Budgeting: The New Self Care

Smells of rose and cedar scented candles perfume the room. Sounds of soft music fills the air. Legs inverted up the wall, face mask firmly depriving oxygen from penetrating my face. Silk robe falling off my shoulders and a laptop screen containing my most valuable piece of self-care. My 6 page live google excel budget.

This isn’t your normal self care article. I’m not going to tell you to say a mantra while burning palo santo.You’re not going to unplug, in fact you will very much be plugging back in. This is about the self care practice that will radically change your life. And that self care practice is… drum roll please… BUDGETING.

It has taken me almost 2 years of hard, dedicated work, an immeasurable amount of support and consistent faith that pulled me out of the worst financial circumstances into a life worthy of living. Would you believe it if I said that paying off my debt, holding myself accountable, and working my ass off resulted in bringing in the love of my life? Never in a million years did I equate years of terrible romantic relationships to have anything to do with my abusive relationship with money. But guess what, it did. It very much did. When I took control of my finances, I created more space for life to exist. Not only did I bring in my perfect partner and best friend, but a man who is literally a financial genius. How’s that for getting what you deserve! It may not be love for you, it may be a better relationship with a family member or inspiration for a business idea. Debt energy is blocked creative energy and when you take responsibility for your life the universe will respond by aligning with your hearts true desires.

The Scene:

I was a full time yoga teacher for 4 years. Meaning I taught, on average, 12 classes at studios, privates students and at corporate offices. I also waitressed on the side. My favorite philosophy to teach was about remaining in the discomfort (it’s why I loved teaching slow vinyasa and yin classes). Settling in to what feels like pain and turning it into hope and light. Pausing in the unpleasantness helped me feel in control of my emotions. During the darkest times, it wasn’t false positivity that helped me, it was addressing the pain itself. It is what, after years of neglect, helped me to face my financial wreckage.

Unfortunately, the trend I noticed in the yoga/fitness world was about escapism. Teachers promoting you to move through the discomfort without stopping to ask yourself why it’s there in the first place. Teachers screaming into a mic for you to “YOU ARE WORTHY” only to find out those teachers were beyond struggling with their finances and living paycheck to paycheck. From my experience if you don’t have control over your finances you don’t feel worthy, you feel scared.

The business side of the fitness world can be as ugly and dramatic as a corporate job without the security. To be an instructor in 2018 means living a modest life while preaching abundance. No medical insurance, no 401k, no free coffee, no sick days. No IRA, vacations days or maternity leave, just the privilege of working for a company that doesn’t support you and who uses instructors like cattle. Some companies are wonderful and support their teachers as best they can, but that is few and far between. Can you imagine doing a job for 4+ years without a single development from a manager or a shred of constructive feedback? I worked at one studio for a little over 3 years and my manager never came to my class. And if you wanted more knowledge and training you better be able to pay the bill. Trainings on average range from $300-$4k, a mountain expense compared to the meagerly wage. If studios did offer trainings, you didn’t get paid to be there, it was voluntary. I couldn’t ignore what I was seeing, so many teachers so desperate to teach so badly compensated and so painfully unaware of how undervalued their time was.

The Breakdown:

I couldn’t take it anymore. The bullshit, the hustling, the talking about ‘being one with the universe’ where I, like so many other teachers did side jobs to make ends meet. I got into yoga because it saved my life. It brought me back to the person I was before I was so angry, hurt and hopelessly depressed. Yoga made me feel beautiful again. Like I had a purpose. It was a noble cause. I wanted to save the world, one body at a time. But the business side of yoga was destroying my spirit. As I moved towards paying off my debt and prioritizing my self interest, I began to distance myself from the yoga world. It seemed like so many of my peers were not role models for balance and prosperity, but merely replicating jargon spoken from someone else’s life experience. I wanted more for my life than what seemed to be the norm; posting beautiful photos, promoting positivity and living a scarcity mindset.

The Breakthrough:

In the summer of 2016, I sat down my best friend who was my travel partner; our adventures included backpacking through Asia, 10 day trips to Greece and Brazil. While she didn’t live abroad with me in Australia and New Zealand she was partner in crime. She wanted to go on another trip and I kept blowing her off. With a speech already prepared I looked into her beautiful brown eyes and said “I want so much more for myself.” It was time to pay off my debt valuing at around $60k, or so I thought. The truth is, I didn’t actually know how much debt I was in, I barely knew how much money I made. I hadn’t paid my taxes in 6 years ($10-$15k), hadn’t touched my credit card debt or my student loans since 2012 ($10k + $34 k), and was beginning to rack up a sizable debt to my sister and brother-in-law for rent ($7k). Add another 2k for a crappy accountant and another 2k to another family member.. Are you nauseous yet? Because that’s how I lived my day to day life; everyday in fear that I was going to be found out, caught and punished. I avoided it all and ran away. But on this fateful summer day, on a warm Manhattan block, where we had just come from hot yoga, with my best friend’s hand in mine, I decided to take control of my life instead of letting the neglect of my past control me.

The Present:

Credit card debt of over $10k: GONE, 6 years of un-filed taxes: FILED AND PAID, Student loans: back in repayment, family who financially supported me: on a monthly payment plan, Accountant paid off, AND enough savings to last me 3 months of unemployment, attend and participate in 6 weddings, and go to 3 bachelorette parties. On top of it all, I was able to increase my credit score by 100 points! It has been quite the 2 year journey. There were ups and downs, hysterical moments, as well as moments of exalted pride. Instead of living in shame, I asked for help. I leaned into trust and vulnerability. I faced my story that I ran away from for so long. By letting people in, I gained invaluable advice, techniques and understandings of how to embrace my flaws and turn them into gold.

This is my radical self care. Facing the horrifying, ugly fear of money and using all my will to turn that fear into gratitude, love and hope. If I, a person who was TERRIBLE with money, could turn my life around in just 2 years, (always with more work to be done) than anyone can. I was resentful and angry for so long, I thought those traits were embedded in my DNA; they have now since been replaced with appreciation. It’s given me strength and courage in ways I never knew I needed. It took a girl with zero self-worth to face her scariest reality and turn it into a reality worth living. Making space carved out the perfect mold for my perfect partner who has been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals. It has enriched my relationship with my family and allowed me to forgive those who I believed have harmed me. It’s a peace of mind I never truly knew could exist. I value life and my independence more BECAUSE my life is so valuable. My debt was the chord I kept around my neck for fear of living my own life to the fullest.

I am here to help you, empower you. Because NOTHING is more powerful than financial independence. Self-care is not just about positive thought it is about using that positive thought to proactively take accountability for your life.

Budgeting is sexy. It is smart. It will dramatically change your life. Reach out for a breakdown of the perfect membership for you. I will get you on track with a personalized budget, tools to stay on track, assignments to build your self-worth and so much more. ajwolbrum@gmail.com

AJ is a Financial Freedom Coach and the founder of Beyond The Green Coaching. https://www.beyondthegreencoaching.com/