Are you worried that you’re “bad with money” -- and that there’s no way to fix it? You’re not alone. At least, that’s the message that YouTube star, podcaster and comedian Gaby Dunn hopes to spread with her new book “Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial S**t Together.” And she speaks from personal experience.
“We view poor personal finance as a moral, intellectual and personal failure, so if we're not good at it we're a bad person. And that's such a leap,” Dunn says. “You need to get rid of that. You need to get rid of anxiety, shame and embarrassment.”
Dunn’s book was born out of her own problems with money and her lack of knowledge about personal finance.
“In 2016, I wrote an article called ‘Get Rich or Die Vlogging,’ which was about how YouTubers tend to have day jobs that they don't talk about on their channels, while viewers think that they're getting rich from YouTube,” she says. “I was crying all the time in my car about money, and I had fans on my YouTube channel who thought that I was a millionaire, and I couldn't even pay my rent. I just thought, the thing I want to talk about right now is money. I don't understand how anyone has it. I don't understand what you do with it.”
That led Dunn to start a new podcast, one focusing on the bare bones of personal finance from the perspective of someone who had made it to adulthood with no practical knowledge on the subject. “I had to turn it into a full-time job to even understand this thing that is around us all the time and everyone should know about, which just says something about financial illiteracy in this country,” she says.
The more her podcast went on and the more Dunn learned, the more political she became and started to see her lack of financial literacy not as a personal failing but as a generational problem.
“I think that with a lot of finance advice that comes towards young people, they are put off by it because it is very condescending,” she says. “It doesn't take into account their daily lives. We graduated into a jobs crisis and a student loan crisis, health care costs are at an all-time high, housing costs are at an all time high. How many medical GoFundMe's do you see? We are in a bad situation.”
So if you’re like Dunn was, how can you set yourself on the road to no longer being bad with money? Here are some important steps.
Look at it practically
“You just have to eliminate all of the emotional strain from it and just look at it very practically, which is very hard to do,” Dunn says. “Get really specific with what you need to change for yourself, and keep the things that you love.”
Push through the fear
“I had so much anxiety,” she says. “I would peek at my bank statement and then close it like it was an ancient, cursed book. But you have to look. Just that first step is the most overwhelming part. And you'll cry, probably, but then the next day you'll be like, ‘I'm glad I did that.’”
Keep at it
“I hate comparing it to dieting because I don't like diet culture, but I don't mind comparing it to the gym,” Dunn says. “I go to the gym, right? And every day when I'm done with the gym, I go, ‘It's so cool that I'm immortal now!’" No. Three visits to the gym and you're not going to be immortal.”
The same goes for your finances. “And that's a hard pill to swallow. Time is money, you have to deal with money till the end of time, and that's it,” she says. “You're not going to fix your money problems and then be immortal.”
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