Okay, since it’s a new year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my personal finance journey. And hopefully, my story and the financial tips I’ve learned will help you to improve your financial situation and hit your goals.
I’ve shared bits and pieces of my story in this blog post, here but I want to share a little bit more background on what lead me to change my habits and be completely debt free. No car lease, no nothing, and amassing a robust savings account.
My early years and money
My relationship with money throughout my life was both positive and negative. I have an independent spirit and at a young age, I’ve always loved having my own money and being in charge of it. Being in charge meaning what can I spend this on, today LOL. I remember saving for my prom dress because I wanted a specific $300 dress my mom wouldn’t purchase for me. And I felt so good about buying that dress, knowing I did it on my own. So, I knew how to save and I knew I had to work for the things I wanted in life.
My 20s. Yikes.
Fast forward to now I have my own place and I am finally a little established in my career (that at this point I really wasn’t in love with). I wasn’t making much money but I was working it out and would have side hustles here and there. What was so bad? I was living check to check with no savings and was sometimes even overdraft. That was not cute and it was very stressful. I have never been one to have credit card debt, but I was definitely living beyond my means. I dined at expensive restaurants, I traveled and went out A LOT with my girlfriends. It is so funny how you can drop $200 in a weekend in your early to mid-20s and then as you get older, that amount significantly drops because your lifestyle, wants and needs change. Now that I am in my 30s, I definitely don’t go out to restaurants every single weekend as I did back then, and I prefer being at home, cooking a meal or simply eating takeout.
As you can see, in my 20s my thinking was short-sighted. Once I hit about 27, I started investing again in retirement. I was lucky enough to have folks in my family to share the idea of investing with me, and to guide me on how to get started while I was in college. However, because I wasn’t managing my money well, my rent was high and I live in expensive LA, investing was at the bottom of my list after college. But, I did have that foundation.
Gaining financial maturity
I want to keep this short. So, fast-forward to 2015. I was making great money and had matured a lot. And I accumulated over three months of living expenses in my savings. I began thinking about maximizing my retirement, buying a home, and of course, the elephant in the room, my student loan debt. One day I decided to stop everything and threw all of my money into paying off my debt (I followed the Dave Ramsey method). I lived way below my means, didn’t shop much, and I got it done: paying off over $30k in student loans, all while cash-flowing a wedding/honeymoon in a year and a half’s time. And shoutout to my husband for his amazing support during the process. It was a struggle! But the feeling of knowing I can do anything, and being financially free to do whatever I want is the best feeling in the world. It was worth the sacrifice, focus and hard work. Getting control of my finances has massively boosted my confidence and sense of accomplishment.
With all of that said, here are my tips for revamping your finances for the new year while living in a big city.
- Create a zero-based budget (and don’t use the same one every month). Really sit down and figure out what you need to pay for or set aside for that particular month. Yes, even the fun money. This helps you to know exactly where your money is going. Also, put a plan together with benchmarks for your goal.
- Have people in your corner that are really good with money. Seek them out to help guide you for whatever financial goal you’re trying to reach this year. You can’t do this in a vacuum. You need support.
- Learn self-discipline and quick. Will Smith once said, “self-discipline equals success”. I think self-discipline is true freedom. You’ll need this to set the proper parameters to reach your goal.
- Read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos that help you stay on the right path and remain focused.
- Don’t worry about what someone else is doing or what someone else has. They are not on your journey. Remember, you’re not trying to be like most people with mountains of debt, living a lifestyle that isn’t real. May I suggest limiting your time on Instagram? Food for thought.
- Decrease the amount of dining out at restaurants. Host dinner parties, game night, or grab drinks or coffee instead.
- Unsubscribe from all those emails tempting you to buy shit. It’s best to move the temptations out the way to set yourself up for success.
- Declutter and start selling stuff.
- Try not to buy new stuff or buy resale when possible. Always be looking for a deal for the items you NEED.
- Brew your own coffee or tea at home and meal prep! Not only is it better for your health but you will save a significant amount of money especially living in a major city.
- There is nothing wrong with treating yourself! Don’t get bogged down. When you hit small wins, treat yourself to something nice that will keep you inspired and motivated as you move towards your goal.
Hopefully, sharing my story and tips will help you along your financial journey! If you would like more blog posts on personal finance, holler at ya girl in the comments!