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My Long Journey

I heard just today that I’ve been approved for the apartment I applied for at the beginning of the week! I’ll be on my own two feet in early April. Wow. To me, this is the culmination of a lot of self-examination, learning, and new choices -- especially over the past 6 months working with Derek and being a part of this project.

Filing bankruptcy in 2001 was when I first realized that something I was doing wasn’t working and I set out on a quest to relearn everything about how finances worked. I read everything I could get my hands on. I talked with people who knew more than I did and went to workshops. I tried including my husband at the time in the process as much as possible. Sometimes that worked. Despite everything, we couldn’t figure out how to really get on track.

This past year has been incredible. Leaving my marriage freed up more mental and emotional energy than I even knew I had -- giving me more to put into correcting what was wrong. When I read Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny in May of 2009, the real truth of it for me finally hit home: it wasn’t about money itself. Money is just a tool. For me, it was about self-esteem, self-trust and self-confidence. The lack of these things was showing up both in my finances as well as the quality of my relationships. It was a true “ah-ha” moment. I decided to focus on my self-confidence first.

In part, that decision to focus on building my self-confidence is what led me to apply to be a part of this project. I knew there were still principle of using the money-tool that I needed to learn, and accountability would serve me well in learning them. Teaming up with Derek has been amazing! Not only have I learn about the tools –- but his supportive nature has helped to create an upward cycle of self-confidence and understanding.

Over the past months I’ve learned the difference between having a spending issue and having an income issue. I was able to stop beating myself up for not being able to live on less than $800 a month. Seems so obvious now, but it helped shift my focus to solve the real problem. I’ve learned that it’s OK –- and good –- to give myself a little to spend. “Mad Money” is what Derek calls it. And it works –- I can treat myself, avoid the feeling of deprivation, and maintain the rest of my budget. I’ve learn how to budget –- how to take so many variables into account and still come up with a working figure that makes sense and is doable. It was so overwhelming before, but I have one now. And I’ve learned that having a big enough goal helps to curb the frivolous small purchases –- it keeps you focused and on track.

Mostly though, I’ve learned how capable I really am. I’m certainly not perfect! And I know I still have a ways to go. But finally feeling as if I am capable is the greatest gift I could have possibly gotten. That is a gift that spills over into all areas of my life in meaningful and positive ways. And one that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

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