Hitting Mental, Emotional and Financial Walls

She sighs. The page is decorated with numbers and mathematical signs with a few descriptions thrown in. The nearby smartphone’s screen glows with the buttons of the calculator app. A small red pencil with no eraser sat by itself near the open notebook. With her right hand, she twirls a green pen between her fingers. Her left hand reaches up to massage the strained muscles in her neck.

Her bi-weekly check had just arrived and she was at a loss on what should be done with the little bit of cash left over. She glances at the number next to “TOTAL.” $8.15. The amount remaining left after her expenses. What could she do with $8.15? Throw it in with the other amount saved? Or withdraw it from the account and hold on to it? She shakes her head and sighs once more before closing the notebook.

It’s one week before the nearby schools release the children for summer vacation. As for me, things have been changing slightly, but everything still feels the same. I had originally planned to find a second part-time job after completing my second-to-last semester, but nothing’s come from the three applications I sent out to nearby restaurants. So I’ve resorted to picking up more hours at my current job at a restaurant that opened two years ago.

But I’ve hit a wall financially. Being used to having little to no savings left due to reckless spending with credit cards and using up any windfalls for fun left me in a rather bitter state of mind. I would harshly criticize myself for not doing something right with my money, be it not saving it or spending it on another activity. This cycle of being one’s own worst critic left me angry, sad and helpless.

So I decided to make a change, no matter how small it seemed. I picked up two books from the nearby public library to read during my free time. One was a book on personal finance tips for people in their 20s and 30s and I found myself reading that book more than the other.

Adding on to the things I learned from said book, I also created a list of things I would do to improve my life. The goals ranged from typical financial tips to staying healthy on a daily basis. I even started telling myself little bits of encouragement after doing something right (ex. Congratulating myself for completing another 4-5 hour shift at my job).

So far, everything seems to be working. I have been able to get a leg up on my finances and become a little less stressed overall. But I’ll still hit a wall every now and then. And when that happens, I’ll be ready with a tool to smash through it or a ladder to help climb over it.

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