3 Ways I Found Financial Balance and Started to Heal
Hi there. For our recurring Money IRL series, I interviewed...myself, basically, by reflecting on my journey harnessing my finances, all of which inspired me to start this company. Here's the three most important aspects of the beginning of my journey towards financial healing. Once I put these three things into practice, I was able to make major strides towards my financial goals.
I got comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I started checking my bank account and credit score every single morning. I wrote down my total debt – all $74,000 of it – on a sticky note. I added up all my overdraft fees of 2017 and calculated what I could have done with that money. I think about exactly how much money I’m making every day, from billable hours, the ROI of any invested work, and the impact of any purchases I make, no matter how small. I have an entire calendar dedicated to due dates, and alerts to pay / confirm scheduled payment for the week’s upcoming goals. I tracked my daily expenses in an excel doc. I became so familiar with my financial shortcomings that I could move through it, like water. Because that was the point, after all – to move through it, past it, out of it; to realize that it could be fluid and therefore changeable.
I stopped sweating the small stuff.
Because my major expenses are related to rent, student loans, or supporting my family, my overall spending each month is only slightly impacted by the smaller purchases, which I tend to over-stress on. So I’ve become more lenient with the little things, particularly those that give me more time back in my day (to earn that money). I’ll buy a coffee when I’m tired, or grab lunch if I didn’t have the time to make it in the morning. If I’m out with friends at dinner, I’ll spend what I want. It might seem counter-intuitive, but taking this approach enabled me to stress less, and enjoy more.
I started talking about it.
Growing up, we didn’t talk about money. My mom always wanted to make sure that regardless of how much we had, we always looked our absolute best. We dressed up for school each day in starched dresses my mom spent countless hours sewing for us, socks with the lace, sneakers scrubbed white. I've learned to accept that the shame and guilt around money is a part of my childhood, a part of being black in America, a part of who I am. It’s given me this deep-seated practice of avoiding money conversations, and always showing my best face no matter what. This is compounded in the entrepreneur landscape that’s designed for affluent individuals with fast exits and flashy titles, all that insinuate financial success. I’ve found that expressing my discomfort and uncertainty around money doesn’t just bring me closer to my peers, but paints a more healthy perspective of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Talking about it with friends and starting dahla (hi!) has been a great source of relief.