I moved to New York City for college when I was 18 and I’ve lived here ever since. As you can imagine, it’s not the cheapest city to call home, and if you’re a shopaholic on a student’s salary like I was, it can be a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, after making many mistakes, I learned to master my money by doing these things.
I changed my mindset. I realized that I’d failed to develop smart financial habits because deep down, I didn’t believe I could. I always thought that making more money was the answer to my problems, but as I started earning more, I realized that my money problems weren’t actually going away. I chose to start getting smart about my finances and that’s when I finally started to make steps towards doing so.
I sought help from my BFF. I used to avoid opening my bills, calling my credit card company, or looking at my bank account balance. I knew I needed to confront these issues but I was too overwhelmed and scared to face them alone, so I asked my best friend to come over and help me create a budget over a bottle of wine. Once I faced my fears, I realized the situation wasn’t as hopeless or scary as I originally thought.
I re-learned some crucial budgeting lessons. In college, I lived off my student loans and a $10/hour salary and I was making financial decisions that would bring an accountant to his knees. After college, I decided I needed to get real with myself and re-learn some crucial financial lessons. I started looking at my money like a college class; I knew that I could become a master in the subject if I studied hard enough. I bought books and took courses, read blogs, and even listened to personal finance podcasts. Once I took it seriously and started applying everything I was learning, I gained momentum from little wins like seeing my credit score go up and I had more confidence that I could become debt-free.
I prioritized my spending. I’ve always believed I can create the life of my wildest dreams and have everything I want. Most of the time, this requires sacrificing the little stuff for the bigger picture. Instead of seeing spending as money that leaves my account and never returns, I’ve started viewing it as an investment into my goals. I wrote down all the things I want that require money and numbered them in order of importance. I always invest money in the things at the top of the list first, and I soon realize I’m fine without the stuff at the bottom.
I took good advice. There are certain bits of financial advice that are repeated frequently because they make good sense. Spending less than you make and living below your means are two of the most popular, and for good reason. When I got over my pride and started testing out these theories, I found that these were not only true, they were essential to being financially successful.
I stopped being a victim of my circumstances. I used to blame my circumstances for the fact that I was living paycheck to paycheck. I’d complain that I wasn’t making enough money, that my parents weren’t supporting me financially, or that no one had ever taught me how to manage my cash. They were all excuses. I stopped being a victim and started taking control of my finances and I feel more empowered because of it.
I automated the necessities. Your time is a valuable asset. If you use it efficiently, you can make more money, save more money, and enjoy a life filled with more of what makes you happy. I looked at everything I buy on a weekly or monthly basis and checked websites like Amazon or FreshDirect to set up an automatic-delivery order. The same is true for bills—automatic payments are a godsend. Now I have so much more time to do better things.
I established multiple streams of income. I always have at least three big ideas or projects happening at once. I find that having multiple hustles and creative outlets going on at the same time keeps me inspired and excited about life. Even if you don’t have a side hustle or you’re still trying to figure out what to do with your life, there are lots of ways you can diversify your income portfolio. There are countless ways to get that money flowing in, and I try to take advantage of as many of them as possible.
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