Former North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's path to the Capitol wasn't paved in gold.
In fact, Heitkamp said growing up in rural North Dakota, her family faced many financial challenges.
"We talked about money all the time and how there wasn't enough of it," she told CNBC.
She said the first thing she ever paid for on her own was probably a school lunch. "We shared that family responsibility for a budget."
Cameron Costa | CNBC Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
She credits the lessons she learned early on for the financial stability she enjoys today, and she advises others to take a similar approach to spending and saving.
"Start early," she said. "It is so critically important that we get more people to invest in their future very early on," Heitkamp added. "It's the whole theory of compound interest. It's the greatest gift that you can give yourself."
Perhaps not surprising, her favorite quote is from Albert Einstein regarding compound interest:
"Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn't, pays it." -Albert Einstein
Heitkamp, a CNBC contributor, represented North Dakota for six years in the U.S. Senate.
Don't miss Power Lunch on Monday, Feb. 11 @ 2:30 PM Eastern , as Sen. Heitkamp discusses the savings crisis facing America.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.