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Financial guilt?

I'm a 21 year old uni student who works casually. I'm a migrant so my parents have next to nothing saved up (they work hard, but things are tough) and I have worked for everything I have. I've worked since I finished school and saved consistently with a strict budget involving travel, savings, donations, and spendings. I have paid off over $6k I had in uni debt (personal loan) as I couldn't get HECS at first, so have no immediate debt (only haver to pay back HECS when I'm in a stable job). I was on track to have over 10k in savings by now but an unexpected matter saw me transfer a lot of money to an immediate family member. This ate into my savings and travel funds but I was genuinely happy to help them out, so no regrets there. I am back on track to saving up over 15k for travel+savings by the end of this year because I've increased my shifts, but that incident where a huge portion of my money just 'vanished' has kinda left me a bit gutted and have since found it difficult to enjoy spending money on myself. I never spend big, never eat out and only buy things that truly make me happy (very rarely), but recently wasted $100 stupidly and have not been able to stop kicking myself for it. I've also found myself feeling guilty for having a travel fund as I constantly envision the money 'vanishing' from my account once I finally get to travel. I hope to be in a secure, 75k+ job at 23 after graduating with a Masters in a growing 'in demand' field, so this is all to hold me over until then as casual shifts are not consistent.

This is totally dramatic of me, but I guess I'm just looking for any advice people have about how to not sweat the small stuff when it comes to financial matters? Or advice on how to enjoy hard earned money? Or even if this is a common feeling? Am I doing ok so far? Any suggestions/ advice/ reality checks are welcome and very much appreciated.

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Re: Financial guilt?

I can see you've talked about a few things that are important to you here. Obviously one of them is money, and then there's also your family and your ambitions. I'm happy to hear that you're thinking so positively about helping your family member, and I really admire all the effort you're putting in towards your goals. I can see you really going places in life!

Having a stable, 75K+ job at 23 is no small ambition! I'm sure it's possible, even though I don't know anyone myself who's achieved that. I wonder if with how important this is to you, you feel a pressure to make this happen?

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Re: Financial guilt?

Thanks so much for your reply! How exciting on my first post! But yes, because I've kinda experienced the not-so-fun side of not having money, it has automatically been engrained in me that money is of importance - definitely not as a sole source of happiness, but rather stability. My brother successfully left uni at 23 straight into a job and is doing pretty well now so I'm basing my hopes after him which I totally get may be unreasonable but I'm pretty sure (I've been monitoring my job field consistently and graduates get hired straight out of uni if willing to relocate) that I will find a job after uni. Whether it will pay 75k+ is of course an estimate based on graduates I've spoken to so not sure about that. So to answer your question, yes I think I really do place pressure on myself to make these goals happen which is not ideal but my experiences have kinda shaped me to be that way, making it difficult to press pause every now and then..

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Re: Financial guilt?

Oh wow, how cool that I get to make your first reply! Smiley Tongue  I really hear you on how your experiences have shaped you, and I can see that you've put so much thought into all of this. It's great, you seem to be a really good planner! Not just in setting things out initially but also dealing with bumps in the road like supporting your family through something you didn't expect. It sounds like that was a fair bit more than $100, the amount you mentioned feeling guilty about right now. I think you're definitely capable of keeping yourself on track when things like that happen. And besides, it's in the past now. Whatever you got you might as well get what enjoyment you can out of it, maybe return it if you can and even if neither of those are options there's so much ahead of you.

I think I've come up to something similar recently too. I've spent weeks and weeks wanting to treat myself to take away, but putting the thought out of my mind each time because I already have food at home and I'd feel guilty buying something to eat when there's something I can already have without spending another cent. I finally caved in and ordered take away tonight, and really enjoyed it. It was a whole thing - I planned it out last night, talked about how I felt about it with my housemates, picked out something I wanted and watched the uber eats app for nearly a whole hour after ordering! I think what really helped me to enjoy it instead of worrying about it is just that it's what I planned to do. I think I'm finding out that you can plan to enjoy something that that works to help you enjoy it, which is really cool!

Oh and now that you've mentioned your brother, I wonder if he might have any insight for you? I imagine he grew up in similar if not the same circumstances and may well have been through what you're going through now too.

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Re: Financial guilt?

I can't thank you enough for those words- I think I just really needed some reassurance. And yes - your story with takeaway is exactly the right feeling! It's so difficult to move past.....

My brother moved away so he's always busy these days, plus he's not the worrying kind - it just all worked out for him gradually which was amazing! No one else in my family is 'budget-crazy' like me so they don't understand my need to plan so much.

But your advice is really helpful - I just need to put the 'waste' behind and not kick myself so much for it. I'm almost envious of people who don't overthink financial matters so much! It'll take a bit of time but I really need to make some mental adjustments to relax a bit more and your advice has really helped - really just needed to hear it from someone else. Thank you kindly!!

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Re: Financial guilt?

@Phantom99 Thanks for posting- it's totally ok to need a helping hand when it comes to financials sometimes. They don't teach us enough of this stuff at school or uni, I think.

It sounds like you want to distress; self care might be a great way to do this. Try doing some breathe work, or even positive visualisations or affirmations so you can manifest the prosperity you desire. 

 

Please know your concerns are valid and you aren't alone. You deserve to enjoy the money you have earnt!

 

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Re: Financial guilt?

I suggest you reading this article , it should help.

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Re: Financial guilt?

Hi @Phantom99, great advice being given here!

From what I'm hearing it sounds like you're struggling a bit to let go of the feeling of having control over the money you've saved and let loose. I thought that from the fact you felt so guilty about wasting that $100, that it was a bit out of character for you and that's why you're beating yourself up. It's amazing to hear that you're so ambitious and have such good self-discipline because it will help you go far! But you also need to have good self-discipline when it comes to treating yourself well and rewarding your hard work Smiley Very Happy

 

I wonder if it has something to do with anxiety as well. Do you have a fear that something serious could happen, even with a little bit of relaxation of your savings? You mentioned a family emergency that came up. Are you scared that could happen again and maybe that's why you're feeling this way? What does having savings represent to you and is it totally realistic or needing to be as extreme as the way you're perceiving it? I think one thing that could help is by being realistic and setting budgets about what you're willing to spend and splurge in a day, week, holiday, etc. and what you'd like to have saved in cases of emergencies or just for peace of mind. I've definitely had the feeling of spending too much on a holiday and in hindsight I wish I'd been a little bit more realistic of either how much it would cost or how much I actually wanted to spend. And as @squiggly mentioned with the choice to get takeaway, you don't need to go crazy and throw all of your money into one thing, you can work up to spending more on bigger purchases!

 

Another thing I wanted to say is that you deserve to treat yo self! You've worked so hard to get here with the goal of holidaying and relaxing and you should honour that sentiment that's kept you going! If it feels a little bit selfish, why not include family and friends who have helped you along the way? Also, don't feel like you need to spend lots on something just for the sake of it. If you like to be more economical and practical with your money, you can go on a holiday that suits your personality. 

 

I hope this helps!

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Re: Financial guilt?

Thank you @Castano! Looks like it was written just for me Smiley Very Happy

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@StormySeas17 You are actually spot on with those observations! I think I do have a certain level of financial anxiety; not just in regards to family emergencies, but rather being back in the not-so-fun place of just not having money. When we first moved here things were rough, and while my parents did everything they could to make our lives comfortable, I kind of became obsessed with never wanting to be in that situation again (for my parents' sake as well). But again, you're right - just as @squiggly said too - I just need to trust my budget and try to let go of some of these worries. It really is ruining all the fun of reaping rewards.

 

It'll definitely be a gradual process but you all have given me the push I really needed - thanks so much. I thought I was being super dramatic so another thank you for taking the time to read through my rant - it's amazing to just see that others care. And the Park and Rec reference definitely made my day ❤️