THE BLOG
10/26/2012 09:19 am ET Updated Dec 26, 2012

What I Learned From Losing Everything

Teenagers and fiscal responsibility should never be used together in the same sentence, unless that sentence is describing how our adolescents are the epitome of fiscal responsibility depletion. In that case, the combo is appropriate.

Even though I too am an emerging teen, I have discovered the value of financial education. No, I wasn't at a bank, or a college financial aid session -- this realization surfaced in a sea of destruction.

When I was a child, my house burnt down to the ground. What was once a home was transformed into ashes, scattered steel, and broken bricks, and what was once a comfortable-five year-old child was now a homeless child. In the most literal sense, everything went up in flames. I lost all my material possessions. But I found an understanding of the power of knowledge, especially in the financial field.

I was raised by a single mother who had no background in finances. After the fire, our recovery became dependent on the scraps of financial education she had. Things appeared grim -- it was as if our future had crumbled with our walls. But once we accessed adequate financial information, an innocuous light kindled -- we discovered that if we properly invested our remaining resources, we could rebuild not only our home, but our lives. Education regarding reassessing funds nurtured the phoenix that became my existence. Today I am writing this in a new home; one that I think is even nicer than the only one I believed I could love.

Even 12 years later, there's still smoke dancing in the air. It is the lingering lesson. We were lucky, almost too fortuitous. The fact that we were able to gather proper education in those circumstances was a miracle -- and if those things happened often, I don't think they would fit their title. In times of desperation, the necessity for financial education is obvious, but we should never have to wait until our surroundings crumble to pursue a strong understanding of finances. We install smoke alarms, drag along first-aid kits, but the preparation that is most essential to the survival of our world is a financial education. Those material necessities offer relief, but only the power of a financial education can provide recovery. Please do yourself and your family a service -- invest in your ability to invest! Your mind is your greatest asset; only knowledge can enrich it.

After I finish writing this post, I have tons of options. I can study for my AP Microeconomics quiz or loiter in the chambers of my teenage mind until the daybreak. We've been learning about opportunity costs, and I think once again financial education has an application in my tangible life. Endless fiscal knowledge is available to you; I promise there will be no comparative advantage if you squander it.

I have experienced two fires -- one took my home, the other fueled my heart. Financial education is my internal flame of security, and nothing can extinguish it.
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