Money talks; not everyone knows the language
I was flush with cash.
Or at least it felt that way.
I had just started my first year of university and my student loan had arrived.
It was something like $2,300. Mom and Dad had already paid my tuition, with an understanding they’d get their money back once the good ship Student Aid came in.
But $2,300 was now sitting in the bank.
I was 19 and never had access to so much cash.
Surely, mom wouldn’t mind some pizzas.
Or a few cases of beer.
Or if I took a taxi and ate at some nice restaurants and not the residence dining hall, which was already paid for.
Within two weeks, I also had the best pair of Nike cross-trainers to be found, plus a cool tracksuit and some clothes emblazoned with the name of my residence, Doyle House.
And I was caught up on all the latest movies … and I was almost broke.
The money I owed my parents was gone; as was most of the cash I was supposed to live on for the rest of the semester.
There were five or six weeks left. To top it off, I had gained 10 or 15 pounds, and I was behind in my studies, with terrible marks to boot.
My first foray into living away from my parents was a train wreck.
I was being a carefree, selfish, financially illiterate idiot.
My folks weren’t too impressed. They ran small businesses – service stations, then an auto salvage yard – throughout my childhood.
Their efforts provided us with a good life, but they worked very, very, very hard for every cent.
My dad would come home from work completely exhausted.
And here I was not working hard at anything and blowing his money.
Cash was tight for the rest of the semester.
As a 19-year-old university student, I was trying to stretch $20 or $30 over a week — what Mom would deposit in my account Friday afternoons.
It was budgetary baptism by fire; a huge life lesson learned the hard way.
Since then, I’ve always felt financial literacy should have been part of my grade school education. I can’t remember spending any time on it whatsoever, but then again, I wasn’t the most attentive student.
Money matters – personal debt, interest rates, etc. – are taught more these days, but Canadians now owe $1.68 of debt for every dollar earned, so I’d argue it needs to be an even bigger component of the curriculum.
It’s too late once a kid leaves the nest and moves on to higher education or the workforce. Take it from someone who wasn’t ready to fly.