How I'm Planning on Improving My Relationship With... Money

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I'd like to think I'm a pretty open person, but one thing I rarely talk about, especially publicly, is money. Up until very recently, I've had a weird relationship with money. I mean, it's a pretty taboo topic, especially when it comes to personal finances, and one of those things that's often not discussed among friends and peers. But my views on money changed last year when I read Jen Sincero's You are a Badass, particularly, the chapter called "Money, Your New Best Friend." Jen talks about confronting your relationship with money by writing down all those statements, stories and ideas about money that play around in your head on autopilot and then breaking it down, sentence by sentence, to "expose your drama around money for the award-winning performance it is."

For me, part of that confrontation meant getting clear on where I'm at and where I want to be. Currently, I am prepping to go to Laurier in September to do a Masters in Music Therapy (!!!). In terms of finances, I need to think about paying for tuition, rent (if I decide to live closer to campus) and perhaps a car. But I also want to live an abundant life (not one of student debt) and start investing in my future. Sound impossible? I thought so, too, until Meridian Credit Union (Canada's fourth largest credit union) offered me the chance to visit one of their locations to learn more about saving.

Now truth be told, the idea of a credit union scared me, mainly because it had the word "credit" in it which made me think of credit cards, borrowing, debt... you get the picture. But my advisor, Heather O'Hare, explained to me that credit unions are not at all scary. They offer the same services as major banks (chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, wealth management, mortgages, online banking, etc.) but since they are not-for-profit cooperatives and aren't owned by outside shareholders, they invest any earnings back into the company to provide better products and services for members, such as higher saving rates and lower rates on loans and credit cards (both of which will be very beneficial for someone going back to school). Meridian also invests four per cent of pre-tax profits in initiatives that benefit Ontario's communities, which is pretty nice.

Heather advised that I start my budget by outlining my discretionary expenses (costs that aren't essential, for example, a Grande Americano from Starbucks every morning) and non-discretionary expenses (essential costs, like rent). Once that's done, I would have to figure out if my current income can support both budgets PLUS my education. If not, I would have to cut from the discretionary expenses and/or increase my income.

Yes, the process of budgeting is scary. Yes, you may want to give up halfway (or even a quarter-way) through BUT, it's an extremely important step if you want to take charge of your finances. You just have to bite the bullet and do it!

I left my meeting feeling a bit more hopeful and confident in my saving abilities, and even more equipped to expose that drama Jen was talking about!

This post was sponsored by Meridian Credit Union. Views, thoughts and opinions are my own.