Time to be the leading lady of your finances
Man and woman sitting in front of laptop, paying bills online (© Ariel Skelley/Getty Images)
It’s a typical Saturday morning, I wake up, brew a fresh pot of coffee, and sit down on the couch with my cappuccino and lap top in hand to pay my bills and balance my accounts. I’m feeling blessed because for another month I’ve covered my rent, car, student loans, internet, electricity bill, and even managed to have a few dollars leftover to spend on fun activities like sharing time with friends.
Whoosh, that was easy! Now that my finances are in order, I decide to take advantage of the carefree lazy feeling that Saturday brings and dust off a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for nearly eight months.
I curl up on the couch with “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach. I pick it up partially out of curiosity and partially feeling obliged since one of my supervisors provided it as a guide for growth and reviews are four months away.
I sigh as I prepare to be bored; I’m sure this financial jargon will be the perfect segway into a nap. I know many of you feel my pain. Yet, quite the opposite happens. As I begin reading, I’m getting excited and actually enjoying what I’m learning. However, a feeling of desperation grips me as I close my eyes and fast forward to a far older version of myself living in the year 2050. What have I been doing to help her (me) out?
Gasp…I’m so focused on the here and now; making the most of the moment and taking care of others that I haven’t stopped to plan for my future self.
It’s a daunting realization, but one that the majority of us are guilty of. We make excuses to delay taking action, claiming we don’t have time, we can think about it in a few years when we grow older, the list goes on and on.
I’m a firm believer that in all aspects of your life you should play the leading lady and this is especially true of your finances. I learned that I need to take charge of my money the hard way. After a ten-year relationship came to an end I realized that the household accounts were all in my ex’s name.
Although I consider myself a smart woman, I blindly followed the prescribed gender roles instilled in our culture where men are the breadwinners and manage household finances. In retrospect, I’m not even sure why because I generated far more income (but that’s a topic for another day).
I noted that my mom and many other smart women that I know had done the same even though they were truly bringing in the bread. It wasn’t until their relationships ended that these women, like myself, took charge and their financial outlook improved.
I’m glad to have learned this lesson early on because playing the leading lady when it comes to your finances is the key to empowerment and independence for any smart Latina. Chicas, it’s time to stop playing the helpless damsel in distress and take control of your future.
In the long run, it’s really not a big commitment. It’s just getting the foundation laid out that will take some heavy lifting. The good news is that there are many great resources, I definitely recommend “Smart Women Finish Rich” because it provides actionable plans and activities to define how to best prioritize your money.
A friend also introduced me to Mint which is a free online tool that streamlines all of your accounts and provides a weekly report of your spending, tips on where you can cut spending and save, recommendations on planning for retirement and more at a click of a button.
Fast forward to 2050 and setup a date with your future self. It’s never too late to start planning, it doesn’t matter if you have $1 or a $1,000, the bottom line is how you use the money you have.