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“If You Don’t Know…Know”

I remember years ago, I’d be cleaning out my 1986 blue Ford Escort and find a medley of cold McDonalds fries, trash and dirty gum-covered pennies. As I was throwing out the garbage, I would also toss out the one-cent coins that were part of the mix…because they weren’t worth much right? They were only just pennies.

Gasp!

To some, that may not be a big deal (don’t worry, you’ll learn). But to others, I know you deeply cringe.

Money is money.

Whether it’s a grimy penny at the bottom of a purse or a $100.00 bill, it ALL matters and it ALL adds up.

Money needs to be respected, managed, told when to stay and directed when to go. It needs to be controlled but not coveted.

Money is powerful.

It can provide great help and relief to people, it can be a big blessing. It can also be used for not so great things. If mismanaged and allowed to, money can be the root of the desire that rots the soul and steals joy from the real purpose and meaning of life.

I learned the hard way not to be frivolous and disrespectful with and towards money. Somewhat in my small defence, I didn’t really ever learn the proper way of managing it.

I was hashtag #blessed to attend high school during those years in the 90’s which were before the unique offerings of grade 11 trades preparations and financial planning classes and after the years when a grade 12 graduate was almost guaranteed a seat in any program and medical school took only 7 years to complete.

Though I didn’t go without much in my early years growing up, my early teen years and onwards came with many challenges and I didn’t learn adequate financial skills from my school, family or any mentors.

I was slightly hooped.

‘Hard knocks U’ is where I went to earn my degree in business and finance. Although I could have saved many dollars by not being stupid with my money, I did learn invaluable lessons and more importantly, from the mistakes and poor choices I made, I learned what NOT to do!

I’m pressed to believe there is a degree to teach what I have learned the hard way.

I’ll admit I didn’t love experiencing some of the things I’ve had to experience, and I didn’t love how any of it felt. I don’t wish a lot of my life on anyone and I don’t wish to go through it again.

But, the beauty and grace in learning to manage finances the cumbersome way as I did was that I have a lot of appreciation and respect for money now in my late thirties.

I’m extremely diligent about the comings and goings of every single dollar for both my personal and business life and because of that I have no debt. Even in this current time of uncertainty, I have joy, I have security and I have a lot of hope for my family’s future.

They key? I track EVERYTHING. Yes, everything. Whatever can be tracked can be measured and whatever can be measured can be managed.

I track everything from the $0.35 I plug in the parking meter to the $1.00 given to the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle to my bills and payments. I have a budget (or ‘cashflow’ sheet ;) that is updated every single evening with the days’ expenditures and I abide by the ‘one-touch’ rule for organizing and receipt management.

Also on the list of key items for healthy financial literacy; consult with the right people who have the knowledge and skills you don’t, outsource what you don’t possess but ALWAYS understand what your money is doing and where it is going. If you don’t understand it, don’t do it. If you don’t know, learn.

Read. I have read a LOT of books on finance, business development and self-improvement. Because if we can’t manage money well, it might be an indicator that we may not be managing our other responsibilities and habits well either.

I quit drinking 5 years ago and that was, for me, one of the best decisions I could have made for my physical health, emotional health and bank account.

For you, the decision to quit whatever it is that tugs at your soul and taps you on the shoulder everyday probably looks different than mine did and that’s cool. Maybe you’re content and don’t have anything in your life that you want to improve or change. That’s alright too.

The bottom line with finances, taking also into consideration that money is ranked higher than any other life and relationship stressor on every chart in North America, is to know EXACTLY where it’s going and when. It’s okay if you are where I was with all of this- start tonight, it’s never too late.

And in the words of Biggie Smalls, “If you don’t know, now you know.”

-Becky

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