At the age of 18, I got my driver’s license with the help of my beautiful boyfriend ( who is now my husband ). Let’s call him Almond because I am nuts about him and I love almonds, they are my favourite, and I also want to respect his privacy.
Anyway, he taught me how to drive and drove me an hour out of town so that I could get my licence. I did not have a car, so Almond would be my chauffeur most of the time, or I would catch public transport to work.
I experienced financial chaos when I took out a $2000 credit card and spent beyond my means which led to a huge debt I was unable to manage. So, I was struggling to pay off my credit card bill because the interest rate was not doing me any favours, and to top it off i lost my job. My debt was almost sold to debt collectors which would have affected my credit rating and my future financial endeavours.
A family member helped me by cutting up my credit card, which was the first step to financial freedom. I also got on a payment plan with the bank and paid off my credit card with the help of Almond. However, I moved an hour away from where Almond lived so for us to keep in regular contact I decided to go for another financial misadventure. I signed a contract for an expensive mobile plan and phone. Obviously, I could not manage, and my bill was well over $1000 in the first few months, which led to another payment plan that I eventually paid off.
Meanwhile, I was not afforded the opportunity of having my parents give me a car/buy me my first car or give me a loan for one either. So, with my fulltime job, I bought myself a brand-new car which was not the smartest financial decision. Not to mention, it was a 4 door car, sports edition model which I did not need but wanted. I should have got a 2 door car and a basic model which is what Almond suggested at the time but I didn’t listen to him.
Anyway, I got a loan with the worst possible interest rate to manage the weekly repayments that I was able to afford. I also got another $3000 personal loan from the bank to manage everyday living expenses which was another financial misadventure.
I know you might be thinking, how have you not learnt to manage your money? Well, that’s the thing I didn’t know how to because I was never taught. I did have a family member try to help me the best they could with financial advice by helping me to save after cutting up my credit card.
On a positive side note, it was the best first car that served me well for almost a decade and did not cause me any headaches whatsoever. However, when I eventually paid it off, I ended up paying over $30,000 for my car, which was $20,000 brand new when I purchased it. So, I can definitely say it was a financial learning experience that I will never forget because I paid over $10,000 in interest for it. I could have literally bought 2 brand new small size 2 door cars which often makes me cringe. Still, I have learned a hard and valuable lesson about managing money.
In 2010, I got married to Almond, who I had no idea that he was a financial genius when it came to money management. It was the first time in my life I truly learnt how to manage money, the value of money and strategies to save money. I quickly learnt the difference between needs and wants which I implemented every day which helped me save money. Also, the fact you can be super generous with your money by being creative and using common sense without breaking the budget.Eventually, with the help of my good credit rating, fulltime employment and Almond, we had the opportunity to purchase our first home together which is something i never imagined i could do at 21 years of age.
Fast forward to 2017, I became a first time Mother and needed a ‘Mum car’ so I went from a small size car to a mid-size SUV. We had a budget of under $25,000, which may seem like pocket change to some people or a million dollars to others. Almond gave me a choice and I wanted to stretch the budget so he gently reminded me of needs and wants. Almond gave me the opportunity to make the financial decision to trade my overpriced and beloved car for my brand-new Mum car. I will never forget the day we handed over a $20,000 cheque to pay for the remaining amount of my Mum car. Paying for it completly outright and in full was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God for his provision. Picking up my car was the best experience too, it was covered with a beautiful red bow, and it looked perfect. I was so surprised to see they gave me free car mats because I really wanted them, but they were so expensive. As I write this, I am quite emotional because God really gave me the strength to manage money which is a skill that I thought I would never ever be able to demonstrate.
Years ago, it triggered depressing thoughts, and I continually cried over managing money. It was something that I based my self-worth on because I gave it too much power over my life. The only person that I told about buying my new car outright was my Mother, and she quickly pointed out that I am so blessed to have owned two brand new cars in my lifetime. I am well aware that I have been afforded the opportunities that some people may not be able to experience. In a way, it makes me feel guilty and grateful for my life. I am also aware of the structural and socioeconomic disadvantages because I did experience it to some degree, growing up.
I read a devotional the other day about appreciating what you have today because tomorrow may be the day you appreciate what you had. It resonated with me because I do believe God has different seasons where you feel like your surviving or thriving. I think that there were some years I was barely surviving with managing money, but now I believe I am thriving when it comes to managing money. I do realise talking about finances is a delicate topic because everyone’s financial situation is different. It has taken me 3 years to share this 10-year journey openly, people in my personal world still do not know. And I am finally at peace with sharing something so close to my heart because the entire purpose is to bring glory to God’s kingdom through sharing his faithfulness.
Love G x