Financial Puberty

It was 5th grade. I was a young ninja about to embark on an epic journey. A journey in to the unknown. A journey in to the land of cracking voices, armpit hair, and a world where girls towered over their male classmates. That’s right, it was a journey through puberty.

I was 10 years old. Sitting in sex education, with a bunch of 5th grade boys, when my teacher uttered a word I never thought I would hear him say. He said “Class, we are all a bunch of mature men right? Well being that we are all mature I’m going to say a word, and when I say that word I expect each of you to act like adults. Today, we are going to talk about a man’s penis.”

Whoa, hold the phone! Did my teacher really just say the P word!? Surely he didn’t mean to say that….did he? Turns out he did. Not only did he use the P word about a bajillion more times, but we also watched movies, read textbooks, and had discussions about a whole slew of things I knew nothing about…

“Wait, what? What happens to girls every month? Ewwwww.”

The whole idea of puberty, adjusting, and changing was brand spankin’ new to me and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been privy to any of this knowledge before. Fifth grade sex education was my wake up call to adulthood.

Well just like I had an “awakening” to the physical changes I would endure over the course of my life, I have also had a financial awakening. That’s right, I’m going through financial puberty right now and I’m proud to admit it.

All through high school and college I knew nothing about money, nor did I have a desire to learn about it. Sadly, I graduated college not even knowing how to transfer money from my savings account to my checking account. I was financially prepubescent.

But just like I went through sex education in 5th grade, my day of financial education also came. It was after a conversation with a good buddy of mine. He opened my eyes to the beauty of money management, the power of compound interest, and the importance of saving. I began financial puberty in late 2007.

I’m not fully developed just yet, but I am definitely on the right path. Just as puberty lasts a good ten years, I can’t expect to know everything there is about money in just a couple years. It is a continual process. One that I am excited about completing. Hopefully in another five or so years, I will be on the tale end of this financial puberty gig and can put my finances on autopilot and coast through life.

Do you remember going through sex education? How old/what grade were you in when you went through it? Did it make you giggle every time your teacher talked about genitalia (or was I the only one that was that immature)? When did you begin financial puberty? What caused it (a conversation? a book?)

p.s. Please forgive my crazy analogies. I’ve now compared puberty to finances, debt to unicorns, and checking accounts to wiping your butt. I have no idea where these ideas come from. I’m sorry.

13 thoughts on “Financial Puberty”

  1. 5th grade was puberty ed time for us. I had already hit puberty, so it was kind of useless to me. Although, I was surprised at how mature the class was during it.

    I hit financial puberty very early. My parents taught me about finances from the very beginning (I don't even remember a time when I didn't have an account at the local credit union). I was in charge of my savings and how much to put in from my allowance and holiday windfalls (within reason), got my first joint credit cart at 16 and paid it off every month, and got my first credit cart on my own at 18. Sometimes I wasn't the brightest with money (I got X amount of money a week, and if I spent it on comic books, then I didn't have enough money to buy lunch) but in the end I grew up to be pretty darn fiscally intelligent.

  2. Ninja, don't apologize. Your posts get most of us through the day! I think sex ed was in 6th grade for me. We talked about junk and left with a goody bag filled with candy and 1 Maxi Pad. Did I just gross you out by saying Maxi Pad??!

    Financial Puberty for me happened in 2006 for me. I had two jobs for the summer: a full-fledged internship and a PT gig as an Sbux barista. I actually managed to live on my Sbux salary and saved the other paycheck. Since then, I've never had two jobs, but living on about $130/wk and saving a paycheck that was nearly $500/wk (instead of the other way around), really taught me a lot about the value of saving. So, yes, my financial puberty was quick and painless. Of course, I later blew it all on tv and clothes…but you didn't ask about our reckless financial teens did you?

  3. I remember one "educated" girl in my 4th grade class would take us each seperately to the back of the classroom and inform us how babies were made. I was like "waat, eeew, boys are horrible".

    Financial pubery hit when I was 17 (almost 18) and i started working for a mortgage company. I was surprised that credit cards made such a huge impact on what rate an applicant got on their home. Also, the better the credit-the less fees we charged them. The loan officers were worried that those with good credit would move on to the next broker so they treated them well. Bad credit? Eh, they jacked up everything.

  4. I had sex ed in 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade. Oakland, CA public schools, what can I say? But the classic, CLASSIC moment was in 9th grade. I was in Catholic school (Christian Sex Education–isn't that abstinence??), and my teacher's name was, I kid you not, Mrs. Ho!! I don't care how many times you've taken it, you've never taken it until you've had Mrs. Ho teach it. And her husband was Dr. Ho! And he was a gynecologist!! Oh, it was too good. Around 3 days in a kid asked if we could call her Mrs. H, because he just couldn't say Ho any longer. I laugh still thinking about it :D.

    Financial puberty hit in college, around junior year. I was AWFUL with money, to the point where Citibank sued me for non-payment of the credit card, and I had to go through CCCS. So I've had around 10 years, so hopefully I'll be at the tail-end of puberty and into adulthood soon, at the ripe age of 30-31. Joyous.

  5. I remember us having this "talk" in 5th grade, too — boys in one room, girls in the other! Hilarious drawings, as always — made me giggle like the girl I am.

  6. lol….of all the things I'd rather forget…

    Well, in our school district sex ed started for girls in 3rd grade. I remember they kicked all the boys out (or maybe they went to PE?) and we started talking about what happens when puberty hits. It would've been quite traumatic….except that I swear my parents made me watch a sex ed special on TV when I was in first or 2nd grade, so I already knew the basics, including how babies were made. (I can't verify all this, but it makes sense, since my sister would've been in 5th or 6th grade).

    Financial puberty hit for me in my last few years of college. I mean, I always knew the basics and was pretty good with saving, but since I never had much money to work with I didn't start "developing" until later.

  7. I went to Catholic School. The only thing resembling sex ed was getting shown a very gross abortion video in 12th grade.

    This same priest used to picket with his 6 foot cross outside of the abortion clinic. The thing was, the clinic was in a 20 story building, which also happened to be where my dentist was. "No father, please stop threatening me with that cross..All I want is good oral hygiene. I swear, the only thing that will be aborted is plaque, not my unborn child."

  8. For us, I think it was fifth grade and sixth grade. I remember that afterward a bunch of the girls traded booklets with the boys so we could see what in the hell they were learning. And because it was taboo to do it. Mostly, though, we girls were just embarrassed by the whole thing. It was all just so earnest and the presentation was so cheesy. (We watched a film that actually used the star of Annie, then a teenager. Talk about weird!)

    Financial puberty, though, I don't think I can really account for. My mom taught me to be careful with money from an early age. When I first went to college, she made sure I had a credit card, but only one, so that I could build credit. Meanwhile, as needed, she'd transfer money from my home account to my college checking account. (It was in trust, so I couldn't touch it without them. I highly recommend this approach to parents!) I went a little crazy being able to finally spend at first. To me, of course, "a little crazy" meant that i spent about $300 on various things. Then freaked out a bit at the cost of the splurge and cut back.

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