The Money Mentor: Where I Started

This is Part 2 of the series to serialize my book The Money Mentor: A Tale of Finding Financial Freedom. Click here to start reading from Part 1. Every other week will have another segment of the story of how a 23-year-old dancer struggles with and ultimately overcomes the burdens of her crushing financial debt. Look for posts on a variety of topics in the intervening weeks.

When you look at me, you see a young woman of twenty-three with a silver ring through the left nostril of my nose, my dark hair cropped short with highlights of blonde, and my lipstick a dark maroon. I have sparkling brown eyes, a dancer’s figure nearly five foot six, and a blend of features that leaves my origins a mystery. I might come from Bali or Peru, Nepal or Turkey, or almost anywhere in the world where people have darker skins. My adoptive parents, James and Mary Cassidy, had been over fifty when an agency found me for them—I was only a few months old. For whatever reason, they resisted my inquiries about my origins. I only know that I came to the United States from another country where my birth parents, for reasons no one ever explained to me, gave me up for adoption.

Jim and Mary had been childless, and they certainly had love to share with me, but they died in their late sixties and left me alone in the world. While growing up, I had been accustomed to their middleclass lifestyle and earned a college degree, but they never taught me anything about money. Nor did managing money seem to be the subject of any of my high-school or college courses. Of course, I majored in dance and art, not finance or economics. When the lawyer figured out the value of my parents’ estate, there was hardly anything left. I suddenly realized that they had lived from paycheck to paycheck, both working, and even the value of our home had been reduced to nearly zero by a home-equity line of credit and a drop in real-estate prices.

After I graduated from college, I moved to the city and started auditioning for dance companies. I quickly realized that I would starve if I didn’t find some other work, particularly since I needed a lot more training in dance before I would be able to perform in any of the dance companies. So I worked as a waitress. It was easy work to find and didn’t require a lot of commitment. I even imagined that the rushing from table to table was choreography of a sort, and that the exercise would help me in my dance classes. I shared a small apartment with two other dancers my age, a strange experience of not enough closet space and lining up for the bathroom in the mornings. Since I had grown up without siblings, I didn’t know what to make of our situation, but I felt that I could endure anything if I could only dance.

The Money Mentor: A Tale of Finding Financial Freedom

If you don’t want to wait two weeks for the next post in this series, you can purchase The Money Mentor on Amazon.

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