Growing up money was a huge taboo in my house.
My mom and father would bicker about money constantly, my father was an aggressive saver and my mother was an aggressive spender.
My father grew up in Isuofia, a village in Nigeria, and came from the wealthiest family in the Isuofia. However, despite my father’s financial status, when I was growing up my father only had three pairs of shoes. On the other hand, my mother grew up in a household in which money was very tight with a single parent and five kids (six when you count her niece that her sister had in high school). Yet, when I was growing up my mom kept a Mercedes in the garage and the latest Louis Vuitton bag on her arm. You would think that my father would be the lavish spender and my mother the penny pincher, right? Wrong.
Their constant arguments about money lead me to avoid the subject altogether. I would save for school field trips and started working as soon as I could. I never wanted to be a financial burden on my parents as I viewed money as one of the primary reasons their relationship ended.
My parents would laugh when I would present them with a permission slip and my birthday/yard sale/ babysitting money in the envelope for the trip. They never wanted me to worry about money. But I did. And I still do.
My undergraduate education was by far the biggest investment I have ever made in my life. I was very fortunate to have parents who were willing and able to cover the out of pocket costs my scholarships, financial aid, and student loans did not cover. But at the same time, it was the first time in my life in which I did not have my parents there to give me $20 for this or $50 for that.
Until college, every dime I received I saved. When I would go out with my friends my mom or dad would give me pocket money to spend. I had never gone into my own pocket for movie tickets, concerts, or anything really.
The sudden realization that I needed a “fun” budget left me feeling overwhelmed and ridiculously broke. I would think to myself, “I can’t afford to go out to dinner with friends – I only have $400!” In hindsight, I can’t help but laugh because I was never really poor as I thought I was. I was just completely financially illiterate.
Throughout “Money Moves” I want to share some of my mistakes as well as some of my financial triumphs. In the words of Jay-Z, “I’m tired of living rich and dying broke” and I believe together, we can all do better.