as tempting as those quarters were to spend, I carefully tucked them away that radiant afternoon.
Ten years later, I received my first job at a local roller rink and the money was no longer being saved. Between rushing to the nail salon, splurging on the latest voguish styles, crisping myself in endless tanning sessions and bribing others to buy packs of forbidden menthol cigarettes, any notion of saving drifted like the lazy smoke rings billowing up from the bathroom stalls at school, bloating and inflating.
My financial sensibilities had crumpled.
Wealth, I believed, was out of reach and reserved for those lucky few born into well-to-do families or for lottery winners. But not for me. My paychecks went toward all the tempting goodies I could now afford and I voraciously wasted no time in spending everything I earned.
Fast forward another few years and I was really in jeopardy. Not only was I struggling paycheck to paycheck but I found myself in some serious debt as well. I’ll never forget the feeling of distress when I ripped open my mailing statements one morning and frantically realized I could barely afford my minimum credit card payments.
That evening when my friends called to invite me out for a martini rendezvous, I did the unthinkable and politely declined. With a growing knot gnawing through my stomach, I had a hammering realization that I couldn’t even afford to go.
I kept my butt planted firmly home that night and forced myself to review my entire financial situation. It was an illuminating turning point and I was ashamed to realize I had absolutely no savings, coupled with almost $20,000 worth of debt. So I did what any self-respecting female would do at such a critical moment; I immediately cracked open a tub of Heath Ripple and wept into my ice cream.
How did this happen? I lamented, nursing a soggy spoonful. Oh my god, I’ve deliberately made myself a slave.
The next morning, I still felt like shit but was ready to confront the situation more calmly. After work that afternoon, I stopped by my local library, curled up on a bench and spent hours thumbing through books in the personal finance section. A huge chunk went missing from the library that day as I carried a towering stack of material home with me. A few months later, I began writing on this site.
As of right now, I’m still struggling to get out of the debt cycle. But I’ve stopped accumulating further debt, which has been a tremendous first step, and actually started saving those pennies and quarters again without wasting it all on frivolous ‘stuff’. I’m able to finally breathe again and it’s been extremely empowering to feel as if I’m slowly gaining control of my life back.
So is kazillionaire status in my future? Hah, time will only tell.
Compare prices and read helpful product reviews to make smart buying easy through Ciao! – Price Comparison and Product Reviews for the savvy shopper.