Neha - Listen, this new band is playing at that brewery we wanted to check out. Let’s go tomorrow?
Arya - You do realise we haven’t paid our bills yet, right? How do we afford concert and alcohol money right now?
Neha - Honestly, we’re halfway through the month. We just won’t step out for the rest of it and before you know it, you’ll have your salary to chill with.
I want to say that Arya didn’t get convinced and decided to clear her bills first before heading out to the fanciest new place to see a band she never heard of before.
But I know Arya.
I have been Arya, and so have you. We know she went. We know we spent the money that she should have on electricity and WIFi. And we also know that she cried when her fan stopped working one hot afternoon.
So, who is Arya?
She’s all of us when we were out on our for the very first time. If you are someone who’s reading this on your first job, then you’re probably living through your Arya phase. If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve seen your Arya phase and have hopefully outgrown it.
Nope. Not one bit,
Knowing how to be a pro at handling your finances, prioritizing and budgeting are sadly things you won’t learn in your first few years out of your parents’ house
Now, does that mean you’re hopeless? Or that you can go all out whenever?
If you’re in an Arya phase, it’s never too soon to start small. You don’t need to make excel sheets about your money and start investing today, you just need to start by being aware.
I’m probably in my Arya phase right now? And well, here is what I learnt in my first year of being out in the world -
So many of us have issues with actually looking at our bank account and our bank balance. What happens next is a series of being poorly informed about your money and having no idea of how much you currently have.
Start small. Save your bills, make notes of them anywhere you want to. Also, this goes without saying, but try to see your bank balance, at least once in ten days. Give yourself the space but don’t avoid it completely. It’s helping me and I’m sure it can help you.
When you’re thrown from college to the real world there’s so much around you that changes. You’re also in a new space with new people around and all you want to do is find company.
So I get it when you laugh it away when the bill is being equally split between your co-workers, when you consciously avoided expensive food.
But, speak up. If it bothers you that you didn’t spend as much as others, or that you aren’t getting your money on time, express it.
Another trick you could use is keeping a tab of shared expenses and updating it regularly. Likewise, if you think you’re being charged for something you didn’t buy, let others know of how you intended to spend only that much and bought a specific item to fit into your budget.
Here’s what makes these scarier than they should be - ignorance. Our fear around debt and loans comes from the fact that so many of us don’t have financial literacy. Our parents barely spoke to us about it and nor did our schools.
It’s time you took that course on basic finances, or got yourself that book. Or better yet, find an online platform that talks about these things (wink wink). Once you start learning, some of this ignorance can turn to knowledge.
There’s no happy way around debt, but knowing what you’re into and what the possibilities of getting out of it look like can help.
Budgeting, saving, tracking can all seem a bit too much on our first time by yourself. A simple rule of thumb would be to reflect if a purchase is a need or a want.
Needs? Housing, electricity, groceries, WIFI and the likes. Wants? A new home decor accessory, another phone, having a spa day.
This might sound simple but sometimes our needs have a wants ratio and our wants can be good enough to be a need. Let’s say you want jam, but handpicked blueberry jam shipped from France isn’t really a need now, is it?
Start small by asking yourself “Can I go through this month without this item affecting my daily life?” If yes, then you can let yourself go through another inner interrogation before you make a purchase. If no, well, you have your answer.
The hardest yet most enjoyable part of being on your own is that the only person responsible for you is yourself.
If you think learning more about personal finance, speaking to your more experienced co-workers about managing money, is something that will help you, then do it. If not, then don’t. You don’t have to budget and save and invest if everyone else is, you should do it if you think it will help.
Similarly, you don’t have to spend the same way others might. You can choose to be particular about your spending too, as long as you know it’s all for you.
It depends on when you want it to.
How much you spend, save, and how you deal with your money depends on how you see money. For so many of us, navigating to create a healthy relationship with money can be super exhausting. Just try to remember that you decide what you can do with your money, never the other way.
It’s understandable that holding this much responsibility out of the blue is quite the shocker. Know that like Arya, Neha, and me, you too will learn by the day, as long as you’re open to it.