First Person: My Youth Was Spent Paying High Interest Rates

Yahoo Contributor Network

My excitement over legal independence was overshadowed by random acts of wasting money. As many of us know, it doesn't make sense to toss out hard-earned dollars which can add up every year. Here are some decisions I made as a young adult that cost me as I got older.

Refusing to finish college. Though I would receive a few vocational certificates in later years, my shock when I returned to college a few years ago nearly left me pale. When I graduated from high school back in 1986, tuition at my community college was $6 per unit. In 2009, it went up to $26 per unit and this semester it increased by another ten dollars per unit. Not only could I have saved money on books and tuition but would've had an advantage over my competition. Though some prospective employers appreciated my certificates for subjects like web page design and accounting, they were more interested in the number of credits received or a degree. This is slowly becoming the trend for pink and blue collar jobs that once required experience only.

Constant job changes. I would pat myself on the back for landing an entry-level position that paid a dollar or two more per hour than my previous job. What I didn't calculate was that some locations weren't accessible to public transportation, forcing me to burn gas or wear out the used car I owned. There were also other factors such I rarely had enough in my savings account to act as a cushion for payday changes. As a result, I paid late fees often and occasionally had accounts closed by my creditors.

Not shopping around for the best rates. In the pre-Internet days, I fell for any deal that offered a free incentive not knowing what was around the corner. Offers that were targeted to those that were new on the job, under 25 or had little credit history normally came with high interest charges.

Bad personal banking. While I was glad to have a free checking account, I rarely maintained the minimum daily balance so it would cost me around $100 annually. Also, one piece of advice my late uncle would give me was to have an account elsewhere because sometimes things happen. For me, those things were cashing my checks at merchants that charged outrageous fees, all because my bank account was overdrawn or closed.

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