Thinking about getting your personal finances in order?
If you search “help with personal finances,” you’ll be greeted with a treasure trove of advice: 75 Personal Finance Tips To Help You Make & Save Money. 50 Personal Finance Habits Everyone Should Follow. The Best Personal Finance Apps to Manage Money Better in 2018. And so forth.
You’re lucky to have so many free resources at your fingertips! Hooray!
Yet, like me, you may find yourself paralyzed by the cornucopia of choices. Where do you begin when there are one million points of entry?
I’m an advocate of 1) beginning with a macro view, 2) making it magical and 3) enjoying the swim.
Macro view: Start with a wide lens. Spend some time meditating, reading, contemplating and conversing with trusted friends and associates about money and what it means. This doesn’t have to be a years-long study where you answer for all eternity every question you have about finances. But you might come up with two or three precepts to guide you. (Try reading some blogs like Budgets are $exy or I Will Teach You To Be Rich.)
Make it magical: Trick yourself into automatically saving some money. Set up an automatic monthly transfer of $200 from your checking to savings and then ignore it for a year. Upon your one-year anniversary, behold the $2400 (plus a little interest) you have magically set aside. Write $2400 in glitter on a postcard. Surround it with flowers. Light a candle. Thank yourself for enchanting yourself. Let it inspire you to do more. (Learn all about money rituals and other creative ways to put the honey back in money at BariTessler.com)
Enjoying the swim: For the first year or two, keep it simple and sunny like a perfect day at the beach. Don’t take up surfing or scuba diving. Just lie on your beach towel (don’t forget sunscreen!) and get up to splash around every now and then. Be sure every personal finance endeavor brings you joy, comes from a place of curiosity, and feels safe. If an idea makes your heart sag, skip it. Wait until you’ve adjusted to the water before you dive deep. (For soul support try some non-finance blogs like Tiny Buddha or podcasts like Dear Sugar.)
Finally, loosen your grip and stop gritting your teeth. Financial security IS important. It is an admirable aspiration. Yet, as with most worthy pursuits, white-knuckling one’s way to it can be dreadful. If you want a low-stress path to wealth creation, hold your ambition firmly but lightly.
Take your time. Seek counsel. Find advisors whom you trust. Strategize with them. Then, once you put your money to work, don’t watch too closely and fret over every play. Go out to the concession stand every now and then for a beer and a hot dog (yes, even though we know alcohol and processed meat products aren’t particularly healthy)!
It is just a game, after all. (Just like LIFE.) You can have some fun at it, or you can be miserable and bite your nails off. I highly recommend the former.
As the very wise Suzuki Roshi taught: “What we are doing here is so important, we better not take it too seriously.”
Photo: Sonja Langford