I recently saw a post on Instagram that said something along the lines of “I’ll never take for granted what I have cause at one point I was begging God for it”. That really resonated with me. There were times where I was begging God for a fulltime job in the industry and a good car. Before that I was begging for a minimum wage job and any car I could find. I’m now blessed to have a full time job with healthcare and a reliable car that doesn’t have the check engine light on.
I think so often we take for granted the little things. Food on the table, a roof over our head, money in the bank. There was a time all I had was negative forty dollars in my bank account. I never want to forget how that felt. It motivates me to be responsible with my money.
I grew up moderately poor. We never went without food or had our electricity shut off. But we had to go without some some things and I remember I could only get new shoes about once a year. Even new shoes once a year is more than some kids. Growing up in that lower class atmosphere caused me to be excessively aware of my spending. I can also see how bad habits are easy to form now that I do have money. I know I’m capable of buying anything I want. Most weeks are spent practicing my self control.
Kids that grow up in situations like mine have stains of poverty on their skin. I am aware that my situation could have been worse and this is not a cry for sympathy. We had what we needed and my parents’ budgeting skills were top tier. To this day my mom will coupon her way to 20 dollars off at the grocery store. But even having what your basic needs met doesn’t erase the mental habits.
I have many teenagers that get their haircut and will talk about going skiing and snowboarding all the time during the winter. My first thought is always “wow, you don’t even realize how expensive your hobby is”. They sometimes ask me if I’ve ever been skiing or snowboarding and I tell them no and that I’ve never been able to afford it. That usually humbles them. They’ve been taught to assume that everyone can afford it. But it hurts me more than it hurts them. I’ve always wanted to go skiing or snowboarding at an expensive resort. But even with the money I now have, I couldn’t imagine it’s worth it.
Preventing myself from overspending is something I consider a talent. I know people I went to high school with that can’t control themselves to this day when it comes to spending. Any chance they get they buy Starbucks or go out to eat or get another tattoo. I know a girl that spends her entire paycheck from her retail job on tattoos. She just got her 13th tattoo the other day. This is not to shame her necessarily but my brain is so wired to worry about the future that I can’t help but feel concerned for her savings account.
There have been studies done that say that lower class families have different mindsets compared to their richer counterparts. No matter how much money they have, they worry about big spending or something happening and losing all their money. Maybe that makes them smarter financially, or maybe it’s why so many people have anxiety.
I know I am blessed to have what I have. I don’t often feel scared of losing all my money now that I have a good job but somewhere in the back of my mind lurks the question of what if? Learning not to dwell on that is definitely one of the most important things I’ve learned.