Why I’m Grateful I Grew Up Without Money
When I was younger, my family didn’t have a lot of money. My parents were just starting their life together when I was born, and neither of their families really had much money, so they started out with very little.
My wardrobe for school consisted of secondhand clothes, knock-off shoes, and the occasional clearance item from regular stores. When I was old enough to become more cognizant of material items, I began comparing my clothes to the brand name clothes that my friends wore. I got made fun of at school for wearing “fake Vans,” as well as for wearing my favorite shirt two days in a row. I remember once that I wanted to keep wearing this particular black pair of shoes so badly after they faded that I stole a Sharpie from my teacher and colored over the parts that had worn. I always wore a shirt underneath my P.E. shirt so that when we changed, no one would notice that I wore the same bra every day. At lunch my friends and I would stand in line together, and when I got to the front, I would pretend like I wasn’t hungry because I didn’t have money. Some days I would ditch my friends to sit in the bathroom and eat the lunch I’d brought from home, but most of the time I’d just sit with them and forgo lunch instead.
I got a job as soon as I was old enough and splurged all of my paychecks on the luxury goods that I had always wanted but never had. I got my hair done frequently, bought expensive makeup, brand name clothes, shoes, jewelry — you name it. Each week, I’d plan out what I was going to buy when I got paid and I spent my money very quickly. I thought my things would increase my worth as a person, and honestly, I didn’t care about anything else.
During that time, I didn’t feel valuable unless I had the newest and nicest things. How the world viewed me and what others thought meant everything to me. The thing is, sometimes I didn’t even want certain things but felt like I had to buy them — my spending habits and routines soon began to spiral out of control, and after a few years I found that I was stuck in a never-ending cycle. I got tired of struggling to pay my bills and owing people money. I started to realize I would never be satisfied with my quality of life this way, and that I would need to find a place somewhere in the middle in order to be happy. I began cutting back on my spending, saving instead and truly thinking about whether I needed things before I bought them.
Now I am careful with how I spend my money, especially because I’ve become more financially independent. I choose to buy the majority of my clothes at thrift stores, and wear very little makeup. My hair is short, and I usually either have my mom cut it or I cut it myself. These days I choose to be pretty low maintenance, and I spend most of my money on food, school and bills. Instead of feeling like I need to buy material things to have personal worth, saying “no” to something at the store that I don’t need makes me feel happy and free.
Don’t get me wrong: There are still days that I get down on myself when I see my friends living more luxuriously, traveling frequently or spending a lot of money on food and clothes that I simply don’t have the budget for. But then I remember where I started, and that not everyone came from the same place as me. The bad feelings go away a lot quicker nowadays, and when I think about my past and how far I have come, I feel proud of myself.
When I think about the person I am now, I know that not having money when I was younger taught me a lot. Because of my struggles I know how to save, and how to be smart with my money. Having less for most of my life helped me to be content with less now, and I value the things that I have now much more than I would have if I’d never learned to appreciate them. Not having everything I wanted taught me to be flexible, creative and imaginative. It also forced me to work hard and earn my own way through life. I’d like to think that it taught me balance, and that I’ll always be happy with what I have, regardless of how much or how little.
Did a challenging experience help shape your understanding of yourself? Tell us @BritandCo.
(Images via Marisa Kumtong)
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.