Since I’ve been out of the military, living civilian life, with a young daughter, I’ve learned a lot about finances. It has been a struggle these past 4 years, and I’ve had to make a lot of choices financially that have been really hard (or even embarrassing). Being broke isn’t fun. In fact, I have had many restless nights, trying to figure out how to stay afloat. I know a lot of people who have been or are in the same boat as me, and I wanted to share what being broke has taught me.
1. It’s taught me that money really isn’t everything. – I often have felt guilty for not being able to get Zoey the things she “wants.” But I started realizing after saving money for some really expensive things for her, that she’s more amused by the cheap stuff. The things I can find at the dollar bin in Target or at The Dollar Tree. And making her feel special means spending time, not money. So, I’ve become much more content with getting an ice cream from McDonald’s than spending $60 for sub-par food at T-Rex.
2. Money can show you what your priorities, and that can be humbling.
3. Always carry cash. Always, always, always. Or if you don’t carry it, at least have a stash. I used to think that cash burned a hole in my pocket, but it’s turned out to be quite the opposite. It’s so easy for me to swipe my debit card over and over, getting ahead of myself, but if I have a set amount of cash, it helps keep better tabs.
4. Save $1 or $2 every day, and it will accumulate fast!
5. If you can’t change your financial woes right now, come up with real solutions for how you can fix them in the future (and it will take some time…a lot of time, in my case).
6. Don’t stay in denial too long. This has been my biggest problem. I get so easily overwhelmed when I see how far behind I’ve fallen or how long I have to go, but I could’ve prevented a lot of these issues if I wouldn’t have tried to sweep them under the rug. The bills won’t suddenly disappear, so you better figure out a way to handle them, or you’ll end up paying more in the long run. <—This one is something I’m battling with currently. It’s tough, but I’m making some progress.
7. And lastly, being broke has humbled me. A lot. I have learned to keep myself in check when I start judging those with money troubles. It is really true that you never know what situations or hard times could’ve fallen on people. I’m glad that I’m not living in a small-minded bubble anymore. People are more than the money they make…or don’t make. And struggling can sometimes give you a much clearer picture of what’s truly important in life.