Top 15 Blog Challenge: Crystal Obiukwa

Editors note: We asked each of our Top 15 to tell us a story about a money-related blunder that they've made.

Wants from Needs

In the short 22 years of my life I’ve made plenty of money related blunders! That’s probably one of the main reasons I’d make the best “Young & Free” spokester, (hey, I never said I was a financial guru.) Although I have made financial mistakes in the past, each one taught me vital lessons that have made me much smarter with my money choices today!

If I had to pick a theme for all of my money blunders it would definitely be “Failure to Differentiate Wants from Needs”

When you are young, because you don’t have a lot of financial responsibility, it’s easy to feel like you need everything you set your eyes on. My parents used to foot the bill for almost everything (oh, how I miss those days!) and because of this, any extra money that I obtained seemed like a free for all. This was my biggest problem!  I thought I had to have everything! In my mind I actually saw these fickle purchases as a “need!” You don’t even want to know how many graphic tees I have from back in the day when they were the “thing” to wear… its quite sad.

I had a wake up call one day while I was cleaning my room. I stumbled upon a shopping bag with a brand new shirt inside. Just as I had thought I found a new jewel to add to my collection, I glanced in the mirror and it was the same exact shirt that I was wearing! I was buying the same thing twice; that’s when I knew I had a problem!

I realized it was time for me to change my mindset about money and cut down on impulse shopping! I gradually began to make better decisions with how I spent and saved money. The first thing I learned was how to treat all my money as if it was earned income. No matter if my mom gave it to me for pocket change or I actually earned it from doing chores around the house, I saved it as if it was money I had worked hard for. I also put aside a small percentage of money that I allowed myself to spend after 15 days. By allowing myself a “splurge stash” I didn’t feel so deprived of shopping plus, I became eager to save so that I would have more money to spend after the 15 days.

I still use these tactics along with a few others I picked up along the way. Even though these were simple changes, I saw a dramatic increase of money.  I learned that being smart about your money is not as hard as it seems and in the end it’s guaranteed to pay off!