Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An introduction

A little bit about me:

I am 25 years old, live in upstate New York, and very, very interested in personal finance. Period. I went to college outside of New York City, spent a lot of time in New York City, and, needless to say, spent a lot of money in New York City. Money I didn't have. Maybe I should say I spent a lot of credit. 

Either way, throughout most of my college years, I didn't think twice about how much I spent to have a good time with friends, or have a nice time in the city. And I definitely didn't think about how much student loan debt I was putting myself into, or what the consequences would be when I graduated. After all, I knew I would get a great paying right out of college and quickly pay any debt I had with plenty of money left to enjoy my new, more adult, life. Right? 

It turns out that getting a job out of college is difficult enough, let alone a good paying job. After doing a number of interviews at different companies in the industry I was interested in, it turns out that the starting pay is a little lower than you might think as an optimistic, hard-working college student eagerly awaiting to put all of his newly formed knowledge to use.

Anyway, I was introduced to Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness during the second half of my junior year. I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. I'd read it on the train to and from my internship in the city, and I'd  read it at night or in the morning when I found myself with any extra time. It was enlightening. It was exciting. It was exactly the kick I needed to start looking at my financial situation. I started thinking about the purchases I was making and whether or not they were necessary. Do I really need it? Is it worth the extra debt?

This was my introduction to personal finance. And it was my start to becoming financially responsible. The only problem with learning all this when I did was that I still had another year of college. Which meant another year of putting myself into debt, even if I was responsible. College is expensive. Very. Expensive. I was getting very restless to start putting into practice the teachings of Dave Ramsey. I was ready to start the debt snowball. The only problem was, I was still paying out for college, and I didn't have any real income (Yes, I had jobs both on and off campus throughout my 4 years, but mostly at minimum wage and part time).

Once I graduated, landed a job, and started making an income, I could start working on my debt snowball. Finally. Was I excited! It's been two and a half years since I've started, and I've gained a lot of ground. I've been frugal (not cheap) and have paid a considerable amount of debt off, built an emergency fund, saved for a very special purchase, contributed to retirement accounts, and, of course, lived below my means (very important if you want to be financially stable). I've made a lot of progress, and have a lot more to go.

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