I started my first job around my last year of high school, working part time at McDonald’s. I can’t tell you how much I was making since I wasn’t the one who managed my money. Though I had a chequing account in my name, my parents were in charge of it, so, anything I made or needed would have to go through them. Most of what I did make was put towards household expenses.
My knowledge of money didn’t improve much as I got older and independent of my family. In fact, when I moved out of my parents’ house, I accumulated student loans I didn’t know how to pay back, took out loans I couldn’t afford, and never once made a financial plan for myself. I was basically a trainwreck waiting to happen. Eventually the inevitable did happen, and whatever I owed and couldn’t pay ended up in collections.
I remember getting my first credit card somewhere between the ages of 18 and 20, and having no clue how to manage it or even why I needed one in the first place.
Money had become a prison. I couldn’t explore my passion because I needed money. I was anxious and stressed all the time. Sometimes, I stayed in jobs I hated just to have a sure source of income. I felt like a failure. With all the opportunity I had been given in this country, I thought, I should have succeeded by now and been able to help my parents.
More than eight years later, I still haven’t paid off my credit card and it haunts me to this day. Still, I’ve learned important lessons along the way to financial health. I’ve learned from past mistakes not to borrow. I still have credit cards, but I manage them differently. I pay back the balance in full, and before the due date. If I can’t pay it off it means I’ve spent more than I can afford. I wouldn’t recommend credit cards but for the fact that having a credit history is apparently necessary in the real world. So, I got a credit card to get my score back to where it needed to be.
If you are trying to build your credit score and no financial institution is willing to give you a credit card, I recommend applying for one that has a security deposit required. That way you’ll increase your chances of getting approved. And only use your card for a recurring bill that you already have money for.