How $10 Made Me Feel Empowered About My Not So Great Money Situation

Michelle Hands on hips feel empowered about money

When was the last time you got super inspired about your money situation? Like, so empowered you could take on the world like Lizzie Bennet or Oprah? What if I told you that saving $10 last payday made me feel like a million dollars? 

I know, you’re shaking your head and thinking, hey I’m an adult here, I’m not ten years old swapping blood, sweat, and tears cleaning my filthy pre-teen room for a measly ten dollars. 

Let me start by saying that every smart, classy, sophisticated woman has started somewhere (and sometimes started over again, like me!), and there is no shame in getting giddy over ten dollars.

This past Friday I did something gratifying — I paid myself first. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. I beg for forgetfulness on that. And well, it goes deeper. When you’re on a limited income, and you’re making every dollar work extremely hard for you, it’s tough to pay yourself first. 

Debt has that control over us. We focus only on repaying it. We focus on the worry, shame, guilt and stress of debt instead of on one small, rewarding little thing we can do to empower our money situation — saving a bit of it.

What did I do that was so rewarding and empowering?

I put $10 in my emergency fund, making it a total of $20 in the fund to date. 

Imagine that!! A mere $10 made me feel fulfilled, empowered and oh so proud of myself. 

I even said out loud to myself, “Michelle, I’m very proud of you for saving that $10.”

Why did it make me feel empowered? 

  • I took action toward my beliefs and specifically toward financial independence (this is a huge priority for me). 
  • Taking this small seemingly insignificant step stopped me from worrying about all the work I need to have done on my car, or the cash flow problems I’ve been experiencing lately. 
  • It took the focus away from worry and lack and put it on thoughts like “hey, I can do this. I AM GREAT with money.”
  • It gave me the boost of confidence I needed in the face of a stressful money situation.

What does my current money situation look like?

In two words? Stressful and worrying.

At the moment, I have one secure source of income: a part-time job at a coffee chain that pays $17.00 an hour. On average, I earn $800 to $1000 a month. On top of that, I have my writing work that fluctuates from month to month but currently brings in an extra $250 – $500 a month.

If I’m lucky, I have a grand total of $1500 to work with.

I’ve quickly learned that you cannot live working a minimum-wage job.

On the debt side of things, it’s not pretty. My credit cards end up taking on emergencies, or cash flow shortages, which has left me with almost maxed-out cards. I am, however, working hard to get them down to 35% utilization to reduce the impact on my credit score.

As you can see, feeling empowered about money is tricky for me. It’s hard not to focus on the deep hole I’m in.

Michelle walking feel empowered about money

How feeling empowered about money changed things

  1. I stopped beating myself up for all the money mistakes of the past.
  2. I’m improving and creating change in my life. I am creating new money mindsets. That’s how you empower yourself, that’s how you get out of a hole that may be so deep you think you can’t see a way out.
  3. I realized I could fix my money problems. 

I know I know, you’re not ten years old, earning your allowance and stuffing it into a plastic pig. But you know what? If $10 gets you going and feeling empowered about your money — go for it!

You know, I’ve had my fair share of money screw-ups. The one thing I screwed up the most? Treating myself like an incompetent moron; that somehow I was unable to fix my money problems. In the past, I gave myself very few words of encouragement about money.

When I finally decided to stop punishing myself for the perpetual cycles of debt, the $19,000 wardrobe mistakes, and instead chose to get focused and intentional with my money; wonderful things started to happen.

4 Ways to feel empowered and less stressed about your money situation

Align your actions with your beliefs.

This is where you get to use intention and mindfulness to manage your money. If you’ve ever struggled with impulse purchases like I have, you’ll know that avoiding going down rabbit holes of massive impulse or emotional spending and staying present instead, is key to achieving financial success.

By using intentionality to manage our money, we act based on our beliefs instead of operating on autopilot. We begin to cultivate self-awareness and become intentional about what we let into our lives. We gain a greater understanding of why we spend our money the way we do and we sharpen our ability to focus on what matters most to us.

Financial stress comes in all forms, we could be stressed about our money situation, or we could be overwhelmed by all the financial choices we have. When we use a bit of mindfulness, we remove distractions and focus on what matters. Mix in some intention and we can begin to reduce overwhelm and focus instead on bringing our financial actions and beliefs closer together.

Small counts. Yes, even $10 counts.

By making small changes to your financial situation, you start the process of becoming stronger and more confident about your money situation.

The simple act of saving $10 was a massive boost to my confidence and took the focus off the financial worry and stress I’ve been experiencing. I believe that small changes matter. Ignore everyone else who thinks you should save 10% of your income. Because if you can’t, it’ll make you feel like crap. Start small and work your way to that 10% when you can.

Be aware of your money situation.

Hiding your head in the sand about your money situation isn’t very empowering. It’ll leave you feeling scared, fearful and always focusing on lack. When we take the time to understand how we came to be in a tight spot or tough circumstances, we start to empower ourselves to change things. 

I spent years tracking every dollar I spent. At the time, I thought it was pointless, but it wasn’t. By tracking my spending, I was creating awareness; and once you create awareness, you can build mindfulness into the equation. I began to understand how to be more mindful of my money and spend it on areas of my life that brought me the most happiness or mattered most to me.

Take charge.

Taking charge means owning your money situation, sitting up tall and being accountable for your money mistakes. While I don’t believe in shaming yourself for your money situation, I do believe in accountability for how you got into debt or hot water with your money and then being responsible for your life and taking ownership of the situation. When we take charge and create a financial plan, we can absorb life’s little mishaps, and ultimately we can start to manage our money instead of it managing us.

We can all feel empowered about money when we take the time to create awareness, build mindfulness, and learn about money. You’ll be able to stop living in fear or lack-based mindsets that create worry and stress. When it comes to money, I’ve learned to always expect the unexpected, that practicing resilience pays off, and that rolling with the punches will leave you feeling happier.

I’d love to know how you feel about your money situation, tell me below! What actions do you take to feel empowered about money?

Comments +

  1. Kassandra says:

    Michelle, you hit the nail on the head with this post. These points represent the core of my work as a personal finance educator and consultant. It goes beyond knowing what one should be doing, it is internalizing it and addressing beliefs that are standing in our way of making real progress with our goals. I am proud and happy that you have made the connection between emotional and financial awareness!

    • Michelle says:

      Yay! Exactly what I was going for 😉

      It’s one of those issues where most of us know what to do, but we only ever look at the surface level of problems. We forget to ask ourselves meaningful questions to be more aware of why we’re in a situation.

  2. Abigail says:

    When my ex-husband and I were broke and trying to pay off medical/student debt, we tried to celebrate small wins because it’s important in order to maintain your sanity. If you only celebrate the big stuff — especially when you’re on a low-income — you’ll burn out long before you get something to celebrate.

    I’m newly divorced from a spender, so I finally feel empowered in that I’m socking away the kind of money I’ve known for YEARS that we should have had left over but somehow didn’t. I finally feel in control of finances (now watch some emergency hit me) and life in general. It’s a wonderful feeling.

    • Michelle says:

      I couldn’t agree more on celebrating the small wins! It’s the only way to stay motivated through debt repayment or saving for something meaningful. If we don’t, we start to lose motivation and eventually give up (usually right when we’re at the finish line).

      So happy for you that you are finally feeling in control of your finances and life! It’s a sad truth but sometimes relationships harm and hinder us more than help us.

  3. Congrats, Michelle!! I think it’s amazing that you’re celebrating ‘small’ wins that might not seem relevant to outsiders. That $10 is a big deal to you and it’s awesome that you’re celebrating that. I’m working on changing my money mindset now thanks to Tanja Hester’s new book and it has really helped out into perspective what I value spending my money on (and what I have to spend money on), and what I can honestly do without.

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks Britt!

      I found that all the years of tracking my spending made me realize that I was spending to soothe my pains and unhappiness in life. I wasn’t really spending on what mattered to me.

  4. Yes, celebrate all the wins! It takes a lot of small steps to get your finances where you want them to be and it is easy to get frustrated along the way. Congratulations!

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