Disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser. This blog post is strictly for entertainment purposes.
I enjoy reading finance tips on Instagram because their advice is easy to digest because it comes in a form of a photo or a short video. Plus it keeps me motivated…but the thing that annoys me about some financial influencers (aka fin-fluencers) is that they try to make personal finance fun, easy, fast, and sexy. I like to think I am the antidote to the fin-fluencer because I am here to tell you personal finance requires diligence, patience, confrontation, and math.
Diligence. Thanks to automated savings I don’t need to think too much about calculating how much to save each paycheck. With every raise I get, I increase my saving rate by a little more to avoid lifestyle creep. Every week I review what I am spending and where my money goes — it’s definitely a chore!
Patience. I recalled one time I had a coworker ask around if they were to receive $1000, what was the quickest way to grow that $1000? I was pretty stumped. I assume one wouldn’t just have $1000 sitting in a high-yield savings account and not contribute any more. My coworker was stumped with my follow-up questions. Maybe she thought if she put $1000 in a high-yield saving account it would multiply like bacteria on a petri-dish. I did suggest she could put her $1000 in a CD because the interest is higher than a traditional savings account, however it would mean locking it away for a period of time which could be an inconvenience.
Unfortunately, financial growth is not an overnight thing. If there’s anything I learned about the FTX scandal, it’s this: if they’re younger than 30 years old and they have their own company and are already making a lot of money, you should question it because it is likely too good to be true! (Another example: Theranos).
I was surprised by how much my savings account has grown. Recently I started looking at all my assets recently from my savings account, my investments and accounts from my previous employers. Right now I’m at 67% toward my goal. Aside from my regular contributions, I also attribute the growth to compound interest.
Confrontation. Personal finance requires you to take a good look at what you are spending. There was a time in my early 20s when I found myself buying new make-up every season. I had to stop that. Aside from the foundation, I don’t recall the last time I bought make-up because I still have palettes of eyeshadow and blush from so many years ago that is still in great condition because I disinfect them regularly.
Also, guiltily, I enjoy dining out. When I reflect on what (or where) I ate the past week and I see that I dined out (or buy coffee) pretty frequently, I then meal plan my lunch and dinners. I don’t frame dining less as a deprivation, I frame into something motivating like “I got to save up for this upcoming trip” or “I am saving for a future remodel.”
Math. When I was in college working an hourly job on campus, my coworker and I would spend our breaks looking at our sheet of per on how many more hours we need to do for the month to make rent, have fun, and eat. If we couldn’t get enough hours at the restaurant, we signed up for catering shifts for school events and games. Many years later, still to this day, managing money requires basic math skills. I thought I would have graduated from that when I started working a full-time salary job. I may not work an hourly wage job, but I still count how much money goes to where. There was a time I hated automated bill pay because some days I reviewed my account and was shocked to see such a low balance. But then I forgot that I automated that bill to be paid on a certain day. Nowadays I have to notate these bill pay automations on my calendar so I am not surprised.
There you have it: personal finance is not the most exciting thing — at least for me isn’t. I compare doing personal finance to the usual chores like laundry and washing dishes. I don’t think it’s a bad thing because I believe it’s important to check in on your finances regularly even if your savings account isn’t proliferating. I get excited when I am closer to my goals because it shows the work I put in paid off.
My personal finance wins for the month:
- Suggested splitting a large dinner bill (and I won). Maybe this was a controversial move… I have A LOT to say about this point that it deserves its own future post — maybe it could be under culture or personal finance or both? I believe culture does influence personal finance. Anyways, we went out for a big family brunch on Christmas Day, and when my husband got the bill, he was price-shocked. I could see he was really uncomfortable with footing the whole bill so I “broke” tradition and said that all the adult children should split the bill. It may have been an unpopular move and people complained and suddenly decided the food wasn’t that great, but I still consider it a personal finance win because I think it’s important to protect your wallet.
- I am now 67% to my savings goal