Proverbs 22:6 is pretty accurate. It reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Well, I was “trained up” to spend a lot, save very little, and borrow as much as you want as long as you can make the minimum payments. I knew absolutely nothing about money at the age of 17. So as I left home for the first time, my first financial decision was take on an out-of-state tuition school and start a very long relationship with someone named Sallie Mae. Sallie gave me all the money I needed for college. It didn’t even occur to me at the time that I would have to pay her back some day. In fact, I naively assumed my parents would take care of it. I found out the cold hard truth after graduation when mom handed me the Sallie Mae letter.
No problem, I thought. I would land a big job with my marketable history degree and all would be well. To make matters even worse, I decided that right out of school I needed a wife and one of these:
That’s right, folks. I immediately financed my first home where I would start life out with my Sallie Mae and my new wife. But don’t worry, I had a job interview lined up. In case you didn’t guess, there are not a lot of options for a young graduate with a history degree. So I decided to follow my dreams … I wanted to be a spy. Well, not exactly. I found a job opening at a private investigation firm. During college I had worked several jobs to make it through. I worked on a crab boat in the Chesapeake Bay, waited tables, sold shoes, stocked a grocery store, and finally (my favorite job) … I was an investigator for a small personal injury law firm in my college town. It was a wonderful job! I took pictures, served legal documents, and interviewed witnesses. I really did love that job and it had a tremendous impact on me (more on that later).
Armed with my incredible resume I walked into my first post-graduate job interview with a regional insurance fraud investigation firm. After waxing eloquently about my substantial experience in the field, the VP slipped a folded piece of paper across the table slowly. It was my offer: $20,000! I was rich! Well, so I thought. You see, I had no idea whether that was a good salary. I didn’t have a clue. So I excitedly accepted his offer and commenced the game of life.
I had it all: an unhappy marriage, a “big” job, a 1969 mobile home/roach hotel, and sweet Sallie Mae (who stayed in the guest room). Oh yeah, and my wheels:
Try to control your envy folks. Please. So it was, I began my FI journey — broke, poor, and financially clueless. To be honest, it hurts my stomach to look back at the beginning. But don’t worry, its gets better. That is, after it gets worse.
Till next time, have a great day.