Written and provided by Veronica Grant

How many times have you felt so anxious about your money you coped with a bowl of ice cream or drowned your sorrows in alcohol you couldn’t afford?

Welcome to tax season, friends. To celebrate {yes, I love tax season!} I’m switching things up a bit for the next few weeks. I’m writing all about my 2nd love: personal finance. And let’s be honest, it’s all related. I trace my good money habits back to when I was 13 years old.

I convinced my parents to give my little sister + me a hefty allowance each month, 10 times our age to be exact.

My parents’ first reaction was to laugh me out of the house. Then, being the negotiator I am, I told them the caveat: The allowance would be the ONLY money they would give us. They would pay for our food, shelter, and medicine. But we would pay for everything else: clothes, school trips, social activities, our friends’ birthday presents, everything.

Their 2nd reaction was to take bets on how long this system would last. Surely by mid-month they thought, I’d be crawling back for money because I blew it at the mall in one day. But, they agreed to give it a try.

Turns out, the system worked like a charm.

So since I was 13 years old, I’ve been learning how I could afford to buy the things I want, even if the item was a significant {or greater} percentage of my monthly income. If I needed a new winter jacket, for example, I learned I had to start saving in July for it.

Fast forward to the first day of my first job, already having good budgeting habits in place, it’s not surprising that I opened a 401(k) + Mint account on the same day so I could track my money down to the penny.

When I tell people this story, many think it sounds exhausting + controlling. But I want to reframe the conversation.

Knowing exactly where my money goes + where I want it to go has given me immense freedom + abundance. 


Freedom. A strict budget may seem like the opposite of freedom. But before I had my first job, and a regular income, I had my parents’ allowance + random part time jobs. I was your typical broke student. The money ebbed + flowed, so it was more difficult to stick to a regular budget. 

When I didn’t have a budget while in undergrad + grad school, I felt guilty EVERY time I spent money.

Sure, it’s normal to feel guilty about spending money on frivolous things, but I felt guilty spending money even on things like groceries or gas. I had no real sense of what I could actually afford, I just knew that I had to spend as little as possible.

Not a way to live.

Fast forward to my first job, I set up an account with Mint.com + created a monthly budget. To this day, I take 20 minutes or so at the beginning of each month to literally piece together my budget puzzle. Then I check up on where I am in my budget in my budget each week.

I’ve learned where my priorities are so I can better understand where I should or shouldn’t spend my money.

Organic produce? That’s important to me. Ralph Lauren socks? Not so much. I can live happily with the cheapest brand from Target.

When I look at where I spend money, I make sure I prioritize spending money where I LOVE to spend money, and cut back in areas that don’t do anything for me.

For example, I spend a lot of money on groceries because I prioritize high quality brands of packaged foods + organic produce.

But that also means I don’t buy as many new clothes as some of my friends do. But that doesn’t really bother me because I’m most comfortable in cheap Target yoga pants anyways.

Nice clothes don’t make me as happy as high quality groceries.

So if wining + dining + Ralph Lauren socks are your thing, then put your money there, but you may find you have to cut back on your grocery store trips. It’s just a balancing act, and you’ve gotta figure out how much to put where.

I find immense freedom in this because now, when I spend $3 for an avocado, I don’t feel guilty. I know that I’m budgeting around my priorities, so I can afford it, and still honor my other financial priorities.

The moral of the story? Put your money where your heart is.


Abundance.{Sometimes, talking about money is awkward, private, or even considered rude. So I’ll go ahead + tell you I’m not leaving anything out here.}

I wanted to feel abundant on any budget. Just like I encourage my clients to not wait on the weight, I didn’t want to wait on the money for abundance.

When I got my first job, the only money I had in my name was my leftover student loan money from graduate school. And in the 5 years since that, I’ve saved almost $35k towards retirement, have a separate investment account, have a 6-month emergency fund, cut my student loan debt almost in half, paid for vacations to Tanzania, Brazil, and Guatemala, and I’ve invested over $10k into my business, including health coach, yoga, and business training. And I’ve never made more than $60k a year.

I’m not telling you this to brag, but how tracking my finances down to the penny allowed me to have more abundance in my life.

It is possible to have abundance on any budget.

I knew I had choices every month I could make that would help me feel more or less abundant. For example, after I finished mapping out my monthly budget, I might have had an extra $50. I had to decide, would I save this toward one of my goals or would I add it to my monthly social or clothes budget?

There isn’t a right answer + my answer may have changed month to month depending on the season {in the summer I like to go out more} or what else was going on in my life.

I learned that I feel most abundant when I can have a modest social life, but still travel, invest in my personal development, and grow a financial cushion.

That may be different for you, and you may not even care to feel abundant. You may want to feel something else in your relationship with your money. That’s okay too.

I know personal finance can be anxiety-provoking, and send you straight to the cookie jar, especially if you know you have years of money cleanup to do.

If you want to have a positive relationship with your money, then decide how you want it to make you feel.

Do this for yourself, but more importantly, do it for your future self. A simple mindset shift may be all you need to get you to sit down, crunch some numbers, and start tracking your money. If freedom + abundance don’t help you relate you to your money better, I’ve got some other words to get you started:

 

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.

 

 

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