Are you part of the problem, yearning to have found “the answer”? Financial Literacy is your key to stepping over to the other side.
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Our relationship with money is one of the most important relationships we will ever have. That’s not shallow, or selfish. It’s the truth. Go with me here, its one of the longest relationships we’ll have (aka for your entire life), and its something you probably deal with multiple times a day. You need to have a healthy relationship with money, because if you abuse this relationship, it will drag you under, down to the depths. It will consume you.
Yet, you may not even realize this until years later, just like me. I now know that the key to this relationship is knowledge, specifically financial literacy. So are you like I was? Are you sabotaging yourself? Oblivious to the damage? Read on and learn how my ignorance kicked into a drive to learn about all things money, why I share this info with you and how you too can change your families future to reach your dreams!
Oblivious to Financial Literacy
When I became a new mom, my scope forever changed. It was probably the same for you too. I thought about things differently; I even thought about things that I never even considered before. I invisioned about how I wanted to raise her, with kindness, compassion, strength, and resiliency. I wanted her to have every single opportunity to succeed and to be honest, that’s why my husband and I waited to have kids. We wanted to be financially stable; in our own home, with decent savings, and good jobs before we brought a little one into this world.
Even though I wanted all of these great things, I was oblivious to what that actually meant from a financial standpoint. I had always been a fair saver, but of course, in my younger years, I bought things I shouldn’t have (without even knowing it). I bought a brand new car, clothes I wouldn’t really wear, a gym membership I hardly used, and a condo. My savings were measly, but I didn’t know any better, I thought I was doing a good job putting $50 into an IRA.
Not Even Knowing What You Don’t Know
I was part of the problem, not even knowing I was in trouble. Oblivious to missed opportunities to set myself up for success. I don’t want that for you! If you’re reading this now, you haven’t given up hope of changing your life for the better! You are here to learn, map out your goals and get going on achieving you and your family’s dreams!
At the highest, my husband and I were $17K in debt, living in my mother in law’s basement, trying to save money to buy a house so we could finally start a family. I wasn’t working as I was trying to completely switch career paths which made it even harder for us to not only stop the bleeding but to save for a home. I was spending only $60 a week for groceries for 2.5 people (my mother in law would eat dinners with us), but I wanted more from life.
I did get a job, not in the field that I wanted but close enough to fulfill what I needed from a job. We did get a house, and we did have a baby. Five years later we have a net worth of $390K. Not too shabby. I’m not saying this brag, or say “wow, I’m amazing!” I’m saying this so that you know that a regular, everyday person, with a starting financial literacy score of 12 (out of 1000, I made that score up, but you get the picture) can change their life then so can you!
My Intro to Money Management
People often joke about couponing, but it started me on the path of learning about value, what is something “worth”. Do I have to pay that amount, or can I get it for less if I plan it out a little bit?
So at the low point, in 2013, we were $17,000 in debt, no house, and I didn’t have a job. YIKES! So I couponed and became a detailed and strict budgeter. A year later, with a little bit of help for our family, and a job, and selling my condo (I hardly broke even on it), we were about to buy a house! We had climbed out of the hole. By this time I had read a few of the Dave Ramsey books and had even started listening to his podcasts. They are fun and decently entertaining.
While listening to a podcast, they talked about a recent, fairly large survey that they had done. “Today’s Retirement Crisis”.
Some startling facts were…
- 42% of Americans are not saving for their future
- of the 58% that are saving, only one in ten are saving the suggested 15%
- Only 31% of millennials, 51% of GenXers, and 46% of working baby boomers have at least $25,000 saved.
- They broke it down by income levels and found that only 9% of upper-income earners are not currently savings, while 35% of middle-income earners are not saving, and 68% of lower-income level earners are not saving.
- women are twice as likely to have nothing saved than men (ouch!)
After hearing these things, I (sad to say) instantly felt better about what our situation had been. Whew, we weren’t the only ones! There were others who were just as confused as us! Then after a few minutes of feeling all good about belonging, (and not the only one sucking it up with money), I felt confused. Why were so many of us having such a hard time with this?
Finding Out About Financial Literacy, the Mythical “Other Side”
Another DR study really pushed me over the edge, and it said that “More than 60% of American workers currently contribute to a 401(k), and they expect their 401(k)s to be a top source of income when they retire. BUT that 40% of workers say that their workplace does not provide any type of retirement or financial education” (source)
So we are just expecting people to know already how to do these things. Well, let’s see how “we” all learned about money. The study finds that the most common ways people learn about retirement are
- 35% learn about it from their work
- 35% learn about it from their parents
- 32% are learning it from family & friends
No wonder no ones know how to manage their money! We were never officially taught how to handle our money from an educated/official source! Who the F cares about the sides of an isosceles triangle when they have bill collectors calling! Why did school not teach us these things?! Why are we dooming ourselves?
We as a nation are creating generations of idiots (when it comes to financial literacy)! We were happily bleeding to death, setting ourselves and our children up for failure! More so, we were miserable. I mean we are happy because we buy everything we want, but at the end of the day, the bills keep coming, each one higher than the last. We’re not slowing down; we are speeding up. Large corporations are taking advantage of our ignorance and selling us huge mortgages, leased cars, and boats. (unless your Popeye, you don’t need to own a boat). I was pissed; I still am a little, to be honest.
So for six months or so I sat on this anger, yet still voraciously learning about money any way I could! Lots of books, lots of podcasts, lots of magazines, and lots of googling! I was slightly obsessed. I gleefully sat at home on Saturday night in my pj’s playing around with mortgage payoff calculators.
Finding My Jam
With this obsession came an urge to share this info with my fellow workers, because I knew that as a company they didn’t “teach” us anything. In fact, the only opportunities to learn came once a quarter, where you could sign up for 15 minutes with a representative from a fiduciary that is partnered with our retirement plan provider. Boo! With the time slots allotted, only 7% of our store staff had the opportunity to sit down with this person.
So I pitched my boss to let me teach DR’s Baby Steps through a book study program. I had seven people go through it the first time, and another seven people the next round. It felt amazing!
The Money Conversation
I loved learning about money, and what’s more, I took notice of who was talking about money management skills and strategies. I was listening to their language, their familiarity. For the most part, they weren’t talking money for me. They were talking about money for people like my husband. Men. Making sports references, bro talk, beer ads, stuff I didn’t really relate to or connect with. For an instant, I thought “maybe this isn’t for me”, I thought that maybe I was in over my head.
I was smart, damn smart. As a human adult, I deserved to be a part of this conversation! Because if I had felt that way (even for an instant), then I know others did too. There were women just like me trying to learn, trying to achieve great things for their family. What if they got overwhelmed and gave up? I prayed that they didn’t. I pray that you won’t give up.
I realized that if women all around weren’t feeling a part of the conversation then we needed to start our own conversation!
Money for the Mamas
This is why I’m here. I’m here to have a discussion with you about money! About what you want your money to do for you. I want you to have your money plan so well laid out and executed that you have the luxury of forgetting when payday is. I want you to feel secure, that you’ve covered all your bases in case the worst should happen. I want you to know, and be confident that you have set your financial life up in a way that will build you and your family the future of your dreams.
I challenge you! I challenge you to take just one hour of your day and use it to build a better future, one hour a day learning about money. That’s how I started; I listened to personal finance podcasts on my commute to work. Don’t you feel that this is worth one hour?!
I want you to go to bed each night knowing that your children will have full bellies, happy hearts, and bright futures. I want that peace for you. So let’s start learning, thinking, planning, and implementing money management strategies and plans to get you there! Because YOU are a part of this conversation, make no mistake, you belong here!
You’re first step along the path is in identifying and changing how you view money.
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