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Can we talk about money today? I know it’s not always a cute topic; I know it’s often stigmatized; and I know there’s often a lot of shame around it, especially for women, but it’s important. The more conversations we can have around money, how to negotiate for what we deserve, setting ourselves up for the future financially, how to stay out of debt, and how to get out of debt when we do find ourselves there, the better. And for some reason, these seem to be conversations we are not having as openly as women and I’m ready for that to end.
Here’s the thing, I’m not a financial advisor; I’m not a CPA; I’m not and never have worked in the financial industry. Heck, some days, talking about finances feels like a foreign language where I’m googling every other word to understand what it means just to get myself from point A to point B…let alone to point Z. But I am the girl who has found herself in some precarious financial situations in her adult years and has worked and researched and believed her way out of them. I’m not claiming to know it all, but I am claiming to be a real-life human in the trenches with you and hoping to share what’s helped me so maybe you can learn the lessons from me rather than having to live them yourself.
Track your expenses
This may seem like a silly and obvious thing to put here, but it’s so helpful. You need to know where your money is going in the first place before you can even open yourself up to my next point, but also to know where you may be overspending without realizing it. Seeing where your money is going will help you set your priorities moving forward.
Make (and stick to) a budget
This may seem like another obvious point but make a budget. Once you’ve seen where your money is going, then you can set an appropriate budget. For me, I know that having healthy food is important to me so I am more willing to spend money at the grocery store. Someone else may really enjoy getting their nails done and may sacrifice shopping for more organic foods because they want to keep their bi-weekly manicure. It’s important to make your budget something you can actually stick to so this kind of information is so important and helpful.
Find your trusted resources
For those of us who feel like finances and money conversations are harder to understand, it’s necessary to find mentors and resources who make it digestible. Find the people who speak on your level and break things down in real people’s terms. There are some great books geared toward women that I have found helpful over the years and so many other great resources to learn more.
Get your mind right
This may feel a bit woo-woo to some of you, but money mindset is the real deal. I’ve come to learn that we have to believe we’re deserving of more and that we’re no longer aligned with a certain income (or debt) level. From there we can then up-level our mindset and open ourselves up to higher income levels and lower debt.
Don’t forget about your emergency fund
This point is two-sided: don’t forget to have an emergency fund but also, let yourself use it when you need it. So often we are saving that emergency fund for a rainy day but when the rainy day actually comes, are we using what we set aside?
Back in 2020, I found out that I was living in a home with toxic mold that was making me very sick. Since I was renting this home I didn’t have to take on the expense of remediating myself (thus also didn’t get to choose the extent to which things were remediated), but I was not comfortable living there anymore so it was time to move. During this time I tested my home, ordered tests for myself, and as it would turn out, needed to throw away (and therefore eventually replace) the majority of my belongings (expense, expense, expense!). I debated whether or not to use my emergency fund because I knew it would clear it out, but if THIS wasn’t an emergency, what was? So I used it and I’m so grateful that I had it to use!
I hope my story is helpful; I hope these tips are helpful, and I hope this isn’t the first and last conversation we have about money. I hope we’re able to open ourselves up to more of these conversations because as women, we deserve wealth too.