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Steady Paycheck No More: Things I’m Learning About Money Management

One month ago, I left my 9-5 in order to turn my freelance writing side-hustle into a full-time job. While the transition was made slightly easier by my pre-existing side income I was already making, there’s not much that can prepare you for the drastic change in lifestyle required by a noticeable drop in income.

Establishing a business and waiting for income to materialize can be a trying process on it’s own, but adjusting how money is spent during off-hours can be equally as tough.

With that being said, sometimes the most powerful financial lessons are the ones born from financial struggle. This is when you really get a grasp on the importance of certain purchases and the mindlessness of others. Being forced to make change is sometimes a good thing.

Here are a few lessons I’m learning from the recent shift in my financial situation.

Putting Everything On Autopilot Is A Luxury You Can’t Always Afford.

Automation, while convenient, is not always the best option when funds are being stretched to the max. The set-it-and-forget-it mindset is best for those with a cushion and peace of mind that there’s ample money to cover all expenses at the time the bill is due.

While covering bills isn’t necessarily the issue, allowing money to trickle out for things like monthly subscription services is no longer something that can go unnoticed. I need to be more diligent about who is withdrawing funds, the exact amount and why.

In addition, all expenses – no matter how minor they may have seemed in the past – are being considered for the chopping block. Here is the question I ask: is this expense worth the added pressure of paying for it? Often times the answer is a resounding, “NO.”

Intentional Spending Is The Key. Period.

When I was in my last position, my spending often reflected how miserably unfulfilled I was. I would make purchases haphazardly in an effort to “treat myself” and take advantage of the paycheck I was receiving in exchange for the long hours I spent in my cubicle. I just wanted to feel better.

Just as emotional eating doesn’t bode well for your waistline, emotional spending doesn’t support a healthy budget.

Now that my focus is on creating a career and life that make me truly happy and fulfilled, my spending needs to be just as intentional. If making a purchase doesn’t support this larger goal, then I shouldn’t be forking over my hard-earned money for it.

Friends And Family Need To Understand The Change In My Financial Situation.

Those closest to me know the journey I am on to creating my own business, but they also need to be aware of the (temporary) change in my financial situation.

I spend a great deal of time with friends and family, and the activities we chose to do together are not always free. In the past, we’ve all been on relatively similar ground when it comes to finances, but I’m not currently on par with where they are. Not only should they be aware if I need to politely decline an invitation, but I could really use their emotional support in pulling myself over the hump.

This is when having open, honest relationships is vital. Money might be a taboo topic for the broader society, but I choose to not have the same stigma in my close relationships.

No Financial Situation Is Permanent.

My career has been marked by jobs with vastly different salaries, and my money situation has changed countless times since leaving college. Circumstances change, experience is earned and some employers are simply more generous than others.

This is all a good thing. It’s essential to remember how in control of my own financial destiny I actually am.

I started a side hustle to earn extra money – something that changed my life for the better. I can use this same determination to beef up my income in the future. No financial situation has to be permanent, there’s always a different path or a new solution.

Whether you’re embarking out on your own like I am, or working through a financial downturn for other reasons, this is vital to remember. We always have some control in shifting our situation in another direction. That’s where my energy is currently going.

What lessons have you learned in the midst of a tough financial situation?