One of the most common struggles we face is managing our finances. I’ll be honest, I am addicted to managing our budget. I mean like I really, truly love it! I also really love adjusting it every few days or so and seeing how much we can put towards our debt and into our emergency fund each month. I know a lot of you will think I am crazy, but you would have to understand my relationship with money a few years ago. I let money completely control my life. I let how much I made tell me what to eat, where to go, how to spend my time, how to live. I used to be constantly worried about not having enough money, and never getting out of debt. If you’ve been there, trust me I get it.
I have felt like an absolute failure when it came to our financial situation, and money has deeply impacted my relationship with my husband. But in 2016, I stopped letting money control me. I started focusing on educating myself in the area of finances, and I stopped accepting defeat. So, I started actively looking for ways to change our situation. And you know what I found? Opportunities! Now I’m not talking about money just falling into my lap. I’m talking about opportunities that allowed me to work diligently to earn extra income. I write about all the ways I earn money all the time! Just check out some of my income reports that I publish each month, or check out my resources page if you’d like to learn more. But this post, is about how I changed my relationship with money, and how you can change your relationship too. So I won’t promote or mention them here. Here are some lessons I’ve learned and started implementing throughout 2016 that helped my husband and I build our emergency fund, and pay off over $7,700 of debt and medical bills just in 2016.
Money is not the root of all evil
Growing up, I was always told that money was the cause of all of my family’s problems, and I believed this message. Now I choose to think that “the lack of money is the root of all evil.” I read this line in a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and I fell in love with it. Hear me out, as this is a concept my husband often misunderstands about me. I do not value money above anything else in this world. I do not think money will make my life easier. However, I do think it will provide me with the ability to own my own time, and make decisions about my own life instead of working in a cubicle the rest of my days.
I do not work for money, money works for me
This is a goal I am still working towards, but it becomes more and more true every day. A co-worker of mine inspired me a long time ago by saying, “I do not live to work, instead I work to live.” Now keep in mind that I have worked at least 23 jobs since I entered the work force 10 years ago, so this was a difficult concept for me to grasp at first. I don’t remember who it was that told me this phrase that has stuck with me over the years, but at the time I thought it meant to value your own life over your work. Now that my concept of money has changed, I realized that’s not what it meant. Now I think it means that money gives you the choice to let it control you, or to let you control it. Now I know that even though I am still going to a 9-5 job every day, I am going to keep as much of my paycheck each month as possible. Then I’m going to take that money and make it work for me by making me more. I don’t want to rely on a paycheck any more. I desperately do not wish to spend the minutes I have on this beautiful planet making someone else money while they get to enjoy this human experience that I so desperately love.
I stopped allowing myself to live pay check to pay check
This was a large struggle for us and took several years to achieve. Now we are by no means wealthy or well off, but I am proud of where my husband and I are now compared to where we were 4 years ago when we met. When we first met we were both still living with family at the ages of 29 and 22. We were both employed full-time, and I was working over-time like nobody’s business, sometimes pushing 75-80 hour weeks. However, we did not know how to manage our money and today we don’t have any of that money we could have been saving. I bought a new car (used but I am still paying it off), we ate out more than necessary, we went on a cruise and took overnight trips to other states. We moved across the country twice, which ate up a lot of our savings and caused me to spend some time unemployed or only working part-time hours. Now I know at the time we could afford to do all of those things, and maybe some of you are wondering why those decisions were wrong. Here’s why: I wasn’t keeping money for myself and making it work for me. I wasn’t saving nearly enough, I wasn’t investing, and I wasn’t paying off debt. So basically, I was being irresponsible with money.
Looking back this was all preventable, and since then we have come up with a plan. We moved to an area with more opportunities and better pay. I got a full-time job offer, but then more student loan bills arrived and we realized we were going to be short each month. So, we made a new budget and I got a promotion at my job. Now this is not the answer to all of our financial strain, in fact I do not advocate a higher paying job as a solution. This is a temporary solution that worked out for us due to poor financial decision making on our part a few years prior. This solution could drop out from under us at any moment which is why we have built an emergency fund, and developed a plan for a worst case scenario in case that happens. I would recommend for you to start focusing on being prepared for the worst-case scenario. Then once you feel prepared, start tackling your debt and making more educated financial decisions.
I stopped saying I’m going to struggle financially my whole life
In 2016, I decided to stop accepting the fact that I was going to struggle financially the rest of my life. I stopped accepting my parents and friends telling me, “That’s just life,” and “Welcome to the real world.” To me, these are not suitable answers for the situation we found ourselves in. Instead, I started asking myself how I could change our circumstances. I started educating myself, made a budget, and found ways to make more money. I ended up making over $2,000 in extra income since April of 2016, all because I changed my mindset and my expectation of myself. Now I am aiming to more than double that extra income amount I earned this year.
I started looking for opportunities
I’ve mentioned this in a few of my weekly and monthly reports, but it is so very true. I started finding financial opportunities as soon as I started looking for them. It started when my husband and I realized we needed to make more money to support additional student loan bills. This was not my ideal solution, but out of necessity I found a higher-paying job to support us until we could develop other streams of income. Then I started researching additional ways to bring in money. From reading other blog’s primarily Michelle’s Making Sense of Cents blog (which you should totally check out because she’s amazing), I was motivated to start my own blog, complete surveys, become a mystery shopper, become a wedding coordinator, and participate in research groups. It amazes me how many opportunities I started to find once I started to actually look for them instead of just accepting my fate. This year, I hope to find more opportunities for more passive streams of income. The cool thing is, you can find similar and possibly even better opportunities as well!
I stopped making excuses
The number one excuse I hate is, “I have no time”. Let me not even go into the fact about how we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Those minutes tick by at the same rate for everyone. It’s all about how you choose to spend your time. I chose to stop wasting mine. I still struggle with the many excuses I give such as “I’m too tired” or “I don’t want to” or “I don’t have the money” but now I am just not accepting them and I am challenging them in my mind. This is something I continue to work on, but I am definitely improving which is all I can keep doing. I now ask myself, “How can I make more time,” “How can I stop being too tired,” “How can I afford it.” Searching for the answers to these questions has not only challenged my mind, but given me an opportunity for more.
I made financial education a priority
I didn’t realize until my brother handed me the book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki back in 2013 how much I didn’t know about money. I had a checking and a savings account, and a retirement account through my work. My car was paid off at the time, and I made consistent payments on my student loans and saved money by living at home right after college. But my husband will tell you that as soon as I read this book, my whole world changed. I no longer was willing to continue spending my time to profit someone else. I didn’t want to be in debt my whole life and I wanted to start choosing assets over liabilities and expenses. That book started me on my financial mindset journey and since then I love learning about money! I would really encourage you to start educating yourselves by taking free courses, borrowing books from the library, and just starting to network with people who may understand more about finances than you do.
I started setting financial goals
Once my mind started spinning on how I could change and improve my circumstances, I stopped being okay with just surviving at life and having a few fun experiences along the way. I started aiming for every day to be something I could look forward to and that I was proud of. I started dreaming about being able to one day create income sources for others, and to be able to own my own time while helping improve this world. I created a debt repayment plan by listing every single loan and debt we currently have and I figured out that if our circumstances didn’t become worse (which they very well could) that we could be debt free in as little as 6 years. Since we have over $117,000 in debt that time frame was shocking to me. But then, my husband and I managed to pay off over $7,700 of debt and medical bills in 2016. This year I hope to more than double that amount while still working towards saving for a home and continuing to develop more streams of income.
I want you to know that I do not share such a post to brag, or pat myself on the back. I chose to share with you the realities of what your life could look like if you change your own relationship with money. Accomplishing this was a lot of hard work, and we fought for everything we accomplished this year. I wrote this post because I know how inspiring these words can be to someone who is looking for a different way of life. I want to be a piece of that inspiration for you. I want to set that fire in your heart and in your very bones to aim for something bigger. I hope you are motivated to change your circumstances, and that you use that motivation and that fire to actually change your life and not just think about changing it.
Share below ways you are changing your life right now and what your plans are to change it even more in the future! I want to rejoice with you, cry with you, and be inspired by you. Share it all!