The other day I talked about my first real job at 15. In the comment dialogue I shared the reason I took a field labor job was to have money to buy more clothes, make-up and music. That’s all that was important to me at that age.
Now it seems silly but teenagers have very different priorities. In fact, my priorities changed throughout my life.
Spending and Money
In my early 20′s I still wanted clothes but expanded my priority to include a car. I bought a Ford Pinto and took out my first loan. There weren’t any financial goals other than to pay living expenses, the car loan and then spend the rest on fun.
Then I got married and had a family very quickly. My spending wasn’t selfish anymore. I had to buy things for the baby and our home. That pretty much continued for the next 20 years which included another baby, divorce and remarriage.
I spent every penny earned and more. My son wanted to play on a travel hockey team and without financial consideration I said yes. As our income grew our lifestyle inflated.
The kids became adults and suddenly retirement didn’t seem so far away. I knew something had to change so I could retire and travel with my husband. As long as kept the debt cycle going those plans were not going to happen.
The question was how to get started? The answer came to me at church and not in a thunderbolt. They were taking signups for Financial Peace University. We never looked back and last month eliminated the last non-mortgage debt.
Until the day I retire, saving for it is the priority. I’ve increased my 401K contribution to the maximum and will be opening a IRA within the next month. We still have fun and saving for vacations is an important part of our plan.
Money Priorities in Life
It’s important to figure out what you want out of life as soon as possible. That way you can make sure all your decisions, including financial, ultimately support that goal. I just let life happen and what it got me is behind in realizing my dreams.
Fortunately, my husband had it more together and we’ll still be able to retire as planned albeit on a smaller budget. Do you know your financial priorities?
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about money in your 20s/30s/40s/50s/retirement see Money in Your 20′s/30′s/40′s/50′s/Retirement Roundup.