The hardest part of adulting is arguably learning how to manage your money. It seems like at every turn the entire world is trying to take your hard-earned cash from you: rent, utilities, parking, gas, food, clothes. Just keeping yourself alive and functional can be expensive. The first time I received my water bill in the mail I almost cried.
But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Super strong, in fact. I firmly believe that getting your financial sh*t together only makes you stronger, happier and eventually, calmer. It makes you part superhero, part zen master. I'm talking Wonder Woman levels of strength, and Dalai Lama levels of zen.
Curious about how? I can speak from personal experience that becoming financially literate, enacting good financial habits, and then sticking to them is hard work. It takes a lot of time, a lot of research and a lot of self-control to make lasting changes in your life.
Financial literacy is rarely taught in our school systems. A recent report stated that 47 percent of adults in the US couldn't come up with $400 in an emergency. So, the teachings of financial literacy can also be rare to find in the home.
That means it falls to individuals to teach themselves, and that requires a lot of work. Reading up on books and blogs focused on personal finance can seem a waste of time when there are friends to hang with and Netflix shows to binge on. Checking your budget each week can feel like you're a boring adult who wouldn't know spontaneity if it hit them on the nose.
Superheroes deal with sh*t they hate all the time. The entire first season of "Jessica Jones" was about Jessica getting through one major setback after another. Each time you make a debt payment above the minimum amount, you're punching a bad guy in the face, Jessica Jones style. Debt is a bad guy. It can hurt your credit score, it costs you money in interest and it can stop you from pursuing a dream because it lessens your budget each month.
If you're Jessica Jones, your student loans are Kilgrave. We all wanted to see Kilgrave's demise. Learning about ways to pay off debt and monitor your spending habits are all superhero moves.
I'm not saying it'll be easy. Taking a hard look at where you spend your money can be painful. Learning how to handle your money is difficult. You'll take some knocks throughout the learning process. How many times did Jessica Jones get thrown into a wall before the final episode? Exactly.
Setting up a budget is hard work. You have to track each expense, and see what you can cut out in one area, so you can ramp up in another. Saying goodbye to happy hours so you can double your student loan payment can be a bummer.
No superhero gets through a single movie, TV show or comic book without taking some blows. In the end, they emerge stronger and victorious. Keep going. You can do it, too. Being financially literate and in control means you don't even have to think about money anymore. It fades into the background of your life.
Understanding exactly how much you bring in each month, and delegating funds for each purpose relieves you of stress. It means you're done fighting the bad guys. You can walk through the streets of your city, knowing the citizens will sleep well tonight.
You will have peace of mind once you start paying off your credit card bills in full each month. You'll know if you have the funds to make a purchase or not. That new pencil skirt from Nordstrom you've been lusting over? You know you've paid off your credit card in full last month, and already have enough money for rent in the bank. Yes, you can afford that. Swipe, record the transaction and know you have the money to pay for it. Exhale. Namaste.
You'll have no more anxiety about how you're going to afford your rent and your student loans. You'll have no more fear you'll never be debt-free. You'll have no more stress that wakes you in the middle of the night. It's just like when you couldn't even touch your toes in your first yoga class. Now you can metaphorically bend your legs behind your head.
I've been debt-free for almost a year, and it has made my life a million times better. I no longer have to worry about scraping together the $400 for my payment each month. That stress has been eliminated from my life, and it's because I've spent some time learning how to make my money work for me.
I was my own Jessica Jones, and a year later, the facts speak for themselves. While I can't put my legs behind my head, I do feel much calmer about my life overall. I'm a superhero-zen master combo, and you can be, too.