Before getting better with money, many of us here at TFD have had to learn one simple truth: you have to learn to love it. Not to love money for the sake of having more of it, but to learn to love managing it so you have a better understanding of what you need. Earning and saving doesn’t have to mean trying to be rich — it could simply be the key to living the exact kind of life that will make you most content. And in order to learn to love money, you need to date it. That’s why we’re sharing this post from writer Lily Comba, all about how to start a weekly “Money Date” routine to finally get on good terms with your bank account.
Your relationship with money is like any other relationship — it takes time and a lot of love. And when you feel good about your money, great things can happen (hello, ask for that raise!). Many of us are scared to look at our bank accounts. You know you went a little overboard on that last trip to Target and might be worried about your “treat yourself” budget.
It’s time for you to start dating your money. Except this type of dating doesn’t require you to look nice, make small talk, or miss that new episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. You can be in your pajamas, makeup free, with Cheetos and reruns of Gilmore Girls playing in the background. All that matters is that you’re comfortable and ready to start developing a relationship with your finances.
Why is this important? When you start acquainting yourself with your money, you feel a sense of empowerment. You are in control of your financial wellbeing. When you have a healthy relationship with money (meaning you know how you spend, how you save, and how you invest), you’re more likely to feel confident in your personal and professional endeavors. It may not seem that way right now, but it will by taking some small steps.
Start by setting aside time one night to evaluate your spending and saving habits. Are you putting 50% of your paycheck towards the essentials? This includes rent, utilities, groceries. How are you paying down debt or saving for your future? Does this take up 20% of your income? Are you exceeding your entertainment budget? By how much? If you’re a beginner at budgeting, consider the 50/30/20 model — spend 50% of your post-tax income on the essentials, 30% on nice necessities (Netflix subscription, clothing budgets, eating out, etc), and 20% on paying down debt and savings. More on this here.
Now that you’re ready, pull out that calculator and start crunching the numbers. When you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and see where your money is going, you’ll immediately know where you can improve. There’s no shame here. You may feel embarrassed or hopeless, but developing a relationship with your money takes time, and those feelings are a natural part of the process. Look at the last two months, list out what you spent money on, and sort everything into general categories. These can include groceries, entertainment, bills, and personal care. Then think about what you saved — how did you contribute to that emergency savings account? Evaluate what percentage of your income was put towards each of these buckets.
And with that first night complete, it’s time to set some calendar reminders. This is where the whole “dating” thing comes into play (finally!). Go on weekly Money Dates for one month. This will be a time when you have a glass of wine, some nourishing snacks, and a sit-down with your finances. Open up all of your bank accounts, including savings accounts. Then ask yourself:
Where did your money go the last week? Sort into the categories you established before.
Are you on track with your savings goals?
What are you most proud of?
At the end of the first month, evaluate your spending. How has your relationship changed with your finances? How do you perceive yourself when it comes to money? If you’re feeling more secure, you can start cutting back on those Money Dates. Start going once every two weeks, maybe even monthly. Or, if you’ve just fallen head-over-heels for your money, you can continue those weekly dates. More power to you.
The more time you spend with your money, the more confidence you cultivate. Dating your money may not be glamorous, but you can start somewhere.
By day, Lily works in business development for an online marketplace. By night, Lily lives an entrepreneurial life. After working as a Career Consultant for two years at her alma mater, Scripps College, Lily developed a passion for helping women in their careers. She embodies the mantra, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” in her work as a career advisor to college students, and creative and business strategist for fellow entrepreneurs. Catch her running around Los Angeles or at lilycomba.com.
Image via Unsplash