There was not an expectation that I would attend college, in fact, it was assumed I would not. I was raised Jehovah’s Witness and higher education is shunned. I left the religion when I was 16. For my undergraduate degrees, I used a combination of grants, loans, scholarships, and payment plans. For my current graduate degree, I’ve also used a combination of loans, scholarships, and payment plans. I’ve handled the brunt of the cost for my graduate degree, making large payments on my tuition bill every payday.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I knew from a young age that we did not have money. Or maybe that we had money but my family did not manage it well. I remember being younger than six and afraid to ask for something at a store or order something at a restaurant because of the price. My two younger siblings and I frequently had our electricity shut off and we were on reduced/free lunch programs at school. My mom received WIC checks when we were very young. My parents, and later my legal guardians, did not educate me about money and that is probably why I made some of the poor decisions about where to attend college. I didn’t get a credit card until after graduating college because I was always afraid to fall into credit card debt.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I was in 5th grade and got two paper routes and started detasseling corn in the summers (if you’re not from the Midwest, Google it — straight-up child labor). I wanted to save up my own money for school clothes and school supplies instead of going to Goodwill with my mom. Turns out, I had to have her on my bank account since I was a minor and she stole almost all the money over the years. I learned to not deposit my checks in that account anymore. I was so excited my first summer detasseling, I saved up enough money for a 64g iPod Classic.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, I worried a lot about money growing up.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, I will always have that fear. It is ingrained into me from childhood. Even though I’ve had good jobs and am well into my twenties and in graduate school, I will never forget the struggles from my childhood or college when I worked three jobs and slept four hours a night while enrolled in 18-21 credit hours and involved in too many extracurriculars. I’m recently unemployed, so that fear and anxiety are very present.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Around 16/17. I sued my abusive birth parents for legal guardianship and lived with my best friends’ parents. They provided unconditional love, a kind home, food, and necessities, but anything else I wanted (like Buckle jeans or Sperry shoes) was up to me. Only recently have I felt that I have some breathing room. In the past two years, my husband and I have been aggressively saving and investing. We can afford me not having a job right now. I also have the ability to look for the right job without pressure to take the very first offer, but I’m also not above working retail if it gets to that point.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My step-grandmother bought me a new (sensible) car in high school, which I’ve always felt like I did not deserve and makes me seem privileged despite my upbringing. I don’t know if that was their way of apologizing for my shit childhood, but that car put me so far ahead. I still own it, with 130,000+ miles and have no plans to get rid of it anytime soon. My stepdad and that side of my family has farming money, but I’ve never asked about it and don’t even know how many acres their farm is. I’m probably too proud for my own good. I don’t want to owe anyone anything (except maybe my husband since he’s a true partner).
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