#FinancialFridays: Credit cards and weeds and other financial lessons.

As we learned in our Financial Friday feature last week, our ideas and habits with money develop early in our lives. What did you learn from watching and listening to those around you? What was the best advice you ever received?… And what was the worst?

I’ll go first.

Worst: “You’ve got a credit card, right? Just put it on your credit card.”
When I was a student I got my first credit card. Other students were also getting credit cards. The credit card companies came to campus and made it so easy to apply for one. You could even walk away from their little table set up right outside the cafeteria with your new credit card; no credit check needed.

With this new found freedom away from home and access to this new source of “free money”, it made it tempting to use the maximum amount on the credit card for meals off campus and new clothing at stores we didn’t have back home and drinks at the bar. And my roommates and classmates were doing it too, so why shouldn’t I. What a mess!

What I learned was the hard lesson that comes with paying down high interest over a long time. Now I try to use my credit card sparingly and when I am able to reasonably pay it off within a reasonable time period. This isn’t always possible but keeping it in mind helps me limit my spending on non-essentials and using my credit card without thinking first about the consequences.

Best: “Before you buy something, count how many weeds you would need to pick to buy that thing.”

Strange advice at first glance but, I promise, it makes sense with some background. When I was around 5 years old, my older brother and sister had a job cutting grass for a family friend. My dad supervised and put me to work pulling weeds. I had to keep track of the number of weeds I pulled; Not an easy feat for a five year old. We would then add that number to our bill (Yes, my father made us write up bills for our work.). I was paid $0.05 per weed I pulled. One day, my sister, who was a wise 9 year old, told me to think about how many weeds I would need to buy the candy I wanted; Would I pick 40 weeds for that $2 worth of candy I wanted?

Since then, how my pay is calculated has changed. I now get paid by the hour. What has stayed the same is the principal; Would I work 3 hours to be able to buy that pair of pants? Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it is no. The process of thinking it through is helpful every time. Pretty good advice from a pretty smart lady.

Caroline Araujo Abbotts, Financial Literacy Coordinator

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Are you facing financial challenges and aren’t sure where to turn? Our Financial Literacy Program is here to help. The program is open to residents of Bruce and Grey Counties and is free and 100% confidential. Call 519-376-1560 to learn more or visit https://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/services-offered/financial-literacy-budgeting-etc/