One of the reasons I started Bravely was because when I say to people “I paid off over $25,000 in student loans on less than $30,000′ people look at me like I’m the second coming. I created drastic financial change in my life and people are fascinated.
People are amazed, and they want to know how I did it. As I walk them through my debt payoff tactics, the amazement fades and the tone of the conversation almost always shifts to ‘wow, I could never do what you did.’ It’s like I stop being a person and achieve some sort of personal finance god status right there in front of them.
A False Dichotomy
Now, as much as my ego loves when people think I’m amazing, let me be the first to say I am not perfect with money. I make financial mistakes and I’ll continue to for the rest of my life.
There are not people who are innately good with money and those who are innately bad with money. Like I’ve said before, being good with money is not coded into your DNA. Change, especially financial change, can be created or experienced at any moment.
Being able to make ‘good’ money decisions is a combination of privilege, luck, access and determination. If you are born into a poor family, you’re going to have a harder time accessing tools and information about money than someone born into a rich family. Your personal money narrative will affect your feelings and actions with money, which will affect your financial status.
People have different degrees of control over their finances and that should never be forgotten. In this bloggers opinion it should be shouted from the rooftops because money is not one size fits all!
No One is Perfect
Even as someone fully immersed in the personal finance world and highly cognizant of my money, my money narrative and options are totally different from someone making $100,000 a year. It’s different from someone who grew up in a household where money was openly discussed. It’s different from someone who works two minimum wage jobs.
We see other people’s lives (or Instagram highlight reels) and we compare ourselves to them. We grow up being affected by our parents financial decisions and watch their actions, and it becomes part of our money narrative. A million little things come together to form what feels like an ultimate money ‘truth’- I am either a person who is good with money or a person who is bad with money.
Honey boo: that ish ain’t set in stone. This narrative is not set for life, and shifts as our financial, professional, personal and emotional lives change. Two years ago I was in student loan debt. Today I am not. Three years ago I made less than $20,000 annually. This year I will more than double that.
What Is Real
What is the realest of the real are the money decisions we make each day. When I get on my bike, ride to the grocery store and buy 8 cupcakes from the bakery for $10, that is a conscious decision that I made. I chose to spend that money on something totally indulgent and consciously took part in each step along the way.
We have these moments throughout the day every day. Do I drive or carpool to work? Should I pick something to eat up on the way home? Do I knock the heat up a few notches, or the air conditioning down a little? We each have some opportunity to create financial change every day.
I will probably die with the sentence ‘little things add up to big changes’ on my lips, but it is true! And it’s true in many ways. Not only do small lifestyle and financial changes make a difference in your money, they make a difference in your attitude and your belief in yourself.
Your Role In Creating Financial Change
Exercising control over things makes you feel powerful. It gives you a little rush like ‘Oh shit yeah, I just did THAT.’
When you’re working within a ‘bad with money’ narrative, you can’t underestimate the importance of feeling powerful. It’s a financial change powerhouse. We’re talking “I was on the ropes but then at the last minute I saw my beloved’s face in the crowd and I ended up with the gold” kind of game changer.
Feeling good about your money is a step towards being good with money. Feeling in charge on your finances helps you make good decisions with money. When you feel caught in a vicious cycle of debt, or low income or overspending, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of ‘this is how things will always be. I am bad with money and can never change.’
But the truth is you can change that narrative a little every day! The truth also is, forces outside of you will change that narrative. Maybe you marry a billionaire. Maybe you get laid off. Nothing is static forever. That’s scary and wonderful, because it means that you will experience financial change throughout your life.
No one is perfect with money. There’s not one blogger, guru, or titan of business who is financially perfect. We are all working within a flawed system. We’re all making decisions every day that affect our finances.
If you want to stay up to date on all the fabulous money things I have to say and share, please join the Bravely community newsletter here!