A Public Letter to My Money-Dumb 20-Year-Old Self

What I wish I would have known, and what I plan to tell my kids.

One of the dumbest financial decisions I have ever made was buying my first brand new car.

Not too long after I graduated from college, I began a job in the financial services industry. I had recently moved to Atlanta, so a car was a priority.

It was 1997, and my car was from 1987, so an upgrade was needed.

I had the know-how, with a degree in finance. I had the earnings with a job in the financial services industry.

So I decided to use these skills to buy a brand new 1998 Ford Escort, black with tinted windows, of course. Finally, I would get what I wanted.

I told everyone that it would be in a new ride the next time they saw me one weekend. I planned on going to the dealership with my knowledge and job, and I would get my new car.

Now, whathadhappenwuz throughout college, I could care less about those charge cards, which meant Mr. FICO was about to teach me a lesson.

So after being turned down at three dealerships, you think I would have stopped, right?

Of course, I did not.

I told people this would happen.

I believed this would happen.

And at the end of the weekend, I returned home with a 1998 Kia Sephia 5 speed sedan.

A car I did not want.

Keep in mind today, as in the past, individuals are not prepared for financial decisions.

Employers felt that recent college graduates only

-55% are proficient in critical thinking/problem solving

-41% are proficient in oral and written communication

Financial literacy has always been a problem

-61% of adults lack financial literacy.

-35% of working-age adults do not have many basic personal financial goals.

I assure you at that time, no one had heard of KIA in 1998.

I hadn’t driven a stick shift since high school.

But, I had my new car. Paying monthly payments as if I purchased a BMW for the maximum term of five years.

I let my emotions take over; my ego, frustration, and motivation somehow get a “win.”

I was book smart, but money-dumb, people-dumb, and life-dumb. Most of all, I let emotions drive my financial decisions.

“Your mistake does not define who you are…you are your possibilities.” — Oprah Winfrey

I was young, and like most, I did not know what to do, where to find help, or how to prepare for the dumb financial mistakes we make that cripple us for years.

We have all made dumb financial decisions.

Why?

We do not acknowledge the role of emotions in financial decisions and the impact of emotional, financial decisions on our careers, relationships, and lifestyles.

No one told me emotions would impact financial decisions; however, now it’s the basis for how I help people.

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Education alone cannot fix the financial and mental barriers you’ve created over time to fill financial knowledge gaps. Some of the gaps become your Money Fears, which may seem like

  • Financial anxiety-the fear of the stock market and general investment.
  • Fear of loss-the fear of getting less than what you invested.
  • Fear of success-the fear of getting more than you asked for.
  • Planning paralysis-the fear of making financial decisions.
  • Financial ignorance-you do not know what you do not know.

That’s why it’s vital to seek out the right help, and not all financial help comes from advisors and bankers. Be aware of the help available with financial psychologists, financial therapists, and financial counselors in addressing common Money Fears.

Money Mindset means preparing for the influence of Money over the Mind.

Money Mindfulness = Education + Decision-Making + Behavior Change.

The Money Mindfulness approach to financial change is rooted in knowledge, decision-making, and behavior.

  • You are developing the ability to discuss planning and ideas to optimize your financial life.

  • Building trust and confidence in executing specific suggestions for achieving specific goals related to your financial plan.

  • As change occurs, you must understand the influence and impacts of implementing many different steps necessary to reach goals.

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George Blount coaches individuals on anticipating, preparing, planning, acting, monitoring, reviewing, and reacting to economic change and financial stress in their lives. Organize your financial life, nurture your money mindset, learn what you were never taught about money concepts. Get the Financial Foundation Checklist at: https://bit.ly/FinFoundationChecklist

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George M. Blount, DBA

George M. Blount, DBA

Financial Therapist & Money Mindset Coach