For most of us, 18 is when we are told we're adults. It's when we finally are able to go about our lives freely, but some of us still have so much support from our families; we are not all that lucky. I remember the year I turned 16- it wasn't very fun from beginning to end. I actually cried on my 16th birthday, and it's not because I felt like crying! That year was really rough for me. I had to pay for everything as soon as I got my car, before I was even employed. At 16, I was losing the little sense of myself that I had, I was broke and I felt alone. I was trying to find my way, but I quickly learned that it's hard to do that with $0 to your name.
I quickly changed my ways. I began babysitting, I stopped eating out and buying unnecessary (but really cute) clothes. I bought items only as they were needed, and I saved every extra penny that wasn't going towards my car. Of course I still lived at home, but I was still struggling for money. Around my 18th birthday, a miracle happened, and I got hired at an office. I was placed in my own cubicle and started off making $9.00... Let me tell you what a difference that makes when you're 17! I had a little more money, which means I could save more, and I also had a little extra for fun side activities- like eating Taco Bell. As soon as I graduated high school, I spent my entire summer working forty hours a week to save for my freshman year of college, and I did. It wasn't until I got to college that I realized it was ridiculously over priced.
I had three options- drop out, pull out thousands in loans, or become a stripper. To be honest, all three options sucked. I didn't like any of them. Instead of doing all of the above, I worked harder, spent less and lived paycheck to paycheck like a lot of us still do. I have always had a savings account, and I refused to pull any money out of it, but once I got my own place, the account was drained, and I found myself feeling like my 16-year old self again; hopeless... Do the challenges ever stop? I'm still trying to figure it out. I was working forty hours a week, going to school full time, and paying every bill on my own. Sometimes I would pay overdraft fees, sometimes I had $0.50 left in my account for a week, and sometimes I cried, wondering why life had to be so damn hard.
Here I am today, in my senior year of college, still trying to figure this money thing out. So, why am I a financial success story? I am a success because on my weakest days, I still got up and worked twelve hour shifts, I have never found myself in debt, I have always paid for everything I own out of pocket, and best of all, I know the true value of a dollar. Money means so much, and to be honest, we all need it, but don't let it stop you from following your dreams. I work a little harder, I manage my time, and I have given some things up to be successful at 21, but I'm getting there. Maybe one day I'll look back and laugh at what little money I have now, but until then, I know I'm a success story because I don't waste my money, and I definitely do NOT feel bad for myself. Life is hard- it's one lesson being learned after another; bring it on.