Maria Jencel About Her Relationship With Money
Not too long ago, my Instagram exploded with messages from followers who responded in support and shouted, "THAT'S HOW WE FEEL TOO! What are we going to do?!"
It happened when I spoke publicly for the first time about constantly feeling afraid of and never having understood how to handle my personal finances. The past six months, however, I have faced my fears head on and and done so much research I could practically write a PhD on it.
I've never had such a stable financial situation and slept as soundly at night as I do now.
Not because I make more money, or even have a safer job, but because I get it now. More than that - because I think it's fun. There are a billion more things to learn - because it's a never-ending journey. But a journey I will likely continue for the rest of my life.
I've always suffered from an “economics phobia”. Whether I've made money or not, I've been terrified of everything relating to money; it brought me a real sense of anxiety.
I have thrown out all the letters in the mail, only checked online banking when my card suddenly didn't work anymore, and I hadn’t realised it was blocked.
I´ve never paid into a pension, purchased insurance or even made a budget. I have never saved up, checked or filled out an annual statement. And I certainly could not imagine ever having to invest.
I only ever closed my eyes and bought everything I wanted until someone said “stop” and the party ended.
I've had such a stomachache, heart palpitations even - and cried so many tears over my own childish ways, whilst those around me been very ambitious, structured and purposeful with their money.
I even called and scolded my father for never having told me how money is important or how to read my annual statement.
I scolded my mother for her financial phobia because I have seen her running screaming around the house when a letter came in and and she realized that we owed €25,000.
And then I accepted that this situation was inevitable. That it could never change, just like my phobia for spiders.
BUT! Then I got married. I got married to a man who, having wiped many money-related tears off my cheek, six months ago persuaded me - after weeks of discussions and arguments back and forth - to do the unthinkable.
I had to call the bank - and then I had to ask them to sign me up for a regular SMS service. A service that makes me every morning forever – receive a text displaying my balance of the day.
In the beginning it wasn’t enjoyable at all, to start every morning waking up to a "good morning, your account is still in the minus" message from the bank - but it sparked something.
Something I never thought could happen to me. A desire to fucking take back power over my finances. See money for what it is; something practical. Nothing emotional. For the past six months, I've spent almost all my free time becoming an expert in money and finances.
I researched stocks, interest, debt, savings, apps, budgets, communities, loans, pension, insurance, funds, deductions, returns, annual statements, bonds and I LOVED it.
Now, I can't wait to check my account every day and see if everything is as it should be, whether I have to move around something and what aspect of personal finances I might need to learn about today.
A new world has completely opened up to me. And gradually, the pit in my stomach has started disappearing. The emotions were taken out of the money, and that was the wildest experience.
But I wish I'd started all this earlier.
Because what I thought was a scary man's world of excel sheets and math understanding at a level my creative brain is not at all geared to, has turned out instead just to be filled with experiences that have made me even more excited to learn and understand my money.
It made me see that personal finance isn’t just something for wandering, middle-aged suits - but something at least just as exciting sexy and fun for me, and for YOU!
So my advice is: take the first step. Wherever you are in your story.
Whether it's signing up for an SMS service and looking your account directly in the eye just like me, or you're further ahead than I was and maybe need to make your first investment.
No matter what - take the next natural step for you, and then take the next after that and carry on for life.
Move into the adventure of understanding the money around you.
You'll never regret it!
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