You know you’re in financial trouble when…
When I was in college, we had to do a mandatory 4-month co-op during the summer between our first and second year. I wanted to do something in marketing or event coordination, but couldn’t find anything in Victoria. I did, however, find a position with a non-profit in Northern Alberta. So without hesitating, I said yes to the barely-above-minimum-wage job and the chance for a bit of an adventure.
I decided to drive the 1,300km to my new temporary home because I knew I’d likely need my car while I was up there. But since my car was basically a piece of crap on wheels, I was going to have to take it into a mechanic to make sure it was safe to take on my short road trip. When I found out it would cost just under $1,000 for the repairs, I remember nearly bursting into tears. I didn’t have that kind of money! So for the first time in my adult life (and the first admittance to anyone that I was in any sort of financial trouble), I asked my parents if I could borrow the money from them.
“You don’t have $1,000?” I remember my dad asking. I felt shame. Nope, I didn’t. His face fell and he kind of shook his head in disappointment, but he loaned me the money. I got my car fixed, and away I went on my road trip. But I felt so horrible about owing him money that I paid him back with my first pay cheque (which ended up being the entire amount – and a little bit more) – and lived off my credit cards until I got paid again.
Except that when I got paid again, I had to pay off my credit cards. And it was just so easy to fall behind when the minimum payments were a lot more appealing than paying off the entire amount. A few pay cycles like that, and all of a sudden I had maxed out my credit card.
I’ve mentioned it in a few posts lately, but life is a lot easier now. I don’t feel like I’m falling behind, and I actually have savings in the bank and a financial plan for the future. But I will admit that I still feel a bit of a victory whenever I can fill my gas tank up completely (instead of only putting in $10 worth of gas because it was all I could afford).
I’m not really sure what the point of this post was, but I wanted to share the story of the first time I admitted to anyone (including myself) that I was in any sort of financial trouble. Even 11 years later, I can still see that disappointed look on my dad’s face, and it’s something I hope to never, ever see again.
Can you remember the first time you knew you had money problems?
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.