I know, I know who wants to deal with that mess? Between student loans, rent that is high AF, skyrocketing house prices, credit card interest (why is it so HIGH?!) and just life in general…it can feel like way too much. You may also have the demands of OTHER people on your money. I don’t just mean the Mr. Electricity Bill , Ms. Cell Phone Statement and Mx. Amazon.
Only about 33% of the WORLD is financially literate. Learn for yourself and then teach others!
I am talking about the friends and family that mooch. They need or want your money, they may feel you owe it to them to share the money, they may have no concern to when or if they will pay you back and couldn’t care less that you don’t have a fully funded emergency savings.
Let’s talk about it a bit. They say that the vast majority of Americans cannot afford a $1,000 emergency w/o delving into the depths of credit cards. But, the credit card interest is so high that if you cannot afford to pay the bill at the end of the cycle, you may have anywhere between 9-23% tacked on to the bill. If you fall into the group that cannot survive w/o dipping into credit, it is time to reevaluate.
Let me acknowledge that you cannot budget your way out of abject poverty. To insinuate that you can is an insult. However, taking time to reevaluate, may still prove beneficial. Sit down and review your spending. Look at your spending and see if there is anything amiss. I had TWO subscriptions that I didn’t know about. TWO! TWO!! Those darn things were costing me $31 a month combined. I don’t know when it started, but I do know when it ended.
You MUST face it to fix it. The Head-in-The-Sand-Method will not serve you here or anywhere. You can choose to use various methods of tracking. Personally, I’ve tried two different tracking apps and both of them SUCKED, so I have no recommendations to offer. If you have one you like, feel free to drop a line on a recommendation for a tracking app. If digital trackers are not your forte, you can consider the Japanese money management system called Kakeibo. It is essentially mindful money management, and you are handwriting your goals with every purchase in a small journal and re-writing in a larger ledger once you are home. The written word is powerful, so I can see why it would function well. You can also consider using Excel’s Personal Monthly Budget.
Anyway, once you have your budget set… you start trying to figure out WHY. You already know a small portion of your why. You knew when you started this process (or even clicked on this blog) because something felt off in your finance world and you were sick of over drafting on your bank account (banks charging poor people for being poor…and those fees add up). But, we need a bigger WHY because this is going to get really annoying and potentially frustrating at points. Don’t believe me? Create a budget that doesn’t include entertainment and then chat with me in six months. You will be a Lil Crank Crank. You need something to remind yourself that this ambitious goal for your future self and family is worth the effort.
I am not a finance expert, but I play one on TV. Not really, but that would be fantastic. Anyway, my favorite book regarding finances is The Richest Man in Babylon. It is short, clear and simple and told as short stories. Now, some may not like the dialect its written, but I don’t mind it at all. If you only start with one book…let that be the one.
In the book the author lists principles of building wealth and preparing for the future. One principal that discusses a topic I mentioned earlier…Moochie friends and family comes into play. Lending money is risky business across the board. Lending and borrowing can be a dangerous scenario with the wrong parties involved. You may not get your money back. $20, $300 or $4,000…maybe even more may be asked of you. Can you risk losing this money? Will it ruin your friendship if it doesn’t come back OR if it comes back late? If they do not pay you back, can you continue life without having to borrow? Reflect honestly and thoroughly on these questions…and also consider this one…what is the sustainability plan?
Moochie just asked for $300 and you know you will need that money in one month…maybe lending it isn’t the best idea. Because Moochie could be a scoundrel with no intention of paying you back. Moochie could be robbed or have their identity stolen. Moochie can have EVERY intention of paying you back and then fall on hard times. Will YOU be okay not having the money you lent and never get it back? Or, get it back six months after the original agreement?
So, you may be curious to how all of this is self care. You may also wonder how this is boundary setting. It is boundary setting because it will allow you to examine where you are at right now. If you know that you need to build an emergency savings (3-6 months of necessary expenses), then you need to let that be your focus. Moochie may genuinely need the money, but are you going to survive if you don’t have access to that cash? You cannot predict emergencies (though, that would make life easier) Is there another way to support your loved one that doesn’t potentially place you in a precarious position?
You may have a variety of reasons to join me and consider the self care and boundaries that are encompassed in increasing financial literacy, but as I mentioned before, you will need to figure out your full WHY you are doing this for the times where it feels a bit more difficult. Black Friday, Cyber Monday or days where impulse spending throbs through your veins.
So…what is your why? Is it a big, sexy, lofty goal like being able to retire your parents, spouse or yourself years ahead of expectation? Is it a grounded, level goal like being debt free? Is it somewhere in the middle with two yearly abroad vacations? Whatever it is…make it strong. Picture it. Feel it. Believe you can do it. Read books, listen to podcasts, read stories of people in similar situations that have fought their way out. Remember your why and then press on.
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