When you hear me talk about the mistakes of my twenties, you'll hear me talk about the "now mentality" that caused me to make many poor decisions about my lifestyle. Absent of a future vision, we don't consider the long-term effects of our choices, nor do we act with patience. It took me a long time to realize that I wasn't supposed to have my dream job right out of college, or meet "the one" as soon as I was an adult, or have a Pinterest-worthy apartment at twenty-five just because I wanted it. If I had known this then, I would have made better decisions about creating the right path to a career, investing in healthy relationships, and spending/saving/budgeting wisely so that I could have that Pinterest-worthy apartment without debt when my income allowed.
That's basically my money story. I lived outside of my means for too many years, coasting on plastic and reasoning that if I got a deal on something then it was totally worth it. When there wasn't money, there was still a way. I tried to force the life I wanted into being. Act as if, right? Maybe not in every case. Before I knew it, I was in over my head. The times I spent wisely (coupons at the store, shopping sale sections, staying home eating lean cuisine many nights) didn't even begin to make up for the times I didn't ($13 martinis in LA when I was a student without a job, because I had to have a memorable LA experience!).
Eventually I learned that having it all now isn't the way to have it well later, and I reversed the madness. I now pay less in living expenses than I have in the past. I spend less time in stores so that I'm not faced with "I can't pass up this deal" moments, and when I do spend on clothing or items for my home, I spend smartly. I used to renew my wardrobe seasonally, unsure of what fit my personality and flattered my figure. Now I find that because I make smart, non-trendy choices I am still wearing things that I've had for 7 years! Quality, classics, and true to my own style are the keys here. Less quantity and more quality!
Call it wisdom or call it luck, I'm not completely sure, but the number one best thing I did was invest in a property. Turning an expense you have to spend anyway into an investment will most likely pay off in the end, and it has for me. This year, because of an investment I made several years ago, my goal to be "debt free" will finally be a reality.
I still have a lot to learn, and I'm looking forward to what I can accomplish with a new financial landscape and a long-term vision that motivates and inspires me. I also know that it is ok to ask for help, which I've done for all of us this month! Coming up, I'll be sharing a Q&A with a financial expert so that you and I both know how to proceed to make 2014 our most lucrative year yet despite our circumstances, whatever they may be.
Before I post the expert's advice, I thought I'd share a few of my own hard-learned lessons with you. Here are money tips from someone who has pretty much no business giving money tips, except that I have learned at least a few things from my mistakes. :)
1. Stop spending temporarily. No new clothes, no new shiny accessories, no cute new stuff for your home... Take a month to hit the reset button. Work on your vision for your future, and once you have an idea of the life you're building and you're focused on that long-term, then you can begin to allow yourself those things again. That vision will keep you from buying things that are quick-fixes and fleeting desires when you remember that later you'll have what you really want.
2. When it comes to shopping for clothes, don't. Not until you have a strong sense of yourself and your personal style. Otherwise you're going to follow trends and buy things that not long later will feel like they don't suit you at all. Once you have a sense of your own style and know what you're looking for, focus on quality. You want to buy both styles and function that will last you a long time. It's worth the extra money. (Bonus tip: Have clothes fitted. Things that fit you properly will look more expensive, make you feel better, and have a longer life in your wardrobe.)
3. Write your checking account balance down every day. I just started doing this in my planner and I feel so incredibly motivated to watch that number grow. I am no longer avoiding keeping an eye on my accounts out of fear, frustration or shame. I've taken control. Look at your finances as a business. You want your business to be successful. Let that inspire your decision making.
Like I said, I still have so much to learn. I've sent my juiciest money questions to an expert and I can't wait to share her answers with all of you! Also to come this week is my next health + happiness giveaway! Don't miss a thing!!