In honor of April being Financial Literacy Month, our own Intuit employees wanted to practice what we preach – sharing our #RealMoneyTalk! Opening up about your financial struggles, and success is often the first step in the path to financial literacy and financial health. Because when we walk to each other, we learn from each other.
“I avoided credit most of my life, I got a $400 credit limit card just to build some credit. Then I had to move to San Diego so I bumped that limit up by a bunch, and had to put a lot of my moving expenses on credit. Found myself needing to put unexpected costs on there, too. (Total of under $4k) Almost have that paid off, but now I’ve discovered that I did not calculate my tax burden as a 1099 contractor properly, so I have a new, significant, debt to both the great state of CA, and ol’ Uncle Sam.
I had never needed to set aside my own tax payments, so it was entirely new to me, I didn’t even know what to research or look up to get the answers to the questions I had. I just didn’t worry too much about it. I also struggle with finding a Now vs. Later balance. How much do you spend to make Now You happy, and how much do you save/invest to make Later You happy. I’m still not sure. I’ve always put at least 70% of my maximum into retirement, and I actively invest (to a surprising degree of success!), but I’ve been bad about making sure I have a liquid emergency fund.
No one in my family has ever been particularly good with their finances, so I’ve been mostly out learning on my own. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation about money with my parents. All in all, still learning! Thankful that the mistakes I’ve made haven’t been catastrophic and were still able to teach me valuable lessons.” – Brandon S.
“I had to buy a car to get to work here at Intuit (nobody carpools). I cried a lot the night before I bought the car, because I was making a hasty decision, and was going into $10K of debt for a 5 month job. Luckily my work here got extended, and I’m paying off my sexy certified pre-owned 2015 honda civic this month. Funny enough, that purchase boosted my credit score 20 points!” – Katherine K.
“My family came straight from the trailer, so I learned to live on very little. I ate a crap ton of discounted canned food! My dad was constantly running from creditors, as the story goes from my older siblings. I think that’s why we moved from North Carolina to Arizona when I was 5. My mom was an “ignorant housewife”.
My high school sweetheart, now husband, taught me everything I know about finances. He too came from the trailer, but saw his dad squander away a small business and struggle which informed why he is such a saver. Both of us always say growing up we learned how not to be.
Fast forward to today, we strive to not live beyond our means, only use credit cards when we have to (Christmas, large purchases) and try to pay off each month but sometimes that doesn’t always happen. But we’re always mindful of it. And since working at Intuit and now having a daughter go to college, I am hell-bent on not setting her off into life with debt! Compromising on where she went to college vs taking on student loan debt.” – Anna M.
“I didn’t know much about personal finance growing up. I moved to San Francisco after the Peace Corps with basically no money to my name, but luckily had no student loans. I had plenty of mishaps early on – for example, believing you should not pay off your entire CC bill all the time because carrying some over would “help your credit” and other falsehoods, and in my first tech job, I found out YEARS in that my 401k contributions had just been sitting in cash the whole time – no one told me I needed to log in and select funds!
When I started working in fintech and learning a ton, I started maxing my 401k and automating savings (my direct deposit goes to 5 different places…) which really helped. I didn’t have to think about saving, which I was never good at previously.
I achieved a big goal last summer when I bought a (very tiny) condo in San Francisco by myself without help. I feel really lucky and “adult,” but it’s created a lot of new money stress. My fixed costs doubled to a larger % of my take home than I really predicted, my rainy day fund was much smaller than ideal, and I need to relearn how to budget more tightly and save more to feel more secure. Definitely thinking and worrying about money more than I have in years, and want to get back to not thinking about it!” – Courtney A.
“Long story short, after my parents divorced when I was 12, things got frugal. I’ve had to work part-time/full time since I was 16, and paid for a lot of my own way. Right after high school, I was living paycheck to paycheck for around 2 years with no more than $500 in savings while my parents tried living on the east coast. I would not have been able to pay the loan on my car if it weren’t for my credit union allowing skip-a-payment a few times.
When my mom/family moved back, I ended up living with them in the garage to save money while trying to go to college. When I got a contract job here, I excitedly shared financial info with my parents. I was making a decent amount of money compared to my stepdad with much less stress/hours. This caused resentment and soon after, I never talked about money with them to any specific detail. After I had enough cushion, I moved out to work full time at the expense of school because it had become an “unpleasant” home environment (even with me contributing financially). #DontTalkAboutMoney
My parents had no retirement savings started until their 40s/50s and were banking on the appreciation of the house to retire on (which wouldn’t have been enough). They spent money on vacations even though they couldn’t afford it. Not getting into college (no student loan debt) and being afraid of carrying debt (car loan I had trouble handling) have left me in a decent spot financially, and fearful of debt I can’t pay for. I use my credit card like a debit card, which has given me a good credit rating without paying interest fees.
For various reasons, I couldn’t start saving, even to my 401k until just a couple of years ago. Now I’m wondering how I can catch up and still enjoy living in San Diego, while also thinking I’ll need to figure out how to support my parent’s retirement in the future. @_@ #WhisperAboutMoney.” – Jamie L.
“The extent of my parents financial advice was: max your 401k, pay off your credit cards, and use TurboTax (no joke my dad gave me a desktop TurboTax CD at college graduation). Outside of maximizing my 401k, I blew every dollar I made until I was 25 and then got a wake up call when I did the math on how I’d never get to my goal of buying a house. I switched jobs and I immediately set up all auto rules to contribute to my investments, savings, and bills so I didn’t have to think about it. I watched the housing market for 3 years until I found the smallest, cheapest house I could in a neighborhood I liked. My goal is to never think about money, and I’m sure I’m not maximizing everything I could, but I’m ok with that. I still spend more than I should, but I don’t sweat it because it almost always related to an activity I love or a hobby I want to learn.” – Brian M.
“My mom made me get a basic credit card through my bank when I was 16. She instructed me to get 1 tank of gas on it per month, and to pay it off as soon as I drove home from the gas station. I never truly understood until I rented my first apartment on my own. Incredibly thankful for positive credit habits. I called my mom to thank her after I started working here and better understood how length of credit contributes to my score.” – Connor C.
“Hmm where do I even begin? My parents never talked about money, and still avoid the topic at all costs. My dad is very much of the mentality that if you work hard money will work itself out (at least I think that’s how he thinks). Anyway, he worked hard and moved his way up the corporate ladder at a fortune 500 company. Because of his work ethic and the soaring stocks at his company I graduated from college debt-free, but had never even heard of building credit, didn’t know what a 401K was and worst of all had no concept of saving money.
I moved to San Diego the day after I graduated from Mizzou, determined to avoid ever seeing snow again. I bought a brand new car (huge mistake) to make the drive out and had my dad co-sign because I had no credit. The worst part is that all the payments I ever made on that car loan never counted toward my name because of the co-sign. Once in San Diego, I landed my first job at a digital ad agency that paid $30K. I also lived with my boyfriend of 4 years, otherwise I don’t think I could have afforded living in San Diego. Right before he deployed we broke up and he gave me 2 days to move out. With very little credit to my name (I had just opened my first credit card), I couldn’t even sign a lease to rent a place in San Diego…had to call my dad again.
After 6 months of living on my “own” (with roommates of course), I decided to find a job that paid more. That job ended up helping me land my next gig at this cool place called Intuit. Working at Intuit was pretty pivotal for me financially. Although I was only a contractor, I decided I wanted to put my newly acquired income into something “smart”. So, I decided to buy a condo with a 15-year fixed mortgage in Point Loma with the plan to rent it out in the future. Definitely a risky move, but real estate in San Diego seemed like a good way to retire early. After I started my work on Turbo I hired a CFP, opened a Roth IRA, saved 3 months of emergency funds, started a mutual fund and paid off the first car I ever bought.
In hindsight, the order of everything I did was not logical and the lack of financial autonomy my parents instilled is something I definitely don’t want for my children. I am thankful that I learned my dad’s work ethic and know that hard work can make up for some of the financial mistakes you make along the way.” – Jackie H.
“I was the first college student in my family so a college fund never even occurred to my parents. I was over $40,000 in debt by age 22, living in NYC on a sad salary. I had little financial knowledge but made a commitment then and there to never again buy anything that I couldn’t afford unless it was an emergency. I made some sacrifices (cardboard can serve so many purposes!), auto paid my student loans and refinanced my credit card debt with Lending Club. I paid off my credit cards 3 years ago and vanquished my student loans this year. Mint has been part of this story since college (pre Intuit days!) and now helps my husband and I manage our budgets and reach our goals as a family.” – Diana R.
Have your own story you want to tell? Share with us in the comments or tag us on social with #RealMoneyTalk!