Budgeting/Essays & Confessions

3 Money Mantras I’ve Adopted After 2 Years Of Working For TFD

By | Friday, September 07, 2018

This week marks the two-year anniversary of my time here at TFD. I cannot begin to describe how happy that makes me — it has been the best two years of my professional life. It’s wonderful to be a part of a team of amazing women, all working towards a common goal that we each care about so deeply. In my time here, TFD has grown from five members to eight, and that’s not even including the countless writers who’ve submitted their writing or pitched me during that time. 

I could write a book on so many things I’ve learned while working here — the value of working for an organization that understands the importance or work/life balance, the joy in helping a new writer publish her first-ever article, the specific catharsis that is collectively sharing tonight’s dinner plans with your coworkers after a long day at the office/on Slack. But I’m compelled to write something more practical, because when you’re in the fortunate position of having to read dozens of articles on personal finance every single week, some of it is bound to stick.

After two years of working at TFD, I still make plenty of money mistakes — but I also feel certain that my relationship with money is the best it’s ever been. Here are the three money mantras that seem to have stuck the most, and why they work for me:

1. At least 30% goes to goals.

I’ve mentioned many times that traditional budgeting just doesn’t work for me. While I do love a good spreadsheet, the one for my personal budget is very simple: it lists out what I expect to earn, all of my set expenses, what I want to save, and what’s leftover. The “what’s leftover” part includes everything that fluctuates — it even includes what I spend on food.

The reason this simplified system works for me is because it feels like I have more freedom. I set aside the amount I want to save first (which is currently around 30% of what I make after taxes and goes to saving for vacations, my emergency fund, and my retirement account) rather than waiting to see what I can save at the end of a month. This makes it so I don’t have to worry about overspending to the point where I can’t save what I meant to that month.

More on this idea:

2. Don’t default to things that should be treats.

Now, don’t get me wrong: not having to budget things down to the dollar is a privilege. I don’t have to worry about how much of a grocery bill I’m racking up, because chances are, it’s still going to fit in the amount I’m able to spend. Part of that, though, is thanks to working on financially healthy habits rather than strict budgeting or spending parameters.

For instance, I used to order takeout multiple times per month. It was my default when I was feeling lazy or too tired to cook — and it got to be expensive. But for me, learning the difference between what constitutes a treat and what doesn’t was key to kicking this habit (for the most part, at least) and rein in my spending overall. I finally started cooking at home more, and I now default to eating food we cook at home five or six nights a week, and taking lunch to work as often as possible. I can’t deny that having a partner who also likes cooking is extremely helpful for kicking expensive eating habits, but I’m pretty sure I’d have gotten here by now on my own as well.

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3. Say “get to” instead of “have to.”

Finally, being grateful is, I’ve found, one of the key components of being a financially healthy person. Training my brain to say I get to do things instead of I have to do things has been crucial, even for things that are decidedly un-fun. For example, “I have to pay my rent” = “I get to pay this amount to live in an apartment I really love.” Having to spend money still sucks sometimes, but even when I’ve had to cover my butt in emergency-adjacent situations, I’ve been grateful. Yes, it sucks to have to dig into your savings for something like a phone you didn’t feel like buying, but at the end of the day, it’s a privilege to be in a position where those situations aren’t detrimental to my life.

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Working for TFD has done more good for my life than I can possibly say. Thank you all for reading/watching/commenting/sharing, and here’s to many more moons of talking openly and honestly about money <3

Holly is the Executive Editor of TheFinancialDiet.com. Follow her on Twitter here, or send her your ideas at holly@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

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