by Tonya Brantley
August 24, 2009 marked my two year anniversary working at The People News. A lot has happened to yours truly since the beginning of my journey into the unknown world of journalism. I remember how excited I was to have a picture that I had taken of a birdhouse printed on the front page of The People News' September 2007 issue. I'll always remember that same month going to Gatlinburg, TN to cover the Bradley County Commission meeting and retreat. I'll never forget researching the Bradley County Sheriff's Office fleet records for over a week to justify Sheriff Tim Gobble's budget request for 33 new vehicles. Who knew I had what it takes to be an investigative reporter?
Since working for this publication, I have become more aware of what goes on in our city and county government by attending meetings, whereas before, I honestly didn't have a clue. I have learned the art of advertisement sales and how to edit this newspaper.
By opening the window a little bit into my personal life, I have been able to gain strength through the more difficult issues I've faced by writing about my divorce and the loss of my loved ones.
Through my writing, I have been able to share my personal life markers (life changing events) with my readers with the help of this Tonya's Tales column. I have connected with distant relatives by sharing stories of my family history and encouraged others to start researching their family lineage. By writing about my great grandfathers, I have made new and everlasting connections with family members I've never known after they've read my articles while searching online for family members neither of us knew we had in common. I've also solved several mysteries within my own family research with the help of this column and for that, I am truly grateful.
As I look back at my first two years at The People News, I am proud of my accomplishments and I'm looking forward to many new experiences.
Recently, I added another significant life marker to my list. I acquired a savings account for the first time in over a decade. It may not seem like such a big deal to many, but for me, it is a second chance to build a nest egg of my own.
You see, like many Americans, I have struggled to get ahead financially for what seems like forever. It hasn't always been that way. When I was younger, I had a checking and savings account, very little debt, a good credit rating and I always paid my bills on time. I was responsible with how I spent my hard-earned money. After I got married, that all changed. He was irresponsible with money and had a bad credit history. We would use my good credit to get more and before I knew it, the bills piled up, my good credit rating was gone, I was left with a mountain of debt in my name and I was living paycheck to paycheck without any savings.
To be honest, I still don't know what my credit score is. Though apparently, it is still bad enough to prevent many banks from allowing me to open a simple savings account. Bad credit check = No savings account. Now... this didn't make any sense to me then and it still doesn't make any sense to me now, but I suppose rules are rules. All I wanted was to have a secure place to keep and save my money without the worry of losing it or keeping it on me everywhere I went. I didn't want a checking account or any type of ATM or debit card, just a savings account. With a little help from two very special people in my life and an understanding bank manager willing to give me a chance, I was able to open an account and take that first step towards a more secure financial future. It is such a wonderful feeling to have that opportunity.
Since my divorce a year ago, I have been trying very hard to stick to a new budget, pay my bills, and put aside a little money for my nest egg. The way I look at it, even if I just start off by putting aside ten to twenty dollars a week in savings without taking any out, after a year that amounts to $520 to over a thousand dollars, which would be more than I had saved when I started. With my new ability to save money securely, I have the peace of mind in knowing that in case I may need it for an emergency, it will be there.
We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present. -unknown