I’m accidentaly smart

August 23, 2011 · 21 comments

As I sit here reflecting on my three year long personal finance journey, I can’t help but laugh at how incredibly fortunate I’ve been (knock on wood). Some of the best decisions I’ve made, in regards to my financial well being, were accidents. Thought I’d share a few examples with you today…

Credit Card:

I didn’t know a thing about money all through college. I was actually quite pathetic. I didn’t even have access to my own savings account (I had to call my mom and ask her to transfer money from my savings in to my checking because I didn’t know how. Embarrassing right?). I had two credit cards in college that my mom recommended I get in case of an emergency. I had no clue how to use my Credit Cards and was too darn intimidated by them to use them. Turns out, my ignorance was a huge blessing as I graduated college with no credit card debt. Can I get a booya for ignorance?!

Savings:

I landed my current job relatively quickly after college and for the first time in my life had a steady income. I had a good chunk of discretionary income from each pay check. I tried to spend it (this is when I bought my motorcycle ), but quickly ran out of things I wanted to buy. Without realizing what I was doing, I made the decision to save my left over cash at the end of the month instead of squander it away.

401K:

The first day on the job I filled out a boatload of paperwork: health insurance, life insurance, and every other kind of benefit form there is. I had the 401K form handed to me and decided I would throw 5% of my gross pay into it each month. I didn’t know where these contributions were going, but at least I was contributing something to retirement. A few months later (once I fell in love with personal finance), I realized I had been heavily investing in government bond funds…yuck…and quickly changed my allocations. Even though my 401K contributions went to a crappy investment for the first couple months, I formed the habit of saving for retirement as early as I could.

Random Conversation:

And the single most important moment in my financial life… I had a conversation with someone about Roth IRA’s, which snowballed into an obsession with personal finance. Realizing that I had already formed decent financial habits, I decided it was time I maximized my potential. It’s an ongoing process and I am definitely not the smartest kid in the room (my mother has always said I was “special”), but I’m excited my eyes were opened to personal finance at 22 and not 52. Thank goodness for accidental intelligence!!!!

What are the best moves you have made to date? Maybe they were intentional decisions like never using a credit card. Or perhaps it was dumb luck, like not being able to afford a home at the top of the market which saved you from being upside down on a mortgage today. I would love to hear what you all have to say so drop me a line.

1 CommonCents

Turning down the 100% increase the bank offered on my visa card, when my income in University was only 10k a year. And since then I have dropped it back down and up over the year but never more then $1250. Had I said yes to every increase the bank offered me, I would have had 5-7k in credit card debt not 1k which is what I had.

2 CommonCents

Sorry It should be years “I have dropped it back down and raised it over the years but not more then $1250.”

3 First Gen American

I think you also need to thank mom and dad ninja for helping you be a person that doesn’t need stuff to fill the void of emptiness that many people’s lives are. I guess it’s good when you don’t have a lot of stuff yet you feel like you have enough to make you happy.

4 Norman

When I was 18, I had a friend who bought a trailer house and I thought it was cool. I looked into buying one and they turned me down because I had not built any credit history. Thank God for small favors. It would have been a stupid financial move to buy a house that depreciates in value. Also, less than a year later, I decided to join the Air Force, which was the best decision of my life.

5 CityFlips

Living at home was my best move for sure. Sure, I’m really looking forward to having my own place. The last 3 years have given me some serious perspective though.

6 JP

Aggressively managing my career and contributing to retirement early.

7 graduate.living

Saving from the time I was a wee little kid. My dad’s a banker, so I’m pretty sure I had a savings account opened in my name the day I was born. That account turned into an obsession when I was working two jobs, and has helped me 1) have a super-healthy E-Fund and 2) kick start my student loan payoff. Thanks Dad!

8 ShoeGal

AHAHAHA concentrate!….Anyway, as much as I may hate it at times, still living at home is the best financial move i have ever made. My parents are letting us stay at home while we are still in school…since I am working on my designation it still counts. This is allowing me to work on getting my financial stuff together.

9 kim

Joining ROTC in college. It paid for college, and came with guaranteed job in a mini-recession (2002).

10 This Guy

I really haven’t made any great financial decisions. I bought a house with a good interest rate, buy cars when needed with good interest rates, have no credit card debt, and have my wife’s student loans (9 grand left). Our net worth is terrible, but we have a pretty stable financial life. We aren’t the most frugal or the most frivolous, we just spend when we need/really want and save when we don’t need/really want. It’s worked so far… but with baby number two on the way, consistent frugal living could be on the horizon as we become a 1.5 income household.

11 Mo D.

Starting to save early on for retirement, taking advantage of both our employers RSP and Pension Plan contributions, as well as putting down lump sums of money on our mortgage (when we have extra $) are the smartest PF moves we’ve made to date… next up, both Visas will have a $0 balance at the end of this month!!SA-WEET!!

12 LLF

It takes a wise man to see opportunities as they present themselves. Good job, Ninja!

13 krantcents

My best move was always saving for things i wanted. I saved and invested in income property and well enough to become financially independent!

14 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Paying cash for my first car was a good move for me. No car loans after college.

15 Laura in ATL

I think my best financial move was when I believed my dad when he lied to me. ;-)

When I got my first credit card, he told me that you HAD to pay it off each month. Like, seriously, in FULL. Or else, they would cut the credit card up like they do in the movies! Right in front of you, cut that sucker up! And, numbskull that I am, I believed him! I didn’t read the fine print, or even ‘comprehended’ what that ‘minimum payment due’ language was. I did what my daddy told me – I paid that sucker off. Which means, I have never had credit card debt since I got my first card at age 18. WHOOP! If I put something on the credit card, I obsessively knew the balance each month and knew that I had to have the funds to pay it off, or else, I just couldnt buy it!

Course . . . around age 23 or 24, I figured it out. ;-) But by then, I was trained to not overspend or to make purchases that I honestly couldnt pay off at the end of the month.

I’m 44 now, credit card debt free. . . and thrilled that my daddy lied to me!

16 Mo D.

Laura, your Dad ROCKS!! That is awesome!!

17 StackingCash

Good one! Mine happened as a competition between me and a friend seeing who would pay interest on a credit card first back when we were both 18. 20 years later, the contest is still going on :)

18 finco86

Getting a degree in Computer Science while in the Air Force. I was promoted because of this and it opened up many doors when I retired. My experience and education translated to a few jobs in the defense industry and then my contacts did the rest. I wouldn’t be as well off if I had opted for a Computer Information System degree which was easier to get as there was very little math in the course work. Other then that, keep your debt as low as possible. Currently on baby step 6 paying off my house early.

19 Financial Success for Young Adults

Going back to school for a degree in Finance was the best thing I could have done for my personal finances. I did have debt coming out of college so I can’t relate to you there, but since I’ve learned more about finance I am way farther than I would have been.

20 Vincent Turner

Haha, sorry, just commenting on the awesome cartoon first. Will read the rest of the post now

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