Adulting: A Mini Series, Part V

Money, money, money (Monaaaaay)

I’m going to start off this blog by telling you that this has been the hardest one to get myself to write. It’s not because I enjoy procrastinating, or because I haven’t wanted to get into this topic. It’s because I have pesky doubt gremlins just like you— and every time I’ve sat down to write this, those obnoxiou guys start their yammering and say things like, “You’re going to talk to people about money?! Who are you to give money advice? What do you know?”

It takes every ounce of my will power to tell them to shut up and to be here writing this.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. I am not an accountant. I am not a millionaire. I am not someone who is going to pretend to have money all figured out- I don’t.

But I will be here to share what has impacted me in terms of money messaging, how I’ve worked on re-writing that story, and how I’ve experienced money at different points in my life during my twenties.

But before that, I’m going to tell you that my upbringing with money has been one of extremes. I’ve seen versions of extreme wealth, vacation homes, and the privilege of working hard and not having to worry about money.

On the other hand, I’ve seen how a lack of money causes severe emotional distress and the way that can trickle down into relationships and impact just about everything around you.

Because of these examples, money represented power. And power used to terrify me. Power meant that you didn’t hold the control; the money controlled you. The more money you had, the more you could do. The less you had, the less you could do.

And this went for things as simple as going out to dinner at college and that feeling where you held your breath when you hand the waiter your credit card, praying that it won’t be declined, to those feelings of going out on first dates and triple checking your account so if the guy actually said, “Yes, let’s split it,” that you’d be able to.

This went for bigger things too- knowing what in the world a 401k is, learning about equity, understanding interest rates on credit cards, and recognizing that money does provide you with power, but you have control over it. It does not control you.

As I began my journey through my twenties, I was terrified of money. I was the person who would never look at their bank account- sorry dad, I know you’re shrieking in your seat right now. I would just close my eyes and pray that things worked out. And on top of that, I created budget after budget, trying so desperately to live within my means, when frankly, I was in total denial of my lifestyle. I would have rather gone into credit card debt than tell my BFFs that I couldn’t go out that night because I couldn’t afford the uber- yeah, it was that bad.

I’m divulging all of this because I know there are plenty of versions of myself still out there. I know you are feeling shame, guilt, embarrassment, maybe even some anger of why you’re not where other people are at. OR you may be on the other end of the spectrum, doing super-duper well for yourself, and seeing your friends struggle. You don’t want to brag about your success but hiding it feels uncomfortable, too.

Money is a part of our lives always. But now, in your twenties, you are launching. You are launching from school into the real world; you are launching from the real world and your first “big kid job,” to a new one. You are beginning to become more selective of where you work, what your salary is, and so on. My point being- this is a tricky time. I spent way too many days, months, and years agonizing over money, scared of how it would impact my future. The fear crippled me from diving into the excitement and energy that money can bring.

The best way to get over the mania around money? Get curious about it. Educate yourself; google the questions you’re too afraid to ask someone else. Look at your bank account. Notice where your money is going. Notice where your money is coming from. Notice what expenses make you smile and feel validated. Notice which ones are cringe-worthy. You know— that outfit that’s hanging in your closet with all the tags. Treat your money well; respect it; protect it; love on it. If you are good to your money, it will be good to you.

And regardless of what your bank account looks like, remind yourself that there is plenty of money out there for you. Be open to receiving it. Give yourself some grace with where you are. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing everything that you can. Whether that’s just getting by and paying off debt little by little, or crushing this adulting thing, trust that you’re on the right path.

Money doesn’t need to be scary. You don’t need to feel alone in this realm of your life. Sadly, money isn’t talked about or taught enough, so don’t feel less than for what you don’t know. You’ll get it sorted. Promise.