Avoiding things, whether simple or complicated, is not a vice of mine because the hardest lesson of my teenage years was to avoid avoiding things. My parents divorced in my early teens and my mother, completely unprepared for the event, spiraled into a financial quagmire quite common among divorced women. By the time I was 15, I spent more time living with the stable members of my family and avoided my parents. That was mistake 1. At age 16, I started getting calls from creditors demanding that I owed them money.My comment:
Image via WikipediaApparently, my mother had taken out several credit cards in my name...beginning when I was about 12 years of age. There were also unpaid medical procedures in my name, furniture and appliances purchased via store credit...IN MY NAME (and more importantly, my social security number)! Since everyone told me it was impossible for me to have credit at my age, I ignored the issue. That was mistake 2. When I turned 18, my future was looking bright when GE accepted me into their leadership Internship. However, my elation was short-lived when the program manager brought me into her office to discuss my credit report. I spilled the details and both of us freaked out. She didn’t help me out of the problem directly. But she did say something that I’ll never forget. She said that by avoiding the problem, I was following in the footsteps of my mother. And that I would face far worse obstacles in life so conquering this relatively minor one would provide a good foundation for my future (in more ways than the obvious). With her help, I made a list of pros and cons about various resolutions, making the problem less frightening. I also contacted a family friend who was an attorney. For one week I made the man dinner at night while he made phone calls and faxed paperwork. In the end, I could prove that I did not live with my mother or benefit in anyway from the items she purchased on credit in my name. Oh yeah, I could also prove that they issued credit to a MINOR! Within 30 days the focus was back on dear ole mom and my report was as an 18 year-old’s report should be...squeaky clean. From that ordeal, I learned three things. First, never trust my mother (hey, better to learn this when you’re young enough not to be financially liable). Second, always, always, always pay credit cards off at the end of the month. And Third, deal with any problem immediately. Never avoid it. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff that arises from avoiding your problems (or chores, for that matter).
> She said that by avoiding the problem, I was following in the footsteps of my mother. And that I would face far worse obstacles in life so conquering this relatively minor one would provide a good foundation for my future (in more ways than the obvious).I just cannot say enough about how inspiring this story of a mentor helping a young adult is. I really wish for my daughter to have such a person in her life.
Image by janusz l via FlickrWow, this is an awesome mentor to have so young in life! Please, please, please call or write her to thank her, today, because people like this are one in a million. I am so happy you had someone with so much good advice to share at such an impressionable age! I would be so happy if my daughter met someone like that at the start of her working life. Cheers!