Let's talk about money.
If I were to have a relationship status with money on FB, it would be, "It's complicated."
Well, I don't like big corporations. I also don't really like governments. I don't like consumerism in general. I don't like what money does to people. I don't believe anyone should be a billionaire while there are people starving on the streets. I don't like status symbols and I feel like a lot of garbage exists just because someone is willing to pay money for it. I don't like how money enslaves workers and makes it impossible to get out of the system.
Ultimately, I think money corrupts and is one of the worst concepts created. It may or may not be the things the destroys the entire Earth.
But....and there's a big but...I also want money.
It's hard to reconcile these two things in my mind. Because I know money doesn't bring happiness but it sure does make life easier.
The older I get, the more I want security. I'm not looking for chaos as much anymore. And that's not to say I don't want adventure, because I'm always down for adventure. I guess I just don't want irresponsible adventure. I don't want credit card adventure. I don't want to play the game of "Will I spend my retirement barely being able to pay rent?" I don't want the renoviction adventure.
So, with these two dueling beliefs in mind, I've kind of come up with a few rules I follow when it comes to my finances.
1. Do not have debt.
Now that I finally have a job that's paying me a decent wage, I have managed to pay off all of my credit card debt and 85% of my student loan (and I will be done within the next few months). As soon as I started making more money, I put all my extra pennies towards paying off my debts. I have an older vehicle with no payments. I do not borrow money from friends or family that I do not intend to pay. Freedom is not owing anyone anything. Fuck credit cards, loans, lines of credits, monthly payments. No thank you.
2. Build-up "Fuck you" money.
I have an emergency fund and as soon as I finish paying off my debt, I'll going to be adding more money to it. A "Fuck you" fund helps you make decisions about your job and life that you wouldn't be able to if you didn't have that buffer. It ultimately gives you options. This also helps you not panic if something goes horribly wrong. An emergency fund should have about 4 - 6 months worth of money that is easily accessible (Thanks Dave Ramsey for that tip!).
3. Pay Attention to your money!
And by that I mean...money needs to be something you check in on. I use the app YNAB and it helps to see where my money is going. That means that I have to face the cold, hard reality of spending my money on stupid stuff when I decide to waste my money. It also helps me figure out when bills leave my account and plan for future expenses. If you have no idea where your money is going, then how the hell do you expect to be able to make smart decisions?
4. Budget. Seriously.
Again, hate to pitch apps...but YNAB is really helpful for keeping me on track financially. It only lets you budget the actual money you have which at first seems impossible. Then you get used to it and you realize you should only ever be spending your own money. You begin to figure out where you're falling down, where you're excelling, what you prioritize in life, and what you can do without. It also helps to set up funds for things like car repairs, new toys, etc. Overall, it's changed my view on money and debt in a really easily accessible way.
5. Don't buy stuff.
Stuff is overrated. Most of the stuff we buy clutters up our houses and gives us very little back. Most of it we have no emotional attachment to. Whenever I start wanting to buy something, I try to remind myself that it will probably bring me a limited amount of joy and it will be forgotten fairly quickly. Instead, I'd prefer to spend my money on trips, food, or experiences. And I'll try to skip the souvenirs.
6. Limit social media.
Social media exists to sell you stuff. It may not want to sell you something now, but goddamn, it wants to sell you something someday.
Social media caters to what it knows you want and it amplifies that. You want a new bathing suit? Look at these models that look OH SO CUTE in that one piece. Look at that ad on side-bar for that Billabong 2-for-1 sale. Look at your friend's beach pics in her bikini with a big smile on her face.
You get my drift.
Cutting out social media (and all media) cuts those marketing companies off at the knees and it makes you happier. Happy people don't need to incessantly buy things. Happy people are often content with what they have. So I try my best to limit my social media and take everything with a grain of salt. I also never buy something online the first day I see it. Instead, I'll wait a few days and if I still want it....then I'll go ahead and order it.
7. Be frugal.
I pack my lunch everyday and it usually ends up being some variety of beans/legumes and a starch. I eat oatmeal every morning. I try not to drive my vehicles on the weekend as much as humanly possible. I don't own cable (but Netflix tho). I don't have crazy expensive hobbies. I don't drink very often. We don't eat out more than once a week. We live in a small-ish apartment that has cheap rent. We live a simple and frugal life because before we had this money, we were broke. We had to live this way to pay the bills. The experience of being broke has served us well and now we can live on less without much discomfort. We also know the value of a dollar. I don't obsessively price match or go out of my way to be frugal, but I live a frugal life by not falling for a lot of the bullshit that society tells us we need to have.
8. Educate yourself.
I'm trying to learn the most I can about investments, mortgages, budgeting software, frugal tips, and retirement information. A lot of money mistakes are just from being accidentally ignorant. The more knowledge you have about money, the more you can use that to your advantage. Blindly following the bank or the accountant or the financial advisor can ruin you. The more you know, the more confident you'll be going into specific situations.
9. Don't keep up with the Joneses.
Someone will always have more than you. Buying things you don't want or can't afford to try to impress other people will make you miserable. Do what is right for you and fuck what other people think...in all things. Is the stress of trying to figure out how to pay off that thing actually worth that thing? Probably not. People may make fun of you, make snide comments, etc. Let them. In the end, it's your life, not theirs.