Not so much- but I have made some strides over the years. Learning how to handle my finances has been an incredible journey. It has literally taken me so much time to get to a point where I feel comfortable with how I choose to handle money. It has always been a challenge, but the process of learning is a continuous one.
Why Wasn’t It Ever A Priority Before?
I honestly don’t know! I guess I can attribute it to mindset? There are drastic differences between how the wealthy handle money vs. everyone else. The wealthy does not focus on instant gratification. They understand the importance of planning for the future through investments. They don’t like debt. All of these concepts to me didn’t matter. I know better now and slowly but surely I am changing my approach but it’s taken me a lifetime!
Living Well Beyond My Means
I was once guilty of doing things like taking out payday advances. I know- horrible. When you’re living beyond the money that you make, everything becomes an emergency. You become complacent with paying what ever ridiculous fees that are associated with borrowing the money. As long as at the end of the day the cash was in my hand- that’s all that mattered. I can’t tell you today, what it is that I purchased with my borrowed money that was so important, but I know I paid the $55 fee every time I borrowed that $500. Not to mention the 390% to 780% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) charged on the borrowed money- in addition to being stuck in a cycle of borrowing and paying back every two weeks. Yes, I am guilty of falling into that trap. I became part of the “consumer debt club” that so many of us are a part of carrying multiple lines of credit and high interest credit cards. We’re not even going to talk about the unnecessary student loans right now. The goal was always to pay it back- eventually. But I didn’t quite understand that becoming a college graduate didn’t necessarily mean that I would be making some large amount of money out the gate that would allow me to both support myself and pay off all of this debt that I had accumulated.
So Here We Are
So as a travel nurse, I decided as one of my goals starting out, I wanted to pay off all of my consumer debt and student loans- for real this time. I had made this goal so many times before but I feel such an urgency now. When I do decide to go shopping or make any type of additions to my wardrobe, I keep a few things in mind.
- I don’t always pay full price
I am totally ok with shopping at outlets malls where clothes are significantly less. Though the clothes may be out of season, but who cares? You’re getting good quality pieces at a fraction of the price. If you know how to creatively put together the pieces (or you have friends that can help you pair your outfits together), it honestly doesn’t matter if the clothes were released last season!
- I am always looking for a coupon
Before I make any purchase, I look for coupons. Majority of the time, you’ll either find a coupon from the manufacturer or a third party company. Some stores are even willing to take competitor coupons. It does not hurt to ask!
- I don’t follow a trend
I don’t claim to be the most fashionable but I look decent most of the time. Trends come and go, and these companies will adjust the price based on demand. I’ve seen some of the same styles come and go since I was in elementary school! If you like an item, purchase it! Don’t worry about whether or not it’s mainstream. It’s all about how you carry yourself anyway. If you rock it with confidence, you’re bound to look dope!
- I always compare prices
Just because it’s online or it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest. It takes me less than five minutes to do a quick search online to compare prices. We have these smartphones, we might as well make it work for us! I tend to compare the online prices vs in-store prices, taking into consideration tax, shipping/handling, and any promo deals that I can take advantage of.
- I take advantage of loyalty programs
So let me clarify- I don’t purchase loyalty cards nor do I sign up for a credit card specifically to get money off for a one-time purchase. Let’s be clear, these credit card companies aren’t successful because we all pay off the full balance every month to avoid the interest. I don’t sign up for email lists and my reasoning for this is though they do email coupons, those emails can prompt you to make unnecessary purchases.
Money management is a work-in-progress, and I am always trying to find more ways to shop for less. Where ever you are in achieving the goal of becoming a part of the debt-free community, it’s never too late to start. Do your research and do what fits you. Write your goals down, and start today!
Relevant Books & Resources:
The Total Money Takeover: Dave Ramsey
Women & Money: Suze Orman