What happens when you give a poor kid a credit card?

I was 18 years old when I got my first credit card. A company set up tables on our college campus and gave away free t-shirts to anyone who applied for a card. I’ve always loved a free…well, anything…so of course I applied. Within a week, a shiny new card arrived in my mailbox with a $500 limit. 

Of course, I didn’t register a “limit”…all I saw was FREE MONEY.

I was a poor kid from middle of nowhere Alabama, and at that point in my life $500 might as well have been $100,000. 

It was a fluke that I even ended up going to college–no one in my family did. I can’t remember what I thought I would do after graduating high school (maybe continue waitressing at JR’s Wings and Things?), but what I CAN tell you is that I went into utter shock when I got a letter in the mail offering me a full scholarship to my university.

My test scores apparently put me in a range where some schools were offering me money to come there before I even applied. Which was a good thing–because I didn’t know the first thing about applying to college!

And this, my friends, is how I accidentally ended up going to college AND how I ended up in major credit card debt before I hit the age of 21.

No one in my family talked about money, unless it was about not having any. My brother and I used to joke that our family motto is “Expect the worst, and don’t you dare hope for the best.”

The first part of my childhood was spent in a single wide trailer, then later in a small home on a piece of my grandparent’s land. We struggled, to say the least. 

I had no clue–ZERO idea–how to handle money, and this landed me in a world of trouble several times before I finally taught myself to manage money in responsible ways.

I not only completed that four-year degree, I went on to receive a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Once I moved away from Alabama and began working in the professional world, I dug myself out of the hole I was in through sheer will and a determination to learn as much as I possibly could about debt, savings and investing. I read every personal finance book I could get my hands on. 

And still, STILL, I made major mistakes. I was in a cycle of accruing debt, paying it off, and doing it all over again.

I could have read every personal finance book in the world, but until I dealt with my emotional spending, the psychology of money and the beliefs that were handed down to me from my own family of origin–I was doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m PASSIONATE about money, for one reason and one reason only–MONEY BUYS FREEDOM.

Money is just a tool–and like any tool, it can be used to build something sturdy and secure, or it can be used to destroy.

Having money–for me–isn’t about accumulating stuff, or taking big fancy trips. It’s about the freedom of CHOICE, the ability to make the most important decisions in my life based on my own best interests rather than fear and scarcity. And it’s about having the ability to be generous with others, taking care of my community. 

I’ve spent much of my adult life yo-yoing between extreme deprivation and reckless spending. I am so incredibly thankful that I did the work I did to find more balance in my financial life, to make money a useful tool that works FOR me and not AGAINST me.

If I can support you in creating a healthier relationship with money, it’s my favorite thing to so…so please reach out!


What’s love got to do with it?

Photo: Canva

Before there was Tina Turner, there was Anna Mae Bullock, a girl born to share-cropper parents in 1939. Her parents abandoned her and her sister at a young age, leaving them with their strict conservative grandmother.

Tina has shared many times that she never felt loved by her parents. It was with this difficult childhood history that she met and fell in love with Ike Turner, a talented and charismatic musician. She married him at the age of 22 and for years endured horrific physical, emotional and financial abuse. Their success in the music world belied the terror behind closed doors. 

When Tina finally left Ike, she did so with just 36 cents to her name. She worked any job she could find and lived in poverty, forced to start her music career all over again.

Tina performed whenever and wherever she could. Music was her passion, the one thing she loved that ever loved her back, the one thing that gave as much as it took. Though she struggled to get anyone to take her seriously without Ike by her side, she never gave up. 

And finally, in 1983, she signed with Capitol Records. 

Tina catapulted to a kind of fame she never had with Ike, had never dreamed of having before.  All those years of never giving up and following her passion had paid off.

Photo credit: Rob Verhorst

In 1985 Tina found real love with a man named Erwin Bach. They’ve been together for over three decades now. It seems no coincidence that finding love with a partner coincided with loving herself enough to save her own life.

Tina is quoted as saying “My legacy is that I stayed on course…from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”   

How beautiful is that?  She didn’t say “my legacy is my music” or “my legacy is my talent.” Her legacy is that she never deviated from what she loved the most, and she was able to do that because she believed in herself against all odds.

People could control her, abuse her, abandon her and manipulate her–but she would not allow them to destroy her belief in herself and her drive to pursue her passion.

This is what ultimately got her out of that horrific marriage and allowed her to become the woman and artist she knew she could be.

Passion is defined as ‘powerful and compelling emotion.’ It’s the kind of strong and sustained feeling that just can’t be ignored.

Passion doesn’t necessarily correlate with money, or fame, or a career. It can involve those things, sure…yet it often doesn’t.

You might be most passionate about raising your children, or volunteering with animals. Maybe you live for horse riding, and your day job–though enjoyable–is more about funding that passion than anything else.

Passion may not directly make you money (or maybe it does)–but what passion DOES give to us is inspiration, meaning and motivation. In that way, passion feeds all the parts of our lives, including our businesses. Passion makes the hard parts more tolerable and the good parts more joyful.

Take a minute and consider what you’re most passionate about. What lights you up? What brings you the most joy and satisfaction in your life? What is the one thing you would continue to do against any odds? 

If you’re here on this earth, with a capacity to think and feel and act, then you’re passionate about something.  Perhaps you’re struggling to know what it is, or how to put it into words.  But trust us, it’s there 🙂

What Does My 5 Year Old Have to Do With Stephen King?

My 5 year old daughter is at an incredible school and we feel so lucky–we literally won the lottery to get her in there. 

One of the things about her class and school that I’m especially loving right now is their focus on perseverance. 

Maybe this is most kids (I have no clue, since I only have the one), but Z has a tendency to give up right away if she doesn’t do it well the first time trying. I mean, where does she get that from?? It’s not like I’m a recovering perfectionist 👀 😬

Anyway, we have been watching this trait shift so much from being in this class: she’s gone from a child who avoids failure to a child who’s willing to try harder and more consistently. We’re watching her develop some frustration tolerance.

Last night I was watching her practice writing her letters on a whiteboard in her room, and I remembered this story from Stephen King’s memoir On Writing…

Before Stephen King made it in the writing world, he and his family had very little money. They lived in a trailer with their young children and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. King would work all day, come home and help take care of the kids, and then write well into the night.  At this point, he had already racked up numerous rejections–in fact, he received 60 rejections before he ever got his first short story published! 

King was working on a novel but had little hope that it would be published. At one point he threw the pages of the manuscript in the trash–luckily his wife Tabitha fished them out, read the pages and urged King to go on with the story.  She saw something in those pages and knew he needed to see it through.

And so in spite of his serious doubts (and his exhaustion!), King finished the novel and submitted it to Doubleday. 

One month later, Doubleday decided to purchase the novel. They had to send King a telegram because he couldn’t afford to keep up with the phone payment!

The advance amount wasn’t life changing–King kept his job–but it was enough to take a little pressure off financially. He hoped the paperback rights would sell for enough to quit his job and keep the household going for a few years, if they were very, very frugal.

When those paperback rights sold, they sold for $200,000–nearly 2 million dollars in today’s money 🤯

And that, my friends, is the story of Carrie, Stephen King’s first published novel. This novel set him up on the path to becoming a successful and wealthy novelist.  And all of this from some discarded pages in the trash can and a supportive partner who saw what he could not 🌟 

When I think about my daughter and this Stephen King story, two things stand out to me:

  1. Perseverance is a character trait that can be learned with willingness and practice.
    It’s one of the most crucial traits in long-term, SUSTAINABLE success. It’s not enough to believe in what you’re doing–you have to find a way to persevere when it feels like all you’re doing is running into obstacles.
  2. We need other people to believe in us when we’re struggling to believe in ourselves.
    We need honest feedback and support from people we trust if we’re going to make it to the next level. We don’t need cheerleaders or “yes” people–we need RADICAL honesty, we need to be challenged, AND we need the right kind of support!  

How do YOU deal with frustration and lack of motivation? How do you keep going when you’re exhausted and ready to quit?  And WHO in your life gives you that radical honesty and support?

Amy Worthy
COO and High Performance Business Coach