The Great Escape: Trying to Overcome Poor Financial Habits

As I prepare to move to Istanbul, I can’t help but think of how difficult is it to escape deep-seated poor financial habits. It’s about time we started talking about what’s holding us back from attaining financial independence and be truly honest with ourselves. If we’re not then there’s no way to escape it.

At the age of 41, you’d think I’d be further along in life with a great diversified portfolio of stocks, mutual funds, and bonds accruing compound interest over at least ten years. Ha! I’ve been living that paycheck to paycheck life while country hopping and I’ll tell ya…It gets less fun after awhile.

Did any of your parents raise you to live in the moment? I was raised to not think of the future and only of now because I might be dead. Existential angst was understood from an early age. This type of thinking has led me to spend my money until my account was down to zero each month.

Let’s see who can relate to this…When that salary hit my bank account, I’d quickly take out a huge sum and treat myself. After all, I deserved it! It was usually a massage, perhaps some new clothes from H&M, an expensive lunch of seafood and then partying all night. Then wake up with a hangover the next day with a lost phone, some weirdo in my bed, a vague memory of what happened the night before and over half my salary spent…within 24 hours! The rest of the month is spent eating packaged noodles and trying to return the things bought. Perhaps this is a little dramatic, but you get the picture.

These bad habits were picked up from childhood. You see, my mother added me as an authorized user on some credit cards when I was underage. Then she claimed bankruptcy and it followed me my whole life. It was impossible to get the car I wanted at 19 with a low interest rate because my credit score was extremely low. I paid over 60% interest and we all know cars depreciate as soon as you take it off the lot.

I was also forced to live in a dangerous part of Chicago because my low credit score didn’t allow me to live in the safer neighborhoods. Even though I truly appreciate the vacations, clothes and extras bought from my hardworking mother, she refuses to acknowledge the damage to my financial life.

Can you relate? If so, how did you overcome such a bad start? Years of bad habits were formed since it was clear banks thought I was a piece of $hit because of what was done to my credit without my knowledge as a minor. Once my credit score cleared after seven years, like mother, I got as many credit cards as I could and spent money like a crazy person with no intention to pay it back. Who cared? I was marked for failure…or so I thought.

Oh well. There’s no use crying over split milk. This “tradition” stops with me though. I started a little over a year ago, but my financial advisor takes out a small amount each month and invests it on my behalf. It’s slowly growing. Her cut is 1%. I started taking the Basics of Accounting course on Udemy. Why?

True financial freedom cannot start until you understand how money works.

I’ll say it again.

TRUE FINANCIAL FREEDOM CANNOT START UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MONEY WORKS.

Willful financial ignorance is passed down from generation to generation. I learned it from mother. She learned it from her mother. It’s something we must stop now. Did you know you can pay your child a salary and it won’t be taxed if your tax home is the USA?* Another wise thing to do is to start a fund in the name of your child from the time of birth. Buy some bonds! Once your child turns 20, allow them to cash out to start a business and/or go to university.

TIP FOR U.S. CITIZENS: If you’re working a bunch of crappy jobs jobs, try buying some Series EE U.S. bonds. Are you aware each bond will double in value once it hits 20 years? Yeah…I thought tat might put some spring in your step.

UPDATE!!!! DO NOT BUY ANY U.S. BONDS RIGHT NOW!!!!!

BTW- You can still buy Series EE bonds even if you’re a U.S. citizen living outside the United States! I’m sure you can afford to buy a bond every month. They come in different increments. Does your country offer such bonds? I highly suggest looking into it. *

In all honesty, once I have a more confident understanding of the stock market, mutual funds; I’ll become my own financial advisor. I’m quite sure it will take me about a year until I’m confident enough to do this, but it’s a start. Late start, but a start nonetheless.

Now, it’s your turn to tell me about your journey to financial freedom. What’s really holding you back? Are you also a digital nomad bouncing from one thankless gig to another? Please share some tips and where you’re at in your journey. What financial courses are you finding useful? I’d love to know! Let’s support each other!

******************************************DISCLAIMER***********************************************************

I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISOR OR EXPERT OF ANY KIND WHEN IT COMES TO GROWING YOUR BANK ACCOUNT. THIS BLOG IS AN HONEST ACCOUNT OF THE STRUGGLES AND SUCCESSES OF REACHING FOR FINANCIAL FREEDOM WHILE LIVING ABROAD. WHAT I DO MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO EDUCATION YOURSELF ON FINANCE AND CHECK THE INFORMATION I PROVIDE.

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