Gettin’ Guesty (and Money Wise) with Kari Merriott

gettin guesty

We have ANOTHER great contributor this week for Gettin’ Guesty!

Please help me welcome:

Kari Merriott of Small Change

Kari describes herself as “a normal girl living in a smallish Canadian city” she says that “for some reason money has always seemed mysterious and interesting to me”. Kari goes to school to study business and accounting in particular, so she knows a thing or two about “the language of business”. She also writes on her hometown newspaper’s website about making small changes financially to have a bigger impact in the long run.

She’s a girl after my own heart!

Young & Money-Wise

Most people inherit the spending habits of their parents. If your parents are savers then you’ll grow up knowing the value of a dollar. If your parents are spenders then you might burn a hole through your wallet without even noticing. Or if your parents believe in investing money then you’ll probably be more informed about mutual funds than the average Joe. So what happened with me? Well, my parents have always instilled in me the importance of saving my money. I’m only 20 years old but I’ve had a part-time job from age 14 on and have been making decisions with my money ever since.

I am currently in college, working part-time, living at home debt-free, and enjoying life to the fullest! I wasn’t always this savvy with my money though. Going from having no income to making a couple hundred bucks every two weeks when you’re just 14 is a BIG deal. I remember in high school I would spend money at the cafeteria, blow ten bucks easily on junk food and candy, and go to the mall almost every weekend. I mean, without any living expenses, what else is a kid supposed to spend her money on? After months and months of wasting my hard earned dollars on nothing, I decided it was time to smarten up. So what did I do? I set up a separate savings account at my bank so that half of every pay cheque would go directly into the account every other Friday. It was the best decision I ever made as a teen. Within a span of time, I had accumulated several thousands of dollars in savings on an income of less than $400.00 a month.

That’s where my love of saving began….now flash forward a few years to 2011. I’m still constantly saving for my future goals and pursuits. I want to buy a used car in the next 6-9 months…$2500 budget…cash. And yes I realize that cars are money pits, but you kinda need one in the town I live in. I’m also saving to go on my very first all inclusive vacation with my girlfriends next winter. I’m REALLY excited for that. I previously saved enough money to redecorate my entire bedroom on a budget (IKEA helped), buy my college textbooks (which can be extremely overpriced) with cash, and go on an amazing week long trip to New York with my best friend. I did all of those things without going into any debt. How? 1. I knew that I needed to spend wisely on the things that weren’t as important to me.  2. I had clear goals in my mind of the things I wanted to accomplish with my money. 3. I waited till I could afford to pay for them with cash. It was really as simple as that.

So what don’t I spend my money on? Well just like most young women, I do like to go shopping every once in a while. But I have learned to not to be overly concerned about clothes, shoes, bags, make-up and electronics. My outlook on my closet and the things I already own has definitely changed for the better. Whereas before I would go to the mall a few times a month to buy new clothes…now I might go to the mall once every few months. I mean, you can only wear one pair of shoes at a time, right? Also, I don’t have a fancy smartphone but rather I use a prepaid phone that costs me about $30 bucks a month. I’m easily saving $20 to $30 right there. Travelling is something that interests me greatly so I’d rather save for trips to exotic locations rather than blow my money on some flashy designer handbag or the latest gadget. Like a lot of personal finance bloggers will tell you…it’s all about knowing what your financial priorities are and sticking to them.

Being smart with my money comes naturally to me now. It’s part of my lifestyle. So when I have to leave home and face the “real world” and get a “real job” I am confident that I won’t struggle completely.  While money makes the world go round…it’s hard to know how to use it wisely. So here are some tips to get u started on the path to becoming a financial know-it-all:

  • Check out the free resources that your library has about finance and managing your money wisely….did I already mention that they’re FREE?
  • Use the internet to research about different ways to budget, save your money, and even for great online deals.
  • Read personal finance blogs to learn from the experiences of real people and how they deal with their money issues. (Umm, And Then She Saved…anyone?)
  • You can always go to your family and friends for advice…especially if they are smart with their money!

All of this financial jargon mumbo jumbo sounds really awesome but saving money is so difficult, right? Yes, it is. I realize that and as cheesy as it sounds, most things in life that are truly worth it take some degree of effort. Being debt-free is an amazing feeling and it is worth all of the sacrifices you will have to make. Trust me. Soon enough you’ll only be spending your money on things that add to your well-being and happiness. I genuinely believe that being happy and content is the ultimate goal to achieve!

Kari Merriott of Small Change ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then We Saved!

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!

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