How Did This Happen…TO ME?

It wasn’t supposed to be like this; not for me, at least.

I was the kid whose attention was grabbed by the financial splash screen on the nightly news that highlighted the day’s close for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and prices for things like gold and oil.

When I would spend time at grandma’s house, I would be just as fixated on futures prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat. Or, to put it another way, the crops that the area farmers, including some of my relatives, grew. (The higher the prices, the better it was for my family, as I saw it.)

When I got to high school, I would discover that some companies would send you money from time to time, and all you had to do was own something called “stock”.

And, in college, I would be introduced to the 401k and Dividend Reinvestment Plans (or DRiPs, as they were called) by a co-worker while working a co-op job at a power plant. As part of those Dividend Reinvestment Plans, I would forego the standard college beer purchases to send money to transfer agents, so they would buy partial shares of stock in companies that would pay me dividends every quarter. But, in the interest of wealth-building, I would, of course, reinvest those dividends.

Also during my college years, I avoided debt (other than those pesky student loans) and did my best to live below my means.

I was what you would call “financially literate”.

So, how did this happen? Or, actually, how did this happen to me?

How…why…did I abandon financial discipline, start spending more money than I made, and end up in a ridiculous amount of debt? How did it happen after I actually started earning a decent salary?

This was only supposed to happen to…other people.

Was it the desire to show off because of simple insecurities or low self-esteem? Did I have some hidden bad money habits that got bigger faster than my income did? Could I have just been putting myself in the position to spend too much a little too often? Plan wasn’t good enough? (Was there a plan, at all?) Perhaps, I simply overestimated my ability to make money out of money, and just went nuts with spending. Or, for all of my supposed “want to invest”, did I just not have a real understanding of WHY I was investing?

I could probably go on, but the answer probably lies a little bit in “all of the above”.

The bottom line was that I knew I needed to make some changes in my financial life, or things were going to get bigger than I could handle on the debt side of things.

It would take some time. It would take some effort. And, old habits died hard.

But, I eventually made it. Debts paid off (except for the mortgage on my house), savings accrued, and investing began anew. My net worth is no longer negative, and I’m working on comma number two…better known by some as one million dollars; it’s still a good ways off.

I guess that’s enough of an introduction.

Hey, it only took me four posts.

Thank you for visiting Finunciate. Come back, soon.

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