At 22, I had just graduated from college, refused to go back home, and started dating a new guy (hey Andre!) But as cool as I thought my life was at 22, there were some things that I was doing that was going to be detrimental to my future. Listed below are a few of the money lessons I wish I knew at 22.
- Overdraft bank fees will not be forgiven, no matter how much you cry and beg. I can’t tell you how many times I have over drafted my bank account. It was almost a monthly thing. I was either too scared to check my account or too proud to say I didn’t have it, so instead I paid Bank of America an extra $35 a month.
- It’s not a smart decision to have a 1/1 apartment when you just graduated from college. Get roommates and save money. I always wanted to have my own apartment. Majority of my upbringing I was an only child, so I craved a space all my own no matter the cost. This was not a good decision. My bi weekly paycheck was $100 more than my rent. By the second month, I realized this would be a problem. I should have just worked extra hard to find a like-minded roommate.
- Pay your rent on time. There will be late fees. So because my rent was 90% of my paycheck, this meant I had no money the beginning of every month. It killed me to sign over my money order to my landlord, so I procrastinated. So instead of taking 90% of my check, there were times, it took my whole check.
- You have student loans! Call them and work on a payment plan that fits your income. When I graduated from college, I owed $50,000 in student loans. My payments for private were $125 and my payments for my federal were $250, that’s $375 a month. I could barely afford to pay rent, so that meant I could hardly pay my student loans. So I let it sit there. What I should have done was call my student loans, show proof of my income and see how I can make payments based off of how much I bring home.
- If it’s between going out to the club and paying for gas, put gas in the car! You have a job to get to in the morning. This one is a no brainer, but something that has to be said. There is no need to always be on the scene, sometimes it’s better and cheaper to stay home. I wish I knew how fun game nights were when I was 22.
- Pay your light bill. They will only allow you to be one month behind. I can honestly admit I didn’t know how bills worked and I listened to some pretty bad advice. My mom had to pay my light bill one month, my grandma another, and my dad had too as well. Being one month behind on any bill is not smart, you still have to pay last month’s bill.
- Establish an emergency fund, you will need it. Truer words have never been spoken. I could have used an emergency fund when my lights were cut off, my car battery was dead, or when I quit my job.
- Do not get another credit card, you may think you can afford it. But you can’t. At that time I was broke, and I thought a credit card would give me extra funds and it did. But I had to pay those funds back on top of my already growing debt. So needless to say I went deeper into debt.
- Your mom cosigned for the Sallie Mae student loan. Every time you think to not pay it, remember how lucky you are to have her cosign for you. I would say this is the only debt I actually took seriously. I had read so many articles about how a parent should NEVER cosign for their kids and it broke my heart to know the kind of damages I can do to my mom’s credit. So regardless of how little I cared about my credit and my own debt I paid any extra scraps to Sallie Mae. Sometimes it was $20. I just wished I had been more honest with them about my financial situation.
- Don’t waste your time trying to prove to family & friends you’re doing okay. This. Is. The. One! I tried so hard to prove to people that I was doing okay. I tried so hard to show my mom I made a great decision by not coming home. I tried so hard to show a Bachelor’s in Political Science is not a useless degree and so many other things that I was imagining that I ended up putting myself deeper and deeper into debt. The majority of my awful money mistakes was because I was trying to impress people. Granted if I could go back and talk to my old self I was say everything I listed above. But I would stress this point! The people who accept the fact that you don’t have it are the people to keep and they will be your biggest cheerleaders when you finally find your footing, and the ones who are only there because of what you can provide them will show you their true colors in due time.
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