When I got out of college, I was very well-educated by many standards. Not only was I well-trained in the two pillars of the Liberal Arts–reading and writing!–I also had a thorough education in classical music, both as a pianist, as a historian, and as a theorist/composer. This wasn’t so much a way to sure up my professional credentials (though I did want the degree) as a way to satisfy my genuine hunger for musical knowledge.
Either way, the writing was on the walls: all signs pointed to music as my career. Fortunately, my musical knowledge and abilities also helped me start earning money out in the real world. I got a gig playing piano in a voice teacher’s voice studio, and I was thrilled to be getting a regular check, albeit a limited one. That was fine–at this point, I was still living at home.
The money-earning game really began in earnest when I determined to move out of my mom’s. This also coincided with a lot of other good things in my life, such as dating, songwriting (which at the time was exclusively rap songs), and performing at open mics.
Weird as it may sound, at first the need to handle money mostly dismayed and overwhelmed me. Sadly, I had already spent many years avoiding money, and even fearing it. This was probably perpetuated by my scholarly, solitary nature, ie my tendency to spend all my time studying (whether music or school work)… rather than living out in the real world.
I now see these early experiences as essential to my development. For one thing, due to my avoidance for so long, I had a massive desire to understand and master money. As well-educated as I was in the scholarly sense, I was completely clueless about finances! Somehow it had become a scary bogeyman in my mind.
Gradually, I got used to dealing with money. I started earning a living and paying for my life. With experience, many prejudices and negative assumptions gave way to useful knowledge. Instead of the stress and fear caused by ignorance, I gained the confidence and competence that comes from working with something on a daily basis.
In addition, I used my scholarly nature to educate myself about money. I first got the idea to take on my financial education when I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” In it, author Robert Kiyosaki stressed the importance of a financial education, correctly pointing out how horribly lacking this is in our education system. He also stressed that one reason this is so important is that by learning, you gain awareness of key concepts and financial ideas that will help you make better financial decisions.
What was immensely clear was that without this knowledge, one risks struggling in daily money matters. Or at the very least, it is hard to capitalize on one’s financial potential without being well-informed on the subject.
I already felt I was living proof of this.
I made a decision: “I shall educate myself about money.” So I began reading books on money, books on starting a business. I also hired several business mentors to help me in my career. About four and a half years ago, I became especially passionate about personal finance and investing. So I read many dozens of books on those subjects (I wrote about this a few years ago).
I can still remember how ignorant I felt just a few years ago. It was as if I was learning to read for the first time. Yet I was determined. I wanted to learn these money concepts I had grown up hearing about but didn’t understand. Words like “APR,” “compounding,” “assets,” “liabilities,” and “IRAs.” (Yes, these might seem like basic words, but it shows how completely uneducated I was on the topic).
I am glad to say that these days, I am continually reading about money, looking up terms, and gaining more knowledge about personal finance. I am grateful for the ability to teach myself what I wish to know.
Even if it sorely lacked in teaching me about money, at least my education gave me the tools to educate myself.