Back in 2005, my husband, Logan, and I began to simplify our lives. I detailed our story in my book, You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap), and the core philosophies I wrote about are still true. However, some things have changed. For example, we no longer live in our tiny house full-time, and we bought a used car in 2013. In essence, our quest to live a simple and happy life continues to evolve—as it should because nothing in life is static. This is especially true when it comes to money. When we began to simplify our lives, we wanted to redefine our relationship with money, pay off our debt, and buy a tiny house on wheels. We accomplished those goals (and a whole lot more).
However, I wish we’d been smarter with long-term financial planning during our twenties and early thirties. For instance, it would have been wise to set aside money for an old age fund. However, we were focused on paying off our debt and purchasing our tiny house. The good news is that we’ve been saving for our old age fund for the last three years.
Saving more and working with a fiduciary has eased my money worries because we’re making wiser investment choices. My worries aren’t completely gone, but hopefully that will change.
Below are six steps that are slowly helping me let go of money worries. If you struggle with anxiety around money, I hope these ideas inspire you to take action.
Before we move forward, I want to be very clear with a caveat. I’m not being compensated for any of the products or services below. I’m sharing this information because these resources and people have helped Logan and I get our finances in order.
With that, let’s get started.
1. Track everything. I'm obsessed with Mint because it's a digital tool that makes tracking our income and expenses easy. In addition to Mint, I use GoDaddy Bookkeeping to track my business income and expenses. Separating my business and personal accounts has been so helpful. Tax time is less stressful because my numbers are in order. Plus, I have a clear understanding of how much it costs to run my business.
2. Focus on mindful budgeting. In addition to recording everything in Mint, I record my daily and weekly purchases in my Mindful Budgeting 2017 Planner. Being able to write notes, reflections, and goals in my planner is helpful and grounding.
3. Talk about money. Logan and I have weekly and monthly money meetings to stay on track. It wasn’t always that way, though. In 2015, I had a melt-down about how much we were spending every month, which resulted in tears and an argument with Logan. Since then, I’ve been working on my money issues, and the more I talk about money, the less worried I feel.
4. Work with a fiduciary. A fiduciary offers fee-based, non-biased financial advice based on your circumstances. In short, their job is to help you make informed financial choices. We found our fiduciary—Michael Harris—in 2015, and he’s been incredibly helpful.
5. Save more and spend less. As I mentioned above, I want to put more money into our old age fund. I also want to work toward financial independence. As a result, I've been questioning all my expenditures (like the amount I spend on groceries, dining, coffee, and more). It's great to be debt free, but we’ve become a bit lazy on the budgeting front. This year is all about saving more and spending less.
Parting words …
After experiencing debilitating back pain in 2016, my aim is to maintain my health by taking small steps every day. Some of those actions include not drinking alcohol, eating real food, going to CrossFit, getting enough sleep, and making sure our finances are in order because money matters.
Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more essays about money. For example, I’m working on an article about how we’re decreasing our monthly food and dining expenses. If you have money questions for me—or topics you’d like me to write about—leave a comment below.
If you’re reading this article via email, just respond to this message. I don’t have time to respond to all of the emails I receive, but I read every message that arrives in my inbox. I’m grateful for your continued support and encouragement.
Cheers to living a simple and joyful life!