🎙 This week, I’m kicking off a 2-part series to end the first season of Girl on FIRE with a bang! As I prepare to celebrate my 30th birthday, I wanted to share some lessons and wisdom I’ve learned about money in my 30 year trip around the sun. 🤔
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Hey there, friends! And welcome back to Girl on FIRE, the financial independence podcast for independent women.
My name is Priya, I’m a Chartered Accountant, an analyst and the creator of Paper Money Co.
I’m also a fierce financial feminist and the host of this podcast. I believe that a woman who is in control of her money, is in control of her life.
This week, is the second last episode of the first season of Girl on FIRE. We’re going to be taking a little season break over November and December and return all refreshed and energised with season 2 in January.
But for the last two episodes of this season, I wanted to do something a little special. In a couple of weeks, I’m going to be turning 30.
And it’s a huge milestone for me. There was a time in my life when I never thought I would make it to 30, but I have and I really want to celebrate it.
Now, thanks to COVID, all the original plans I had to celebrate have been thrown out the window. But I also want to celebrate with all of you who tune in to listen to me every week.
So, this weeks’ episode is part one of a series I’m really excited about — 30 things I’ve learned about money and about life in 30 years of roaming this planet.
So, this week, I’ll share some hard learned wisdom on the things I’ve learned about money. And next week, I’ll share some life lessons. So, it’s going to be a ton of fun.
I hope that my little nuggets of wisdom are helpful for you.
But before we get started, I want to remind you to head to my website — papermoneyco.com/startinvesting to download your free copy of my Investing Starter guide
It’s totally free, you just need to enter in your email address and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.
It gives you a step by step plan to follow to get your finances ready to start investing, including working with a budget, building an emergency fund and paying off debt.
The sooner you can get your foundation set and get those good money management practices in place, the sooner you can start investing and building your wealth.
If you’re really serious about learning to master your money, then it’s the perfect guide for you, and I’d hate for you to miss out on it.
As always, Girl on FIRE is about learning, so whip out your favourite notebook or journal and get ready to take some notes.
Okay, let’s dive in!
1. Money isn’t guaranteed to anyone
The biggest lesson I learned about money is that it’s never guaranteed to anyone. And if money can come easily into your wallet, it can also fly easily back out as well.
This is a lesson I learned when I was a kid. I grew up on stories of how my parents grew up poor in Fiji.
And to me — even at such a young age — the moral of the story was to get a good education so that I could get a stable job and earn a decent income.
Because I was terrified of ending up homeless. And that’s a lesson that’s really shaped my life, all my choices — not just about money but what I studied at university and what kind of career I built.
It’s always been super important to me to make sure I’m financially secure and my basic needs like food and housing and medicine are taken care of before anything else.
2. Money may not buy happiness but it does buy everything else, including options
Following on from that, another lesson I learned is that money may not buy me happiness but it does buy me everything else.
It keeps a roof over my head and food on the table. But it also buys me the Kate Spade handbag I gifted myself for my birthday.
It buys me the Netflix I enjoy binging and the chocolate I binge right along side it. It buys me the healthcare that keeps me and my husband healthy and alive.
And it buys me the option to live my life according to my own plan and my own rules. It’s giving me the chance to retire early. It’s given me the chance to move to the other side of the world.
And while there is no such thing as happiness in a jar, the things that make us happy usually come with a cost.
3. Always follow the money and see where it goes
The next lesson is to follow the money and see where it goes. This is something you should always do when you see a deal that looks too good to be true.
And it’s also something you should challenge yourself to do when you’re trying to understand motives and the actions of others — whether it’s companies or governments or people.
They say that actions speak louder than words, and that pictures are worth 1,000 words. Well, I think money speaks louder than both.
Ask yourself who’s paying who? Who’s benefiting from this financially? Where does the money go?
4. Money is meant to be spent. You can’t take it with you.
The next lesson is probably one of the more controversial lessons coming from a financial expert.
But I’ve learned that money is meant to be spent. Yes, you need to learn how to save money first. And you need to make sure all your needs and essentials are taken care of.
You also need to have a strong emergency fund as a safety net and consider things like retirement and big expenses.
But at the end of the day, if you have some leftover. Remind yourself that you’re allowed to spend it.
I work really hard for my money. And there’s no point in hoarding any extra money in my pocket because I can’t take it with me.
So I’m going to spend it or donate it or use it to lavish my loved ones with gifts. The point is that it’s not coming with me.
5. Job security and financial security are super important for a stress free life
Having said that, though, I’ve never been one of those people who risks job security or financial security to enjoy my money.
And I highly recommend against it. Because the truth is that having that security is really key to having a stress free life.
And that’s what lesson #5 is. I have a million and 1 things to stress about. We all do. Life is hard. Dreams fade, bodies get sick and things rarely turn out like we planned them to.
The last thing you need is to be constantly worrying about how you’re going to pay the rent. Or when the lights are going to turn off because you didn’t pay the electricity bill.
Life is short and we’re always going to be facing some kind of struggle. And being financially secure is a huge weight off our shoulders.
6. All women should have and control their own money
Next up, lesson #6 — all women should have and control their own money. This is probably another controversial one but this one I learned pretty early and not the easy way.
My parents got divorced when I was about 7. It was messy and bitter. And to be honest, I went through some traumatic stuff when I was a kid so a lot of my childhood just isn’t there.
I just don’t remember it. And what I do remember is far from sunshine and roses. And one of the clearest memories I have is of my parents fighting about money during their divorce.
It’s like a montage in my head. I see them fighting and then I see my mother in this new house, building everything back up from scratch. New plates, new spoons. New everything. Just starting from scratch.
And while my parents didn’t realise it, I picked up a lot as a kid. And I remember thinking to myself — not me. I knew that I always wanted to have my own money.
7. I earn and spend my own money and I don’t need to answer to anyone for it
And following on from that, another lesson I learned along the way is that I don’t want to have to answer to anyone
I earn and spend my own money. I have my own savings and my own investments. I don’t want to have to answer to anyone, or feel like I need to.
8. Fighting about money is really fighting about something deeper
Next up, lesson #8 — I learned that fighting about money is never really about money. It’s about something else, something deeper.
And that makes sense, right, because I’m always telling you that your money is like your diary in the way that it reflects your choices and your values and who you are.
So, when you’re fighting about money, you’re not fighting about dollars. You’re clashing because of differences in values or personalities.
And those problems and sources of tension won’t disappear when you have more money.
And this is a lesson I learned the hard way. My husband and I are pretty good with talking about money — earning it, spending it, saving it.
But it wasn’t always that way. That’s something we had to work at.
Because it’s not really about money. It’s something else and it’s the something else you need to address if you want to stop fighting about money.
9. Just buy the damn thing
Moving on, lesson #9 is probably one of my favourites — just buy the damn thing. I know that’s not what I’m “supposed” to say as a financial expert.
But there’s nothing wrong in treating yourself to something you like every now and then.
When I first started my career in my early 20s, I had this manager that was honestly a huge pain in the butt.
But I remember one day, we’re working and we’re all talking about how happy we are that it’s payday.
And she said that with every paycheck I should buy something for myself. She said that she buys herself a new dress with each paycheck because she works hard and she deserves it.
And I really took that to heart. It’s something I try to practice in my own life. Even if I’m not buying myself something nice every time I get paid, I still put money into a sinking fund that’s just for my fun spending.
10. Learning how to save money is an essential lifelong skill
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also save money. And that brings me to lesson #10 — learning how to save money is an essential skill just like reading.
And it’s a lifelong skill too. It serves you for your whole life and it’s a skill that you can hone and improve and get better at.
You don’t need to be born with some innate talent at saving money. You just need to try and keep trying.
11. There’s no glory in the rat race
Lesson #11 is another one I learned the hard way. And I’m going to guess that you learned this lesson the hard way too. There’s no glory in the rat race.
And I was born for more than to just pay the bills and die. When we’re young, we’re all so eager to grow up.
We’re thinking about what we want to be when we grow up and what kind of house we want and what kinds of things we’re going to buy.
But when you grow up, you’re slapped with bills before those dreams come true. And you’re on this endless hamster wheel of working and paying the bills.
We didn’t think it was going to be like that. We didn’t realise all the responsibilities of being grown up. We just wanted to grow up.
And now that we’re grown, we all just want to feel like kids again.
12. Bosses will dangle a carrot in front of you for as long as they can. If you want the carrot, go dig up your own
Next up, lesson #12 is actually one I learned within the last year. I used to think that if I worked hard and achieved great things, then I would be recognised on my merit.
I was actually naive enough to think that that’s how the world would work. And I learned the hard way that it doesn’t.
Bosses will dangle a carrot in front of you for as long as they can. And from my experience, they have no intention of ever letting you get the carrot.
And what I learned was that I’m not going to take ‘no’ for an answer from some idiot in middle management on a power trip.
Which is when I decided that if they wouldn’t give me the carrot I had earned, I would go and dig up my own damn carrot. And that’s exactly what I did.
13. There’s nothing to apologise for when you out earn your husband
Moving on to lesson #13 — there’s nothing to apologise for when you out earn your husband.
I once read in some finance book that women who out earn their husbands should be extra careful to make sure they don’t make their husbands feel bad about it.
And honestly, I think that’s a load of crap. That’s BS disguised as financial or relationship advice by someone who thinks it’s a woman’s place to be financially dependent on her husband and stroke his ego.
Not me. Hell no. I worked damn hard to open doors for myself, to earn as much as I do. And I don’t just mean I work hard 9-5, Monday to Friday.
I’ve been working hard since I was 15 years old waking up at 3 in the morning to get good grades so that I could get a good job someday.
The money I earned today wasn’t earned in 8 hours. It’s been 15 years in the making. And I earned every penny of it. I’m not apologising to anyone.
And yes, I out earn my husband and it’s likely that I always will. I’m not apologising for it and I don’t want to be with someone who thinks I need to.
14. Popular rich white men are not always right
Next up, lesson #14 — and I’m sure this is one we can all agree on. The popular rich white men are not always right.
Yes, I’m talking about you old Dave. Your advice has not survived the test of time. It’s outdated and judgemental and stupid.
I’m sure by this point, you all know how I feel about old Dave Ramsey’s advice. I’ve ranted about how damaging it is in multiple episodes at this point.
15. Follow your dreams on your own dime and don’t rely on your parents to save you financially
And onto the last lesson for today, lesson #15 — a big thing I’ve learned in my years travelling around the sun is not to rely on my parents to save me financially.
I’ve always been a big believer of following your dreams on your own dime. Meaning, don’t live at home rent free while you travel the world and your parents foot the bill.
I was always a very independent child and I really learned to rely on myself. And I also don’t want to burden my parents with my problems when they’re supposed to be enjoying their retirement.
I know that if worse came to worse, and I mean absolute worse — like nowhere to live and no money — I would ask my sister or my parents for help.
But it’s a situation I avoid. And it would honestly be a matter of survival for me. It’s popular among a lot of millennials to move back home, and I know that sometimes you don’t have a choice.
But I’ve learned to stand on my own feet and to hold myself up for as long as I can.
Next weeks’ episode
And that’s all I have for you Girls on FIRE today!
My challenge for you this week is to thing about some of those lessons I’ve shared and ask yourself what you’ve learned about money in your life.
And I’m talking about the things that you don’t learn from financial experts, I mean the things you only learn by living through them.
Next week is our last episode of the season and I’m going to finish the season with lessons I’ve learned about life in my 30 years on the planet.
I’ve got some great little nuggets to share and I can’t wait to share them with you.
It’s going to be a super interesting episode so you’re definitely not going to want to miss it.