I grew up in a house where money–both what one earned and what one spent–were openly talked about by my dad. He told us to never try and “keep up with the Joneses”…because the truth is that the Joneses are broke. Just like many people might consider themselves “above average drivers” or not “conspicuous spenders” because they aren’t wearing gold chains and awaiting a private jet, so they assume their spending is reasonable.
My dad also taught the importance of saving and how my siblings and I would have a drastically more volatile saving and economic environment to grow up in and eventually retire in. I like to think I got a degree in finance from the “school of Ron” (Ron is my dad) because from my very first encounters with money…like having five dollars in allowance for the week (but only after going through six categories of self and then parental evaluation, more on that later), to seeing my dad out in our garage at 2 AM painting an antique car so he could make a few hundred dollars to pay for my braces when it was fifteen degrees below zero, I knew that not everyone had the type of relationship that he did with money.
So why did he teach me all those things? It went further than “don’t live beyond your means”, he gave me advice for how to get ahead in life. Sometimes I feel like I’m cashing in on those lessons, but there have been many things that I’ve needed to learn on my own about money that he never could have prepared me for. Our thoughts surrounding money after we leave the nest are forced to shift and we must come to terms with the fact that the bank of mom and dad has closed its doors.
(I hope you have an old soul and forgive my dated cultural reference here)
But there’s a huge problem with all this…we as millennials seem to have less knowledge about money and finances than any generation before us…in a time when where the opposite should be true given the financial hurdles that exist to adulthood and financial independence that were not there 30 years ago. Managing our money and learning about personal finance needs to happen in all of our lives, whether we like it or not. But most people (myself included, at one time) have taken a reluctant, dispassionate approach to money. Also, who came up with this concept in 2007 and forgot to tell the music industry, I don’t think it’s nearly as fun as how they sing about it!
photo via http://makeagif.com/t9IhAZ
I think part of that has come about because we no longer have to feel like we are truly “spending” it. We are emotionally detached from the money we work so hard for as a result of debit and credit cards (which are great, don’t get me wrong, but we need to use them in the right way!), paperless statements and online shopping. I’m not saying we all need to cut up our credit cards and all live on that cold hard cash money alone, but we cannot “opt out” of caring for our finances in the way the cold hard stuff forced us to do. As much as I hate to stand in line behind the person paying by cash or check, the simple act of taking cash out of your wallet provokes a conscious decision that you are exchanging the money you earned for a good or service.
I’d suggest we enlist ourselves and everyone we know in some deep diving sessions about our finance. ESPECIALLY if you have combined your finances with a significant other. More on that later…but I’d like to use this first post to set an intent of rewriting our money rules so that we 1) know what we are spending today, 2) determine whether or not some changes in spending habits needs to happen or not, 3) create some rules for spending and saving that will help us achieve our financial goals, and 4) have a better relationship with money. There is freedom that comes from knowing what you are spending and feeling good about it. Nobody should have to get scared when their credit card statement shows up each month if they’ve set out and followed some established spending rules for themselves.
If you want to understand where your money is going, how to save for retirement, how to have good credit, how to pick the right health insurance, how to save more money, and other adultish goals, then I hope you’ll check in with me on my journey to dissect and/or debunk these seemingly complex things.
I also hope you will share with me where you are on your own financial journey. What are things that have worked for you in getting your money matter in shape, helped you prioritize saving, or helped you cut spending? I would genuinely love to hear! Leave some words below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Promise I’ll actually be on the other end and answer…
All the best,
Hashtags are so 2013, but unfortunately the internet still likes using them as search tools.
#personalfinance #millennials #moneymatters #isanybodyreadingthis?