How to Become Confident with Money

Perhaps you’re nervous because you’re saddled with debt. Maybe someone else has always managed your finances, and you feel incapable of handling them on your own. Or maybe you just prefer the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” way of coping with your finances, keeping yourself in the dark regarding all money matters. Whatever the case, it’s undeniable: there’s something about finances that can shake up even the most confident of people. But more importantly, know that you can and should shake off your financial fears.

I wasn’t always confident about money. In college, I would rack up an unhealthy balance on my credit cards–and since I made the monthly payments, I didn’t see what the big deal was. As long as I was employed, I figured I would always have enough for everything I wanted to buy. This reasoning, obviously, was flawed.

When I started my first real job, I realized I really wanted to learn how to manage my money and set up a budget. In other aspects of my life, I liked to be organized because it makes everything run smoother when I have a plan. I decided that I could apply this to my finances, creating a financial plan that would make my life easier.

I had no financial education whatsoever—I was just an average girl who wanted to gain the skills I needed to manage my money properly. Here’s how I started my journey as a financial flunkie and became a confident, money maven:

Educate yourself

Whenever I want to learn about a particular topic, I try and gather as much information as I can on it. My first stop was the library, where I picked up several books on the beginner’s steps to finances. I started out with Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke. I realized I was young, fabulous AND broke, so I figured this book was perfect for me! I also surfed personal finance blogs and started picking up on tips. I read articles online and started listening to personal finance shows. I exposed myself to anything that would help me form a well-rounded opinion of what the proper steps were to become financially independent and secure.

Start with the basics

As I started reading, I was easily overwhelmed by the thought of all the different aspects of finances—how much do you spend, how much should you save, how do you pay off debt, how do you save for retirement, how can you afford a house… the questions were endless and became more and more complicated as I let my mind run wild.

To stay focused and unintimidated, I realized I needed to start with the basics. After all, Carrie Bradshaw didn’t become Carrie Bradshaw overnight. First, I determined what my total income was each month and how much I could expect from my four different jobs at the time. I then pulled out my old bills and saw what my mandatory expenses were. At the time, I paid my cell phone bill, car payment, car insurance, and student loans. I then estimated my gas usage for the month.

When I realized how much money I had leftover, I was flabbergasted… at how little there was! Where was it all going?! That’s when I decided I needed to track my expenses, and I got into the nitty gritty of a plan for my finances.

One step at a time

Focusing on one goal or one area that needed attention before moving on to the next helped me gain the confidence I needed to become secure–not only financially, but with my decision-making process as well. Once I began tracking my expenses, I also began seeing where I could trim, where I could contribute to my 401K, and where I could put money into savings for vacations and other items. Taking one step at a time, I had come a long way from being the credit card balance offender I had been in college.

Ultimately, we all know that hiding from problems won’t make them go away. It is better to take the initiative and face your fears head on. Educate yourself, form a plan, and take one step at a time toward financial independence.

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