This is part 6 of my 10 part Life Lessons Series, where each week I will be taking a lesson (in random order) from 10 Life Lessons From 30 Years, sharing my own personal experiences with that lesson, and expanding it into a more detailed post. This week, Life Lesson Number 7:
Learn About Investing, and Start Early. Learn about the Miracle of Compound Interest, why you should invest in standard index funds, and how much the hidden fees of mutual funds and variable annuities can add up over a lifetime. Money is a powerful tool for freedom, learn how to use it.
MONEY: THE BIGGEST TABOO
Money brings up a lot of different emotions for everyone, and for many (myself included) it can often bring up feelings of anxiety and guilt. It can feel like such a huge overwhelming issue that brings up our deepest fears and insecurities, and so it still remains one of the biggest taboos we can talk about. I am in no way an expert on money, but for the past several years I’ve been working on resolving my feelings around it and trying to understand it in an effort to move beyond it.
First things first I want to check my privilege. I’ve grown up and lived in some of the best towns and cities in the world, I’ve had an excellent education, I was able to participate in many different extracurriculars growing up, I’ve been able to travel and live abroad, and am currently able to be on this incredible two year round the world adventure. I’ve had incredible privilege, but I have also experienced the huge toll of financial insecurity. As I’ve written before, I have, with my family, been through bankruptcy, foreclosure, crippling student debt, and the looming threat of outrageous medical bills.
I have both seen and experienced the toll on your self esteem when you trade your self worth for the illusion of financial security. I would say the struggle to move beyond this type of self compromise has been one of the defining factors of my own coming of age. To see the looming threat of financial insecurity, and to still put myself and my emotional well being first.
MONEY & POWER
How we feel about money I think has a lot to do with how we feel about power. Our beliefs about power. Whether or not power is inherently evil. Whether or not we feel worthy of being powerful. When we look around the world today and see so much sickness and greed, when 1% of the population controls 99% of the wealth, it’s easy to believe that money, and therefore power, is evil. That having it or wanting makes you greedy or bad. But money, and power, are just tools, entirely dependent on how we use them.
As a woman in particular I have felt very uncomfortable with the idea of having money, the ownership of money. And for me I feel like that’s very much been directly related to how comfortable I felt having power. We cling to what we’re used to, even when what we’re used to hurts us, and it can be very uncomfortable to claim ownership over our own power when we’re not used to having any. This is just one of the things I’ve come to realize as I’ve worked towards trying to unpack whatever complicated emotions I have around money.
TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES & YOUR FUTURE
Taking control of our finances can seem like a terrifying overwhelming thing, hitting every single one of our hot buttons, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Take baby steps. Read one book, then another. Put one good practice into place, then another. If you really want to get your mind blown with huge amounts of helpful information, try reading Tony Robbins Money Master the Game.
If you feel like it’s impossible to save any money in your current situation, there are ways to trick yourself. Apps that will round every credit or debit card purchase up to the nearest dollar and put the difference in your savings. You can pick a luxury you feel you can live without and take the money you would be spending on that every month and put it directly into savings. If you get a raise, you can take 10% of that money and put it directly into savings and you’ll never miss spending it. Do what little you can as you can to take ownership of your own power and your own life. Slowly but surely it will add up. Then you have the power to not only live your best life, but to turn around and use it to make the world a better place.
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Carina Covella is a writer and currently working on her forthcoming memoir, Love Dogs, detailing her six month transformational journey from Hollywood through India. Carina graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University cum laude with a degree in Art History. She also attended the Sorbonne in Paris and studied opera at the Manhattan School of Music through the university exchange programs. Until recently she lived in Mill Valley, California with her wonderful Welsh boyfriend Anthony in a house nestled in the trees, but now they’re off on a two year adventure around the world. When she’s not writing or traveling, she loves to cook for her friends and family.