how I became the budgetnista (the bike story)
For all those who’ve asked... How I became The Budgetnista.
October 1990, I was an 11-year-old budding Budgetnista and was so skinny that my mother constantly questioned my doctor about the
[11yr old Budgetnista]
Luckily at 11, it would be years before I realized the cruelty of my current physical state. Besides, it was October and my birthday was the only thing on my mind.
The day everything changed...
I nervously approached my father, who was "doing the bills" (as was customary) at the dining room table. In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best time to make my big birthday request, but doing so changed my life.
A little background about my Dad:
He was born and raised in humble beginnings in a small, rural village in Nigeria, Africa. He worked as a financial professional and holds degrees in both finance and economics. He is The American Dream personified. He came to the United State with little money and a dream for more. He later brought the love of his life from his village to join him (my mother). Through hard work, discipline and a sickening work ethic, he earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees, had 5 lovely daughters and recently retired as the Executive Director of a New
Back to the bike story...
I approached my father determined to get a bike for my upcoming birthday. Why did I want a bike so badly? Because my older sister got a bike for her 11th birthday (so naturally, so did I).
So far, so good, I thought.
"Ummmm, my birthday is coming up and.......I want a bike". The last part of that sentence was said with a rushed nervousness as I shifted from one spindly leg to the other in dreaded anticipation.
My father looked up from his old-school calculator (you know the one, it had
Oh, I forgot to mention that my dad has a Nigerian accent that I usually imitate. So if you know what that accent sounds like, feel free reread the above dialog and insert it.
"Yes, Daddy", I stammered, "I want a bike"
THIS! This is what I was afraid of. I knew that my father was not going to let such a large request go without using it to teach me a life lesson. As a child of two African parents, I was no stranger to parables,
I hung my
Like a true Libra, my mood quickly shifted from being distraught to elation. I loved my dad's calculator. It made cool noises, had paper curling out of the back and up until this point, my sisters and I were forbidden to use it.
My dad gave me his handwritten list of the family's bills and explained what each of them was. Before then, I never knew what a mortgage was or that you had to pay insurance to drive a car, or even that you paid for things like heat. I joyfully added up the bills, then added up my parent's monthly income, then subtracted the bills from what they made.
At 11, I wasn't certain if my parents made a lot or not, but I did know less and more. What was left over after subtracting the bills from their income was way less. After nervously handing my father back my calculations, he explained that before he could spend money on "fun stuff", bills always had to be paid. He then told me that the cost of my bike had to be less than the money that was left over. I asked why I couldn't use all of the money if the bills were paid. My dad said because some of the money (excess non-bill money) was for savings and some
I wasn't particularly concerned with buying "fun stuff" for my sisters, especially since it was my birthday. What I was concerned with was the money lesson and what it meant for my Birthday Bike and me. The bike that I wanted was a beautiful, purple, bike with tassels, a
[Not quite as beautiful as my original dream, Birthday Bike, but you get the picture.]
I began thinking about the household finances. I realized that if I got a bike that was my size now, I'd grow out of it by next year and may even have to give it to one of my little sisters (like my favorite red dress...long story). I knew that if I got too big, I might have to ask for another bike for my 12th birthday. My 11-year old
So at 11 years old, I became The Budgetnista and made my very first, purposeful, conscious money choice. I financially forecasted (made a financial choice now, based on predicted, future events a.k.a. my inevitable growth), and I decided instead of my dream bike, that I'd get a larger bike I could grow into... and boy did I.
The bike that I asked my dad to purchase was big, blue and masculine. It was the exact opposite of the original bike I wanted. The bike was so non-11yr-old-girl, that even my father asked if I was sure. I was. Although my bike gave some of the other kids at school, yet another thing to tease me about (add that to my hair and skeletal frame), I was proud of myself for making a choice that I felt made better long-term, financial sense. Can you tell I was a Budgetnista-in-the-making?
[My actual Blue Birthday Bike. Yup, I still have it!]
At the time, I didn't realize what an important role that my bike would play in my life. I also didn't realize that my Blue Birthday Bike would be the only bike I'd ever get. Because I got the bike so big, I was able to ride it:
- in middle school
- in high school
- to all of my jobs as a teen (beginning at age 14, I worked everywhere from the community center, library & different retail stores)
- to lose the 15lbs I gained as a freshman after my first year in college (ok, more like 20)
- for fun with my sisters until I moved out of my
parentshouse at age 23
Even though I no longer ride my bike, my Dad now rides this bike for exercise. I got the bike when I was 11, I'm now over 30.... 20+ years later and my Blue Birthday Bike is still being used!
I'm sharing my Bike Story with you to show just how AWESOME my dad is and to illustrate that there is no such thing as a small financial choice. If I can make a decision at 11, that is still relevant today, how much more of an impact are your current, financial choices
Sometimes when faced with the choice of frugal vs. fashionable, we have to have the courage to choose the Blue Bike.
[My awesome Dad, my awesome bike and me.]
Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche is quickly becoming America's favorite, personal financial educator and is often referred to as "The Black Suze Orman" . The Budgetnista is
Tiffany is the bestselling author of the books, The One Week Budget and Live Richer Challenge (#1 Amazon / budgeting), and she and her financial advice have been featured