I remember like it was only yesterday: the big fight between my parents. I knew it was coming because they had been arguing for weeks leading up to it. Still, I didn’t expect it to end the way it did.
After the fight, my parents officially split up. It happened so suddenly. Less than 24 hours after their argument, we went from a dual-income household to a single-income household.
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My parents breaking up made me quite risk-averse with my finances. This is because I had been used to living a comfortable life, but after the divorce, everything changed. My mother struggled to pay the mortgage on her own. That had a profound effect on me. I didn’t want to find myself in the same situation, so I did everything I could to protect myself financially.
Working Several Jobs
Working one job wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to earn as much money as possible so that I didn’t find myself in a tight financial situation again. I did this by working several jobs. During the school year, I was a grocery store clerk, had a job at the MBA office and also worked as a personal finance journalist. During the summer, I’d work full-time in paid internships.
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After I graduated, I continued my busy work schedule. Working one full-time job wasn’t enough. I’d also work as a personal finance journalist and money coach. I held onto my part-time job at the supermarket, too. Having all these sources of income helped protect me if I ever lost one.
Building a Big Emergency Fund
Another way my parents’ divorce changed me was that it encouraged me to build a big emergency fund. The general rule of thumb is to have three to six months of living expenses, but, again, that wasn’t enough for me. I held $50,000 in my savings account. While I didn’t need that much money and could have made more by investing it, having that much money made me sleep a lot better at night. In a worst-case scenario, I’d be protected if anything were to happen to me financially.
Buying a Home and Paying Off My Mortgage
The final way I was changed was that I became a homeowner at a young age. Even when my parents split up, they both managed to own homes. It was important. So, following in their footsteps, I did the same. But not only did I buy a house on my own at a young age (27 years old), I managed to pay off my mortgage in only three years.
When life throws you a financial curveball, you can either let it get you down or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and grow as a human being. I chose the latter. Although I probably didn’t need to work several jobs, save up a huge emergency fund and pay off my mortgage in just a few years, having done so means that I’m financially secure going forward. I don’t have to worry about having everything taken away from me — like my mom did when my dad left home. Sometimes difficult situations bring about positive things, including a bright financial future.
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