I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with money. I grew up in a household where were blessed to have the things that we needed, but went without a lot of the things that we wanted, so whenever I got my hands on a little cash (mostly for my birthday) well, let’s just say the money was spent before it actually touched my hands!
Fast forward a few years and I was rearing and ready to begin earning my own money – so much so that I convinced the managers at my local McDonald’s to hire me prior to my 16th birthday – and two weeks after I turned sweet 16 I had my driver’s license, an old 1983 Honda that could take me down the road, and a job.
For a brief period of time in my life I had the freedom to purchase whatever I wanted to, and the only responsibilities I had were my car insurance, gas, and maintenance on my old reliable.
But as those of you who follow along know – that period of time didn’t last long as I became a mom at an early age. Suddenly I had a huge responsibility and I had the slightest idea on how to manage my money or plan for my future. It was something that had never even crossed my mind, and it was pretty scary for me.
So I began with a little ritual that I still do today – I wrote it all out. What I needed, what I wanted, and how much I had. I then sat and calculated how many hours I had to work – and soon realized that I needed to be earning more per hour to achieve the life I wanted for Anika and myself. At that time I really had no clue on what my next step would be, or how I’d really get there –
But I never gave up on myself.
Luckily for me I married a money-smart man who has taught me a great deal over the past 10 years. We aren’t very wealthy by society’s standards, but we definitely aren’t lacking in things we need – and are lucky to have enough wiggle room in our budget to do things that we want.
Ways to stay on top of finances:
Here are three things I do every month to help keep myself on track:
Make and update a budget. I learned from experience long time ago that if I didn’t have my bills written down somewhere, I’d probably forget to pay something. I don’t use anything really fancy, just a printed spreadsheet that has all of our bills to pay every month, and I just fill in the numbers. Having a visual helps keep me on track.
Plan something fun every month. Between all of the bills and things that the kids need and want, sometimes I feel guilty not giving them everything they ask for – but I do make sure we always had the money to do something fun together as a family. They might not appreciate it now, but I’m sure when they look back that epic bowling night or trip to the beach will be much more memorable than another toy or goodie.
Dream. Dreaming about things that I want to do and places that I’d love to go help keep me motivated in my work – and helps me stick to budget. Sometimes I’ll look up vacations online just for fun, or browse on Pinterest for new house updating ideas.
I know that everyone’s idea of financial well-being is different, and even though I’m not exactly where I’d like to be, I’m not complaining because I know the most important thing is to enjoy the journey and plan for the future.