I didn’t exactly burst onto the success train after college graduation.
In fact, I feel like we can safely say that didn’t happen.
It was summer of 2010 and I was leaving a prestigious school and a well laid-out path for the next leg of my journey into adulthood. I wasn’t sure whether I was ready or not, but either way i was going. I had been hearing rumblings about the financial crisis and that the job market wasn’t going to be easy, but I figured that the fancy name on my degree was going to more than make up for it.
Bring it on world.
‘Successful’ College Grad Living at home. AKA: here’s where I sound like the Milennial that all the baby boomers like to bash.
So I moved back home for what I was hoping would be a couple of months and started the job search. It wasn’t easy. but I also had no idea what i wanted to do when i ‘grew up’… I had a broken up college experience: two years at the local university, and then two years at the larger fancier school. I ended up with an economics degree, but also with no real desire to work in economics. My college was financed with a couple small merit scholarships and student loans, and graduated with about 45k worth of debt.
2010 ended up being one of the worst times to ever be a fresh college graduate. I think a year or so after i was out of school, I remember reading an article about 50% of the Class of 2010 was either unemployed or underemployed, and though right out of school, I wasn’t unemployed, I definitely remained under employed for a couple years.
Bank Teller Job. Aka: here take all this money, don’t ask me about how much is in my accounts tho 🙁
That fall was rough for me, and even though I didn’t really know it at the time, some of those early rejections found me diving into a bit of a depression. I took a job as a bank teller, and was excited to move into that environment. I was excited to learn about money and start making some. A couple months into it, we received a new manager, and that manager started drastically reducing my hours and soon i found myself making barely enough to pay my student loan payment every month.
And that’s when I first started carrying a credit card balance.
I didn’t want to change my lifestyle. My depression was stopping me from making sound decision both with my money, but also with how i was spending my time outside of work. I was addicted to a video game, and also grossly overweight, which caused me to eat WAY more than i should have.
That credit card balance slowly started to grow.
Local Sales Guy aka: plez buy all my products!
In fall of 2013, I left the bank to take a sales job at a local business. They were excited to have me come in because I was going to be their first outside sales representative. Things were starting to go well for me, but a mistake made by our order fulfillment caused the entire office staff to need to be laid off in order to make payroll for the production floor.
When I found myself without a job, I felt pretty burned by sales. The message I internalized was: If you had been a good enough sales rep, you wouldn’t have ever been fired. While I was out looking for work, I continued to spend the same amount of money on video games, on huge meals, and on various things. Oh yeah, I’m still living at home at this point.
That credit card balance was really growing now.
The job search wasn’t very fruitful. I had 6 months of benefit, but I was using the time to see if i could get a freelance business to support me. I had been learning HTML and CSS and WordPress development during the course of the previous couple years, and I wanted to see if i could make that into a career. But it didn’t work.
Meanwhile, i’m avoiding going on the banking website, because even though my checking account was remaining around the same, my credit card was creeping closer and closer to the limit, and I didn’t want to get the card declined at all, I always made my payments… but they were always small payments. I was the bank’s best friend. and they made a lot of money on my interest. However, I remember very clearly one day logging into the online banking and nearly having a panic attack because I didn’t want to see what all was going on with my money.
I was a wreck.
One day, in the mail, I received a letter from the bank congratulating me on my good credit card behavior and that they had extended my credit limit. I know that seems like a ridiculous thing to the FIRE community, but that was GOOD news to me in the current state i was in.
Blue Collar aka: you WILL eat your humble pie and you will LIKE IT
In the fall of 2014, I had run out of unemployment benefit, and my checkbook was running out of money. Doing the web design thing wasn’t working. Getting another job in an office wasn’t working. So I finally decided to eat my slice of humble pie, and started working a job in a factory.
Honestly, swallowing my pride and taking a job that was ‘beneath me’ was the best thing that ever happened to me.
My coworkers weren’t exactly America’s Finest, but I wasn’t automatically better than everybody else.
I started losing a lot of weight (by fall of 2015, I had probably lost 100 pounds).
I started getting my finances in order and started using a budget for the first time.
In summer of 2015, i was able to buy my first house (also the first time I moved out my parents house since college… I was 27. thanks mom and dad, I owe you)
My side hustle as a web designer had started to gain some momentum too. I think the old adage of “if you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it” really applied here.
The rest is history, really. It’s the story I’m living now.
I rebuilt from that factory job, I started getting really busy with websites. I finally quit the factory job in the spring of 2017 to go full-time building websites. My credit card was paid off in 2017… only to have the balance shoot back up this last year because I didn’t prepare well for taxes this last spring… I think that’s a post for later.
My money story is turning around, and I have my sights set on a big goal: financial independence. I’m not 100% on the right track yet, but I’m on my way. That’s what this blog is about: Learning how to earn more. Learning how to spend less. And learning what do with the difference. View my first wall chart report here.
I hope you’ll follow along on the journey.