glass flowers

This summer will mark two years since I resigned from my last “job.” At the time, I couldn’t imagine what “being home” would look like. I started working when I was fifteen, and from that time until my maternity leave, I had never been without a job. I worked… and worked… and worked. In my nearly twenty-year work history, I never knew what unemployment felt like.

In my mid-twenties, I got serious about paying off the debt that I had accumulated in college. After paying off that debt, (not including my student loans), I got serious about saving. I did well—at one point, saving up to $10,000 in six months.

I have a fickle relationship with money. I like having it, (who doesn’t?!), but I’ve never had a desire to be wealthy. I enjoy being able to afford the things that I need. I like eating out at nice places occasionally. I love to experience new things and do a bit of traveling. Gratefully, I have always been able to do all of these things. I have a healthy relationship with money. I’ve worked hard in my lifetime and I’ve never faced serious financial struggles.

I attribute this to a simple, yet incredibly valuable, lesson that I learned at a young age: DO NOT SPEND MORE THAN YOU MAKE. It really is that simple. If you live within your means, you will never run into financial difficulties. Of course, the realities of life are more complex than this, but no matter how complex things get—that simple truth remains.

Keep a budget. Monitor what you spend. If at any point what you spend becomes greater than what you bring in, make adjustments.

I believe that people run into financial difficulties because they are not paying attention. Most people know what their salary is; but it’s alarming how many people have no idea how much money they spend in a given week, month, or year. When you’re not paying attention, it’s so easy for things to quickly spiral out of control.

When I became a stay-at-home mom, my family changed to a single-income household. For the first time in my (adult) life, I was mostly financially dependent on someone other than myself. It was scary. I had to make some major lifestyle adjustments. When I was working, I thought nothing of eating lunch out five days a week, planning epic vacations twice a year, and upgrading my technology regularly. Today, any such expenditures have to be carefully thought out. We don’t have much disposable income.

That said, we still live comfortably—this is because we live within our means. We know what we can afford to spend and we stay within those bounds. Monitoring our spending with budgeting tools is one of the most helpful ways to do this. (The Internet makes this so easy!) For us, it is healthy and humbling to know what money comes into our home, and what money goes out.

I’m sure that this post will seem trite and obvious to some, but I hope that someone will benefit from this simple advice. If you’re not keeping a budget, give it a try. Knowledge is power and the more that you know about your spending habits, the more power you have to create a healthy financial situation in your own life.

I will close this post by letting you in on a little “money secret” that I’ve been practicing since 2006. I believe in the power of mantras. I believe that we all move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts. At least once a week, and especially when I feel my financial belt getting a bit too tight, I repeat this mantra to myself, “Money is coming at me from all directions. I am surrounded by wealth and abundance.”

Once again, this might sound a little silly and “hocus pocus,” but I promise you that it has worked wonders for me. When things are tight, repeat that mantra to yourself as many times as feels comfortable. Don’t simply say it, but believe it.

We live in a society of endless opportunity. And more, most of us have no idea what it really means to “go without.” We are blessed because in a world where there are so many who do go without, we truly are surrounded by wealth, abundance, and opportunity. I encourage you to give this little mantra a try and just watch what happens. In my own life, I have witnessed it create miracles.

Wishing you light, love, and prosperity!

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well being. They help you get organized, make a plan, and stay on track so you can get and stay in control of your finances. When you are confident about your money, you can save for your goals and splurge knowingly on what matters most to you.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.

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