Before we started the apartment hunting process, I was warned by many people that this would be a costly endeavor. Sure, I can handle the financial aspects of the move, I mean I have been saving for this, right? What no one told me was that there was an emotional component to it. One that could affect my mental health.
For the last four years since graduating college, I’ve been living rent-free, for the majority of the time, in my parent’s basement. It was a tough transition, after four-years on my own, dealing with a lack of independence by the strict household rules (children are present). Now that moving is only weeks away, I’m feeling mixed emotions about leaving.
Fears and Challenges
Living rent-free has allowed me to save, invest, and repay loans while taking a couple vacations each year. This means I’ll be leaving with a fully-funded emergency fund and 80% of my student loans paid off. Yet, all that’s been on my mind since we started apartment hunting has been everything I will not accomplish by the time I move out. I will not have paid off my student loans, saved for a downpayment or mini-retirement, redone my family’s kitchen, replaced our fence, or maxed out my Roth IRA. The list goes on.
Focusing only on what I haven’t done or do not have has increased my anxiety about moving out. So much so that I almost went back on an application we submitted, which would’ve lost us $1,180. I’m certainly not saying that you should make a major financial and personal decision when you know you’re not financially prepared. But, I was financially prepared; it was my scarcity mindset, a fear of not having enough when I do, that was taking over my life and decisions.
My scarcity mindset was not the only thing taking a hold of my thoughts. The fast approaching move was exposing the cultural differences that exist between myself and my parents. In our Latin culture, it is standard for children to live with their family until marriage. Part of this stems from the strong Catholic influence, that rejects premarital sex, so naturally moving in with a boyfriend is taboo. Especially when the relationship doesn’t indicate marriage happening in the near future. This is the ultimate embarrassment for a family.
While not particular to Latin culture, others’ perception about your family or life are crucial and powerful enough to influence decisions. It’s not uncommon to create separate social media accounts for extended family members or to not disclose complete facts about a given situation.
Luckily, I was taught early on that I shouldn’t care about what others think because they aren’t paying my bills. Having lived with that mentality my entire life, it hurts to see that the individuals that taught me to challenge the system are now rejecting my decision and falling into cultural norms.
Between the scarcity mindset and the unforeseen family challenges, the move has brought on stress and sad emotions not normally associated with such an exciting chapter in one’s life.
How to Overcome
I don’t want to enter this new chapter in my life with these negative emotions, so I’ve been doing the following:
- Creating a list of potential side hustles I’d be willing/able to pick up if I needed and wanted to make more money.
- Creating a list of pros for moving out.
- Learning new skills for free to stay competitive in the job market.
- Calculating my expected cost of living. One that includes the fun activities that cost money and another that doesn’t.
- Reviewing our lease to understand what costs are associated with breaking it and confirming that my parents would allow me to move back home, if I needed to. This is obviously my worst-case scenario and not something I see happening, but it helps me to know I have a safety net. This is a luxury I know others don’t have.
- Journaling. This is the best outlet for letting all your emotions out without offending anyone or putting too much of your business out there on social.
- Talking about it with people who understand and can relate to clashing cultural norms that come with having immigrant parents.
- Talking directly to the person in question. Letting them know how you are feeling and how you wish to move forward.
- Letting it go if talking to them doesn’t yield the expected results. This is hard, but at the end of the day, your mental health is priority. You have said and done what you can.
I hope this will be the last time I let my scarcity mindset and family issues take a strong hold of my mental state. Life is always throwing sh** our way when we don’t need it, so all we can do is stay resilient and change our money mindset. I think the strongest lesson I’ve learned is that I have yet to explore my money baggage. I thought I had a grip on my money story, but it became clear in the past few weeks that there is a lot to unpack. Scarcity mindset does not appear overnight. For starters, I’ll be revisiting Bari Tessler’s The Art of Money and her concept of money healing.