Associate Mosaic Editor
Everytime a package arrives on my doorstep or in my mailbox, I get an instant rush of serotonin. Very few feelings compare to ripping open the padded mailer and admiring my newest purchase. Immediately after that rush hit, I would grab said package and run inside to hide it from my father, who happens to be a financial consultant. For as long as I remember, teaching me how to be wise with money was always a cause very important to him, as he spends all day helping people with their finances.
Since I started my first job, my parents have been telling me how important it is that I save my money. However, it seemed as though no matter how hard they tried, every two weeks when my boss handed me my paycheck, all I saw was all of the purchases that I could make with that lump sum. It was always so frustrating when I would get my W-2 tax forms and be forced to check how much I had made the previous year when I knew I had spent too large of a percentage of it.
On the other hand, my younger sister is my dad’s dream saver. She has been working since she legally could and saving the bulks of her paychecks as well. I envy her for the way she quickly picked up this life skill that has admittedly taken me too long to grasp. She does not miss an opportunity to joke about the balance in her bank account versus mine. But I have learned to accept the ridicule long ago as I am the only one to blame for my rash decisions when it comes to my finances.
To put my spending into context, I would purchase an iced coffee almost every morning before school my senior year of high school. And, of course, with my expensive tastes, I could not just get a regular Dunkin’ coffee that would not cost me more than $2.50.
Each morning, I just had to spring for the $4.95 cold brew from Rook Coffee, a local coffee shop. I once did the math, and it just so happened that I had spent approximately $500 on coffee, during my senior year alone. Although I was nominated for the “Never Seen Without A Coffee” superlative, that was the only thing that came out of those multitudes of unnecessary purchases.
When it was time for my college search, my dad’s financial consultant instincts kicked in to the fullest extent. In his practice, he has seen multitudes of people become incapacitated by the debt that a college tuition can cause. He, along with my equally financially intelligent mother, knew very early on in my quest for the perfect school that they would not allow me to find myself in a financially paralyzing situation.
After a handful of tours and lots of research, I fell in love with what I thought would be the perfect school for me. However, the sticker price on that institution was unattainable. At the time, I was very upset with the outcome and that I could not attend what I had thought was my dream school. The debt I would’ve accumulated from studying at this institution would have been far too much for me to afford, and I would’ve spent too much of my life paying for those four years.
Now, roughly two years later, I am so grateful that I did not sign on for that huge financial undertaking. One of my father’s favorite sayings regarding finances goes something like “Save even though you have nothing to save for, because you never know what life will throw at you.” The last part of that statement has never rang more true to me than in this last year, as life took many unexpected twists and turns.
No one could have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic, especially not when I was searching for college. Now having lost more than a year of the traditional college experience, I am more thankful now than I thought possible for my dad’s guidance to not take out astronomical amounts of loans, as I would have been paying for a less than normal experience.
Unfortunately, my frivolous spending did not stop with the hundreds of unnecessary iced coffees. As soon as I got the taste of freedom that was my freshman year of college, my spending habits hit new heights that I did not think possible. I was overtaken by an incredibly intense wave of homesickness early that year, which definitely played into the decrease in my bank account.
I would consistently fill the void left by leaving my childhood home for longer than a weekend for the first time in 18 years with new clothes, new accessories and anything I could find on Amazon. The momentary happiness I would receive upon unboxing my package was nothing in comparison to the sadness I was feeling on a daily basis.
Imagine how disappointed my father was to find that his countless attempts to teach me about saving had fallen on deaf ears the moment I was released into the real world. After my freshman year of college, there came a moment of realization for me. Soon, I would be in the real world without the safety net of my parents, and I could not keep handling my finances in such a way.
Since that realization of my responsibility, I began investing, and by investing I mean having my dad do it all for me. This investment process has made me excited about saving because you can actively see your money at work, something I had never seen with money just sitting in my bank account. My dad’s expertise in the field has made it so much easier for me to dip my toe into the investing waters.
My dad’s financial intelligence has come in handy and helped me out in life, no matter how much of an annoyance I have found it in the past. Although my love for shopping was quite a point of contention, I am eternally grateful for the consistent financial advice that is going to help me greatly in the future. I have learned how to shop within reason and a budget, because I do not foresee a day in which I will not enjoy a good shopping spree.