Why learning to manage your money is actually a practice in self-discovery
I've been out of school for about seven months now. Seven months I have had to navigate this "adulting" thing we so often see trending on social media.
And, to tell you the truth, I don't think it's something I'll ever have fully figured out. Because there's something new to learn each day.
And that's pretty cool.
And I'm not complaining (also because this results in unlimited blogging opps for me. Learning = writing, ya feel?).
I often see these learning curves as mistakes, shortcomings — failures, even. But looking back, I can always pinpoint the lesson involved, and even if it got the best of me for awhile, I am able to learn from the experience and move on — better than my former self, always.
Because isn't that the whole point?
I am a pretty structured person. I like to call it "strategic" and working toward "calculated risks," but it's also known as organized, type A, and some other terms (see psycho, etc.).
So, as I have tackled one of the most important aspects of "adulting," I have carried this trait with me and applied it — for which I will be forever grateful.
Supporting yourself is hard. Not having a back-up plan is hard. Making sure you're setting yourself up for a solid financial future, while paying rent, while working toward your goals, while allowing yourself to have a life is hard.
But it's one of the most important lessons you will ever learn — type A or not.
Budgeting your money teaches you lessons that others older than you, or in different situations than you have already learned.
Budgeting your money will obviously help you with financial burdens and situations down the line, set you up for a better future, and all that stuff — but what I want to talk about, is what being forced to support yourself and manage your money that you're earning, really makes you realize.
It makes you realize who you are.
It makes you realize what you value, what you don't value, what you're willing to work for — what you're willing to give up.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
You learn what it actually means to work hard and be proud of your accomplishments. You become proud of the dinner on your plate and the shoes on your feet. You realize just how grateful you are for the people who have supported you up to this point (but seriously I can't even take care of my air plants).
So other than the lesson in hard work, discipline, and one of the most important aspects of life, gratitude — it also teaches you what you want in life.
It teaches what you are willing to work for.
You start your budget out with the basics: rent, food, gas, bills — you know, the fun stuff that you HAVE to spend money on just to get by.
And what you are left with, is the money that you can disperse to different facets of your life.
So what's important to you?
Do you want to go snowboarding or do you want to go spend $50 on drinks at the bar? Do you want to save up for a trip or do you want to eat out every day? Do you want to pay for some continuing ed classes or do you want to save to move?
By putting your money where your values are, you are showing yourself what matters the most to you. Because it's hard to not eat out all the time. It's hard not to buy that cute coat that everyone has.
It's hard to manage your money.
But if you want to save, if you want to practice your photography, or if you want to participate in something else — sometimes you have to make sacrifices to do that.
Managing my money has taught me so much about myself. What I want, what I don't want, what I am willing to work for.
It has taught me about my short-term and long-term goals, and it has taught me how to achieve them.
But the most important thing it has taught me, is how grateful I am to even have the ability to do this.
So, if you are dreading budgeting your money, or simply need to improve, I would say — start. And realize that the fact that you have that problem is not a problem at all.
P.S. If you need help with a budget... like... I'm decent at spreadsheets and planning...