This I Believe

Amanda - Parsons, Kansas
Entered on December 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

It’s a Slippery Slope

I believe that people can learn lessons from their past mistakes, just as I have. About five years ago, one month before my high school graduation, I moved out of my parent’s house, and into my own apartment. I had begun working at a video store when I was sixteen and, upon my eighteenth birthday, was promoted to shift leader. Six months later I was promoted to assistant manager. I was making about seven dollars and fifty cents an hour and working forty hours a week. Although I had been working before I moved out, I had never learned how to budget and save my money so, when I did move, all the money I had went toward rent and utility deposits, leaving nothing in my savings. I rented a fairly decent, nine hundred square foot, one bedroom apartment, for four hundred twenty-five dollars per month, and paid an electric bill that averaged about eighty-five dollars monthly. I also had a car payment which, combined with insurance, cost me four hundred thirty dollars a month. Those bills added up to about nine hundred forty dollars, and my paycheck only averaged eleven hundred dollars a month. I was left with one hundred sixty dollars for gas in my car, groceries, personal hygiene products, and incidentals. Even though I was living on my own, I was still a teenager. I liked going to the movies, out to eat with my friends, and, being a girl, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. I could not rely on my parents to tell me when I was spending too much. Essentially, I was a credit card company’s dream. They gave me “free” money to play around with and, by the end of my first year of independence, I had three maxed out credit cards. I had changed jobs and now worked for a company that paid only on commission and provided fewer hours. I was a month behind on my cable bill and had long since quit paying for the insurance on my car. My credit portfolio reported over eight thousand dollars in unpaid bills. It was not until I lost my job that it finally hit me. I had a serious problem. I moved to a different town, got a different job, and basically started over. I still have the debt I incurred, and I am working on paying it off, but I learned that there is no such thing as free money. I have to live within my means. I created a budget for myself, and I am now able to pay all my bills and save money.