This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Turbo. The opinions and text are all mine.
I’m turning 30 in a couple of months. Considering I started this blog when I was 22, I think that’s a pretty big deal. In lieu of his momentous occasion, I figured it would be fun to list off all the ways I was bad with money in my twenties to commemorate how far I’ve come and in the hopes my lessons learned can help you own your own financial journey.
Truth be told, I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time but never got around to it. So, when Intuit approached me to be a part of their #RealMoneyTalk campaign for Turbo – a really cool new tool that allows you to measure your overall financial health, I immediately said “SIGN ME UP!”
You see, most people assume that financial bloggers are really good with money. That’s only partially true. Are we better with money than the average American? Maybe. But that’s only because many of us made some spectacular mistakes we’ve had to learn from.
I’m also human. This means that, try as I might, I still screw up in some form or fashion all the time. But our missteps make us smarter and stronger, and I fully believe that talking about our mistakes not only helps us feel less afraid to take steps toward improving our finances – but you also realize that most people are experiencing the same things!
That’s what I discovered when I started this blog seven years ago – not only was I less afraid of my finances, but people started coming out of the woodwork to share their stories with me. It’s actually how I’ve met so many people who I now consider friends as I continue on this financial journey. Actually, they aren’t just friends. These are people who have become a support system as we continuously strive to improve our finances.
And so, here are some of my spectacular money mistakes from my 20s.
I spent everything I earned in my early 20s.
I worked while I was in college. I worked when I would go home for the summers and I spent some time working for my school’s visitor’s center. Mind you, it’s not like I had to work to pay bills. I chose to work just to have some money (and have something to do).
Now, the smart thing to do would have been to save that money so I’d have a nice cushion when I graduated. Maybe I could have invested some of that money by starting an IRA.
Instead, I spent it all. I spent it on cheap clothes, trips, coffee, and bars. By the time I graduated I had $0 to my name. It was as if I’d worked for nothing. One thing I have learned to do as a result of this, is to prioritize my savings. I now have automatic savings and investments. I also take extra savings off the top whenever I make extra money.
I got into debt because I didn’t save enough money for emergencies (or have insurance).
The first year that I was self-employed, I neglected my emergency savings. I was pouring everything back into the business and figured I was 26 years old so what could possible go wrong? I’m young! I’m invincible!
That is until I woke up one morning and my gums were infected the size of golf balls. Turns out I was having a complication with my Invisalign and I needed oral surgery ASAP.
There were two problems. One, I didn’t have dental insurance. At the time, I didn’t even know that was a thing because I’d never gotten any through an employer. Two, the surgery was going to cost me almost $4k and I only had about $1k sitting in emergency savings.
I was savvy enough to negotiate with the periodontist and I think she took pity on me because she knew I didn’t have insurance, so she reduced the price a little. Either way I still had to put about $2,000 I didn’t have on a credit card.
Let’s just say it was a rough month. Between the recovery (mouth surgery is no joke) and needing to really hustle and make sacrifices to pay it off in time, I did not have fun for some time.
I never asked for a raise.
Since I came of age during The Great Recession and went several months without a job, I did what I consider to be my worst mistake of all: I never bothered negotiating my starting salary. I also never asked for a raise.
The reason this one hurts me the most is because I am now aware of how much money I left on the table. I also realize it’s because I didn’t value myself enough. I felt like I didn’t deserve the money. Besides, I thought beggars couldn’t be choosers.
This also translated over into my business and it’s something I still have to work on. That’s why I call myself a recovering underearner, because I have to continuously keep an eye on this bad habit.
I had my wallet stolen because I was being stupid.
If you’ve been following this blog since its inception, then you might remember the epic story of my stolen wallet. I was working as a recruiter at the time and a job candidate I interviewed for a job stole my wallet.
This totally could have been avoided had I been paying attention. You see, I left my wallet out in plain sight after ordering some food. I meant to put it back in my purse which was hidden away, but my boss at the time called me into her office and I got distracted.
So yes – I LEFT MY WALLET OUT IN THE OPEN FOR THE TAKING. *insert face palm emoji
Two hours later my phone started blowing up with messages from my bank about strange purchases. It took three entire months to fix the ordeal of my stolen wallet thanks to me being careless.
The good news is I had identity theft alerts set up so I was able to catch suspicious activity as it was happening. This allowed me to immediately take action by calling my bank and shutting down my accounts. The situation would have been far worse had I not had those alerts.
The Silver Lining
Even though I’ve made some spectacular money mistakes, there is a silver lining to all of it. I learned from them. I now prioritize emergency savings, which recently came in handy after Hurricane Irma. I can also safely say I’m no longer a spender (though I do enjoy spending money every once in a while). And finally, I continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone by asking for more money whenever I get the chance.
This video helps to showcase that we’re all more alike than we think, and money mishaps can (and usually do!) happen to anyone. It’s comforting to know we’re all connected, in a way, along this financial journey. But, regardless of which mistakes you’ve made, a tool like Turbo can help you get back on track – for FREE!
For me, using a tool like Turbo helps to hold me accountable. Turbo is totally free (yes, FREE!) and gives you an overall financial picture – from IRS-verified income (first of its kind!) and credit score to your debt-to-income ratio, each critical factors in determining the interest rate and size of loan a consumer can get and are key financial indicators that show if a consumer is living within their means. Turbo shows you where you truly stand.
There is no need for shame.
Part of my healing process with my finances has been to out myself. I’ve been doing this since I was 22 on this public forum. Once it was out there I felt like I had nothing to hide, so it was easier to learn the lessons and move on.
I also do it to show people that we need not be ashamed of our money mistakes. We all make them. We’re human, which means we’re stubborn and happen to learn best through experience.
And so now I encourage you to share some of your own stories with me. Many of you have already done this via email or on the phone, but I want to encourage you to out yourself publicly.
The moment you do that, you will feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. I promise.
So what are your #RealMoneyTalk stories? Tweet me! If you share your story (tagging @IntuitTurbo, #RealMoneyTalk and #sweepstakes), you’ll also have the chance to win $5,000 cash!