My curiosity with personal finance started in my early teens. My family’s circumstances changed and we suddenly went from a comfortable life in the countryside without money worries, to an uncomfortable life in the city full of money worries.
My parents hadn’t particularly done anything wrong, they simply had too much of their cash in the wrong bank at the wrong time and their bank failed. I vowed that would never happen to me and ever since I have been interested in financial literacy and money management.
That being said, my money problems increased greatly when I went university. If you have little financial intelligence and no money, you can only do yourself so much damage. However if you have little financial intelligence and have access to a lot of credit, the damage you can do is massive. Credit cards, overdrafts, store cards, signing contracts for services that I didn’t need — you name it, I did it and I left with an eye watering debt.
I was naive enough to believe that I’d earn so much money as a graduate, I wouldn’t notice the repayments. Wrong! I believed that myth, hook, line and sinker. I was in debt within the first three weeks of university and didn’t pay off my student loans until ten years later.
The worst thing about my spending spree was I didn’t even spend cash on expensive toys or holidays. I spent most of it on taxis, eating out and music concerts. I simply had no idea how to be financially prudent and so I only paid the minimum payments on credit cards whenever I could etc.
That’s all it takes, apathy, Ignorance and time! When the music stopped and my house of cards came falling down after a spell out of work because of illness, I didn’t have that much to show for my 10 year spending spree except a lot of debt, anger and confusion.
Up until that point, I had also been a keen investor and owned many shares. I had to sell my shares to pay the bills and this left a nasty taste in my mouth.
My parents misfortune and my spiralling debts after university forced me to take responsibility for my financial intelligence. I knew I had to make a lot of changes, but at the time, I just didn’t know what to do or how to do it.
I began to read many books on personal finance such as Robert Kiyosaki’s, “Rich dad poor dad ” and “Wealth mechanic” by Max Eames etc. This enabled me to confront my situation and tackle my debt demons head on.
I had always harboured dreams of being an investor and being financially free and so during my debt repayment years, I was able to go on currency trading courses and trade part-time. I wanted to be able to read charts of the different markets and be able to gauge the mood and market sentiment. This skill is invaluable to me today as I habitually look at the markets first thing every morning. I also wanted to be able to analyse risk and improve my money management skills.
After four years, I mastered them well enough to win my first currency trading competition. How could I pay for trading courses if I was in debt and broke I hear you ask? I swapped my IT skills for the training! I’ll write more about that in a later blog but it’s important to remember, even when your bank account balance is low, you always have skills you can call on and exchange.
I started this blog because I want to build a community, share information and help as many people as I can to understand debt, personal finance and money management.
Soti Coker is the founder and editor of smartMoneytree. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter.