There’s a lot of money advice floating around on the Internet…and in life.
Invest in bonds. But maybe stocks as well. Just kidding! Index funds are the best.
Buy that house. (No, not that one. The other one.)
Pay off your debt fast. But also build an emergency fund of $7,892.13. While you’re at it, save for retirement too.
It’s overwhelming, and people typically respond to the stress (and guilt) in one of three ways:
The Eager Learner
After reading an article about the latest money app, you happily sign up. It looks a little complicated, but it’s what the experts recommend, so you promise yourself to make time for it after work. Two hours later, a Facebook article catches your eye: “The Money App That Will Change Your Life and Make Everything Better.”
You click on it and are surprised to find that the app in the article is different than the one you just bought. Diligently, you download this one as well. By the time you arrive home that evening, your money to-do list from the “experts” is a mile long. Feeling defeated, you toss the list and turn on Netflix instead, promising yourself that tomorrow will be different.
Or maybe your day is different.
The Internal Bully
You’re on your way to work. It’s early and you’ve had a long week. Nothing in the world sounds better than a cup of coffee. Stopping by your local store, you purchase a cappuccino. After taking the cup from the barista, the silent barrage of self-hate begins:
“God, you suck with money. This is why you’re always broke.”
As you sip your latte, a familiar sentence is on repeat in your head, “I’m bad with money. I’m bad with money. I’m bad with money.”
Whether it’s the “experts” who make you feel like a financial failure or the vicious little voice inside your head, there’s no end to the barrage of information, to-do’s and well-meaning articles.
But maybe your relationship with money is even less, um, defined.
Too Scared to Look
It’s nearing the end of the month and you know your bank account is getting dangerously low. When your best friend invites you to happy hour after work, you start to sweat.
Will there be enough money in your account to pay for a $5 glass of wine?
You’re not sure but decide to hope for the best. Looking at your account and facing the truth is way too stressful and you’d rather take your chances. You arrive at the bar and order a drink. Holding your breath, you watch the bartender swipe your card. The seconds pass in slow motion. You feel like you might pass out. Finally, he smiles and hands your card back. You breathe a sigh of relief.
Your account isn’t at zero…at least not yet.
No matter what “type” you are, we’ve all been there.
The awkward moment when your card is declined at a restaurant (ahem, Cheesecake Factory) or the time when you didn’t have enough credit left on your credit card to pay a rental car deposit (Sorry, Enterprise). Or maybe it was the time you felt so guilty about buying a cup of coffee that you wanted to cry.
Regardless of where you’ve been with money or where you might end up, there’s a little secret you should know:
You’re better with money than you think.
You have survived. You’ve paid the rent, bought the groceries and kept the lights on. You’ve saved for big expenses; traveled to far-off places (or maybe just the next city) and you’ve realized some of your dreams.
You’ve worked jobs and then worked some more. You’ve bought your family presents and been there for night outs on your friends’ birthdays. You’ve paid your monthly payments and tried to save the rest. You’ve learned and you’ve grown.
Money is complicated. Saving, budgeting, learning and failing.
But you’ve come this far, and that’s a pretty amazing feat.