Yep. You read that right. My financial journey was such a long and deep one that I had to break this blog up into 2 parts! So let's get back to me and my money…
As I was saying…
Watching my parents experience sometimes extreme financial highs and lows helped create the toxic and dysfunctional relationship I once had with money. I became hyper aware of our financial state and it seemed we were often swinging between "movin' on up" and "good times". II was always on edge. As I grew into adulthood, I repeated the habits and patterns I saw growing up. I'd earn money only to piddle it away – eating out and loaning to friends, getting myself into a financial jam despite the budget I'd create. I'd feel stupid and guilty, beat myself up for being irresponsible, then do desperate things like take out payday loans or car title pawns to get myself out of the hole. Those ups and downs filled me with INTENSE angst and fear, and that's not an understatement.
The Hubs probably would've been surprised to know this because in his mind, I had it all together. By the time we met, he never saw me struggle with money in college, he always saw me budgeting, and he watched friends and classmates come to me for help because I had it or I knew more about money than most young adults at that time. What really saved me was that I'd always known how to make money – hey, to quote the famous prophet Jay-Z.. "I'mma hussluh baby"; I've always had at least 2 jobs ever since I first forged my parents' signatures on a work permit at 12 years old! Ultimately, my hustle game was strong enough to cover the bad decisions I made… at least most of the time.
By the time I landed my first 'grown-up' job after college where I was making 'real' paper – a whopping $32,000 in 1994 -- you couldn't tell me NUTHIN!! Budget? Chiiiiiiile…. Fuhh whet?
On paper, I made more than I needed and that's all that mattered. I was doing alright for a little while, but between those bad habits, that mindset, and all those student loans kicking in, there seemed to be more 'end of the month' than money. It didn't matter that I could create amazing budgets on paper that made me a kabillionaire by 30 because I didn't know how to apply them or what it meant to actually live them out. I didn't understand how money worked and more importantly, I didn't understand my own mindset around it. I had no clue that my relationship with money was deeply dysfunctional and that I was almost fully operating from a mindset of FEAR AND LACK.
What finally triggered change for me was the frustration and exhaustion of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and embarrassment; here we are making really good money and I didn't want to let The Hubs down. Yes, he had his own financial gremlins (I'll cover that later), and whether it was fair or not, he left all the money management to me because he was trusting me to at least know a little bit more than him in this area. But I actually did know better, so it was time to do better.
I headed to Barnes and Noble (yes fam, this was before Google became a thing) and got all the books I could find on personal finance: Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Jean Chatzky, and Clark Howard to name a few. I read through each book and devoured everything they said. I studied their theories, starting small and applying different strategies, and it was not easy. It quite literally was like learning a foreign language! There was major trial and error, but as I worked to decode this world of personal finance and began to figure things out, I started to get some wins: a paid off credit card and one or two significantly reduced student loans.
Before I knew it, I began to really get into this world! I created a system for myself that was actually working, AS LONG AS I WORKED IT. I started small to test it and in less than 3 years The Hubs and I not only managed to get $90k worth of student loans and $8k worth of credit cards off my back, but also stack up a pretty decent amount of savings. In the words of E-V-E from her joint "Satisfaction"… I was "never goin' back to broke"!
And just when things were really looking up…BAM. I got sick….
Yep, you guessed it: Part 3 of this wild journey is coming soon and i’ll be talking all about how Lupus came and ravaged not only my body but our finances and how we made it out…again!