How to Get a Good Financial Start in Life

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I’m in a pretty comfortable financial position. I’m not rich, but I definitely don’t live paycheck to paycheck either. I’ve certainly been lucky in some respects – but some of it is also good planning. Here are some of the things I’ve done along the line to ensure I had a good financial start in life.

Get a part time job early on

My brother and I shared a 5 day a week babysitting job after school, and then later on, I got different part time jobs – first at Shoppers Drug Mart (laid off after 4 months!), then at a bakery in a grocery store (the store eventually closed due to being bad management) and then finally at McDonald’s (this one lasted til I graduated from high school). Did I always like my jobs? No. Did I save every penny I made? Definitely not! (Although I got better after my Dad lectured me on how much I was spending!). But – I did save enough to help cover my first year of university – and I made sure I didn’t waste it partying because I’d worked so darned hard to earn it!

Working during university

I did a co-op program during university. This meant it took me an extra year to graduate, but it was well worth it. With my co-op program, I took a full year (2 terms) of school, and then did my first co-op term. After that, it was one school term and then one work term, all the way until I graduated. This enabled me to get great work experience as well as a way to help pay for school. As well, I was responsible for all my expenses during my work term, so this helped give me a good feel for how to budget early on.

My first “real” job

My last co-op term led to a full time offer after graduation. I did have one splurge – I took a 2 week tour of Europe before I graduated. My mother actually really encouraged it – she wanted to make sure I did some travelling before I started work. And yes, I paid for it myself. I was quite lucky and started at a decent salary, but I made sure I didn’t go overboard. I lived in a fairly cheap basement apartment for the first three months, and didn’t spend much money on work clothes (lucky me – I could wear jeans!) or eating out or going out (I wasn’t working downtown, which really helps with those kinds of things). I started saving for an RRSP right away.

Now, all things being said..

I didn’t do it alone. My very kind parents paid for living expenses while I was at school. If I’d had to pay for everything, I most likely would have graduated with debt. I was lucky to have well paying co-op jobs (well, at least the later ones were), and to graduate with a well-paying job. And tuition was much cheap when I went to school than when it is now. So I realize that not everyone has all of these advantages, but I hope you’ve found my story interesting, and possibly even helpful!

Did you have a good financial start in life? Why or why not?

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