Broken Piggy

When I graduated from college I got a job working for a huge company. I was single and had no other expenses aside from the food, rent and utilities to look forward to. I made a pretty measly salary but didn't care too much in the beginning. It seemed like a lot of money until a month or so down the road after the graduation gifts were spent and the reality of the cost of living kicked me in the face. There was also the added surprise when the student loan grace period expired. I needed a car too, which I got. I was young and liked to do what young people do, party and flirt. Partying is not free, neither are parking tickets, and clothes, and lunches, and gifts for would-be girl friends, etc… I had a credit card, which was maxed out in a few months so I got another one to help pay off the first. Even though my intentions were honorable, my actions were not so and within another few months the second credit card was maxed out as well. There I was, 22 years old, living paycheck to paycheck and tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

The next few years were kind of a blur and I'm not exactly sure how I got out of my mess but I know a lot is due to a no interest loan from my parents. I also took out at least two other loans from a credit union, which I used to pay off credit cards. It took me at least nine years in all to get back to square one. I definitely remember the first time I checked out my credit reports. They were a mess. There were old accounts that had been paid off but were still marked as open, a ton of inquiries, and at least ten accounts that I had never heard of because someone had stolen my social security number and defaulted a bunch of credit card accounts. I must have spent a year or more going back and forth with different forms contesting erroneous listings. Plus, several of the accounts that I had taken care of were not even mentioned including the student loans and an auto loan.

This happened to me in the early eighties when there was no such thing as a bad credit loan and if it were not for the help from my parents I don't know what I would have done. The loans I did get were very small and very high interest and the fact that the credit union I received them from was owned by my employer helped immensely. I was extremely lucky back then and I imagine this is not such an uncommon scenario today. I wonder about kids graduating from college now with student loans in the tens of thousands of dollars, entry-level job salaries and all the tempting gadgets available today. I wonder about my own kids and what it will be like for them when they graduate in 2022 and 2024. I certainly never listened to my parent's financial advice until it was too late. I will be blue-in-the-face and sound like a broken record for sure. Oops, did I say record?