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    I Don't Know The First Thing About Money, And Honestly, I'm Afraid To Start. What Should I Do??

    "I'm TERRIFIED about learning how to manage my money. I have no idea how to prepare myself for the 'real world,' and talking about future finances with anyone feels daunting and scary. Where should I start?"

    Hi, it's me, Megan. I'm the personal finance editor here at BuzzFeed, and welcome back to Money With Megan, where we talk through the sticky work and money situations that keep us up at night.

    Headshot of the author smiling

    This week, I have a letter from a college student who's freaking out because they don't know how to manage their money — and honestly, I've been there. Here's what they had to say:

    "I'm in my first year in college, and I feel like my financial journey is really beginning. I'm lucky not to have loans and to have a little nest egg saved away, but I'm TERRIFIED about learning how to manage my money. I have no idea how to prepare myself for the 'real world,' and talking about future finances with anyone feels daunting and scary — especially since I don't know how much I'm going to be making, I don't have an income, and it feels like the next big challenge to overcome in my life."

    College student walking and carrying books

    They continued, "How do I get started with planning my financial future — or, more specifically, how do I stop FREAKING OUT about my financial future?"

    Young woman studying in the library

    My response...

    I totally understand what you're going through! Taking your first financial steps on your own is a big deal, and money can be super overwhelming at any age. But the good news is, you don't have to figure out everything all at once.

    Young woman paying bills at home

    In fact, if you try to master all the money things right away, you might freak yourself out even more. So go slow and add studying up on all things financial to your routine. A little bit of learning every week or month will add up to a whole lot of knowledge by the time graduation rolls around.

    I also have to say that graduating without student loans and already having a nest egg stashed away puts you in a far more financially secure position than many of your peers. It's totally okay and understandable that you're feeling anxious about the transition to adulthood, but I hope you can also take a moment to be grateful for the privileges that you're starting your journey with.

    College graduates posing together

    So how can you start learning more about money? You might start by just looking into some of the basics. Wondering how to set up a budget? See what happened when a BuzzFeeder got help from a finance pro to make her first budget. Or perhaps you're curious about all things credit. I've written guides with what you need to know about building your credit score from scratch and using credit cards that can help you get your head around the weird world of credit.

    Or maybe you're not sure what to even research. That's totally okay too. I've found that listening to podcasts, reading books, and following finance educators on social media can be a great way to fill in the gaps and learn about things I otherwise never would have thought to ask about.

    Woman studying a book

    If you're into podcasts, I have a few finance-related faves to recommend. First up, Tori Dunlap's Financial Feminist podcast covers all kinds of topics, from negotiating salaries to credit scores, and she has an excellent 16-minute episode called "Where Do I Start?" that you could use as an outline while you plan your first money moves.

    Popcorn Finance, hosted by Chris Browning, is another fave for keeping up with what the heck is going on in the economy and answering common money questions. Episodes are short and informative and snackable like, well, popcorn. I also love Ramit Sethi's podcast I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Every week, Sethi talks to a couple about their money issues. It's half relationship counseling and half money psychology, and it really shows how much our emotions affect the way we spend and save.

    Woman listening to a podcast while going for a walk

    Looking to crack open a good book? The Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s and 30s Book is a great resource for anyone who's just starting out. From creating your first budget to how to start investing, this book breaks down the financial building blocks in a really clear and accessible way. I'm also a fan of Erin Lowry's Broke Millennial. Lowry's writing is super approachable, relatable, and even funny, so learning about money from her never feels like a chore.

    If you're looking to add some FinTok (that's financial TikTok, in case you didn't know) to your FYP, that can also be a great way to expand your financial horizons. However, I would caution you to also do your own research to back up anything you learn on TikTok. Financial issues can be complex, and TikTok videos are typically way too short to get into aaaall the nuances. Searching on personal finance sites like NerdWallet and the Balance can be a great way to dig deeper when you see something on TikTok that interests you.

    Man looking at his phone while drinking coffee

    With that said, one of my favorite FinTokers, Vivian Tu (@yourrichbff), has a background in finance, so she really knows her stuff. Tu is a former Wall Street trader who's built up a big following with her quick and informative TikToks about everything from getting the most out of your employee benefits to ways to save money on flights. You might also like popular money creators like @pricelesstay, @humphreytalks, and @breakyourbudget. There's a lot to explore on TikTok, but again, make sure you also do your own research too.

    I hope that giving yourself time to learn and taking steps to increase your knowledge will help alleviate the anxiety you're feeling. It might also help to remind yourself that most people make money mistakes from time to time, no matter how much financial education they get. It's part of being human, and you don't have to be perfect. You'll get to know your money style in time, and even though it feels overwhelming now, you will figure it out.

    Woman looking at her phone

    However, if this anxiety persists, intensifies, or starts messing with your quality of life, I hope you'll also consider talking with a mental health professional. If that's something you're interested in exploring, you could even look for a financial therapist who specializes in helping people work through their feelings about money.

    From where I'm sitting, it looks as if you're on your way to a solid financial outlook. The fact that you're even asking this question shows that you care about getting your money right and, again, you're starting from a really secure place. Good luck, and keep me posted on your journey!

    Young woman celebrating her graduation

    And that's all the advice I have for today! If you have a sticky work or money situation that you'd like some advice on, write to me via this anonymous form. And you can also follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

    All requests for advice sent to me are for publication on BuzzFeed only. I do not respond to individual messages or provide any advice one-on-one. Please don't submit a question unless you want it published on BuzzFeed. We'll always keep you anonymous. You must be 16 or older to submit.

    What do you think of my advice, and can you relate to this letter writer? Share what's helped you learn about money in the comments!