Growing up, money was a taboo subject in my family. As a result, I spent most of my adult life with insufficient knowledge about how to earn it and what to do with it when I had it. I worked hard and had an 800 FICO score, but never saved. When I was divorced in my 40's after seven years as an at-home parent, almost overnight I found myself homeless, penniless, jobless and parenting two (wonderful) kids alone. For the first time ever, I was forced to use credit to pay for food, gas and basic needs. My "blanket" didn't cover my toes and it was really cold.
I took a job working as a grounds maintenance person at a local country club. It was temporary and paid minimum wage, but it was all I could get without a college degree. Realizing this, I returned to school to study accounting and finally learned something about money. After earning my associates degree, I was fortunate to win a really good scholarship, but I was already carrying more than $10,000 in credit card debt at 7.9% and ended with about $30,000 in student and personal loans before finding work. My FICO score is much lower now, which will impact my life for many years to come, but, I was wise to choose a course of study that increased the likelihood of gaining employment. If I understood finance as a young person, my choices would have been different and I wouldn't be living with a tiny blanket at 50.
My advice? Share financial advice with young people. Help others appreciate the risks and the numbers before taking on debt. Run life like a business and never invest unless the odds favor earning more from debt than it costs.