El Paso — It’s Monday night and as I check my bank account balance on my new smart phone ($299), complete with quick access to all the hottest social networking sites and protected by a cover embedded with a designer handbag label ($30), I wonder how I am going to stretch my dollars to make it through to my next payday —12 long days away.
As a young mother and the main bread winner of my household I can’t seem to cut the habits I formed living with my parents as a young single girl. Although I earn a decent dollar working retail, bad habits like unnecessary spending brought on by impulse buys and the adrenaline rush I got from purchasing something shiny and new that I really didn’t need but couldn’t live without still plague me.
As I stare at the my bank account balance, the words of my father ring in my ears, “Champagne taste on a beer budget.” And just like an alcoholic who has had his first drink after a week of sober living, the guilt from the weekend spending begins to set in. I can’t help but think, how did a smart girl like me become so dumb about money management?
My childhood memories are filled with spontaneous trips to nearby hotels, just so we could take a dive in the swimming pool and weekends of mini road-trips just to get away, then seeing my parents sitting at the kitchen table, the same week, trying to balance their checkbooks to make ends meet. We may not have been rich, but we were happy, right? Is it so bad to live by this motto?
As a new parent myself, I now see what it means to want to teach your kids to avoid making the same mistakes as they grow up. I now wish I had listened to my parents when they repeatedly told me that “good credit is better than cash” and reminded me to put a measly $20 from every paycheck into savings so I would have a small foundation when I was ready to flee the nest. Regrettably, like most children, I never listened.
So now as I join the millions of Americans with poor credit scores living paycheck-to-paycheck I wonder how I can break the cycle of poor money management with my own seeds. After all, don’t the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer?”
Well no thank you.
I, though not exactly the poor, would like to get richer, not vice versa.
I decided this week will be the week. Starting from here I am going to budget my money, pay bills on time and start to save. I am going to cook my meals at home, take lunch to work and eliminate unnecessary spending.
But by the end of the week I am right back to where I started. Who can I pay later, so that we can enjoy a nice dinner out instead?
I may not be a prime example of how to break the cycle and maybe I will never get a hold of my finances. But maybe, just maybe, a smart girl like me can. Then the foundation will be there for my son and he will say to himself… “I’m gonna have a handle on my money —just like my parents.”