When I got my first job offer after college, I thought I would be rolling in the dough.
But, I proved myself wrong.
Between a low-paying entry-level job, setting up a new apartment, rent in one of the top five most expensive cities in the United States, totaling one car and buying another (and the subsequent car payments that went along with this), food and drinks when I went out trying to make new friends in a new city and some credit card debt, I quickly became broke as a joke.
I was perpetually scared to look at my bank account, and I feigned confidence to my parents whenever they asked how I was financially.
I kept telling myself it would work out in the hopes I would actually convince myself at some point.
A year or so passed until I finally got a handle on my finances. By no means am I rolling in the dough, but I am no longer stressed every minute of every day.
When I look back to my post-college days, I shudder, but I also am filled with an odd sense of appreciation.
Being broke forced me to look at things with a different perspective, and it taught me to have greater empathy. At this time in my life, these lessons were necessary.
Though it's not an ideal situation to end up in, being broke taught me so much about myself, and it may have been the best thing to ever happen to me.
1. My relationships blossomed.
Without cable TV, money for bars and clubs, data on my phone and every other monetary-driven distraction in between, I had time and attention to really focus on my relationships.
I had undistracted, meaningful talks on my couch, on runs and walks and while sitting on the sand at the nearby beaches.
Without distraction, I was able to deepen these relationships that have remained consistent in my life.
Plus, being broke taught me that you never know what's going on behind closed doors. I became more empathetic and understanding.
2. My list of priorities shifted.
I had to reevaluate what really was worth spending my limited cash on.
I quickly realized that partying and name-brand anything dropped to the bottom of my list, while quality time with family and friends, food and basic necessities flew to the top.
I learned what really mattered in my life.
3. I learned how to budget.
Similar to my re-evaluation of priorities, I figured out how to best allocate my budget and really live below my means in the long term.
There are tons of great budgeting apps that make it super easy to understand (for someone not super financially-savvy like me).
4. My cookbooks finally saw some action, and my cooking skills became fine-tuned.
I had to stop eating out every day, so I began to cook everything at home.
I tried out tons of different recipes from cookbooks that had remained untouched for years, and I fell back in love with cooking.
My health also improved because I was making everything myself. I wasn't having any processed, high-fat food.
5. I finally learned the “power of no.”
I'm a “yes girl.” I'll say, "yes" to anything, even if it means scheduling things back to back to back to back.
I'd even say, “yes” to things I was just moderately interested in. I had to take a hard step back and RSVP “no” to invite upon invite.
At first, the FOMO killed me, but I learned to value the time alone to relax and unplug.
6. I got outside.
Hiking, running, walking and swimming are all free. I embraced the outdoors and learned how at peace I feel while striding along the beach sand and hiking to a summit.
There are so many things you miss outdoors when you can spend whatever money you want.
7. My apartment was cleaner than ever.
I had a lot of downtime, and I focused it on cleaning up my apartment every week.
It was spotless and organized at all times. I realized having a clean home base was important for stress reduction, and I noticed my anxiety decrease exponentially.
8. I learned humility.
There is nothing more humbling than approaching your parents five years after they've technically relinquished control over you to ask for a loan.
I was forced to step down from my self-constructed pedestal and own up to the fact that I was not entirely responsible and that I made mistakes.
As independent as I am, I had to realize that you are nothing without the people who support you. Asking for help is OK.
9. I learned to appreciate the simplicity of life.
I don't need fancy, shiny, new things to give me fulfillment anymore. I looked around at what I had and realized it was all I needed.
The best things in life aren't tangible.
As The Notorious B.I.G. wisely said: Mo' money, mo' problems.