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A broke girl turned rich

Oh whew!!!! What a title. I thought about it a few weeks ago and wanted to share it with you all. But, as the true nerd that I am, I had to look up the word “rich” because it means so many things to so many different people.

Here is how the Mirriam-Webster dictionary defined rich:

1. : having abundant possessions and especially material wealth

2. a: having high value or quality

b: well supplied or endowed

3. : magnificently impressive : SUMPTUOUS

a: vivid and deep in color

b: full and mellow in tone and quality

c: having a strong fragrance

4: highly productive or remunerative

Truthfully, I would like to think I am rich in all these areas, especially vivid in color, having a strong fragrance, and being highly productive �� But, for the sake of this blog, I am actually focused on areas 1 and 2. Ha!

So, while I would not personally call myself rich (it’s still too shaky for me and I am a first-generation business owner), I do recognize that I have more abundance, possessions, and material wealth than my parents are this age or even me, as a child.

And, those facts compelled me to write this blog.

We are near tax season and one of the ongoing jokes is “We know when people received their income tax return check because all we see is new tags on cars, new shoes on feet, and new bags in hand”. Essentially, we know when people have received a bit of extra money because they immediately spend in on something observable, flashy, or materialistic. And, I cannot disagree. In fact, I can totally agree and know that I have been caught up in that, a time or 2 or 3 or 17. Ha!

But here is why:

Our society, and most of the Western world, is capitalistic. Our way of being is centered on money. Our survival is connected to how much money we have to provide for ourselves. Our sense of success is connected to salaries. And, our identities are aligned with our high ranking job titles. Everyone wants more….and a bit more…and most people who migrate to this country, looking for the American Dream, are really looking for more opportunities to make money. (sidenote- there are some that enter the United States because they need physical safety. I am not blind to that circumstance or demographic.)

Therefore, most people come to this country to make money. So, it is instilled in all of us, that to be US-based American, you need to have money, make money, or want money.

And, when you are in poverty, there are times when the only thing you are thinking about is- how to get more money.

So, as a child who grew up in poverty, I understood money, probably better than most kids who were middle class, upper class, or simply any class but “poverty-class”.

And I understood it because we didn’t have it and we wanted it. Yup, it = money.

So, like many people who do not have easy access to money or increasing the legal opportunities to earn money, we dream about what we will do when (always “when” not “if”….because “when” is set up hope for the future and “if” is set in possibilities…but people in poverty don’t like possibilities because we have learned that we are usually on the negative end of the possibility)… we get money. And, our dreams usually include acquiring some material possession that demonstrates we are not “poor”. That includes cars, shoes, bags, or anything observable that is usually outside of our financial reach.

And, we see it all the time. Professional athletes who buy mansions after 1 season in their respective league, college kids who get their semester refund check, or even company CEOs who have the most expensive cars and the smallest savings accounts. It is a thing and I am not judging because it's common and because I am in the numbers. Ha!

And, I realize it every single time our company does really well in a financial year. Chile, we be out here buying all the gifts for our staff. “Oh, you’re having a baby….let’s gift you this stroller.” “Oh, you just got a new house, let’s gift you a fancy new toaster.” “Oh, you want to go to that professional development across the country, let’s get you a business class flight and a nice hotel room”. And, I mean, is it bad to want to do these things? No. We want to gift and give and support and show people the fruit of our hard-earned labor. But, I have noticed this trend happens most often in the years when we have the most discretionary income.

And it makes sense, if you do not have money…you cannot spend money.

Yet, despite how much sense it makes, it creates an unhealthy pattern with money. To me, it’s likened to the Binge Eating Disorder, which, in short is a cycle of excessive withholding and deficit  excessive consumption - return to excessive withholding or even purging. There are emotional cycles that result in statements like- “I deserve this because _____” the followed by “Why did I do that? It was not the best decision that I wanted to make”. Like money, money management, and the mental health of money, we make similar statements when we were “broke” then “rich.” Again, there’s emotional connection to spending when you have been without money…and now you have a bit more. (sidenote-poverty and withholding are NOT the same but for this analogy, there is a deficit and then a surplus).

So by now you may be like, well what is the solution.…

And, by now you also know I’m going to state: The solution is to plan and budget. Yes, I do think people should “treat” themselves when they have a little extra. But, I do not think ALL or even most of the money should be spent. I think a significant amount (50% or higher) should be saved….so the deficit is not repeated in the same way as it was before the surplus came in. And, all of this is from a woman who has gotten big chunks of money, spent it, got sick over it, worked hard to get more big chunks of money, got it, spent it, and got sick or had regret again. The cycle repeated for me at least 5x with lots of money earned and lots of money spent…..until I stopped and applied the wisdom above. So, yes, earn and spend (if you want) but you need to add a “save” button in there too….which means: Earn  spend LESS (decide on what that less is…but do not NOT spend because then you will binge later and spend it all….so spend…just less)  Save MORE.

What are you thoughts? Have you been in the same cycles as me?

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