When I graduated from college, my confidence was at an all-time low. I had put on some weight because an injury was keeping me from exercising, I was struggling to find full time work in my field, and I no longer had the yardstick of academic performance to give me a boost. I was frightened and I turned to spending to mask my lack of confidence. I bought a new (to me) car, and a new professional wardrobe and I quickly emptied my meager bank account. Thankfully, I found work and was living with my parents, so I managed to refill the bank account, but I will never forget the feeling of trying to outspend my lack of confidence. It was horrible.
When I first started my salaried job, I quickly realized that I was going to face a huge temptation to attempt to outspend my lack of confidence. Like many young professionals, my colleagues enjoyed going out for dinner and drinks almost every night after work; they joined expensive gyms downtown, and they happily sported the latest i-Gadgets. I had to decide if I was going to follow suit or not.
I Grew my Confidence, and I managed to save a lot of money
Although I wasn’t nearly as frugal as I could have been (nor did I really understand the basics of budgeting and investing), I took a bold step to forge my own path. Even though I was still struggling with injury recovery, I got up the nerve to ask a group of dedicated runners to let me tag along on their lunchtime runs. To this day, I’m still glad that I mustered up the confidence to ask them. Even though I limped through the first few dozen runs, I managed to get back into great shape within a few months.
On the social front, I realized that dinner and drinks gets old after a few boozy nights. Instead of going out with friends, I made a concerted effort learn the art of entertaining. I started to invite friends over for delivery pizza, beer and game nights, and on other nights, I learned to cook. Within a few months, I even got it into my head that I should host a dinner party.
The dinner party got snowed out by Snowpaclypse 2010 (about 20 inches of snow in one evening), but my roommates and I had a jolly time cooking and eating beef brisket and Christmas cookies.
The more that I took on, the more I realized that I could achieve; my confidence gave birth to more confidence. It was quick wins in exercise, cooking and entertaining that led me to believe that I can develop the skills to do just about anything. These days, I cut my own hair (along with my husband’s), I’ve taken on home renovations, and basic plumbing and electrical work. None of which I would have done if I hadn’t first made the step to grow in my confidence.
If you’re looking to grow in confidence and save some money, here are a few places to start.
Learn to cook (and share your food with others)
Cooking doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, and once you master a recipe, sharing with others is a great way to celebrate. Whether you’ve just mastered a Cobb Salad, or Beer Queso, your friends will be lining up to devour your food and showering you with praises. Don’t forget to ask your friends to bring sides or a drink to keep your own costs down.
Learn to love your body
Having confidence in your body image, can save you money in a whole host of ways. You’ll no longer require the best clothes, the best haircuts, tans, manicures and more to feel comfortable in your permanent dwelling place. It’s amazing how much marketing is spent on making you hate your body, don’t fall prey to the marketing lies. Eating healthfully and exercising go a long way in helping you feel good about your body, but even if you have a “Fat Day”, there are plenty of things you can do to feel good in your own skin.
Remember how to have fun
The desire to fit in causes us to spend money on things we don’t necessarily enjoy all that much. All that money going towards eating at mediocre restaurants and going to mediocre shows can be much better spent (or saved). Rather than worrying about fitting in, embrace your goofy and fun side. Spend hours laughing with your friends over horrible haircuts of years gone by, or your collegiate antics. Go to the thrift store and try on all the wacky outfits you can find. Have a badminton battle with your friends, even if you’re all the worst players in the world. It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending= fun, but it’s not true. You know what activities are fun for you, so make a point to enjoy those things instead of socially prescribed “fun.”
Grow the confidence snowball
As you start experiencing a growing confidence, some self-doubt might start to creep in. Maybe this will happen when the learning curve flattens or when you fall flat on your face (literally) when you attempt to cartwheel again. You might begin to think that activity X,Y or Z is too complicated for you, but don’t give up immediately, and don’t be afraid to try. Everyone is a beginner at some point, and the difference between beginner and advanced beginner is often hundreds or even thousands of dollars saved over your lifetime. Sure, you might not ever be the next HGTV star, but you can learn to unclog a drain. You might never be Warren Buffett, but you can figure out how to invest in your 401K or a Roth IRA. Once you get your confidence snowball rolling, let it continue to grow; you will be shocked by what you are capable of and how much you will save, if you merely commit to growing in confidence.
Hannah Rounds is a wife and mom who is working towards her version of the American Dream. This dream involves shifting her focus from career to family while creating opportunities for an encore career later in life. Her goal is to help other parents forage similar paths. She writes about this journey at Unplanned Finance.