A little girl’s desire to shop led her to credit awareness
How I grew up learning about credit –
When I was about 7 years old, my dad sat me down and gave me “the talk” — and no I am not referring to the birds and the bees discussion. My mom was responsible for that years later. The talk that he gave me included life facts like, “money doesn’t grow on trees and neither does your credit.” He let me know that I was going to learn how to earn my own money, save my own money and spend my own money the right way. I think this was his way of cleverly pushing back on my early shopping addiction. My big brown eyes were no longer going to foot the bill for those sparkly pair of shoes.
I remember he handed me a single post-it note and one of his business pens, then took me to Walmart. As we walked down the different store aisles, I noticed a pink jacket that I knew I didn’t need, but wanted badly. Dad told me to grab it, and write down the exact price on my post-it note. When it was our turn at the check-out line, I ran his company credit card to pay for my very “own” purchase and then kept my receipt with my sticky note. The lesson of earning began.
As soon as we got home, dad put my sticky note on the fridge. He then wrote his own sticky note list and hung it right next to mine. His list looked a something like this:
Vacuum the living room – $5
Clean your bathroom and bathtub – $10
Sweep and mop the kitchen – $8
Feed the cat and give him water – $2
Dust entire upstairs – $10
I remember thinking to myself, “Ah, I see. This is what I get for buying that super cute jacket.” Dad looked at me and said, “Your total for the hoodie was $25.00. You’ll earn this jacket by doing the chores that you choose, and adding them up until you reach the amount of your $25 debt.” At the time, I didn’t fully understand why I had to actually work for this jacket. I just thought that money appeared on the “magic card.”
After I finished cleaning my bathroom and bathtub, dusting the entire upstairs and vacuuming the living room, I presented my chore list to my dad. He said, “Okay, great job, Bri. You have officially earned your very first purchase of your own — that pink jacket. I’m very proud of you. I will leave that list of chores up for the rest of the week. You can do each chore once, and you will earn money for the chores you do, but you will have to save half. After you give me your savings, you can spend the remaining half, if you choose”.
So, throughout the remainder of the week, I did all of the chores one time and wrote down what I was to be paid. I earned a grand total of $35. Dad gave me $17.50 in cash, and put the rest in a ziploc bag that he stashed in a secret hiding spot so I wouldn’t lose it. We continued this chore routine up until the year I turned 15. I was able to keep half of what I earned, and the other would go into my savings. As I got older, my chores became a little higher dollar so I could participate in events like homecoming and prom. I bought those tickets proudly, because I earned them.
The day I turned 16, I got my license and headed to the dealership to purchase my very first car. I had earned $3,000 from my ziploc savings account that my dad held onto for me. Dad told me, “This is what your savings was set up for. It’s for buying big purchases like this, and preparing to have a down payment.” Then, he reached in his pocket and pulled out the company credit card with the credit history that he had built for me since I was 7 years old. This was the same magical card that I had used for every purchase, I just didn’t know it was mine. Every time, I paid for my goods through those various chores, dad paid the credit card with that earned money. So, by the time I stepped up to purchase the little red car of my dreams, I already had a credit score of 780 and a low interest score to match. Thanks, Dad!
Soon after, I started my first job and began earning my livelihood on my own. Because of my dad, I will always know how to spend within my means, save my money and spend only what I earn.