If my first year in DC was about strengthening my emotional health, then my second year was building on my professional and financial health.
As I said previously, it’s been a great boost to my confidence to have a job I can excel at while also making a difference (bleeding heart over here) and paving my own way.
“But DC is SO EXPENSIVE!!!” They Said
When I first moved to DC from the Midwest, the most common refrain I heard was, “But DC is soooooo expensive!”
And that’s true…if I want the same lifestyle of 3-bedroom house on 1.5 acres with 2 cars, a cabin “up north,” and a boat for which the majority in the Midwest strive.
I don’t though. I don’t want that lifestyle. I want a walkable community where I can forgo an expensive monthly gym membership with a morning commute on foot (as it happens, my building has a free gym anyway). I want a small living space where I’m not tempted to accumulate Stuff just for the sake of accumulating stuff. I want to get rid of my car and instead spend travel time on a train, bus, or plane where I can read, sleep, or do a myriad of other productive things.
DC is expensive. But I’m paying only a small percentage more for my lifestyle here than I was in Milwaukee. The difference is I’m getting paid more than I could ever hope from a similar job in Wisconsin. I no longer have anxiety every month wondering how I’m going to afford all of my bills or worrying about cash flow vs. when I get paid vs. when the bills are due.
It is so. Incredibly. Freeing.
And my credit score jumped by 176 points in less than 2 years.
For the first time in my life I have multiple nest eggs for retirement, emergency savings, adequate insurance, and I’m paying down debt.
I used to leave mail unopened and calls unanswered because I was afraid of confronting my financial situation. Now I have the confidence to automate my payments, trust my budget and cash flow, and spend the extra on frivolous travel which has always been my dream.
If you’re thinking, “Duh, this is all the bedrock of sound money management you dope,” then just know that I was a dope for too long. I have no idea what I was waiting for.
And I’m sorry if this is all TMI or comes off as bragging, but I spent so many wasted years being bad at money that it’s like a dream to finally be great at it and see the results of hard work and confidence. I want to be up front and overshare a bit because I know there are others who are in the same place I was a few years ago. I will be writing a post soon on some of the steps I took to get here, which I hope helps others who are struggling. I didn’t really do anything magical – I just prioritized and set up my budget and accounts in a way that worked for my personality (out of sight, out of mind) and financial goals.