If you had met me eight years ago, you might’ve thought that I was an irresponsible fresh-out-of-college twenty-two year old that never had to work hard. And you would have been accurate. Despite growing up with frugal parents, I was given a credit card when I was fifteen and a car when I was seventeen. My parents figured that because they’d finally saved up enough to be considered upper middle class (far from our days of food stamps when they were both in school), they could afford to give me things.
Luckily, I wasn’t completely devoid of financial experiences. I took on a couple of tutoring jobs and worked as a cashier at K-Mart during high school. In college, I participated in a work-study program and became manager of a local bubble tea shop. By the time I graduated, I had saved a whole one hundred dollars after spending possibly a thousand or two on restaurants, clothing and my social life.
Not knowing what to do after college, I moved to East Asia to work as an expat. My first year abroad, I made about $24,000 after taxes and saved only $7,000 despite having free housing. With the attitude of an aimless traveler, I dropped cash on alcohol, taxi and black car service, expensive restaurants and a whole load of unnecessary luxuries. Every other weekend, I took trips to nearby countries and stayed at expensive hotels. And the following year, I continued to make it rain even though I was making much less at my second job for a startup. By the time I returned to the U.S., I only had $1,000 in my bank account.
In spite of those financially dark ages, I deeply enjoyed my time in Asia while learning about what makes me happy. Writing, exploring the great outdoors, physical training, family and companionship were all things that I loved.
On the other hand, I also learned about the things that didn’t make me happy: unnecessary luxuries and financial instability. I realized that while a weekend getaway to Taiwan or a nice smooth ride in a cab felt okay once or twice, I became jaded quickly. Once that feeling settled in, there was only guilt and sadness that my bank account had once again dwindled. To this day, I feel guilty paying $15 for a cab ride when I can take the subway for three dollars.
So I came back to the U.S. with the goal of becoming financially responsible. This blog is the result of all the readings and financial experiments that I’ve done over the years to further that goal. Through my posts, I hope to share these experiences with my newfound community and learn from all of you.