Just as a fair warning, I’m fairly new when it comes to money. I just graduated college a year ago, and I definitely have a lifetime to learn when it comes to financial literacy. However, I feel like these are some painful lessons that I had to learn right out of college that other new grads may resonate with!
And so here are 6 things to avoid when handling money:
Not checking your bank account out of fear
This was a reflex action during many grocery store trips and restaurant dinners for me during my college years. Sometimes, there was such an immense fear related to how much money I had (or didn’t have), that checking my bank account became taboo. I did NOT want to check how little there was left, I just wanted to buy a noodle bowl for dinner.
Make sure you make it a habit to check your bank account. Open it even if there hasn’t been any changes. Remember you can control your spendings! Rather than inserting your card and praying there’s money, allocate a specific amount for spending and be actively aware of how much is in your bank account!
FACE YOUR FEARS HEAD ON! If you can open your bank account even at the brink of being super broke, who knows what else you can do?
Believing you need to struggle to “deserve” money
Growing up in a low income household, money was sacred. It dominated my family’s every move. Eating out at McDonalds was a treat (never get sodas just water!!), and toys were very unnecessary (new toys seemed ridiculous to me). I even stumbled upon my 6th grade diary where I wrote “I can’t have a cavity! It costs 450$ just for a crown!”. Whether or not this information was accurate, I couldn’t believe how aware I was of my family’s spending concerns.
The reason I related suffering and money is because my dad worked 3-5 jobs on rotation just to support us. He even tried a handful of random side hustles (sold uniforms, frozen fish, recycled water bottles etc. on the side).
This combination of seeing my dad drive himself into sheer exhaustion only to gain little income drilled into my brain that money was something you have to suffer over. You need to struggle in order to get any type of income.
If you don’t struggle, it’s not “real” money. I placed higher value on physically working for money rather than other ways like re-selling old clothes. The 15$ I worked for at an internship seemed more valuable than the 15$ I earned selling an old dress.
It’s the same amount of money, but to me it was very different.
This is obviously a VERY WRONG mindset to have with money.
It may not be easy to have an income in the moment, but do not limit yourself to thinking money will always be hard to come by. Make sure you have an open mind to earning money. Understand that you can always work towards a job or a side business that can help you make an income that’s more comfortable without having to wreck yourself over.
It will take hard work and consistency, BUT DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF TO THIS. Read up on financial literacy, educate yourself through free material readily available online.
Money doesn’t have to be the center of your life forever.
Not wanting to spend ANYTHING, even for very important reasons
As a result of growing up in a low income family, spending in general seemed like the worst move possible. Why would you spend money if you don’t have any? There are bills to pay people!
This reluctance to spend can take on an extreme form, to the point where your health is ignored.
This is not okay!
For example, if you need to buy glasses, buy the glasses! If you need to go to a dentist, go to a dentist. If you need to buy a new chair for your desk because you work at home and your back has gotten absolutely wrecked thanks to your wooden stool, buy a new chair! If you need healthy food but it will cost a couple dollars more, just buy the healthier food items!
It’s so easy to brush off all types of spending as BAD, when in reality you need to learn how to prioritize what you’re spending on.
As an example, my dad never spent any time or money on his health. Everything the doctors recommended that cost money, my dad brushed off. Now he’s struggling with his health.
Saving a couple hundred dollars now is not worth having larger problems later on! Of course this is easy to say, but health insurance in the U.S. is horrendous, and I acknowledge that. If you have the means to, definitely prioritize this!
This also comes in smaller scales. If you think not spending will save you money now, but inconvenience you daily…that’s not a great decision.
Ex. If you really need a new laptop because your job is heavily dependent on it…buy a new laptop instead of struggling with a terrible old one. Make sure you’re spending money when you need to!
Money and Finance is big and scary (never understand it)
For all the years we spend in school preparing to prepare us for the real world, the mandatory curriculum spend about 0% of our time in school educating us about a HUGE factor in our adult lives (like taxes).
If you don’t know something about a topic, it can be incredibly intimidating. And scary. And something you just don’t want to touch with a 5 foot pole.
This is something we a lot of us can relate to when it comes to being financially literate.
Money is scary when we only know we have to earn it! It’s this large cloud where we know we need it, but that’s about it.
However, there’s a point where we hit sheer exhaustion of being afraid of money and finances. It’s tiring having to be on edge because of something that seems to dictate every move in your life.
We can’t live like this!
Just as I said earlier, face your fears, and dive in and learn about it. My journey to financial literacy has just begun, and I’m excited to see how I’ll handle it in the future.
There are a lot of resources online (my starting point in college was the financial diet on youtube!). But the more you google and learn, the more resources you’ll come across!
Looking down on Cheesy looking finance self-help books.
Does anyone else feel that those books with “how to make the most cash in your lifetime” topics with a white male on the front look like one big scam?
They just look so outdated, unpleasant, unrelatable, and just a straight up not good time.
Well, I’m here to tell you we probably shouldn’t look down on it. Just because the cover is something…aesthetically displeasing, we shouldn’t knock the material down with it.
We need to take in as many resources as we can, and walk away with the highlighted points that resonate with us so we can finally shake off the feeling of dread with our seemingly dry bank accounts.
Thinking about money and wanting more than what’s necessary is super shallow and ethically bad!!!
It’s not bad to want money, but for some reason there are a lot of people who feel shame with wanting more than what’s necessary.
If you want more money so you can enjoy your life, there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t make you a big selfish monster that doesn’t care about anyone else. It just means you want to live life well.
I used to think “I definitely don’t need a fancy life, I can live with just what I need!” which is true, but if I want more money beyond my means to live comfortably, then that’s NOT a bad goal either.
Wanting more money is not shameful. Do your part and help others in as many ways as possible, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely deprive yourself of things you want in life as well.
This is a mindset that’s definitely harder for me to swallow. Since I’ve always justified making a small amount of money with being noble, and morally in check, this sudden switch in mindset to allow myself to want more money is jarring.
Get off your high horse! Money is just a tool to live the life you want. It’s a tool and thats it, so it’s okay to want to make a lot of it!
I hope these tips were somewhat helpful! I know that graduating college is such a weird milestone, and now we have adult responsibilities that seem utterly foreign and overwhelming.
Overall, I hope these tips sparked an interest to research your way into financial literacy. I’m a FAR ways from being at the level of financial literacy that I want, but that fact that I’m taking the steps toward it reassure me.
Comment down below if you’ve also carried some of these toxic mindsets/habits, and any tips you have to be wiser with our money!