Let’s Talk about Money…

I hate how taboo money is as a subject. I think we need to talk about it.

For a long time, financial health has been a goal of mine.

Financial health has been something on my mind for a while now. Growing up in a low-income household, I naturally had a scarcity mindset when it came to money. Scarcity mindset is the idea that there will never be enough of something, so your actions come from a place of lack rather than a place of abundance.

I grew up thinking that buying anything for myself was a “splurge” no matter what it was or how necessary. I grew up thinking that things should only be replaced if they are worn out to the point of being unusable. I grew up thinking that money was something that no matter how hard I worked, I wouldn’t get enough. Because that’s what I saw in my parents; they always worked hard, and I could see that, but we always barely made ends meet. I’m thankful that my parents were so transparent about our financial situation because it helped me realize what was going wrong, and by the time I was old enough to start understanding that I wanted something different for myself, I set out to ensure that I would be fiscally successful.

I knew that I wanted to be in a different position financially than I grew up in. I wanted to be able to afford things I needed and wanted. I didn’t want money to be a primary stress in my life. I didn’t know what it felt like to not be stressed about money. Until now.

My financial history…

Throughout high school, I worked mostly independent contractor positions as well as on ALT. I didn’t make much money from these, but my busy schedule and lack of a car until my senior year didn’t leave me much opportunity to get a traditional job. The summer before college, I worked around 20-30 hours per week first as a secretary and then as an assistant and built up a savings of around $1,000, which was barely enough to fund my move out to Boston and settle into my dorm at Babson College.

picture out the plane window on my flight to Boston

I am fortunate to have a full-ride scholarship at Babson, so I don’t have to worry about many expenses while I’m at college. But, some things aren’t covered: co-pays, medication, travel to/from home for breaks, winter clothes, and, of course, spending money for going out. So I knew I had to get a work-study to fund those things. The problem was that they were pretty scarce for first-year students, and I didn’t seem to know the right people to get a job. Around October, I finally secured a position in Academic Services working on projects for my scholarship program. I only worked 4 hours per week at the minimum wage in Massachusetts, which is $12.75.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make enough money to fund my return trip back home. I was so stressed. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to leave campus. So, I had a meeting with financial services. They were incredibly accommodating of my situation and gave me a $1,000 grant to fund my winter break travel expenses.

But this past semester, everything changed.

I knew that if I was going to make ends meet in the Spring semester, I’d have to find another job on top of my work study. I made this known to my network and I was blessed with an amazing opportunity: an internship on the operations team at Calyx Containers, a Babson-founded company in Boston. I felt strongly that the position was over my head because I had no experience in Operations and I didn’t think I could secure a well-paid internship as a freshman. But, I worked closely with my community and the Center for Career Development to present myself as a worthy candidate, and I was hired in mid-February.

This will sound like a cliche, but this opportunity changed my life. Calyx Containers will go down for me as something that has given me so much more than a line on my resume, so much more than money, so much more than marketable experience. It has reversed toxic habits and mindsets I had surrounding money and my own abilities. I continue to thrive in a position where I am pushed way beyond the expected capabilities of any college freshman. And I make a pretty penny while doing it.

My new reality.

I hate that talking about money is so taboo, and so I will share with you with full transparency what my financial situation is now, not to brag, but to show you what is possible.

Yes, I’m talking to you. The one who is reading this and needs to read this to know that you can improve your financial situation. I am sharing this with you so you know that I did it, and you can, too.

  • I get paid $18.00/hour at my internship and now work full-time on operations.
  • I got my first credit card and have paid off each statement, giving me a credit score of 720 and rising.
  • I opened a savings account that I’m putting $100 of each paycheck into. I currently have a goal of saving $10,000 by my senior year in this account. I’m also saving for my first large asset purchase: a car.
  • I did my own taxes and got a refund of about $1,000!
  • I hit the largest number to ever be in my bank account at $5,000.
  • I made an investment in an iPad and Bluetooth headphones, two things I’ve wanted for a long time but haven’t been able to get. They’ve changed my experience working and the iPad has helped me grow in my calligraphy practice (I got the Apple Pencil, too).
  • I have a Spotify premium account, now. Crazy to think that for years I couldn’t justify spending $5.00/month on that.
  • I now buy things without doing an intense analysis about whether it’s worth it. If I want to go get a cup of coffee or a boba tea, I will. Of course, I am still conscious about my spending and set budgets, but I don’t feel guilty buying things I really want anymore.

For those of you who haven’t experienced financial hardship or are not yet financially independent, you may not understand how big the items above are to me. I didn’t think I’d be able to do those things for a long time. But, I believed in myself, put myself out there, worked hard, networked right, and ultimately I’ve been able to put myself in a better position than I’ve ever been, and it’s only up from here.

Shout-outs to my eTower community who connected me with Calyx Containers, my friend Zarius who has answered all of my stupid questions about money with patience and candor, the Calyx team and specifically my mentor and boss Anton, and my parents for their transparency with money as I grew up.

If you ever want to talk money, feel free to schedule with me and we’ll have a chat. I’m not an expert, but I can point you in the right direction.

❤ Alicia

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