Coming out of college I was offered a job with a starting salary of $75,000 dollars. That’s more money than a lot of people 10+ years into their career make. I was living large! But when that job got in the way of my mental health and I was far from doing something I liked, let alone was passionate about, I had to quit. My current job is a dream. I love what I do and actually get excited (most of the time) to go into work. BUT I’m not making nearly as much as I used to and that transition has been a STRUGGLE.
First, I’d like to say I am not really that money motivated. I would so much rather be rewarded with PTO, trips, flexible work hours and other things of that nature. But I have found myself constantly wondering 1) what would it be like to not be stressed about money and 2) I often find myself comparing myself to others in terms of monetary success.
I see people in my circle buying houses and going on amazing trips. But when I go to check my bank account I’m stressed about if I will have enough to cover groceries for the next two weeks. Contrary to what you may believe (thanks to social media), I think most people in their 20’s feel this struggle. If it’s not groceries, it’s wondering if you can afford new decor in your house or if you can eat out with friends. Like all things in life I think it’s about balance. If you go out with your friends and spend $30+ on food, the next night try cooking with only what you have in your cabins. Do not deprive yourself of fun for the sake of money. You do not sit at a desk 9 hours a day to go home and sit on your couch to save money. Learning to be aware of your spending habits is the first step on the road to saving.
TIP: Speaking of balance, one thing that has helped me control my finances is balancing a checkbook. Yes, an old school checkbook. You write down every transaction you make and it forces you to be extra mindful of what you spend because you have to write it out!
Moving on to the more pressing issue of monetary success. On this point, I have three thoughts…
1) Being poor as a young person is a right of passage. Part of growing up is learning how to sacrifice some of your wants for some of your needs. This is a lesson you will never learn if you are showered in money. It’s also important to learn that things don’t make you happy. This is a lesson that cannot be achieved if you are able to buy whatever you want. When you ask yourself if you would be happy if you were richer, ask yourself too “would I truly be happier if you could buy the things you don’t have now?” Most likely the answer is no, not truly.
2) If you’re comparing yourself to how much money other people make, STOP! Because you really don’t know how much they are making. If you think you know , you probably don’t. People often stretch the truth when sharing their salary. Everyone loves to flex.
3) Success isn’t determined by money. The poorest people in the world can find fulfillment in what they have. Find what makes you feel successful and powerful, other than money, and follow that high.