what i'm thankful for (the money version, of course)

 Photo Credit: Kai Oberhauser

Photo Credit: Kai Oberhauser

Well, it’s Thanksgiving week, which means that I have to do a Thanksgiving-themed post.  It’s part of the 10 Commandments of Blogging, so really, I’m forced to do it.  But hey, you guys love reading this kind of stuff anyways, right?

I think a lot of times with money, and life in general, we tend to get caught up with everything that is going wrong – our lousy pay, how high our utility costs are a month, not being able to save like we want to – and push all the things that are going right – gas prices are down, woohoo! – to the backburner. Therefore, in this post, I’m going to list out a few things in my financial stratosphere that I’m thankful for this year with the hopes that you’ll be able to find the good in your money situation as well.  Enjoy!

1) Free Money

From my 401(k) that is. How lucky am I that my employer will match my retirement contributions dollar for dollar? That’s a 100% return on my investment, and you can’t ask for more than that (I mean, you can, but let’s not get greedy, people). Many folks aren’t eligible or don’t have access to programs like this, so it’s good to step back and realize how beneficial having one of these is to your overall retirement. They could be funding all those vacations you plan to take to Italy and New Zealand and Chile! So if you do have access to a 401(k), please make sure you’re taking full advantage; otherwise, you’re just throwing money out the window.

2) Charging It

I know many people say credit cards are the devil, and if you use them incorrectly, they definitely can be. But for a person like me who pays off her balance in full each and every month, I think they are just another way to add to my piggy bank. Why? Well, year-to-date for 2014 alone, I’ve earned over $250 in cash rewards from using it. Talk about a nice chunk of change. I put almost everything on my credit card – groceries, gas, presents, etc. – knowing that I’m earning a percentage on each transaction. Now, you have to be cautious not to overspend just because you earn rewards points on everything you purchase (trust me, the rewards are not great enough to justify that), but if you’re going to be spending the money anyways, might as well get something back from it. It’s getting something for doing nothing, and that’s the best type of income.

3) The Internet + Bank Merger

I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I live during a time where online banking exists. Can you imagine if you still had to go to the bank to deposit checks or keep a check register to see how much cash was in your bank account or send bill payments through the mail? I mean, the last one alone is enough for me to praise the big guy upstairs for this technology – now, I don’t have to waste $ on stamps nor do I have to remember to send the check 5 days early so that they receive it by the due date. It’s a click of the button, and voila! Everything is taken care of. We’re so spoiled.

4) My Folks

When it comes to money, my parents definitely raised me right. Now, know that I definitely didn’t grow up a trust fund baby – my mom was a teacher and my dad a carpenter. They made enough to give us a good home, take us on vacations every year, and pay for all of our sports camps and tennis lessons (that was my brother) and homecoming dresses (that was not my brother), but we definitely weren’t living large: there were no trips to Italy, new cars when we turned 16, or closets full of Abercrombie clothes (they were cool back then and you know it). In fact, if we wanted a shirt from Abercrombie, we had to pay for it out of our own pockets – it wasn’t in their budget, and if we wanted it so badly, we could use our own cash to get it. This is why at the ripe old age of 14, I was already entering the job force – as a cashier at the ice cream and funnel cake stand at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. I still think of that place every time I hear the Beach Boys.

Anyhoo, my point is they taught me the value of a dollar, and how some things just aren’t worth spending your money on. It’s a lesson I’ve seen played out with college classmates, who didn’t have that upbringing and landed themselves in hot water financially over and over again. I’m grateful they taught it to me so early in life because it allowed me to not only set myself up in a great financial position on graduating from college, but has also played out in my adult world as well – when buying a house, picking out furniture, and most importantly, when shopping for clothes ;)

5) The Castle

Speaking of homes, I cannot tell you how thankful I am that at the age of 26, I was able to buy my own place with a 20% down payment, funded entirely by yours truly. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Castle (that’s my homestead) is no castle, but for a single 20-something, having a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home is more than enough to fit my needs. Many people work for years and years and years to afford a place to call their own, and I constantly remind myself how lucky I am to have been able to put a roof over my head all by myself.

6) You!

Last and not least, I am extremely thankful for all of you who read my blog. I cannot express the joy I feel each and every time one of you comes up to me to tell me you liked a certain post or that you learned something from a post I had written. I will admit, I was hesitant when I started Britt & the Benjamins because I didn’t know if anyone would actually read it or get any benefit from it; however, you all and your feedback keep me motivated and allow me to continue to follow my passion, which is helping all young (and less young) adults manage their money so that they can live the life they always wanted. So again, I thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my words of wisdom – you guys are great!

I hope you are able to take a few moments out of your day and remind yourself how far you’ve come financially and be thankful for the progress you’ve made.  All that matters is if you’re moving forward even if they’re baby steps.  Now go gorge yourself on Thanksgiving dinner – nothing screams “I’m thankful” quite like the misery of eating too much turkey…or in my case, candied yams.

 Photo Credit: Andras Vas

Photo Credit: Andras Vas