Coming out of college I worked as an AmeriCorps Volunteer for one year. In many ways, the job jump started my personal finance journey. I had worked all throughout college often 2 jobs at once. But I definitely had not budgeted that income, the way that AmeriCorps required me too. I loved my AmeriCorps position but at the same time I realized I had a ways to go in understanding my own personal finances.
So I did what I do when I have no idea where to start. I started asking questions to friends and family; looking for books to read; and opened the wonderful world of Google.
There is an unrelenting amount of information on Personal Finance available.
Not surprisingly, there is a TON of information out there on finances, and a lot of it seems conflicting. As I was reading, I felt the slow creep of dread and panic set in. Somehow the more I read, the more I was 50 years behind in the finance game and everything seemed like it needed to be done all at once.
After talking to my sister, my dad, and only 2 to 3 small breakdowns I realized I had to filter this information better. After all, it’s called PERSONAL finance for a reason right?
Filter, filter, filter until you find your Personal Finance people.
I realized 3 things were important baselines to me:
- Shame free Approach. No guilt trips for Starbucks or even Avocado Toast. This ruled out a lot of people right away.
- Intersectionality, surprising right?. Money is political and that means we all start from different starting lines. People who didn’t acknowledge this weren’t going to be for me.
- Approachability. Talking about money is hard because we don’t do it a lot. Finding people who made it seem like just another conversation was important
This helped me find my starter personal finance people: Clever Girl Finance, BrownKids, The Financial Diet, and Her First 100K. They fit all three of my baselines and from there I was able to cull the information into the one saying that changed everything for me.
My Money Mantra
This one saying took the shame and fear out of personal finance for me. It made finance something that is flexible and adaptive. It meant that checking in on my budget wasn’t a test to see how “good” or “bad” I had been; rather a time to see if I was spending my money in ways that fit my life. It helped move me from being the person who treated their debit card like a gift card to someone who checks in on finances at least once a month.
Having this statement as my own personal touch tree has made all the difference in my personal finance journey. It means it’s okay for me the buy the new book, the new shoes, reload the Starbucks card on my phone, and or get the mani/pedi. At the same time, it still urges me to pay off consumer debt (because I, like, most Americans have debt), plan for retirement, save for vacations, and other future endeavors.
If you’re just starting out, my first advice would be to find your touch tree. Filter out all the information that doesn’t work for you (including this if needed!) until you find what does. And if this mantra helps you get started feel free to use it as your touch tree as well.