The word makes people cringe, doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of it or it’s in abundance, for some reason no one wants to talk about it.  My parents never taught me about money (although they are good with it, better than me even), teachers never told me how to deal with it (why do schools not teach us about saving or mortgages or investments??) and so I found my own way (sometimes with $5 in my bank account, but that’s part of the journey).

This blog started out as Adventures of a Starving Artist because I didn’t care about money and wanted to show everyone I could live a full life and do everything everyone else was but on a budget (a very, very small budget).  I have been an actor for 10 years now, working contract gigs on the side, and learned a lot about money.  I think the biggest thing I have taken away is that I don’t care about money.  Seems odd to say when I have a blog called A Plentiful Life, but I have always lived life to the fullest and done everything I wanted to do, money was simply a stepping stone to get there, or a boulder I had to claw my way up, but I made it!

Let me tell you a little bit about my journey, I have lived on my own for 17 years now, paying my own way, with a few hundreds from mom and dad here and there.  Wait, let’s go back a little further.  I had my first job at 13 years old, by choice, working in the cafeteria at the local ski hill.  No I wasn’t one of those cute girls at the till, I worked in the kitchen and cooked gross hamburgers (it doesn’t always pay to be a hard worker).  I started working because I lived in a small town and wanted to buy my own clothes.  I saved most of what I made, and occasionally bought some interesting item from the thrift store.  It felt good to have numbers in my account, that’s all they were, numbers.  I never had $1000 cash in my room to really get the sense of what that meant, I had a bank book I could take to the cashier and she’d tell me how many numbers there were.

Money has always been numbers for me.  I know that might sound weird, but it has. I wasn’t great with  money, and to be honest I am still not, I simply  knew how much I needed in order to get or do or buy what I wanted.   When I moved out to go to school I worked two full time jobs in the summers to make money, then I took the number I saved and broke it down per month, that’s how much I had for the year.  Going to acting school I wanted to make sure I was able to act once I graduated.  At the time I never understood what a huge decision this was.  I didn’t plan to be debt free, I simply knew I didn’t want to get a full time job when I graduated to pay for school, so I busted my ass to make sure everything was paid for.  I did one large grocery shop per week, I had a $50 budget (groceries were cheaper back then), I took out cash when I went out so I didn’t have to pull out my debit card, my student visa had a $500 limit in case of emergencies, and so began my plentiful life.  Off the money I made in the summer I paid for school, rent, food, going out, clothes and more!  I came out debt free.

Once I graduated I wanted to act and took every opportunity I could.  Acting was the most important thing to me at that time, so I found jobs that supported those opportunities.  I worked at night in a restaurant, which didn’t last long, then I moved into promotions.  Promotions were great and I continued to work in that industry for 10 years.  I could pick and choose the contracts I wanted to work on and trade shifts if something came up.  I didn’t work to live, I worked to support my life and acting.  I was not an over achiever in those days in terms of saving money, I simply knew how much I needed to make and would break it down into hours.  For example I knew that all my bills combined added up to $1200 per month (this included spending money) and that most promotions paid $25 per hour so in a month I would have to book 6 days of work.  Sometimes in the summer or holidays I would work more to have a bit of savings for the slow months.  I thought I was a genius, lol!  Here my friends were working full time and I was working a few days here and there, meeting people for hikes or coffee and acting when I could.  It was perfect and it helped me to really stick to my budget and be money conscious.

Now I have all these money practices in place to help me each month. They happened naturally and grew over time because I put what I wanted to accomplish above making money. So here I am budgeting every month for the bills I have to pay, setting an amount for groceries, batch cooking to save time and money,  paying for everything on my visa to get travel points, putting $25 a week into a savings account (I should put more, but baby steps!) and this feels great!  You know what’s ironic though?  I work as a full time contractor now and audition for commercials on the side. I am super happy and it brings balance and a little bit of structure to my life (who knew structure would be a good thing), but I make the most money I have ever made and can barely save! WHAT?!?  I know you are thinking how is that possible?  You used to make $1200 per month and now you’re making more and have nothing to show for it?

I realized the other day I need to reevaluate my monthly spending habits.  I reflected on how I got by in the past and was sad for a moment remembering the easy days of working here and there, making only what I needed, nothing more, but I have grown out of this phase.  Life has forced me into something bigger.  I want to have money in the bank for what life has in store like *cough*a wedding*cough* or a baby or a trip or a new rug that is totally out of budget.  Now instead of making what I need, I am in abundance, so the way I have been dealing with money needs to change.  My goal is to sit down this week, take a look at my monthly expenses and make a plan for the extra money.  EXTRA MONEY?  Who am I?  If there is a little extra each month then I need to put it to good use.  I can see how easy it is to spend what you have, that is how I used to work! Now I am making more than I need so spending what I have is not a good thing.

Am I going to feel bad for not saving money with my new job, hell no!  I had fun!  We went on a few trips, I saw people I love, bought an fancy rug, paid off my car, bought plants for the yard and took my boyfriend out for an expensive birthday dinner.  It felt good.  Money is still not holding me back.  I am living the life I want, making smart decisions (well, most of the time) and putting the people I love and my passions above money.

If you feel like you need to make a change in your money habits, do it!  Start small, maybe a monthly budget or question whether you need that new shirt after a stressful day or start putting $25 away each week, do something that makes you feel good about the money you are working so hard to make!  Then you can say what a few people have told me they say when they get over a money hurdle “Tijana would be proud of me”  and I would.  Navigating life is not easy, money is even harder to manage, be proud of yourself for any little step you take towards feeling good about money and the life you are creating.  And if you fail, oh well there’s always next month.

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