First Person: An Early Financial Education Could Have Saved Me

Laura Paris By Laura Paris, 7th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Money Saving Tips

When I was young, I didn’t have Suze Orman to call up and ask if I could afford something. I received so much fan mail from credit card companies in my college days that I thought I was a celebrity. Later, of course, they would send me hate mail because I couldn’t afford to pay my credit card bills on top of my student loans.

Helping the next generation

A member of Generation X, I am excited that President Obama recently authorized a commission to help young people learn about money. I’m hoping the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans will provide one more resource for my young adult children who are ages 18 and 20. Looking back, I realize I could have benefited greatly from an early financial education other than learning that beanie babies don’t make a good investment.

Teaching wants versus needs

One of the missions of the commission will be to teach young people the difference between wants and needs. In my early 20s, I acquired many “wants” that I should have waited to obtain when I could actually afford them. I ran up more than $20,000 worth of credit card debt because I gave into my temptation. Credit cards made it easy for me to buy what I wanted instead of budgeting for the things I needed.

Saving for retirement at 18

I wish someone had encouraged me to save for retirement as soon as I had my first job. The Roth IRA didn’t exist when I first graduated from college, but it exists for my young adult children. My older son started contributing to a Roth as soon as he had earned income. I’m glad the commission will teach young people the importance of saving for short-term as well as long-term goals.

Viewing money as a friend

A lot of people grew up thinking money is bad. I noticed the commission intends to teach people the positive and productive role money can play in their lives. I believe people can do a lot of positive thing with money. It’s not healthy to be greedy, but it’s important to view money as an ally. I think of money as a person that shows me how to help myself and others.

Managing student loan debt

With so many people taking out student loans, it’s good to hear the commission tackle complicated financial issues such as student loans. I know when I was in my 20s, I had no idea what would happen if I deferred my student loans. Once I realized how much money I was paying in interest, I got serious about paying off my student loan debt. I worked 7 days a week in order to pay off my student loans by the time I was 30.

I could have saved myself a lot of financial grief if I understood money better in my 20s. As a parent, I share as much as I can with my children about personal finances.


Bills, Budgeting, Credit Card, Financial, Generation X, Investment, Student Loan

Meet the author

author avatar Laura Paris
Laura Paris is a journalist who has been writing for more than 20 years on subjects ranging from personal finance and real estate to dieting, gardening and relationships.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
7th Sep 2013 (#)

I know few in Asia who come to grief due to hard sell tactics of credit card companies. They end up defaulting when forced to pay 30% interest on overdue bills - siva

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author avatar Delicia Powers
7th Sep 2013 (#)

Very good advice!

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