When I first began actively taking control of my money, my biggest hurdle had to do with habit -change. I eventually figured out that I needed to cool it with some of my more expensive routines (the usual $13 desk salads and a never-say-no attitude towards happy hour), but it took me forever to figure out how much that spending could add up. Plus, logging in to my bank account made me quite anxious, so I avoided doing so as much as possible.
Like so many people, I eventually had to reckon with the fact that I wouldn’t actually be able to get good with money without first paying attention to it. That said, I am still constantly battling my desire to never think about money again. But I realized the trick to being able not to think about money so much was to start thinking about it a lot — and eventually get myself to a place where I had established systems that would take care of my money on autopilot.
In a recent episode of Making It Work, one woman outlined something I think is very important when it comes to our own personal finances: how to manage your money without letting it take over your whole life. I love her idea of having a “2-minute rule” for managing her budget:
Basically, if a money task takes her less than two minutes to do (often much less), she gets it over with ASAP. Instead of logging on Instagram right when she wakes up, she checks in on her bank accounts; during lulls in her work day, she does a quick check-in on her budget spreadsheet. She’s not doing anything monumental on a daily basis — she’s simply staying on top of her money, goals, and everything she needs to do to get where she wants to be.
I think tiny, daily habits like this are so important when it comes to money management — and I know we all have different ones that work for us. I decided to reach out to the greater TFD community to ask about the daily routines that help them stay on budget and on track to reach their goals. Here’s what they had to say!
1. “I turned on daily text notifications from my bills-only account and my spending account! No effort to log in and check, but it’s always good to know where I am at the start of the day.” – Liv
2. “I keep all the receipts from my purchases and wave the bundle of tiny paper in front of the mirror, admonishing myself, ‘What is this? Why do you need coffee constantly? Explain yourself.'” – Jeniece
3. “Checking my bank account! Can’t know how you’re doing unless you pay attention.” – Zoe
4. “Making a note, every single day, of where I spent money without fail. Even if it’s just on my phone. It’s so easy to forget small cash transactions!” – Arundhati
5. “I follow a simple rule I learned from Warren Buffet: if you kept buying useless items, then one day you will be required to sell your most important things.” – Aftab
6. “I pay myself as soon as my salary comes through and then I have a budget for leisure and extras (Doctor, mechanic, etc) where I put money on an envelope and get it from there and don’t touch my card) Before buying anything I ask myself, will this actually make me happier?” – Manu
7. “Use an app to track saving — it has various goals and ‘rules’ that trigger saving. Check that daily for motivation and a reminder of my goals.” -Kyle
8. “Use an app to keep track of my spending. I think I have always done about 90% of it. Some days I would forget to write down smaller expenses. But most of the time, I manage to always get my food, bills, transportation etc. recorded. Important habit to excel in personal finance!” – Rosmarie
9. “I try writing a spending log for each month. If I purchased something that day I wrote it in my log. At the end of the month, I take a look at where I spent my money, find the inefficiencies and change things for the next month.” – Tara
10. “I take out $100 every month for whatever I want. Everything else is carefully budgeted and put towards debt and savings. My $100 goes to $2 Margarita Mondays, getting my nails done, and fun dates with my hubby! Seeing the money I have to spend helps keep me on track every day.” – Danie
11. “Any day I spend $0, I get to move $10 to my travel savings. I always stop myself from purchases because I’d rather use that money towards a nice vacation!” – Nicole
12. “I receive an email each morning with my checking account balance. I used to try to avoid knowing how much (or little) I had but knowing where I stand financially each day empowers me to make good choices.” – Gaining Traction
13. “I have every account on my phone, so I can check everything wherever I am. The other big one is having a business credit card so all business purchases go on that card — forgotten receipts aren’t a problem.” – Amanda
14. “I check all of my accounts and my Credit Karma every single day. That way I’m constantly aware of where I’m at financially and if there’s anything fishy going on.” – Jilly
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