One of the beauties of running Rockstar Finance is that I get to see a ton of cool ways to talk about money that doesn’t sound like the same thing over and over again, even though it is ;) Unfortunately that also means I have to sift through hundreds of articles every day that DO actually sound the same (the point of Rockstar is to feature only the “gems” I come across), but it’s a small price to pay so my readers don’t have to – hah.
Anyways, this post was inspired by Jon who coincidentally had one of my same financial memories growing up too. Though he chose a different path in the end (you’ll have to click to see! ;))
Here are the four memories that impacted my finances the most:
“There’s nothing wrong with used stuff!” – Momma $
If my mother had a blog, it would be called Used Stuff is Sexy (though considering she still doesn’t know what I do for a living, I doubt that would ever come to be ;)). I’ve never met a person who loves getting a good deal so much, and she instilled in us children early on the power of being thrifty. Mainly for the savings it brought (she raised us on a meager Military salary as a stay-at-home mom), but also for the “thrill of the hunt.” So it’s no surprise where I got my love of yard sales and thrift shops from. Or my hankering for antiques – which by nature MUST be old and used!
Here are all the areas we now save on immensely because of my mom:
- Clothes for myself
- Clothes for my kids
- Toys for my kids
- Music (think records – mmmm…)
- Cars (the most savings!)
Stuff we never bought used were food and underwear – I wonder why?
“You can buy anything you want… If you go out and earn it.” – Momma $
This was another of my mother’s favorite sayings, and one that taught me the best lesson of all: how to appreciate money. Nothing puts things in better perspective than having to go out and earn all those dollars yourself! Especially when your allowance is only $1.00/week – hah! But time and time again my mother continued repeating it until it finally sunk in and I quit pestering her.
This occurred when I wanted my very first Nintendo Game Boy. You can click the link for the full story, but in a nutshell I wanted a Game Boy bad – the old bulky tan ones before they got colored and shrunk – and of course my mother said I could have it as long as I saved up all the money ($90.00). I was adamant that I just had to have it, so I saved and saved and saved, and finally – what seemed like an eternity later – I had amassed a whopping $80.00. It wasn’t enough to pick up the golden toy, but it was at that point I realized that it wasn’t worth trading my hard earned money for anymore. Something I’m sure my parents knew was gonna happen :)
(I did end up getting my hands on one a little later when I implemented the “used is good!” lesson from mom and found one for $30 + games at a yard sale – score!)
I still slip up every now and then and waste my money (*ahem* $40.00 Bling H20), but that game boy totally changed my perspective. And as you have witnessed with my Challenge Everything Savings Account, it’s quite powerful to watch those pennies add up over time when you let it ride and never touch! I guarantee I’m going to appreciate whatever I end up doing with it more so than my “paycheck” money. I’ve been hustling for over 6 months on that bad boy – it better get me something GOOD! :)
“Don’t ever put anything on a credit card you can’t pay off at the end of the month” – Poppa $
As I got older, my father started stepping in more and laying down the law on money (fun fact – my father does NOT like used things, except for cars/motorcycles. Which gets confusing when you him dropping $100+ on a pair of running shoes when you’re only allowed to get a pair for $20 or less.) And one of the first things he told me when I got to college – outside of “make sure to have fun, kid – you have to go into the real world after this!” – was to never put anything stupid on my (co-signed) credit card that I can’t pay off in 30 days.
A) because my parents would have to do so,
but mainly B) So I didn’t end up screwing myself for years and years to come.
Something I’m very much aware of now seeing all the emails and comments come in from some of y’all :( Credit cards are no joke. And I’m beyond thankful I had parents who were on my ass about it! (Another fun fact – I once put a chocolate bar on it thinking I could slip it by my parents ‘cuz how would they see?? The next month when the statement came (oops) I got a firm talking to.)
“If you only do one thing, invest up to your company’s 401(k) match” – Poppa $
This was by far the best thing that ever happened to my finances. It took me years (and one pretty embarrassing trip to HR) to finally catch on, but once I did I quickly learned how rapidly your money grows. And even more so when YOUR COMPANY DOUBLES YOUR MONEY FOR YOU FOR FREE!!
Now I don’t have a 401(k) anymore or free matches, *tear* (downside to working for yourself), but I’ve maxed out at least one retirement account every single year for the past 6-7 which I owe my father every last bit of credit for it. Without him harping on my back to get it started I’d have continued on wasting it away through dumb lifestyle increases. It was hard to really see the benefits at first – all you notice is your money flying out of your paycheck every two weeks! – but once your $100 becomes $1,000, and then $5,000 and $10,000 and so on, it’s hard to ignore the momentum.
The only reason my net worth is flirting with half a million dollars right now is because I kept fueling it every single year and letting the power of time and markets do its thing. It probably took me 5 years to reach my first $17,000, yet last month alone it increased by $17,000! And I didn’t even contribute to it!
So make sure you’re investing at least up to your company’s match, and if you really want to be a baller try maxing the whole thing out. If $18,000 is just way too much, shoot for maxing a Roth IRA @ $5,500 or/in addition to other things you’re already working on (paying off debt, saving for home, etc). Maxing out one retirement account every month will make you a millionaire over time.
Needless to say, I owe everything to my parents :) Including my life!
And of course, there were other tips they mentioned over the years too which I promptly ignored:
- “Don’t get an apartment when you don’t have a job.” (I did it anyways, and quickly learned how fast you can burn through money. Was moved back into my parents’ place within three weeks – to the dismay of the landlord (oops).)
- “Don’t move to New York City without having a place lined up.” (This time I had a job, but I didn’t have a place to stay outside of friends’ couches – I survived for almost two years :))
- “Don’t hang out with troublemakers” (Why does this just make us want to do it more??)
- “Don’t ever buy a gas guzzler.” (Meet FrankenCaddy!)
We gotta do some things our own way though, eh? :)
What were some of your earliest money memories? What affected your finances the most?
[Game Boy photo by Naíra Dias]
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!