I’m bad with money
I’ve always thought of money as a renewable resource. If I don’t have money, I can always get more. I can get a second job, pick up a side gig (shoutout to our recent episode), use a credit card, or get cash from somewhere (legally, of course). Basically, I’ve just never been “pressed” about money. That is, until December 2018. I was prepping to spend time with my family for the holidays, planning to buy my flight home, and getting excited about the gifts I was going to buy my Secret Santa. (This year, I had drawn my Dad’s name and he always asks for new Nike sweatpants and a college hoodie, so he’s easy. But I digress.) I checked my checking account before booking my flights and realized I was low on cash (Ekk.) “No worries,” I thought, “I’ll just charge it to the game.” That was, until I realized that my credit cards were pushing maxed capacity. That’s when it hit me. I’m bad with money. My “money grows on trees” mentality had gone too far. I was living FAR outside of my means, regularly spending money I didn’t have, digging myself into debt that I was fearful I’d never get out of.
Full of shame and embarrassment about how far I had let my debts get out of control, I called a friend and financial advisor. I told her everything. LIKE EVERYTHING. I told her about the student loans, about the credit cards, about the interest rates, (would y’all believe that one of my credit cards has a 21% interest rate?), and about the auto loan. I told her everything. The first thing she said after I had laid it all out on the table was, “Ashley, what do you value?” I was like, “Girl, huh? Let’s talk budgeting, debt reduction strategies, and couponing. Values don’t cost money. I need to get to the real.” But she pressed me again on the values and she helped me realize that the reason why I’m bad with money is because I don’t really value saving money.
I haven’t really ever seen how saving money benefits me or anyone close to me, and so I used it like a cheap trick. In general, money flowed in and out of my life, and I never saw the value of hanging on to it. I realized that day, that I had to do something to change my relationship with money. Not just “save more, spend less,” but I needed to change how I thought about, talked about, and used money. I had to change my mind about the value of having money, how it should be used, and what it should mean to me. I had to value money. For the entire month of February, I’ll be working on developing this value via Schoolin Life, as all of our February blog and podcast episode content will be focused around finances. We’re calling it Personal Finance February and we’ve invited “substitutes” each week to teach us about how we spend money, how we (should) manage money and relationships, what we need to do to get out of debt, and how to live fabulously while still building big money goals. If you’re bad with money like me, this month’s content is for you. Get excited because, this month, we are getting good (or at least better) at money, together.