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I learned the true value of money through financial struggles

I believed I needed money to thrive - but the truth was much more valuable.

Living at home during university had its perks.

However, I still had tuition fees which made finding a job was essential. I applied for everything that came my way, but it became clear that I didn’t have enough professional experience. So, I took up volunteering at a woman’s charity and developed skills in mentoring, counseling and administrative duties. 

As I hunted for work, money trickled out of my account. At first, it didn’t bother me, work would come eventually.

But as the summer of 2017 swung around and graduation came and went, I still had no job. Once September arrived, I could either spend my days applying for a job or get my Masters.

Starting my Masters, was daring – I had to take out a loan to pay the tuition fees and fund myself for textbooks.

My mental health began to suffer but I kept it to myself. I didn’t want sympathy or attention but it started to affect my assignments and I developed writer’s and reader’s block. I went through three months of doing nothing because I was falling out of love with education. In my mind, I was developing these toxic thoughts because I saw others who hated school, making money. And there was me – the girl who had loved education, now feeling like it had failed me.

Then my family made the decision to go to Paris.

I couldn’t spend £500 on a week-long holiday and I was devastated. My dream holiday was at arm’s reach – but I wouldn’t be able to go. I had to tell my family they would have to go without me and they were surprised but I had to be honest. I felt like a failure when they decided to pay for me and my mental health was impacted further. 

I began to cry myself to sleep most nights as money continued to stream out. I was having trouble sleeping and that caused more problems with my masters. My professor suspected something was wrong but I refused to tell her because I didn’t want her help or for her to feel sorry for me. I faked a smile at everyone’s good fortunes and cried looking at my bank statement. I was turning into a materialistic, jealous person who wanted everything that everyone else had and I hated it.

And then a change of fate came in June 2018 when I was offered my current job. After months and months of applications and rejections, I was finally going to start working full time.

And it also meant I would be earning money.

My mood changed. I was happier and everyone seemed to be happy for me. I refrained from spending any money until my first payslip came through and when I saw the money come into my account, I cried happy tears.

I paid my family back for the holiday and I had the time of my life in Paris. I began properly budgeting and financing my money because I still had loans to pay back but I also could pay for things myself (like insurance and a new laptop) and not have to worry about being a financial burden on others. My writer’s and reader’s block ended gradually and I was able to fly through my research paper, receiving top marks. My mental health improved greatly and I was able to finally enjoy my favorite things once again.

The effect of not being able to do everything you intended on, ruins you and everything you believed in is shattered before your eyes. I believe in education but during those dark months, I started to fall out of love of something I had advocated for. 

It turns out it was never education that I hated. It was the idea of not having money to do everything that made me happy and there are so many people who believe the same. It’s not the money that will make them happy – it’s what they can do with it.

When we are young, we don’t understand the concept of money. As time passes and the older we get, happiness falls upon our income.

Being able to actually live our lives and take care of ourselves and the people around us as well as having dreams and motivations is fulfilling all in its own because we have something to work for and all of that is only possible with money. This isn’t me saying let’s all turn into materialistic people who believe that money is everything – those people will never know struggle or understand the true value of money.

For others like me, the money will never be the reward. It’s the feeling of satisfaction and pride that you can dare to live and enjoy life for everything that it has to offer.