I grew up in lower-middle class America. My dad was a firefighter/paramedic in a suburban township in North Central Ohio, and my mom went back and forth between staying home with me and my sister and working as the director of a day care facility.
We never had much money.
Mostly that’s because firemen in the 90s (and probably now, though I can’t say for sure) didn’t make jack squat. And the extra my mom brought it was not enough to push us to the ever-elusive, we’ve-always-got-cash bracket.
Which isn’t to say I ever wanted for anything – because no matter how dumb the thing I wanted was, I always found a way to get it. And my dad had a really hard time telling me no. I feel a little bad about that now, but I get it. I have a hard time telling my kids no, especially when they are really excited about something.
But the lack of cash + the we’ll get it anyway attitude didn’t do me any favors in the learning about money category. (Not a rip on my parents AT ALL. They did the best they could with what they had.)
And as such, I have a lot of preconceived notions about money that, even at the age of almost 40, I’m still trying to get over.
1. Money is the root of all evil.
If you grew up in church at all, I’m sure you heard this. And whether I think I believe it or not – it’s in there. After years and years of Sunday School, I had no choice but to have it deeply ingrained in my psyche.
But the thing is…it’s not accurate. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that money is the root of all evil. It says the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.
Think about it. If money was the root of all evil, why would God bless Solomon and David and all those other guys who were like his right-hand dudes with loads of it? Yeah, I know, technically, Solomon asked for wisdom – but because he asked for that, he got all the other stuff, including MONEY.
2. You should have your debts paid before you save.
No. No. No. This is so counter-intuitive, it’s crazy. It kinda sounds like it makes sense…but it doesn’t. Because if you lose your job, or can’t work for some reason, you are going to need that savings. Otherwise, how are you going to pay any of your bills?
If you just hit the debt, you end up living dangerously, because should something happen, you’re just going to end up in even more debt than you started out having.
3. Playing it safe is the only way to make sure you’ll be financially secure.
I have a hard time “playing it safe” in any area – but with my money, this kind of makes sense to me. Once again, I’m wrong. There are times when it’s appropriate to take a risk – because it could pay off, big time. My husband and I have purchased four houses in our 18 years together. And the first one was the biggest risk ever. We paid $26,000 for a two bedroom house that was full of dead cockroaches and the remnants of an old lady who never left the house. It was nasty.
I mean nasty. We worked on it for a month before it was good to go – but we made it the cutest little house ever. It was a solid investment because the problems with it were all surface issues…that we could take care of. In the end, we sold it for $62,000.
That helped us by the Victorian house we live in now, and put us on the road to now owning two extra rentals too.
Most people thought we were nuts to buy that house – but it really paid off for us.
4. Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
If we’re gonna get technical – money is MADE FROM TREES. But that’s not what I mean.
What I mean is – money is available all over the place. Every time I’ve ever been determined to get the money for something, I’ve made it happen. There are always money making opportunities out there – you just have to have the drive and desire to go looking for it. And sometimes you have to do jobs that suck – but if you are willing, there is always money to be had.
5. If you are in debt, you are a loser.
This is the one I hate the most. People who aren’t in debt, or have never been in debt can get a holier-than-thou attitude about people who have gotten in to debt – and to those people I just want to say a big ole’ shame on you. You have no idea what circumstances led to the debt. It could be bad money choices, or it could be a terrible illness.
For me, it was bad money choices. And I totally own up to that. But I do not for one second regret my debt. Not one. That was part of the journey I was meant to take. It taught me lessons about myself that I otherwise would not have learned. AND it led me to where I am now and I am just fine with that.
So, my point is, don’t let the things that you’ve always thought about money dictate the way you handle money now.
Another one for me, and I’ve talked about this before – I feel like I suck at budgeting, so I struggle to do it. But that’s really all just some crap story I tell myself. It’s not accurate. I don’t suck at it, I just don’t like it. And I don’t want to put the effort into it – that’s the real reason. The rest is BS.
Take a good hard look at the stories you like to tell yourself about money. Re-evaluate them, and get your head on straight. It’s never too late to start handling your money like a grown-up.