Changing your money mindset with Merrick's Art

Merrick White shares her mindset on money and how it’s changed over time.

Check out more of Merrick White's style and advice on Merrick's Art

Growing up I felt very clueless about money. I worked at my dad’s dental office doing odd jobs like cleaning and filing from the time I was 8 years old, got my first real job the moment I turned 16, and worked all through high school and college. Even though I had all this experience earning money, had a savings account, and was exposed to my parents’ sound financial choices,  I still felt like I had very little understanding about the big picture. I didn’t know how much homes cost, I didn’t understand the price of college, and I literally had no idea what was considered an average salary. 

When I got married, I got a beginner’s crash course on finances from my husband who had studied economics and finance in college. I had literally never paid a bill, never owned a credit card (only a debit card) and had absolutely no credit to my name. 

We decided to purchase a condo together right after we got married, and thankfully he had fantastic credit so we were easily able to get a mortgage. But it was all in his name, because I had no credit! 

So signing up for a credit card and helping me build my credit was one of the first things on our agenda as a married couple. We spent the next 6 years of our marriage using the credit card and paying it off each month, keeping track of all our expenses and paying all our bills on time, and working hard to build a great credit score for me, and maintain his good credit, and we did! I felt like we were smooth sailing, and I had a pretty good foundational understanding of money at this point. 

However, life threw us a curveball at year six of our marriage, and sent us to Orange County, California for my husband’s job. I discovered I had very little knowledge about the cost of living in California, so when we started shopping for housing and there was absolutely nothing within our budget, we had no option but to rent. And still, rental prices were astronomical compared to our tiny condo in Utah. 

This is where the big mindset changes happened.

Merrick getting ready to go out with her boys

Ultimately, we could have rented a tiny hole in the wall and paid less for rent, but we decided to see it as an opportunity to push ourselves and work harder, so we got the house by the beach that we loved. It was expensive. SO EXPENSIVE. But in order to get it, we chose to travel less, eat out less, and make the most of the perfect rental house and perfect location.

It was incredible fresh start, and the moment we moved in we were so glad we’d made that decision. It was absolutely a shock to our finances to be paying so much more for housing, but in our case, it was the motivation we needed to take my business to the next level, to be more frugal in other areas of our life, and learn to truly enjoy the place where we lived. 

And for us, it worked. We worked very hard, and luckily my business grew. I pushed harder, our family became closer, we got outside more, and our life truly was happier. It took a leap of financial faith, and it worked. We managed to increase our housing costs while still responsibly managing our finances.

While everybody’s financial, career and family circumstances are different, in our case, we had saved enough money for a down payment for a beautiful 3,000 square foot home in Orange County. 

Merrick's boys eating in the kitchen

We had saved, worked hard, pushed ourselves, and set our goal of buying a home. 

Taking the time in the beginning to work toward good credit, penny pinching and saving, and learning how to take care of your money is so important. And then it’s time to push yourself and do everything it takes to reach those financial goals. Remember, when we got married I was starting from almost zero. But if you take the time to learn and set yourself up for success, success will come!

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