When I first learned the idea of stretching $1, like all of the lessons that I learned about money and finance, it stemmed from the behaviors I witness from my elders. It was common for adults in my life to make a little amount of money stretch over an extended period.
Being in between financial stability was widespread and economic stability within itself lasted for a short time; you get paid on a Friday--your money is gone by a Tuesday.
Now that is not to say that all of the money left the building because of spending money on stupid things right?
There were times where I felt we could have maximize what our dollar did for us by taking a step back from ordering out to be more strategic when it came to where we spent our money.
We knew our game plan was out of whack, and we were sick and tired.
What I learned is that there is no one rule fits all to help people deal with their financial situations; financial security comes with understanding the historical relationships people have with their money as much as it deals with the practices of people.
It was essential for me to understand those relationships and see how that would play out for me as an adult.
When I hit 16, I was finally able to make money. In my first job position, I worked for the local television station, panning cameras, learning video production, and how to edit movies. These were excellent skills to have, being an individual who would grow up to become a creative entrepreneur. I love what I was doing.
This opportunity was made possible through the Summer of Opportunity Program in my hometown. Through this opportunity Youth employees earn hands-on training and work experience during a 6-8 week summer employment opportunity with area employers.
When I started the program, my checks were stipend and $500 bi-weekly. After receiving my first paycheck, it was a big deal because hell, it was the first time I earned money through a job.
If I wanted food or clothes, I would get it (the jokes with only $500). Looking back on my mentality at the time, I didn't have a mindset on how to create a cushion. Everything I earned, I spent, and I didn't have money left over until my next paycheck. Although I had a checking and savings account, no matter how often I was told to "save your money," money would leave my account like a damn ATM Machine.
It was my first time learning to manage money and making money stretch. I remember having to make $80.00 last for a week until my payday Friday.
Talk about stretching.
What I learned about stretching during that time is how to make the little money I had work for me. When I was low on funds, I thought more about intentionally about budgeting, affordability, and how to limit my spending so that I would make it to payday without having an “empty empty (yes emphasis on empty) wallet." Only spending $80.00 a week because that was all I had was a challenge.
After surviving struggler stretching, it hit me, if I can make $80.00 last for a week, I can make twice that amount last using the same tactics with different amounts of money.
Today, stretching consists of me making my money last by prioritizing my spending on bills and paying my savings first so that I can stretch in ease, not distress.
I flipped the tactics of stretching while broke to stretch to protect my neck, and since then, stretching has become a favorite hobby as I explore what financial stability looks like to me.
Although the lessons are familiar the experience is different because I am being proactive about my spending habits.