I’m tired of living in a world where money, politics, and companies are ran by men! Not hating on any of them, but ladies it’s time we level up and take a stand! When I met my husband, he already had his 401K poppin’, his savings account growing, and a mindset of living below your means in a modest home, that wasn’t flashy, but nothing close to what I could buy!
I told myself things like “well it’s hard to save money when you barely make any” and “I’m a student, so when I graduate I’ll be able to save more” and “Social workers don’t make any money and I’m okay with that.” What a victim mindset. Stop telling yourself you’re broke. Let’s learn to level up ladies and save like we don’t need to depend on our husbands retirement account! I didn’t get a M.R.S. degree. I have myself a Master’s Degree and it’s time I used my education to step the fuck up! So how did I do it? Keeping scrolling
I indulged in all things money related. When I say I went down a rabbit hole of personal finance, I am not even kidding. And I’m fortunately still there. I say fortunately because it has kept me accountable for my actions, spending, and savings. You know when you find something you’re interested in and it just sticks? That’s how I felt about all things money. Not in a greedy negative way, but as in I am taking full control over my finances effective immediately kind of way!
If just beginning in the world of personal finance, I suggest you use your free resources first! By that I mean, turn to podcasts and social media. Money is unfortunately still very taboo, but I promise you, you can find your tribe online! Podcasts are a great free resource that are full of education and inspiring story after inspiring story! Ones that I might suggest include, FIRE Drill Podcast, The Mad Fientist, Journey to Launch, Afford Anything, and Jill on Money. Many of these have listener call in questions where regular people, not money experts, call in about specific situations that may very well relate to you! I most often listen to these while getting ready for work and the commute into the office. In a world where we have an endless to do list, it’s important to find the time in your day to still learn!
I opened the conversation with my husband & family.
I opened the conversation with my husband. When first starting out listening to money podcasts I wasn’t working. We had just moved to New Orleans for my husband’s job and I was on the job search. So who I was I to be making any big money decisions in the family when I wasn’t even employed?! BUT, I was, because I am half of this family and my opinion matters, too! When my husband would return home from work we’d go over our days, mine mostly being about the frustrations of not being called for interviews, and how I applied to a plethora of more jobs. But I also would report back in on my new found education in all departments of money.
By this time, my husband’s school loans had been paid off, but I still had about 55K out in student loans and maybe 9K left on my car loan. I should mention, the student loans were from receiving a Masters of Social Work, a career I had just given up when we chose to move to New Orleans. Even though my short lived social work career was over, did not mean my student loans were gone.
I knew from the sale of our house we had made right at 55K equal to my student loans. I certainly wasn’t making any progress just paying the minimums so I jokingly said to my husband “Why don’t we just pay them off with the money from the house sale?” In a normal situation where the house was actually “ours” I can see this being a standard transition, but the thing is, this house was completely his, where the only contributions I had made were opinions on decorations! So, to my surprise, my husband casually said “Yeah I’ve been thinking about that actually! You’ll never pay them off with just paying the minimums!” And one week later, we called Navient and made a 55K payment.
I don’t say this nonchalantly, like 55K isn’t a big deal, but I don’t know that it would have happened had we not started the conversation! I had no idea he was even considering using that money towards my loans. In the long run, it was a win for both of us because we were marreid now, but my point here is, start the conversation to see where you’re both at regarding debt, finances, and future purchases as one.
I opened the conversation with my family. I would imagine most of the population can agree that finances simply just weren’t discussed in your home when growing up. That was simply the case for me. But regardless if they were openly discussed, everyone has a money story! Mine predominately being, don’t discuss it! Funny how things works out in life as I’m now publicly discussing money! I specifically have a money memory of asking my sister how much her new jeans costs, because I, too, was also interested in swiping my credit card to get a pair and under no circumstances would she tell me the price! This was when we were in high school, so somewhere along our lifetime, she, too, had learned not to discuss money!
Since I have started this journey to financial independence, I have really started talking to my dad a lot more about retirement options, 4% safe withdraw rates, and aggressively saving. Among these conversations, I’ve also prompted him with “where the hell were all these conversations when I was growing up!” You’re telling me you’ve known about 401Ks, the importance of paying off debt all along and you’ve withheld this?!? Tisk Tisk! All joking aside, I think he’s learned a lot about his own personal finance goals in his adult life, but wishes he would have been more open and started personal finance discussions earlier in my life!
So if you’re like me, simply start with a basic conversation such as a goal you’re trying to reach, like paying off a credit card, or making additional payments towards your student loans and see where the conversation leads! You’ll know fairly quickly based on their reactions if they are receptive to future conversations down the road!
I talked to my HR departments and payroll people. On your first day on the job, when you’re going through training and a finance department comes to talk to you about your 401K and 403B options, listen!! I’ve gone through too many new hire trainings not truly understanding what they are talking about and it has surely cost me thousands of dollars!
With my current position I knew I was eligible after one year to begin 401K contributions so you absolutely know that on my one year I went ahead and emailed my boss and payroll coordinator right away to see how to begin this process! It’s a small company so I took the lead on this, but most larger companies will automatically contact you so please open and read the emails!! Don’t be afraid to address the topic in a conversation. If you aren’t meeting with the appropriate person, surely they will lead you to who you need to be talking to! If you don’t understand the conversation, keep asking questions! Never stop learning!
I stopped buying shit I didn’t need.
I stopped buying shit I didn’t need & became more intentional. Okay so this took awhile and occasionally I slip back into old habits, such as the adidas sweats I’m currently wearing, but for the most part, I just stopped buying things that no longer served me! I don’t need a new wardrobe every season. We barely even go out. Who am I trying to impress!? I also recognized all the things I declutter on a regular basis and decided I’m tired of throwing money literally away!
We have downsized our living space by half so that has also made me recognize the things that truly serve me. We don’t have an abundance of space to store additional crap, if you will, so I have simply eliminated the space for more! You can find an article I wrote here about what we’ve done to love our home! Although, I can’t put an exact number on the amount I have saved by being more intentional about my spending, but my guess is, thousands! I would now rather see money in my bank account than money in the items I’m wearing.
I started hoarding cash, also known as a savings account! Speaking of seeing money in my bank account, there is now plenty more of it since I started paying attention to it and began telling my money where to go! At first I started slow and started with money that was leftover after spending, even if it was only $20.00. So if that’s where you are, then start there! At the beginning of your personal finance journey, it is more about creating habits than it is about the actual amount you save. Once the habits are formed, your mind begins to think of other ways to save, so now I am paying myself first, by utilizing retirement accounts and then spending what is left over. Which brings me to number 7.
I took on investing and embraced the unknown. If you’re like me, you still have a lot to learn about the stock market, what to invest in, what is an index fund, and where to begin! I can only talk on specifics to my story, but my journey started out with my employer based 401K plan then gradually moved into opening a ROTH IRA plan through Fidelity. Once comfortable with those areas, I began learning more about the HSA plan my husband was sending money to and began investing those funds. And most recently, I opended up my first brokerage account and begin investing there.
My point is, you don’t have to open all of these accounts at once. Once you begin learning more financial literacy, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable opening and accessing different accounts. And don’t feel bad if you’re late to the game. Remember these are all things I’ve done to level up to my husband. He had most of all this going before we even met so don’t get discouraged! If you’re reading this paragraph and confused on some of the lingo, I suggest reading this article I wrote about some basics financial terms that would be helpful.
I stepped up my work skill set and doubled my salary. Since I stopped working in the field of social work when I moved to NOLA, I had no other experience on my resume other than that field so I knew I had to dive into what my strengths were. I knew I excelled in administrative work, am extremely organized, and I am goal oriented.
I had my first job in New Orleans as an administrative front desk role where I was able to gain enough experience to show on a resume. After a year, I started looking elsewhere for a role where I could use my administrative skills in a management role. I didn’t meet all the prerequisites but I know my worth and I continually try to learn new skills to increase my skillset so when a new opportunity presents itself, I am prepared. Don’t wait to learn skills after the fact. Prepare yourself now so your future self and your bank account will thank you!
So now I am dying to know what moves you have made to level up your financial literacy and bank accounts! What have I missed? What can I learn from you? Tell me more in the comment below!