My early twenties were rough. I was in financial turmoil which made its way into every other aspect of my life: my mental health, my social life, my goals. Eventually, I decided I wanted to be in the driver’s seat of my life instead of my (lack of) money and I completely changed my relationship with it.
I changed the way I see myself. I realized that if I wanted to change my view on money, I needed to change the way I saw myself. I used to imagine myself as someone who was always broke, which was actually keeping me from changing my circumstances. I decided to stop seeing myself as someone who was never going to pay off my debt, never going to travel the world, and never being able to do all those things I wanted to do. I literally would look in the mirror and say to myself out loud, “You will pay off your debt and you will be able to do all the things you want to do.” Giving myself positive affirmations made me truly start to believe them and begin my path to financial stability.
I changed my views on money. I used to be terrified of logging into my mobile banking app and having all the credit card purchases staring at me right there in the face. Money was my enemy. Then I started to see with money as a tool, not something dragging me into debt or the reason for all my unhappiness. When I took the selfishness out of money and just saw it for what it is, I realized it was both a blessing and a responsibility. Now, I don’t fear money, I respect it.
I found extra sources of income. I try to always keep at least two or three streams of income at a time. I enjoy writing so I started to blog online for extra income. I’m good with science and math so I became a tutor and make hundreds of extra dollars a week. There are so many sources out there for young professionals to take advantage of and add a significant chunk to their savings accounts. Once I dedicated the time to find new ways to make cash, my whole life changed.
I learned the power of compound interest. Opening a savings account with a high-interest rate was one of the best moves I’ve made financially. Not only do a have a fund I can tap into for emergencies, but I’m also earning money through compound interest by literally doing nothing. When I was living paycheck to paycheck and spending all the money that was in my account, I was missing out on a whole stream of extra income. The same works for investing in stocks. I invested $5,000 with the help of a financial advisor. In 10 months, I had $6,200. I made $1,200 by doing literally nothing but not touching my money.
I waited to spend on things I truly wanted. You know what I did when the new iPhone came out? Put the money I would have spent on it into my savings account to have money for the traveling I want to do. This applies even to small things. All those magazines, candy bars, and Diet Cokes I kept picking up in the grocery store aisle add up. I now use my money like I mean it, like I respect it, and buy things that are essential to in the long term, not just in the moment. Once I mastered this, maximizing my savings for those things I really desired came easier than I ever imagined.
I invested in myself. When I decided I wanted to work in Eastern Africa, I knew there were a ton of other recent college graduates trying to work abroad and competing with me for the jobs I wanted. I wanted to set myself apart, so I purchased Swahili language classes and dedicated all my time to learning to speak the language well. Within a week of looking for a job in a competitive market, I had three companies begging to hire me. That would have never been the case had I not taken the time and money to learn a new language. Investing in ways that made me a more hireable professional upped my resume and increased my earning potential in ways I couldn’t have done by just hoping for a promotion in my current 9-5.
I got clear on where I was and made a plan. I used to be drowning in debt from my credit cards and overspending. When I made it my goal to use my money to travel, it didn’t seem possible. I decided to get real with myself and I made a plan to stop going to weekly happy hours, to stop spending so much on clothes, to rework my grocery budget, and get rid of my debt for good. Within a year, I was able to save enough to travel around to the places I most wanted to go and was able to make another plan to save for future travels. I realized all those crazy things I’ve been wanting to do don’t have to be so far-fetched. I made a plan on how I’m going to get there and dedicated every part of myself to believing I’m going to achieve it.
I went out and got it. I leveled up on the idea of what I thought was possible for myself. I didn’t have to keep living the same financially overwhelming life I was accustomed to just because anything else seemed unattainable. I told myself every day until it was ingrained in me that I can live a financially stable life, I can have a good relationship with money, and I will do it. I decided to take a leap of faith on myself and go get my damn life already.
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