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Day 28 – Money Post

Oprah on Money

Does this sound familiar to you?

“I thought that by <insert age here> life would look a certain way, I thought things would be easy and fun all day everyday, I thought I would have a <insert $ amount here> in my bank account and a super awesome life.”

I used to think this way. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself and felt things were supposed to be something they were not, and therefore I was a failure.  I no longer feel that way.  I have learned to live from a place of abundance, rather than a place of scarcity.  It has not been easy.  It is not easy.

Growing up I never really got money – I just knew I wanted/needed lots of it.  My mom tells a story of a time when I was very young – I wanted something and was not able to get it.  “I don’t have enough money” she said to me.  My response… “go to the wall and get some more.”  I had no idea how that whole thing worked and truth is I still don’t have it all figured out.  My parents tried their best to teach me about money – allowances, lectures, bank accounts etc.  I just didn’t get it.  They seemed to have a lot of it and I wanted a lot of things… so I did whatever I could to make that happen.

In the back of my mind I always imagined that I would graduate college, start an awesome career and have it all just like they did.  I didn’t get how hard they worked for it, how good they were with budgeting, how it was a lot of work and a lot less play.  I just didn’t get it.  In the moment it didn’t matter how much I spent, how much debt I accrued etc. because that day would come and all would be right with the world.   Yea…it didn’t work out that way.

There are some things I wish someone would have told me…maybe they did and I was just not listening, I don’t know.  But hopefully someone else can hear it and not have to go through the same plight I did.

So here are some lessons learned:

  • Money does not come easily – you have to work for it and that work often sucks at the beginning.  Once you get past that part, things get easier and maybe even fun…but you have to stick with it through the “I hate this shit” moments.
  • A salary does not come in a lump sum that you can spend at one time and then somehow continue to have money to pay your bills.  It is spread throughout a WHOLE year.  That’s why they call it a yearly salary.  What sounds like a lot, in reality is NOT.  It will go quickly and you better know where it’s going before it’s gone.  Also, a huge chunk of it will never hit your bank account – there are taxes on that shit!
  • Years from now people won’t remember you by what you wore/had, they will remember how you made them feel.  Make them feel good, and you will feel good.  Don’t rely on external sources for that – it will never last.
  • If you can move in with your parents to save money, do it. A lifetime of freedom with money in your bank account is worth more than a couple of years living with friends having fun.
  • When you look back, you won’t remember the stuff you bought, you’ll remember the times you spent surrounded by good people, the things you did for others and the time spent with family.  Make time to make memories.  Spending all of your waking hours working to pay for that new bag/car/shoes you want…not worth it.
  • Life is full of everlasting bills – there’s rent, car, insurance, phone, electric, gas (you get the idea) all of that money needs to exist every month on a certain date or you will go into debt which is a vicious cycle.  Just because you paid your bills this month doesn’t mean you should reward yourself with a whole new wardrobe – if you can’t afford it don’t buy it.
  • Credit cards are not monopoly money.  If you buy things with them, that is real money.  You will owe that money back and then some.  There is interest on that.  Duh, how do you think credit card companies stay in business?
  • If you use all of your cash to pay your credit card bill – you now have no cash.  How are you going to pay for that sandwich?  Oh, with your credit card?  Yea that’s a great idea.  Debt forever.
  • If you find yourself in debt – sit down with someone you trust, bust out a calculator do some math and set up a plan.  Then stick to it.  There will always be things that come up so make sure you set money aside for those crappy moments when you get a flat, your phone falls in the toilet etc..
  • Your rent + your bills = your monthly expenses add those up + an extra $100 for incidentals that is the minimum you can make a month if you are willing to starve/not have a life.  Oh wait you want to eat? Picky, picky.  Triple that amount (rent + bills + $100) x 3 = total income – that’s what you need to bring in each month to survive.
  • As Bill Clinton said – it is simple arithmetic.  1+1 = 2.  Not $2,000.  Live within your means and your means will live up to your needs.
  • Sick of surviving, want to start living? Either make more, or spend less.  The choice is always up to you.
  • Money doesn’t make us miserable – we make ourselves miserable by how we relate with it.
  • If we focus on what we don’t have we get more don’t.  If we focus on what we do have, and we aren’t afraid to live it and share it, then we get more of it.
  • Scarcity or abundance is always up to us.
  • If you’re struggling – talk about it.  Everyone is so tight lipped about money like it’s some secret.  It isn’t a secret.  It is sustenance.  If you aren’t sustaining you need some help, I know I do.  Let’s get real people.

Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have. – Oprah Winfrey

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