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I am now a PhD student at Kansas State University. I am working towards my PhD in Personal Financial Planning. I am more excited about this than I have been about anything in years…maybe just shy of how excited I was when my kids were born?! I have an immense amount of confidence in my abilities as a student, a student of money, how it’s used, and how to learn about it.  Rarely do I feel as if I have lost my grip with reality, that I’m in too deep.

This week I am going to my first blogging convention. (Type-A, here I come!) I am in WAY over my head. I am mired in doubt, fear that I won’t build my blog audience, and having to balance so much more than I did when I signed up to attend the conference in the first place (I signed up in January, got accepted to the PhD program in February and stated in August.) I have decreased the amount that I blog due to the readjustment of my priorities–see the paragraph above. Not much makes me feel like I’m in over my head but this sure does…which got me to thinking…

Money makes many people feel like they are in over their heads. When I teach Financial Literacy classes to inmates who are transitioning from prison into a work release program we spend the first few minutes of class defining what “Money Is…” to them.

Some of the responses I hear are: “the root of all evil” “something to use to buy stuff” “a necessity” “cash” “something I don’t have enough of” “currency”…you get the idea.

We talk about how the utilization of money can be frustrating, stressful, how not being in control of that money can really make us feel out of control and in waaaaay over our heads.  In the end, I make sure everyone knows that money is a TOOL.  We’re not born with the knowledge of how to use a hammer.  Most of us get to adulthood without knowing how to properly utilize a chain saw…most of us probably don’t need to use a chain saw either ;)…but these TOOLS require TRAINING.  Proper use of money (another TOOL) requires TRAINING.

I tell my students, as I’m telling you now, there is ALWAYS more to learn about money.  If you don’t know how to use it properly it will use you.  I don’t want anyone feeling scared or intimidated or less than worthy because they don’t know the best way to use the funds they have available.  I’m a professional in this field and I ask for more information.  I’m a professional in this field and I’m always learning something new. Sometimes it’s “something I should’ve already known” (eep…but, I’m human!)…many times it’s a different perspective.  But, let me tell you for sure…if all the answers to money were already out there, always easily put into place by consumers, they would NOT offer a PhD in Personal Financial Planning.

Financial literacy is a real “hot button” topic in my industry–and in some places in our society as well.  What decisions do we make, how do we make them, how do we factor in the numerous monetary costs and considerations that go with them???  How do we teach others about money? DO people want to learn more about money and why or why not?  How did we learn what we know about money? Why are some applications of money easy for some and terribly difficult for others? Why is credit an important part of our society? Should credit be a part of our society or should we go back to cash-only? Why can someone with the same income and general household expenses as me save more than I do?

What are your questions about money?

I’m not going to profess to have all the answers in my field of expertise…there are too many questions to have ALL the answers.  I do, however, have answers for many questions in my field.  If you have a budgeting question, a credit question, want some savings strategies or some ideas on how to decrease expenses, I’m the gal you want to talk to.  (If you want to know something about financial literacy, underserved populations, financial crime–I’m going to be the one who is investigating and focusing my education on finding more answers–let me know!)

I’m not going to assert that any one blogger I meet this week at Type-A is going to have all the answers to the mysterious, ever-growing world of blogging.  I am, however, going to say that ASKING questions and stepping out on faith, on hope, that I won’t be judged is worth the swim to the top.  I’m going to use this opportunity to grow my knowledge, just like you can use me, or any number of other financial professionals, to grow YOUR knowledge about money, its uses, and other financial topics!!

You don’t have to feel like you are in over your head when it comes to money–remember, they offer PhDs in this stuff…all the answers are not set in concrete!!! As I develop my relationship with blogging, my blog, and the blogging community, as I develop myself as a writer, a PhD student, a researcher, a financial literacy instructor, a mom, a distance runner…I encourage you to develop yourself and your relationship with your money. Please let me know how I can help!