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Annie Shoen, Mom, Entrepreneur, co-Founder, My First Nest Egg

by Team Sammy

Annie, Entrepreneur, co-Founder, My First Nest Egg

We are pleased to have Annie Shoen share with us one of her “First” childhood money memories.

Welcome and thank you Annie!

About Annie Shoen

Annie is a mother of four, an entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of My First Nest Egg and a former State Prosecutor!

She is passionate about giving kids the tools they need to help them become good financial decision makers as they grow-up. 

Discover more about Annie at:

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The $500 Mistake

One of six kids, I grew up in a small logging town in Eastern Washington. My dad was a teacher and my mom an occasional substitute. Money was always tight, but we lived by the woods, there was a local swimming pool, and there were always kids riding bikes or shooting hoops on the block.

Looking back, I suspect everyone in that depressed timber town had a similar story, but at the time we seemed like the most cash-strapped family I knew.

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Fortunately, my parents had been hippies in the 60’s; they knew how to barter and build relationships to keep us afloat. I got my hair cut at the local salon in exchange for my mom making lunches for the owner.

One day a pony showed up tied to a tree in our yard. Apparently my parents had traded him to a local electrician ten years prior, and the electrician decided to give him back. So then we had a pony.

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Like a lot of kids who grow-up in small, depressed towns, I had serious, albeit vague, goals in life: get out, make something of myself, and never go back.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a happy childhood, but I saw my parents struggle and I knew we didn’t have things other kids had (but we did have a pony).

In furtherance of these lofty goals, I became a serious contender at the game of Life. The boardgame. Not the real deal. I learned most of my financial lessons spinning that wheel. I was absolutely positive that I just needed to be a lawyer and put some pink and blue pegs in my car and I’d be fine. I liked to argue with my parents, watch Perry Mason reruns and babysit other people’s kids. I was a shoe-in for law, parenthood and Millionaire Estates. 

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Ironically, the one crucial lesson that really would have helped me early on in the real game of life, utterly escaped me: don’t get a “promissory note” - or, in the real world, a high interest credit card.

But something magical happens when you start college – especially if you have a job. All of the sudden companies want to give you money. For free. Embedded in little plastic cards which are so easy to swipe, a child could do it.

And so, eschewing the vital lesson from my favorite childhood game, I found myself with my very first credit card. I knew exactly what to do with that card – take it for a test drive at the local mall. I got lucky – my limit was only $1000, but I spent every last cent, mostly on clothes I absolutely did not need, including a svelte black high neck sweater. 

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That $1000 debt was psychologically crushing to my young mind. Every time I wore something I purchased with the credit card it felt heavy, like the weight of ill gotten goods I hadn’t earned. The sweater was particularly difficult to wear - the guilt combined with the high, wooly neck joined forces to ensure it itched every time I put it on.

Every month I paid the minimum on the credit card and the balance refused to budge. It was a depressing cycle I didn’t know how to fix.

My biggest goal was to get out of dodge, and yet here I was making the mistake that catapults so many unsuspecting victims right back to their parents’ small town basements. 

Eventually I paid off that card and my itchy sweater the most painful way possible - minimum payment by minimum payment.

By the time the saga was over, that $50 Gap purchase probably cost closer to $500. To add insult to injury, it had even gone out of style before I paid it off. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but strong medicine to help prevent more significant mistakes once I did become a lawyer and the card offers got bigger, and the sweaters more expensive.

Sometimes an expensive mistake and an itchy sweater can teach important lessons in the game of Life.

Thank you Annie!!!

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