I’ve been making my own money for years. I had my first official job when I was 17. I was cleaning the streets of my hometown for a month to earn $200 (that was a standard entry-level salary at home). I made my very first money at the age of 7 when I was in second grade.
My school gave me $10 for finishing the first semester with top grades only. It felt so nice! There were only 5 of “scholarship” receivers that semester, and I felt super proud of myself to be one of them.
Money always came to me one way or another. I’m not saying I’ve never experienced rough patches – I sure did, especially when my dad passed away when I was 11, and my mother became a single mom with little to no support. College was also rough, but I manage to pull through when I got the right motivation (my mom still calls it “getting me cut off”).
Ever since then, money was a hot topic in my life. I was working hard, sometimes spending close to 80 hours a week on the job. That’s how I spent my summers – working them away, so that I could spend the money in the off-season when there were very few hours available. This is the joy of living in a seasonal town – you always have to plan your finances ahead of time.
Of course, I didn’t do it all by myself. My husband helped me a lot, and I knew that I could rely on him if things went sideways. However, I’ll focus on my financial journey in this post, as we all have our own experience with money.
So, money always was there for me. I never had much of it, but I always had some. Sure, my income was almost at a poverty level, but it was fine. My family never took vacations or got out of our tiny town to do stuff, and we lived a pretty modest lifestyle. After all, that’s how most people around us lived.
Now’s the high time to remember that saying that you are the average of the 5 people closest to you. That saying is 100% true, no matter how painful it is to admit it. And I looked around myself and saw people who lived just like I did – rented all their lives, had roommates despite being married, had no savings or retirement accounts, and had seasonal, unreliable income that was putting them into high dependency on the source of that income.
Some people live their whole lives like that. Moreover, I know people who have consistent yet abysmal income – and they are basically in the same boat. It is a scary prospect, honestly.
So I looked at how my relationship with money was shaping my life. I realized that money came to me, and I was taking advantage of it, but never did much else.
Let me give you an example. I got hired to do a seasonal job, knowing full well that I won’t be paid in the wintertime. I didn’t really negotiate my salary and continued to rely on the owner’s “goodness of heart” rather than performance, added responsibilities, or any other common measurements to get raises.
I wasn’t always just an employee. I also tried my luck at entrepreneurship as a jewelry maker. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about business and myself. But in the end, it failed. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I think the main one is that I didn’t fight for it. I simply didn’t work hard and smart enough at it – I just allowed it to slide away when I realized that it’s not giving me what I was looking for.
I understand now that I felt like it was all happening to me. Even though I was choosing to agree to the conditions of my life and work, I felt like I was just drifting along. Life, work, sales, money – everything was kind of happening to me, and I genuinely didn’t know I had much influence over that process.
Well, things are different now. I recognized my power, and I recognized the responsibility that comes with an able body and a sharp mind. There’s no trick to it – one day I just looked inside myself, listened to my thoughts as an observer and wondered, how did I get here? And more importantly, what am I going to do about it?
That’s how I decided to accept radical responsibility for my life and for how I make money. And a beautiful thing has happened: suddenly I also felt responsible for my health, for how I look and feel, for what kind of relationships I have in my life, for what house I live in, etc. There’s no more room for complaints about genetics, my parents’ choices or my country of origin. There’s only room for “This is what I’ve got right now. What am I going to do to make it better?” The effects of my decision are still only kicking in, but it’s already been the most exciting ride of my life.
I finally got enough courage to share my story and take charge of my future. I sure as hell haven’t figured everything out, but I’m as close to being responsible for my life and my finances as I’ve ever been. I also took charge of how I spend my time – at work and after hours, and that’s a topic I’m extremely excited to discuss in future posts.
So stay tuned, and follow my journey if you’re curious to see how the story unfolds! I promise I won’t spam, and I’ll send you updates with snippets of posts twice a month.