• Kristina Long

Adulting, Taxes and Credit Scores, Lessons in the Real World

When I was 12 years old I was really into roller skating. It was 1982 by then and roller skating had been a massive part of my life growing up. Every weekend you could find me at the Raleigh Skateland in Bartlett, TN, where I lived until I was 23 years old. I had white leather high top, lace up roller skates with the best pink pom, poms, matching pink laces and wheels. I was getting older and well, I decided I MUST have some really cool low top speed skates with neon green zinger wheels and of course matching neon green laces. These cost around $150 or $175. Being a daddy’s girl, I pleaded that I needed these skates more than anything in the world.

My dad was the president of an optical lab and worked very hard doing all kinds of additional entrepreneurial things outside of his very busy work day. He provided everything for my mom and I. He took my pleadings to heart and chose to use my wants as an opportunity to teach me about real world business. I’m forever grateful to him for being a strong example in the area of work and goals.

My career as a “professional” babysitter began before I could pay taxes or drive a car. My client base was fairly small and consisted of mainly a few neighbors. My dad said he’d give me a loan for these speed skates I wanted so badly. He suggested I get serious about babysitting if I wanted to be approved for this speed skate loan. We discussed my target market and how to get my info to would be parents that might hire me for their babysitting needs. Per my dad’s suggestion I made little paper business cards with my name and phone number. I dutifully knocked on all the doors near by that I knew had kids. I remember my dad coaching me on how to promote myself to anyone who would give me the time of day. Thankfully in the 80’s the world was much more relaxed about anyone knocking on their front door. It was in fact a very commonplace thing to answer the door if anyone knocked and it happened often. Sadly due to crime everything is very different these days.

I made rather primitive business cards as I am not an artist but my name, service and contact info was written down. I knocked on many doors and if they didn’t answer the door I left my card anyway in hopes of getting their business. I nervously introduced myself to all kinds of neighbors and it got easier with each door that opened. I didn’t know it at the time but my dad was helping me turn into a budding entrepreneur. The calls began rolling in and soon I was racking up babysitting jobs at $2 an hour. I was 12 and it was the early 80’s remember?? Even at $2 an hour I was excited and it felt so good to have a goal to work towards. My dad and I agreed to the terms of my speed skate loan which consisted of me giving him half of whatever money I made on my babysitting jobs. It took me a year to repay this speed skate loan but I did it and learned so many lessons. Lessons in the world of loans and adulting that have served me well into my adult years.

I began to build my credit score with my mom’s encouragement at 19 years old with a loan for a drawer set I wanted under my waterbed. That’s right, I said waterbed, I know you’re jealous. It was really amazing with a fancy headboard that had smokey mirrors complete with etched flowers, glass doors and lights. I only got rid of it when I started moving to apartments, what a pain it is to move a water bed! In addition to this I got a credit card and later my 1st car loan which my mom co-signed on for me. I built an impressive credit score for myself by the time I was 22 years old.

Enter marriage and struggles into my adulthood that had a very negative impact on my life and credit score. I’m here to tell you there is hope! Right after my divorce I filed for bankruptcy in 2003, surrendered my car and later went through a nasty custody battle. As a result I had $30,000 in debt to pay off and the worst credit score in my life. After about a year and a half in court I won residential custody of my kids. I paid off more than half of my debt, took some trainings and started a business all within about a years time. I have been working on rebuilding my credit score ever since. I managed to pay down my debt to just my car and school loans at this point. Those are next on my financial goals.

If you’re young you might not understand this but credit scores get you into apartments and other things you might want in life. I’ve lived in some pretty bad areas of town as a result of my poor credit score. It has taken years but I am happy to report my credit score is currently doing great! “Gold Star Credit” I was told this morning. In the process of rebuilding my life my credit followed suit. I got rid of credit cards in 2003 and have never looked back. I have raised two kids and traveled far and wide with only a debit card and cash. I’m looking at buying a van and now I have to adult on the biggest issue in my world. TAXES. I am working to face the music on this one folks. It is a tough area for me. I am reminding myself EVERYTHING IS OK, even doing my back taxes for 2 different years. It IS ok and will be ok. I’m looking for help with how to keep better records throughout the year if you have any advice, I’m open to suggestions!

I want to encourage you if you’re struggling to adult or stressed about bills, credit scores or feeding your children in the midst of real life. I often cried and cried and cried over all my bills and things my kids needed. I believed we might wind up homeless, which made me cry even more. It is scary to be responsible for two other people with limited income and a mountain of bills. The good news is we were never homeless and I eventually supported myself and two children from my self employed income for many years before leaving Kansas City to follow my dreams of living by the beach.

I am not a financial advisor but these are some things I did that helped me get out of my very real and disastrous state. I asked for help from many places, including the government. I had help from friends over the years with babysitting my kids while I worked. Thank you FOREVER Angie Stanley and all the others that graciously watched my kids for free while I worked. I worked A LOT, made pay off deals with creditors and focused on my goals of traveling and having less debt to stay on track. Sacrifices were made as I did work a lot to get things in a better place, I really had no choice in my mind. I said “no” to many things I wanted to buy or do. I did not take a real vacation for over a decade. It was just how it was, not my plan.

I changed my thoughts. I told myself anything is possible and I kept trudging onward no matter what. Never give up! I used the old school envelope system. I wrote the bill amounts down on the front and tallied the decreasing amounts as I paid them down. This was a very exciting thing to do and made bill paying more fun. I went back to school to learn a trade that helped me to be able to give back to others and in the end has helped me way beyond any monetary gains. The newest thing I’m doing is blessing my money. I learned this from Micheal Brian Baker with The Breath Center. He says to hold your money lovingly and to express my gratitude for having the money, to wish it well and have gratitude that I can use it to pay for services and goods and to trust this money will be returned to me 100 fold. I love this because it puts such a positive spin on money being spent on bills and other things.

Gratitude is everything. Being grateful for everything, trials and all, has helped me stay present and made me feel blessed for lack of a better word! I made a vision board of my dreams. I’m about to create my next one because my dreams just keep coming true! I listen to motivational YouTube videos and I am getting clear on how the Law of Attraction works. Look up "THAT”S RIGHT!" By Andy Dooley. Abraham Hicks is also amazing. I smudged everything with sage. I figured every little bit helps and couldn't hurt. Years later I became a minimalist as much as possible. This has helped me see how little I really need to survive most of the time. Let go. I am still working on all of these things and always learning new things. I hope this helps you along your way. Remember everything is just the way it’s meant to be, right now at this very moment even if you don’t understand everything. It will be ok and if it’s not for some reason there’s always a way out, sometimes it just takes time. I love you!

#lifelessons #addiction #positivethinking #lifecoaching #kids #homeless #bills #money #debt #debtfree

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