My perception of money has changed quite a bit over this past year. For most of my life I have been a saver. A hoarder might even be a better description of me when it comes to money.
I think that my tendency to hide money away is something that stemmed from fear of not having enough to support myself if things got hard. Even when the purchase was closer to a need, like when I didn’t have any jeans that fit me properly, I would find excuses not to spend out.
My fiancé, however, does not look at finances the same way at all. He is not irresponsible with money, but he does not carry the same fear as I do when it comes to our bank accounts. He treats cash as something that comes-and-gos from his life depending on the season. He buys the things that he needs, or wants, if he has the money at the time, and he saves for his future.
The two of us bought a house together this year and in that process, some of my financial fears began to slip away. I used a large portion of the money that I had been saving up to this point in my life to make our house into the home that we wanted. Releasing my vice grip on my savings account has opened my eyes to how much I had been holding onto my cash so tightly. I spent a lot of my mental capacity stressing about money when I could have been putting that energy toward many other things. I could have just enjoyed the activities, like lunch with my friends, or shopping at a local boutique that requires spending a little. I would still like to be wise about my money (let’s not get too crazy here), but I do not want to let finances cripple me anymore and like I believe they have been.
I have had discussions on this topic with my close friends recently. I realized in talking with them that everyone is struggling with money burdens, but our burdens all look so very different. For some, spending money comes too easily, for others, the fear of incurring debt keeps them living paycheck to paycheck instead of pursuing something better for their lives. Some of my incredibly successful friends are where they are today because they chose paths that led them into debt first. They have careers that pay them well and that they enjoy, but I do not believe there is any way they could have ended up where they are without first taking a financial hit when earning their undergraduate degrees. I also know people who aren’t willing to climb into that financial pit at all, and therefore, are just barely keeping their bank accounts in the positive from month to month because they are unable to get jobs that pay a higher salary.
All of this causes me to think about money differently than I have in the past. Most of the time I had looked at my bank account to make sure that there was enough padding in there for me to do the things that I wanted to do. I have reasons to be grateful. Most people my age are currently looking at their bank account and throwing up their hands because what difference does it make to go just a little bit further into debt? The only reason that I am in the financial position that I am in right now is because my parents worked so hard and generously funded my education.
I can’t help but imagine how suffocating it is to feel as though there is no end in sight to the mountain of debt you are bogged down by. Whether you hoard your money away out of fear, or you continue spending money that you don’t really have, your finances have control of your life. Recognizing this control as an unhealthy way to live your life can begin to release you from those chains. Making a daily, monthly, and yearly plan for your spending can help you to begin to free yourself from debt or help you make it a priority to set aside money for the things that you enjoy doing and that you have earned.