When I graduated college two years ago, I was about $10,000 in the hole. I had a car payment, $5,500 student loan, and a maxed out credit card. And I felt awful about it. I felt so ashamed that I wasn’t able to manage and plan better so I could avoid this situation. I was having trouble getting hours at work, so I quickly depleted my small savings…now what?
I was able to get a second job, and that helped but I still felt that I needed to do more so I could pay off these debts. Because debt is bad, right? That’s what they always tell us. “Don’t get in debt. And if you do, get out as quickly as possible and by any means necessary.” So, I did just that. I went from two jobs to three, then from three to four. Next thing I knew, I was working everyday (holidays included) before sun-up and way past sun-down. I had it in my mind that maybe if I worked hard enough and got rid of this debt by any means necessary, that my self-worth would increase because I’m debt free. And I’d have more reasons to be proud of myself because my net worth was starting to head towards the positive. And I was wrong.
I paid off my car in July of 2015, and I was elated! I was so happy that I didn’t have to deal with paying for Buelah (that’s my mini van’s name) anymore, and we could just enjoy our time together as car and driver. Buelah was happy, I was happy. It seemed like the beginning of a new life. But then I realized that once my creditor had all the money and mailed my pink slip, that was it. Nothing in my life and nothing about me or my inherent value to world had changed. I was still as much Amber Berry as I was the when I was still paying for Buelah. Now, I’m confused…
So I started to read and listen to podcasts and watch documentaries to try to understand why my logic was flawed. I consumed and consumed and consumed until one day it finally made sense- I have to reconstruct the way I understand my relationship with money and finances. I can’t let people tell me how to feel, or try to shame me for the way I like to focus on saving or spend money eating out at Panera with my grandma. I have found a new relationship with money since last summer, and I’m so glad I did. I need money so I can do things that I enjoy like going to the movies with my grandma and laughing at her while she talks back to the screen, flying to visit my parents and younger brother, going to the forest for ziplining with my girlfriend, taking annual weekend getaways with my BFF, and any other opportunities for adventure that arise. I will not let anyone allow me to feel guilty about making the choices I do about managing my money. My self worth has nothing to do with my net worth. What’s most important to me is living the lifestyle that I can with what I have, but to keep aiming higher so I can do even more exciting things! The amount of people in this country who are emotionally broken because of their financial situation is astonishing, in the worst kind of way. My hope is to give people some ideas for how to they can mend their negative relationships with money and start feeling good about their finances (hence the name of the blog). Life is for living full out in every way possible, but the ideas and relationships we have with our money can lead us astray if we do not keep our dreams and goals in focus.
There is so much information out there about personal finance that it can be hard to figure out where to begin. I’ll try my best to break it down here on the blog and help make it easier to digest. I want everyone to reach their dreams and live their ideal lives, which can be a challenge if you are struggling and unsure of where to begin. I hope to give you lots of useful information and practical tips to get you going.
If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would do? Comment or tweet me to let me know, I’d love to hear!