Not living within your means can result in BIG debt issues[/caption] Hello Friends, this is the first in a series of posts titled lessons from past mistakes. In this series I reflect back on my past mistakes that lead to me to me going thousands of dollars into debt. I got the idea from my friend Eva over at the Wise Before 25 blog. I hope these stories can serve as a entertaining example of what not to do. Our first story is about how I got fired from my job, and racked up my first credit card bill because I was careless with my spending. One of my first jobs after graduating High School was a waiter at my local Denny’s. It was best jobs an 18 year old boy could ask for; close to my house, flexible hours, and I get tips! I got the job through a friend who recently became manager and needed to back fill her position. Not wanting to disappoint my friend, and the lure of making lots of money motivated me to learn quick. As part of leaning how to be a great server I gained a number of important life skills such as multitasking, the importance of great customer service, and how to network. Before I knew it I was one of the top servers, and was bringing in over $800 a week in tips! This was more money than I have ever made, and I felt like a mini baller. Since I was only 18, and still lived at home with my parents I had no real expenses, so instead of saving money I blew it all away on good times and cool stuff. I also had my first credit card that I would frequently max out. Since I was able to make a large sum of money in a short period of time I had no problem paying off my card every month. Now back at work I was growing my network of customers which resulted in more tips, which lead to more irresponsible spending. As a way to reward my loyal customers I would often give them free salads, beverages, or desserts as my way of saying thanks. All of this was against company policy because I didn’t get approval, but I had seen other waiters do it and assumed it was ok. In short order I became more senior, and was granted access to the manager’s code… This is where our story stars going downhill, and I started acting like Jim Sturgess character in the movie 21 when he let his success get the best of him. I started giving discounts and voiding items off of checks, all to make people happy and get more tips. I thought I was hot shit, and basically unstoppable. Well as the title suggests what goes up must come down, and one day my friend who was the manager on duty was doing table audits and noticed that a bunch of my tables had items that were not rung up, along with discounts that she didn’t authorize. When questioned about it, I didn’t deny any of it; as my friend I figured she’d understand and have my back. This put her in tough spot, and I ended up getting suspended and later fired. She felt so bad to have to it, but I broke the rules. I went through all the emotions from anger, to ashamed, to sad, and finally ended on scared. Reality came crashing down, and shit got real. Now I was out of a job, and had an outstanding credit card bill. I needed to get another job quick. I was scared to to apply for another waiter job because I thought they would follow-up with my previous job and find out that I was fired. It didn’t take long to get back on my feet, however my next job didn’t pay nearly as much to cover the lifestyle I was used to. This is where Grownup Gary would have adjusted his lifestyle to live within his means, so he can pay down his credit card debt. Unfortunately Young Gary wasn’t that smart, stayed his current course, which resulted in even more debt. Does this story hit home, or sound like someone you know? When you let your emotions get the best of you, you can end up doing some reckless things. This is why it’s important to have a budget, and practice controlled spending. I hope you enjoyed the Adventures of Young Gary. Feel free to let me know what you thought by shooting me an email. Be sure to subscribe to my mailing list to receive future editions of posts like this and other exclusive content from Breakthrough Cocktail.]]>