How I Achieved Financial Independence by 21 Years Old

I’m very thankful for the lessons I’ve learned about money management throughout my lifetime so far! I’ve been financially independent since I was 21 years old (3 years ago). Financial independence to me means no longer relying on my parents for anything (medical bills, supplies, allowance, etc.).

I am in no way giving legal or financial advice in this post, but I wanted to share some things that really helped me get to where I am today.

Learned about money management from a young age

I started getting an allowance when I was 6 years old. Yes, 6. I received money every two weeks (just like having a pay check at a job) and I got paid twice my age. So at 6 years old, I was making $12 every two weeks (~$24 a month). Every year when I got a year older, my allowance increased accordingly. My mom was very consistent in keeping up with this and teaching us about money. She always suggested that we save a certain percentage, put a percentage towards giving back (usually church offering money - 10%) and then to also keep some for spending. 

My parents always paid for clothes, food and anything I needed, but if there was something extra I wanted to do or buy, I was responsible for that. Example: I would pay for my own toys, entertainment and birthday gifts for my friends’ parties (I believe my parents covered a certain percentage based on my age, but I always contributed some amount to the gift). 

My allowance lasted until I was 13 years old. By the time I turned 14, I no longer had an allowance, and needed to get a job. My Grandma would pay me hourly to do chores for her, I worked (cleaning) at my parents' business and eventually got a job as a sales associate in the mall by the age of 16.

Got a credit card when I was 16 years old

On my 16th birthday, I got my first credit card! It was so cool to see my name in the shiny silver imprinted font. It was a card joint with my mom and she helped me learn how to pay the bill each month. I’m pretty sure (from what I remember) my mom would pay it in her name and then I would reimburse my mom based on whatever amount my card was owing. I put very few purchases on my credit card, but it was a good way to learn about how it all works.

Had an RESP

When I was born, my parents started at RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) for me. They consistently money into it over the years whenever they could, but by the time I turned 14, I was encouraged to put 50% of every pay cheque I got into this savings account. I’d say I did it for the majority of my pay cheques, which really helped me save up! I also put 50% (or more) of any money I got from birthdays, Christmas, etc. It was strongly encouraged by my parents and I was happy to follow the rules (for the most part).

Created my own budget when I moved out at 19

When I moved out of my parents’ house in 2015 to attend fashion school (when I was 19 years old), my mom helped me create a budget that would help me track everything I spend. I would evaluate it at the end of every month and record how much I spent for each category (groceries, rent, entertainment, pets, medical, personal needs, house supplies, clothing, makeup, etc.). This helped keep me on track and not overspend. At this time, I was living off of savings, mostly from my RESP. I had my own studio apartment (and still have it), downtown Toronto. I paid for all the decor and necessities I needed all on my own.

Graduated from fashion school with no debt

Because my family and I saved money with my RESP and I budgeted very strictly with the money I had saved, I was able to graduate from fashion school with absolutely no debt.

Got a full time job right after graduation

I was very lucky to find my first real job in my industry (digital marketing) and start working as soon as I graduated. It worked out perfectly to transition living off of my savings, to living off of my own income.

Continuing a responsible money mindset

I love shopping (clothes, shoes, makeup, thrifting) but I think I also have a bit of a frugal side. I love to save money and see it grow! 

A few years ago, I linked up with a financial planner and started doing investments. I’ve been saving up to purchase a condo and have made great headway with that! I want to continue to be smart and responsible with my money and do the best I can to better myself and look after myself independently. I just got a new job back in January and it will be my first time having access to health benefits/insurance. This is a huge thing for me and I’m very grateful to have this now.

I’m no professional or advisor in any way but I hope that these things can help and inspire you in your relationship with money management as well.

Thanks for reading today!

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