I just read a post on Allie Lehman's blog Be Up & Doing about money. In her blog she talks about her history with money and how she now handles money today; she also discussed what she spends money on and why. I enjoyed this blog because like Allie I also find what people spend their money on interesting particularly because at the end of the day what really matters in life can't be bought or sold; so it's really not about the money. Financial matters is something I have given a lot of thought to in the past 10 or so years of my life so her blog inspired me to share my money story.
Growing up we did not have a lot of money, after my Father passed away when I was 5 years old, that is when we moved from Jamaica to the United states so that my Grandparents (my Mother's parents) could help my Mother raise my sister's and I; financially and otherwise. My Mother worked but made very little money so we lived with my Grandparents during the school week and would go to my Mom's on the weekends. My Grandparents felt this was the most stable environment for us and it took most of the financial burden off of my mother. My Grandmother did not work (she stayed home to take care of us) which means that this left my Grandfather financially responsible for Both of them and the 4 of us (There are 7 girls in my family but my older sister Renee has a different Mother and my two younger sisters were not born yet). He also gave my Mother money on a regular basis to help her with bills and such and he occasionally helped my Aunt out as well. I can't imagine how much pressure this was for him and to be honest I don't know how he managed it all.
The downside to this is that we heard almost daily that there was no money for so many of the things we wanted; we always got what we needed and looking back we got more of the things we wanted than it felt like at the time. But hearing that there was no money got into my head and to this day the fear of not having enough is very real in my daily life and has affected how I handle money.
I got a job when I was 15 years old and immediately started saving money to move out. For many reasons I just wanted to be on my own and independent from my family. I put college on hold so I could work more and moved into my first apartment when I was 19. That is when I discovered credit cards, I never went as crazy as some people do but I did purchase a lot of things on credit. Up until that point I had gone my entire life constantly hearing that I couldn't have what I wanted so now whether it was with cash or credit I was going to have it. For the first years I spent money as quickly as I made it and mostly only made the minimum payments on my credit cards because in my naivety I had not paid attention to the crazy high interest rates (I'm talking like 24.99% and no I am not exaggerating). If I was happy I shopped, If I was sad I shopped. And I can definitely relate to what Allie said about buying things because I wanted to people to like me; I wouldn't have admitted it at the time but I spent a lot of money trying to buy people's love, friends and boyfriends.
Then I went to college and discovered student loans.
I was paying my own way through college and had all of my household bills and a car payment so I did have to borrow some money but I borrowed a lot more money than I needed to pay for school. Student Loan disbursement day was also a major shopping spree day. I am not proud of these things but it is the truth and fortunately I learned a lot from these mistakes; albeit the hard way.
My financial turn around started when I was 27.
I sold and gave away 99% of the things that I owned and moved from Miami, FL to Phoenix, AZ with 2 suitcases of clothes, my 2 cats and $200 in my bank account. I had never even visited before I moved, I didn't know anyone there, I had no car and no job. It was hard but it was the best thing I ever did because it forced me to figure things out; and fast. I was determined not to make the same mistakes, financial or otherwise that I had before.
I worked hard, some times 3 jobs at a time and over my 8 years in AZ I paid of my credit card debt, rebuilt my credit score from 460 to over 780 and I slowly, very slowly purchased clothing and the things I needed for my home.
My husband and I are in a good place financially but purchasing a home a year and a half ago along with shifting my business focus and launching a new business over the past year (which has caused a loss in income for right now) has brought up a lot of my old feelings and fears about finances.
We use Mint to manage our finances and budgets and it's great; it really appeals to my OCD and helps us stay on track financially.
So What Do We & Don't We Spend Our Money On Now?
- We pay for quality food. We buy Organic whenever it is available and buy high quality healthy whole foods.
- We don't spend a lot of money eating out (not anymore, we did for awhile). Restaurant food is very expensive and not very healthy (even the "healthy" stuff).
- We pay a little over $60/moth for both our gym memberships.
- We don't get massages or have spa days. I don't get my nails done and I don't spend a lot of money at hair salons, I only get my hair cut and colored about twice a year.
- Christopher loves to Golf and goes an average of twice a month during season.
- He never spends more than $35 a round, he hunts and waits for deals.
- We pay to get Christopher's work shirts Dry Cleaned.
- We don't pay someone to clean our home. Like Allie we often workout what our hourly rate is vs paying someone to do it but because I work from home it's really not that hard for me to fit the cleaning in during my work hours especially because I often need little breaks throughout the day.
- We pay for good cars, one of our cars was just under $30k and the other is just over $30k.
- We don't pay a lot for gas because both of our cars are newer, are eco-friendly and get great gas mileage.
- We pay for quality furniture. We look for deals and our house is a combination of high and low but this is a long-term home for us so we believe it is good to invest in quality pieces.
- We don't hoard, we sell or donate anything and everything we don't need or are no longer using.
- We pay for quality clothing. Again we look for deals but we much prefer to spend a bit more on one item that will last vs several that are cheap and trendy.
- We don't shop often and again, we don't hoard, we sell or donate anything and everything we don't need or are no longer using.
So how do you handle money? How do you think your financial history has affected that? What do you and don't you spend money on?
Illustration & Font by me