How My Personal Finance Journey Began

personal finance journeyIt all started a little over a decade ago. I walked into a car dealership on a sunny day in California excited to purchase my first car.

I had an eight hundred dollar check in my Guess purse for the down-payment.

After a couple hours of looking at and test driving cars in my “price range”, I finally decided upon a $8,999, used, white Toyota Corolla.

Little did I know, I was soon about to have my first lesson in managing money and my personal finance journey was in motion to begin!

I confidently walked into the freezing cold finance office anxious to get the paperwork out of the way so I could be handed the keys to my new car and drive off into the sunset.

After supplying my social security number and driver’s license information to the handsome finance guy what happened next was kind of a blur but I vaguely recall something being typed and something being faxed, then…it happened.

After grabbing what seemed like an entire ream of paper off the printer, the finance guy looked me right in my face and said “I’m sorry Vi but we can’t approve you for a vehicle loan at this time.”

😐 Excuse me (I thought). “But why not?” I said.

I had a decent job making about $44,000 a year and I had zero debt and I knew I could afford the payments on a $8,999 car. This dude was trippin’. Why wouldn’t he just give me my car keys and stop playing!?

“Well”, he said with trepidation, “you have really bad credit” (in slow motion like in the movies).

😐 Come again sir (I thought).

Before I could respond he took out his highlighter and slapped my credit report on his meticulously organized desk and began to show me all of the reasons why I would not be leaving his lot with a car that day. I watched as he highlighted all of my past financial transgressions right there in my face (RUDE).

What happened was I had tons of credit cards while in college that I decided not to pay the bill on when I didn’t have a job. I just totally ignored the bills for like six months as if that was normal. Once I got a job I paid them all off and assumed that my past behavior would be of no consequence to my future, more responsible self. I was wrong.

Why is this story important? 

Nobody ever told me that even if I paid all of my bills in full—after missing some payments—that my credit would still be negatively impacted (looking back now it seems like that information should have fallen under common sense but…it didn’t :-/). Honestly, I still feel kind of stupid for not knowing that. LOL

Although humiliated that day at the car dealership, I was eventually grateful for that experience because it was that day that I vowed to never be financially ignorant again. After that experience I made sure that I learned everything that there was to know about credit and debt.

Then I began to study wealth building principles and eventually I became an all-out personal finance junkie!

That day at the car dealership I learned the importance of always paying attention to what is going on in my financial life. That’s not to say that I never made another financial mistake after that day because I have made tons of them but I can honestly say that I have never made the same mistake twice.

The moral of the story is what you don’t know CAN hurt you! That is the lesson I learned from my experience at the car dealership. I will never forget that lesson because I learned it in a way that was very painful to me.

As I walked out of the finance office (to the bus stop) I imagined that all the finance guys in the building had convened in a central location to watch me walk away through the floor-to-ceiling windows and were pointing and laughing at me…the dummy who didn’t even know her credit was bad (talk about a walk of shame).

What I want for you:

I want you to be educated when it comes to money, not ignorant like I was.

YOUR future, more responsible self might want things that your present self can’t even imagine right now. Don’t let “present you” ruin life for “future you”!

Learn all you can NOW so that you are able to make decisions that will improve your future…not make it more difficult.

If you have already made financial mistakes then congratulations…you’re human. The good news is being human also means that you have the ability to think, make plans, and execute those plans in order to meet your goals. I have made many mistakes in the past but I am on the path to financial freedom thanks to lots of hard work and an insatiable thirst for knowledge.

I don’t mind sharing my stories if they will help you. If other people can benefit from my financial mishaps and embarrassing moments then they were all worth it to me. I want you to NEVER have to experience the financial humiliation that I felt that one day so many years. I want you to always live with financial dignity!

How did your personal finance journey begin? What lessons have you learned along the way?

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