30 Money and Life Lessons This Personal Finance Expert Learned By 30
April 27, 2018
Having just recently turned 30, I keep getting asked how I feel about it. I don’t really feel any different than I did at 29—but I feel a lot more at peace with myself and my life than I did at 22.
As a personal finance expert, entrepreneur, and, well, a human, I’ve learned a lot over the years about money and life. Because that’s what your 20s are about, right? And, in celebration of my birthday, I decided to share some of those lessons with you.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to correct your financial situation.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned as it pertains to money (and life in general) is how much your mindset affects your reality.
It is not easy to start a business from nothing. It wasn’t easy to overcome being unemployed and then underemployed. Dealing with financial missteps also isn’t easy. But here’s the thing–nothing really is. That’s why your mental game is so important.
2. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
We live in what I like to call a microwave Pop-Tart world. We want instant gratification because that’s what we’ve become accustomed to. We can literally buy something from Amazon and have it delivered in an hour.
But that’s not how money works–like at all. Money is a long game. For example, it takes time to save money and see the return on your investments (unless, of course, you had a lot of money to begin with). It also takes time to pay off your debts.
And don’t even get me started on how people want instant success in business. Here’s a newsflash: Instagram is NOT a good indicator of how much time, dedication, and work goes into building a business.
3. Your emotions can really mess up your finances.
Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned about life in general over the last few years is how to manage my emotions. When I was 21/22, I was suffering from panic attacks. It was during this time that I discovered yoga, meditation, and personal development.
I didn’t know it at the time, but it would help me with my finances. I know not to panic when everyone else is. I also know not to buy into the hype (I’m looking at you, Bitcoin). When challenges present themselves, I meet them. I don’t spend all my money when going through emotional hardship, I don’t pull my money out of the stock market on a bad day, and I don’t assume the worst in business.
There’s a difference between feeling a range of emotions and letting them take over your life.
Am I happy all the time? Of course not. For example, over the last few months I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. But as I’ve recently learned, there’s a difference between feeling a range of emotions and letting them take over your life. When I was 22, I had no control over my emotions. Now, I feel them but I have a handle on them.
4. Who you choose to hang out with matters.
I’ve been cutting toxic people out of my life left and right since I started on this journey eight years ago. In fact, I’m convinced that part of the reason I’ve had so much success is because of the people I choose to be around. I want to learn. I want to be around people pushing the limits. I want deep conversations. And I certainly don’t have time for petty bullshit.
I was recently reminded of this point and had to do some cleaning in my life once again. Which brings me to my next point.
5. Unfortunately, some people don’t want to see you succeed.
Oh man, this is one harsh lesson I’ve learned lately. Because I’m usually around extremely supportive, happy, and well-adjusted people, I sometimes forget that’s the minority. I literally forget that, unfortunately, there are people out there who are petty. When my guard is down, the occasional toxic person gets in.
Unfortunately, I learned there were some messy people in my life who did not want to see me happy. I don’t know why, and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is as soon as I found out, I cut them out of my life.
My point being that if you are trying to change your life for the better and you’ve got things going for you, you need to be aware that not everyone will like it. This is especially true if you find yourself moving up higher than the current company you keep. Toxic people will drag you down.
6. Don’t apologize for your happiness.
Just because people may not like that you’re happy doesn’t mean you need to apologize for it.
I found myself downplaying how awesome my life actually is around certain people. It turns out those were the same people who didn’t want to see me succeed. I’ve worked too hard to get to where I am in life to apologize for it. If you’re reading this, then I’m sure you have, too.
7. Meditation is a life saver.
My first attempt at meditation was back in 2010. While I didn’t have a daily practice until recently, it was regular enough where I noticed the difference when I skipped a few days.
Amanda on meditation: Clear. Level-headed. Isn’t so reactive to challenges. Uses her intuition more. Attracts opportunities like a moth to a flame.
Amanda not on meditation: Cranky. Can’t cut through the bullshit. Sweats the small stuff. Not very forgiving when she should be. Everything seems way harder than it needs to be.
I recently completed one full year of daily meditation and my life looks drastically different than it did a year ago. I’m manifesting stuff left and right. I’m also more chill.
8. Unlearning what we tell ourselves about making money is hard.
Making money isn’t hard. It really isn’t. You provide value and receive value in return. What is hard is identifying and letting go of cultural conditioning, psychological blueprints, bad experiences, and our own negativity biases.
9. School didn’t teach me anything about the real world.
There I said it. I still think an education is important, but they really need to start teaching life skills. Especially when you start looking at the price tag of a college education. At the very least, let’s teach mindfulness, a basic personal finance class, and a class called Hustle 101.
10. Work-life balance doesn’t exist.
Oh man, when I started blogging back in 2010, “work-life balance” was all the rage. I feel like I chased it for a couple of years. It’s taken me a long time to realize this doesn’t actually exist.
I prefer to talk about work-life integration. How can you design a life when you can work and live interchangeably? I’m finally at peace with the fact that I’ve created work-life integration instead of “balance.”
11. There is something to be said for luck (preparation and good timing).
I often joke that when I started writing about millennials back in 2010, no one cared. Now it’s all anyone can talk about. No one really cared about LatinX finances either until relatively recently.
I may not have known exactly what my career would look like, but I knew I was on to something and was prepared when good timing finally came.
I struggled for many years to get my points across. Now, I have financial companies blowing up my inbox wanting to work with me.
I say this to share an important lesson: Sometimes, it really is a matter of timing. I may not have known exactly what my career would look like, but I knew I was on to something and was prepared when good timing finally came.
12. There is no one-size-fits-all financial formula.
Aside from some basic stuff (don’t spend more than you earn, save for emergencies, save for retirement, pay your taxes, etc.) everyone’s situation is drastically different. No one wants the same things and what works for one person won’t work for everyone.
For example, I’m a 30-year-old, single, self-employed Latina with no kids living in a major city. Do you think a lot of the common financial advice that’s out there works for me? It sure doesn’t.
This is why you need to figure out what you value and what that translates to in your financial life. In my case, it also looks like having trusted people like my accountant who can tell me what my retirement account options are and what works best for tax purposes.
13. Sometimes you need to wait for the right time (and then it’s better than you expected).
I recently got a monthly segment on a Spanish radio show where the host and I have very candid discussions about money.
During a recent segment, I shared how I used to get a lot of criticism for living at home with my parents after graduation. I’m Cuban, so culturally this wasn’t a big deal. However, in the eyes of American culture, I was a failure. I had a bit of an internal battle about it for several years.
Long story short, I did finally move out–seven years later. And you know what? I didn’t even go out looking for it. When the timing in my life was right–meaning I had the finances, the business, and a family situation was under control–the apartment I live in now fell into my lap.
You’re not a failure for doing things a little later in life.
And you know what? This is way better than anything I could have ever planned for. Had I tried to control the situation or jumped the gun too soon, I wouldn’t be in the apartment I’m in today.
In a society where we’re pressured to have certain milestones by specific ages, it’s easy to forget how it’s all crap. You’re not a failure for doing things a little later in life. And chances are your patience and perseverance will pay off in ways you can’t even see right now.
14. Take risks more often.
Although I feel like I’m naturally risk-averse, the truth is I’ve taken a lot of risks over the years. Quitting my job was a risk. Starting a business was a risk. I’ve made a lot of financial investments that at the time were risks–like paying for mentorship.
And you know what? With the exception of maybe one, they’ve all paid off.
The fear of the unknown keeps people stuck. We want to know our risks will always pay off, but there’s really no way of knowing that. Until people realize that, they will remain where they are.
15. You can acquire new skills any time you want.
People are usually shocked to find out I suck at math, don’t have a business or finance degree, and didn’t come out the womb knowing how to market and sell. These are all skills I chose to acquire in my 20s.
Do you acquire these skills overnight? No. In fact, you fall on your face a lot. But you need to get back up and try again. The reason I’m so good at this stuff now is literally because I had to work so hard to get it.
16. Life is a constant cycle of ebbs and flows.
I think this is pretty self-explanatory.
17. You can’t control everything and you probably need to let some things go.
I am a recovering control freak. The reason I suffered from panic attacks is precisely because I felt like I didn’t have control. Whenever I think my anxiety is coming back, it’s usually because I’m starting to feel like I don’t have control in a situation.
Here’s a newsflash: Sometimes you’ve done all you can do, and the only thing left is to surrender it.
Also, you can’t control everything anyway. There is so much stuff going on behind the scenes you probably don’t even know about. And that’s OK.
18. Your intuition matters. Don’t ignore it.
A lot of the moves I’ve made in business have been based on intuition. There have been moments when I could have easily said “I’m not going to do this because all logic is saying not to,” but my intuition was like “GO FOR IT!” It has never steered me wrong in business.
Sometimes you’ve done all you can do and the only thing left is to surrender it.
That being said, it’s a skill I’m acquiring in my personal life. I was recently in a situation where my intuition was saying one thing and my brain was saying another. Because of the nature of the situation and my own biases, I ignored my intuition. I later found out my intuition was right the whole time. Now, I’m making it a point to listen to it.
We are all intuitive. It’s just some of us have a little more practice using it than others. Meditation, prayer, and self-reflection can really help you out here.
19. I need to write just to write.
In the blogging world, it’s all turned into making money. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, I do sometimes miss writing for the sake of writing. This isn’t just a job for me, it’s also therapeutic.
Granted, I can’t share everything online. That’s what my journal is for.
20. Loving what you do for a living must be the definition of wealth.
If you’re lucky enough to wake up in the morning and love what you do, consider yourself wealthy. Most people dream of being able to do this. I, for one, do not take it for granted.
21. That being said, everything has a downside.
Am I excited to get to work every day? No. That’s just unrealistic. Does my career have its challenges? Yeah. That’s called life. There are pros and cons to literally everything.
If you’re lucky enough to wake up in the morning and love what you do, consider yourself wealthy.
As I think Marie Forleo once said in a video, everything comes with a crap sandwich and you just need to decide what kind of crap sandwich you’d rather eat.
22. Perfection will keep you broke.
While I’ve personally never had an issue with trying to be perfect, I do see it all the time. Guys, perfection will keep you broke. Done is better than perfect.
This means stop taking so long to send proposals. Work your schedule around a big opportunity if you have to. MAKE A MOVE.
23. I’d rather be respected than liked.
Okay, so I took this from Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning, but it changed my life when I saw it. As a woman, I feel culturally conditioned to believe that my value lies in being liked-hence the perfectionism, the martyrdom, the doormats, and the underearning.
The truth is, if you want to make money, then you need to be respected. And you know what? That’s not exactly untrue in other areas of life. I know that I’ve definitely messed up relationships because I was more worried about being liked. Now that I’m more focused on respect, I’m getting more of what I seek.
24. You CAN manage a business with your personal life.
I am by no means perfect at this, but I am finding it’s easier than I initially thought it was. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.
25. Most people are lazy and they give up too easily.
There, I said it. Most people talk a good game, but they won’t put action behind those words. That’s why I often tell coaching clients and students that actually showing up consistently is about 90 percent more than most people will do.
Most people just won’t show up to do the work.
26. I still believe blogging can change your life for the better.
Despite coming to terms with some realities and the blogging landscape going through some drastic changes over the years, I still believe blogging can change your life. People are literally making careers out of nothing. It’s a fabulous time to be a writer.
27. It takes money to make money.
It is what it is. However, there are a couple of caveats.
First, you need to spend the money wisely. This is NOT the same as spending frivolously in hopes of making some cash. It’s more about making calculated decisions and investments.
Second, this also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be resourceful where you can. I am resourceful AF, which is why I’ve always managed to make a profit in my business.
Third, there is a balance to being resourceful. Sometimes trying to save money backfires and ends up costing you more money in the long run.
28. It’s OK to spend some money on yourself.
It has taken me a long time to be OK with spending money on myself. I spent so many years depriving myself because I was afraid I would go into a spending spiral. I now know I won’t do that.
Additionally, what’s the point of working so hard if you can’t enjoy some of it? At the end of the day, it’s about striking a balance that works for you.
29. The only thing that separates you from everyone else is YOU.
I see so many bloggers, influencers, and business owners who don’t want to shine a light on themselves. The reality is the only difference between you and every other person doing the same thing you are is YOU.
In case no one has told you, YOU are amazing. YOU are beautiful. YOU are worthy of being seen. YOUR story is needed. YOUR gifts are needed. Don’t be shy about sharing it!
30. Be unapologetic about what you want.
You cannot let circumstances, challenges, delays, or other people stop you from getting what you want in life. You need to unapologetically own what you want in life and go after it. Otherwise, you’ll end up like every other person who complains about how mundane their lives are.
The reality is the only difference between you and every other person doing the same thing you are is YOU.
Some of these may sound negative, but they aren’t. It’s more about accepting that we live in an imperfect world. Once we understand that, we can control our surroundings and our destiny. Besides, I never said I always wore rose-colored glasses.
This article originally appeared on amandaabella.com.