Money. The power behind this word is remarkable. Everything that happens in the world all comes back to money, and that is bizarre to think about. Everyone’s lives are controlled by how much money they have. For example, it determines if you can make that trip to Europe, afford an apartment, or replace your worn-down clothing. People make their business decisions — legal and illegal — based on the profitability. Some people even choose their college major and career based on how much they will earn. Hell, it even determines if people eat for the first time in days.
I have become more conscientious about finance and my own spending since kick-starting my career in Finacial Marketing. This all started a few months back after I landed my first big-boy job; moved into my own place; and started getting a steady income, as well as bills to pay. I began by comparing my bills, student loans payments, food budget, and miscellaneous purchases to my income. The plan was simple: Ensure I had more money coming in than going out. Luckily, and thankfully, I understand budgeting to the degree that my income trumps my spending.
A quick little background on me as to why finance is something I am interested in, why I am writing about it right now, and why I started a career in the financial sector. I was unfortunate — but also fortunate — enough to not come from money. My family and I had financial issues, but we managed to make ends meet. I even began my first job at 12 years old so I could help in any way to pay for food, bills, gas, etc. I didn’t get the luxuries other kids my age were getting. We never went on vacation or got most of what we wanted. But, we had a roof over our heads, food in our kitchen, and a healthy amount of love for one another. We were not rich in wealth, but we were rich in other ways. (The fact we even own a home, cars, clothes, and food does make us more wealthy than half the world, I know.)
Now, don’t confuse the above paragraph with me complaining about how I was raised. I am beyond thankful growing up with just enough money to survive because it forced me to develop an impeccable work ethic, allowed me to value other things beyond money, and showed me how to be wise with my wealth so that I could live comfortably. My experience without money allows me to appreciate my current life with (some) money.
And, this leads me to what this blog is about. People don’t recognize they are developing or have bad spending habits that will cripple them in the long-run. All too often I hear people mention how they have no money to even buy groceries or a snack from the convenient store. How they are living paycheck to paycheck, praying they make it through the month. And, it saddens me because I know they’re not truly living or experiencing life to the fullest. They’re forced to allow their financial situation to control their lives.
No one should live a life in which the lack of money forces them to make sacrifices… no matter how big or small the sacrifice is. Money should be part of our lives and used to enhance it, not ruin it. Now, hold up, before I go any further, I just want to say that I am no money guru who has it all figured out. I don’t have a degree in finance or some crazy knowledge of money management. However, I think I have a solid grasp on my finances and am consciousness and aware of my spending, which allowed me to create a strong financial foundation at 22. I have a solid saving, can and am making all my bill payments, already have my 401(k) started, and have enough left over to splurge time and again. I would say I am financially stable. Also, I want to state that I am not bashing or shaming others who are struggling financially. Life is tough and money will be slim at times. We all have been or will be there.
The whole intent behind this post, as all-over-the-place it seems right now, is to get you to think about your financial situation, as well as to contemplate if there are things you can do differently to improve your financial stability. For those who are well-off and flourishing financially, I tip my hat to you. But, you can still be part of the conversation. You can shed some light on the topic and perhaps offer your own advice to those who need it. Because, even if no one will admit it, people would love the advice. I know I am ALL ears to ways in which I can improve my situation further than it is, even though I would say I am doing a good job currently. There are others who are older, wiser, and more financially experienced than me that could offer guidance.
Which leads to my closing. I want to offer my own advice to those who need it. While they are simple, they make an impact and can really help steer you in the right direction. My first piece of advice: Budget like no other. All my financial successes and stability are because I budget. A few weeks ago I downloaded this nifty app called Mint. Mint is a free budgeting app which allows you to link your bank account(s), utilities, and other services so that they are all in the same place. It will show you your spending week by week; let you know when you have an upcoming payment/deposit and how much that’ll be; notify you when you are over-budget on food, gas, going out to eat, clothing, etc.; and much more. It is such a valuable asset I think everyone should utilize. There are many other apps out there, but I personally like Mint.
Another piece of advice I have is to follow the 30-Day Rule. This rule is simple and allows you to combat impulse spending. Whenever you feel the urge to make a purchase (not including necessities like food, gas, toiletries) avoid making the purchase for 30 days. This allows you to sit with the thought of purchasing it, which lets you think about why you want it, if you need it, what are the pros and cons of getting it. Is this something you actually want or just an impulse buy? After 30 days of thinking about it, you make the decision. If you still want it and can afford it, get it. But, odds are you don’t want it anymore. You can read the full-flesh explanation about this rule here. It really is something to try. It has helped me save SO much money, especially when I go into Target or TJ Maxx. Nine out of 10 times, I don’t want the item.
The final piece of advice: be open to criticism, knowledge, and growth. Like I mentioned earlier, there are SO many others who have a better grasp on this subject than me, and I always listen to their advice or criticism with full ears. Yes, my initial reaction may be to get defensive. “Oh, this is BS. They don’t know what they are talking about” becomes “Well, they had an excellent point” real quick. Also, I absorb as much as I can on finance. Whether it is a book, an article, or even a TV show, I suck it all in and allow it to digest. Every little thing helps me grow my financial wisdom and understanding. And, just for funsies, here are three finance books I plan to read: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsay, I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and Unshakable by Tony Robins. These are books that helped a YouTuber/photographer/podcaster I follow to pay off his $97,000 student loans in four years. Check out his video here. In all, I know I have much to learn and kinks in the armor to fix. I will get there with constant guidance and criticism and growth.
In the words of Robert J. Shiller, “Finance is not merely about making money. It’s about achieving our deep goals and protecting the fruits of our labor. It’s about stewardship and, therefore, about achieving the good society.”