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When it comes to financial health, I am a firm believer in the power of small changes.
The world of personal finance is full of experts with different backgrounds, approaches and suggestions. While you can completely turn your life upside down to tackle a goal, the financial wellness journey is a long one and I prefer small sustainable investments that compound over time. Both figuratively and literally.
Prep the soil, plant the seeds, and then tend to the garden. Eventually there is a bloom and you can reap the fruit of your labor. The journey isn’t linear. Some seasons will be more fruitful than others, but you can always tend to your garden in small ways.
Here are 5 things I do to maintain financial fitness. They’re not the most fun or glamorous on paper, but you can make them fun if you want. It’s all about mindset and I love competing with myself and celebrating growth.
SET UP A SAVINGS ACCOUNT AWAY FROM YOUR SPENDING ACCOUNT
Whether it’s an emergency fund, sinking funds, or other financial goal, separate this money from your regular spending cash.
A High-Yield Savings Account (HYSA) is perfect for these goals. The money is transferable back to checking within a few days if you need. Most online accounts have competitive interest rates so your money can work for you while it sits.
If a savings account that acquires interest is something you try to avoid for personal or religious reasons, setting up a seperate online checking account is an option. Treat it as a savings account and leave that card tucked away at home.
2. PAY YOURSELF FIRST & MAKE IT AUTOMATIC
Once you have your savings accounts set up in a way that works for you, it’s time to start putting cash there. Make this a number one priority once you get paid. Even if you’re starting with $5 or $10 per paycheck, set up that automatic transfer. Use the money left after your transfer for bills and other spending.
When you can, increase that automatic transfer. If you do this in small increments, it’s hardly noticeable. These small savings add up over time.
After your emergency fund is comfortably funded, apply this rule to investing! I have been using Acorns for years which provided a great jumping off point when I was in a place to invest more intentionally.
PRACTICE MINDFUL SPENDING
A very restrictive budget is not the best choice, in my opinion. I recommend thinking about what you truly value. Pick 2-3 areas that are the most important.
Do an audit of your accounts and see where you spend the most. Do the numbers align with the areas you think are the most important? That’s where you can start making adjustments!
Cutting spending will not solve your financial problems, but it is one of the swiftest ways to take action. Spending is what we have the most control over. Most of us can find areas of opportunity, across all income levels.
Printing out statements and reflecting on my spending was huge for me. There were obvious areas where I could redirect my money towards my goals and what brings me joy on the journey.
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
I grew up with a dad who raised four kids on mostly one semi-consistent income while mom worked on and off. He was naturally frugal and taught me great money lessons along the way. I didn’t always listen to his advice as a teenager, surprise, but there are lessons I carry with me. While there are gaps, I dedicate time to learning now.
Instead of being angry with myself for previous habits or allowing shame to creep in, I aim to do the best I can now. Becoming a member of the Financial Gym was the biggest leap in this journey and I am forever grateful. Not only am I better with money, but my anxiety around it is less intense. I talk about it freely, I’ve found a great community, and continue to learn each day. Of course there are lows. They are much easier to handle with Sara, a financial trainer on my team.
If you think you could benefit from one-on-one help with your finances, book a free call with The Financial Gym today. They work with people of all income levels and will meet you where you are with open arms. It is the best decision I ever made for my money and love being a member.
ENJOY BEING AN OPEN LEARNER
Financial Literacy is important and there are resources available all over. Some of them, completely free. Which are excellent if you’re starting out.
Finding people you like is the key to a lifelong finance education journey. Instagram is an amazing place to meet someone you trust. Follow their blogs, podcasts, and recommendations to expand your knowledge.
Instagram : @herfirst100k, @refillingmywallet, @youquierodineropodcast, @ramit
Podcasts: Martinis and Your Money, Financial Feminist
Books: Mindful Money - Jonathan K DeYoe, The Latte Factor - David Bach
Financial health is a lifelong journey, so try to find joy along the way. Be curious and learn all you can, make small changes, and don’t be discouraged. Money is about mindset and tangible steps and there’s always a way to improve your financial health.
Tell me about some of your daily habits or favorite personal finance resources in the comments.