10 Innovative Personal Finance Tips

We see articles often about the most innovative companies, the most innovative technology, the most innovative fitness routines…why not the most innovative money tips?


One thing I really dig about personal finance is consistency. There are many teachings & rules that were true in the past that are still applicable today. You really can’t doubt him when Warren Buffet states:

“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”

Buffet is now 85 years old and is worth $61.8 billion dollars. Whoa. 

I had to take a minute to let that sink in again…

When you start to read & learn more about personal finance, you start to recognize patterns. Lot’s of them. This is great though! Repetition really allows you to learn about a subject that may seem like completely unfamiliar terrain. Unfortunately, if we are not exposed to personal finance teachings in our youth we have to play an immense amount of catch-up in our adulthood.

Since personal finance is personal, someone’s exact way of earning, saving, spending, etc. will vary from what is applicable to my lifestyle & situation. What I enjoy doing is pulling methods, tips & tricks from several sources – then from there applying them to my personal finances to discover what works best for me (I’ll take this tip from Buffet, this method from the So Money podcast, this power tool from this career maven, this quote from this literary novel). I like this approach, because it allows me to tweak & experiment. It also allows me to re-evaluate different options and determine whether they will work best for me now, or in the future.

As you could imagine, pulling from various sources creates some pretty unconventional ways to approach personal finance. I like to lend this to the idea that people are becoming seriously creative when approaching their money matters (thank you, internet for the information sharing age). Sometimes we seek different, unique, fresh tips that aren’t quite the usual that we can pull from books that have been published in 1949 (i.e. The Intelligent Investor). Don’t get me wrong, I love the tried & true – but let’s peep some 10 innovative personal finance tips:

1. Trade in all your school index cards for index funds

Still have some leftover index cards you made in school either to study for that one midterm, or practice for that speech you needed to do for intro to public speaking? Trade them on in for investing in index funds! For long term investment strategy, this is the way to go. Now there’s actually an excuse to be passive with your money, rather than when you had to be aggressive with your studying. 😉

2. If you invest online through a platform, don’t even download the app to your phone 

It’s no surprise that mobile usage has surpassed that of desktop internet use. With the market going haywire, you’re going to be severely tempted to check how your portfolios are doing. Why not make it that much harder to check them by not even resorting to checking them through an app on your phone. You probably spend less time with your desktop/laptop at home than you do with your phone. Save yourself the sanity & stick to your long term investment strategy by spending less time panicking.

2. Create a vision board of what your life in retirement will look like

People find it challenging to save for something that is so far in the future, why not just give in to instant gratification? Try to put the future into reality. Whether you want to go to pencil & paper, or create a virtual Pinterest board – use your creativity to develop what you would like your retirement to hold. Some questions to consider to develop this board: What will you look like? Who will you be spending your time with? What will you be doing? Where will you be traveling to? This exercise will allow you to turn the illusion of retirement to reality, and encourage you to save now for the later. 

3. Be so busy, you unintentionally have no-spend days/weeks

Okay, this one’s awesome. Usually when it comes to exercising no-spend days/weeks you have to focus very hard. I mean, so hard, that your concentration breaks and you just end up binge spending (then you feel guilty, and start the cycle again on your 2nd/3rd/4th attempt). This is where you get involved, be active, stay busy, get outside, just be – that you don’t have time to give in to that email that states “HEY SITE-WIDE SALE,” or are alone and feel susceptible to the whims of making expensive impulse purchases. Connect with yourself & connect with other people, and spending money just slips on the priority list.

4. Treat bear markets like they’re the biggest sale event ever

Forget black friday! When it’s a bear market, think of it like it’s one of the greatest sale events ever. You now have access to purchasing high quality stocks at affordable prices. No more wasting money on unnecessary items that you will more than likely lose interest in a few months down the road. Now, I’m certainly not one to chase hot stocks & gains – but if you haven’t gotten into the market, this would be a great time to do so.

5. High five your friend, partner, family member, neighbor when you hear something awesome about personal finance

Whether they told you they just saved enough money for a goal they’ve been working on, increased their credit score, chose not to give in to a crazy purchase, or learned about a new thing in terms of personal finance – give them a high five!! The more positive we can be about personal finance, the more encouraged people will become to make smart money decisions. It’s not often that someone wants to turn down a high five…(and if they do, well that’s just a bummer).

6. A Netflix binge isn’t the worst thing in the world

I can’t help it. Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve seen that screen “Are you still watching ____(insert show title here)____?” more than a few times on a Friday night. But you know what, staying in with some friends or a significant other isn’t really all that bad when it prevents you from exceeding your dining out budget for the month, spending way too much on a tab at the bar, or blowing cash on surged Uber prices. Every now & again, a night in really hits the spot. Not to mention, you can purchase a 6-pack of craft beer, make an incredible dinner at home, and even have some dessert all for less than half than the activities out mentioned above.

7. Pick a dance move. Now, do it (physically, or in your head) every time you did something awesome with your money

This tip is definitely inspired by all the *virtual dance parties* I’ve shared with Our Next Life, Goodnight Debt, Maggie at Northern Expenditure, and so many others. By picking a dance move, you can reinforce positive money habits that you create for yourself. Some examples of when I dance: when I up my savings rate, when I see my credit score increase, when I rack up more points for using my credit card responsibly, when I find a killer deal by doing research on a purchase before I buy. Now…LET’S DANCE!

8. I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, do you know what means?

I am blown away, because there are so many ways to determine independence now in life – and finances are no exception. We’ve got independent finances, shared finances,  co-mingled but also separate finances, you name it. Yet when it comes to all of these forms, they can all mean independence to different people. Determine what independence means to you – and find a way to make yourself financially free. That way, you aren’t just relying on one income source to pull you through. (P.s. points for whoever just go that song reference). 

9. Hack your way to a better deal

There are so many ways to research & determine how you can get a better deal on all the future purchases you need to make. Get to the point where it becomes second nature to hack your way to a better deal. Craigslist, buying slightly-used, garage sales, coupon/promo websites, recognizing the cycles of when particular items are deeply discounted – once you have all these down, getting the deal you want when you make a purchase will be as simple as a *snap, snap.*

10. Listen up. 

You may not think this tip is innovative – but hear me out (ha, get it? – OK moving on..). The art of listening is becoming tricky nowadays. More often than not we are distracted by advertisements, updates, text messages, apps, overflowing email inboxes, alerts, etc. When you take some time away from the following and really tune into your environments, you will learn several golden nuggets. When it comes to personal finance, a lot of it is applicable to the place you live, the people you surround yourself with, and the environments you choose to spend time in. Listen up – because everyone around you has something to teach and you may miss those golden opportunities to learn.


What innovative tips do you have for personal finance? Have you tried any of the above? Only stick to the tried & true rules?

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The Confusion of Money, Feelings and Language

What do you notice when you scroll through the following images…

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I could imagine it did not take you long to realize that color is a prominent theme throughout the following images. 

You see colors are dominant in life, but the incredible thing about them is – if someone had never seen a color before (or, you are trying to explain the color to someone who may be color blind), how do you explain what a color really is?

It’s like this Vsauce video by Michael Stevens (love these Vsauce videos): Is Your Red The Same as My Red?

Now, I know you must be wondering what does color have to do with money? – and just as Michael states in the video above:

“…color is created inside our heads.”

This is the correlation in terms of personal finance:

Like color, money can also be an illusion that’s created inside our heads. 

We share our stories, tips, strategies, pitfalls…and walk away thinking we have a mutual understanding. Oftentimes we do, but in reality – the way that I view money in my mind is probably starkly varying from how you view it in your mind (even if we have similar experiences). 

In Michael/Vsauce’s video, he also explains how failure of language can lead to misunderstandings. This is strongly prevalent through society:

  • When we have more money we’re supposed to feel happy.
  • When we are in debt we are supposed to feel down.
  • When we receive a windfall it’s supposed to be a pleasant surprise. 
  • When we incur an unexpected life cost we’re supposed to say “insert select choice word here” and turn to our emergency funds. 

…but does this language always have to ring true in terms of personal finance? Or, is it just that we have been exposed to the following way too many times that we are expected to feel this way for each situation?

Because on the contrary:

I have seen that more money can also lend itself to stress, because expectations of lifestyle inflation are always there.

I have learned that debt does not have to consume people, and that they can begin to feel more empowered to take control of their finances regardless of past situations.

I have experienced that an additional windfall can cause confusion because my mind battles between whether I should pay my future self, or live in the moment now.

I have read that people have turned their unexpected costs into joyous life lessons that have set them up for a stronger future. 

Now, how’s all that for confusion of money, feelings and language?


 

So let’s tie this all in here, because this may seem all over the board…

How we all view colors may be different in terms of perspective, feelings, and what our mind generates for ourselves. What can be incredibly vivid in color to one person, may be a few shades lighter to others. If neon color causes stress to one person, it could cause attractiveness and feelings of like to another.

Recognize that perceptions of colors are similar to the theme of what type of feelings and language are created around money to each person.

What you value spending and saving money for, may mean varying emotions to another. If indulging in the now brings happiness, someone saving for the later may feel the opposite. If winning the lottery would make your life, just know that someone feels investing & saving slowly will give them gratification. When learning of someone’s experience of debt, just know that even if you have not experienced it does not mean that your perception should be of hopelessness & powerlessness – they may be in a much stronger place than they have ever been. 

The important part is that we discuss with transparency what our feelings and language are in terms of money because we have been exposed to so much grey area.

That way we can all come to a mutual understanding without discrimination, disdain, confusion, or anger. Each one of us has our stories, and that is why personal finances become unique. When we can recognize the feelings and language around money void of confusion, we can then support each other on our journeys and pathways of life. 

When we eliminate confusion and find common ground, then we can bring colors to our conversations of feelings and language around money for a bright future.


Have you ever experienced confusion of explaining what money means to you in terms of feelings and language to others? How can we bring to light more color in our conversations to combat the grey areas we’ve been exposed to? There’s a lot to take in with this post – but I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

The $5 Million Dollar Ponder

Oh yes, Super Bowl 50 is now over & done (at the point you are reading this)…and at this given point in time (Saturday evening, February 6th) I have not the slightest idea whether the Broncos, or the Panthers have taken the win. Quite frankly, I am more of a college sports gal – but it’s fun to watch the Super Bowl with the other 114.4 million viewers out there in the U.S. (based of the statistics from last year here)….


The year is 2016 – and guess how much the price was for a 30 second Super Bowl ad?

$5 MILLION DOLLARS.

Let’s just let that sink in for a bit (and check out this article here if you were wondering where this fact came from). I mean c’mon, that’s 5 times the amount that Dr. Evil said with dramatic effect in Austin Powers (but if we’re getting technical, significantly less than his “$100 billion dollars” shout out…).

Some of us may not even see/acquire that much money in a lifetime. Yet, here we’ve got companies able to just drop $5 mill. for 30 seconds of America’s time. Thank goodness most people have enough of an attention span to last that given amount of time?

For most of us, Super Bowl commercials come & go. We may review them in our Marketing lectures in college. It used to be I was straight up entertained by any & all Super Bowl commercials. When I think back on it, one of the only commercials that really sticks out in my mind is when a young boy dressed like Darth Vader using ‘the force’ turns on a new Volkswagen Jetta that’s sitting in the driveway (when secretly, his Dad is turning on the car from inside the house – if you don’t remember this commercial, check it out here). It’s incredible to me that this commercial aired in 2011, that was 5 years ago! Did it make me want to buy a Jetta? Nope, not one bit. Yet the cleverness, the targeted audience of Star Wars lovers, and the emotional appeal behind the commercial was very captivating.

Now, ads are just…interesting.

By the way, thanks Mountain Dew…for spending $5 million (?) to get “Puppy Monkey Baby” stuck in my head for all of eternity (insert straight faced emoji here because I’ve already laughed enough at the initial shock of watching the creepiness of the ad).

Instead of gluing my eyes to the TV during commercial breaks, I’m typically getting up to refill my plate of delicious snacks, grabbing a new refreshment, or any other random act that makes me turn/walk away. But then it struck me…the $5 million dollar ponder:

If I had a 30 second ad that I paid $5 million dollars for, what would I show to the 114.4 million viewers out there?

  • Would it be for a fancy new gadget, or a brand new blender that can miraculously chop up anything you put into it?
  • Would it be for a brand new delicious craft beer I took a liking to, or a piece of technology that enhanced my quality of life?
  • Would it show me grabbing the keys to a new house, or a vacation of a lifetime?
  • Would it be for a brand new exercise that’s changed my life, or a new lotion that has all the anti-aging ingredients that you could possibly put into one bottle?

No. None of those things at all. But I could imagine that you could rattle off thousands of commercials that feature the following.

You know what I would show in those 30 seconds?

An elapsed timeline of all the hugs & smiles I’ve ever shared with people in my lifetime.

Now before you hit the “X” in the top right corner because you’re thinking “Man this girl is crazy...” hear me out. All of the hugs & smiles I’ve shared in my lifetime are worth every bit of those $5 million dollars. In fact, they would be worth even more than $1 billion dollars.

Now, I know I am only one viewer/consumer – but when it comes to advertisements the one’s that capture me are the ones that have emotional appeal. You show me a story completely unrelated to your product but that pulls at my heart strings, you’ve captured my attention. Also, think about how many of these emotional appeal advertisements are captivating to a universal audience?

That’s where smiles & hugs come in. 

A vast majority of people can relate to the following two categories. Think about all the bear hugs, embraces, radiating smiles, sheepish grins, etc. that you’ve experienced in your lifetime. They are absolutely priceless (Ok, so maybe this seems more like a Mastercard ad…), but I am not trying to sell a credit card here. I’m just trying to evoke a feeling. The feeling that comes bursting at the seams, or should I say the experience of “all the feels” when we give/receive a hug, or smile. Recall all of the special connections and people in your life that you’ve shared these particular moments in life with. In the future, it would be amazing to see that type of highlight reel.

That to me, is beyond worth $5 million dollars…even if it is just for 30 seconds.


If you paid $5 million for a 30 second Super Bowl ad, what would you share? I can’t wait to hear in the comments below!

Money & Essentialism

This past Friday, I finished a book entitled Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (selected by my new company’s book club)! It was a fast & incredibly relevant read. (P.S. If you’ve been to my corner of the internet a few times, you’ll start to recognize that books serve as a major source of inspiration for my posts). Today I’m bringing a breakdown of Essentialism, overall life, and how this all correlates to money & personal finance.

money & essentialism


More and more the rapidity of life, technology and pursuit of success seems to overwhelm individuals. I can attest to this…from shaping my resume & refining my GPA in high school and college, to graduating and feeling like I am constantly huffing and puffing to keep in stride with life. After leaving several years of life at the educational institute level, it suddenly seems like you are back to square one. Regardless of how equipped you may be with the knowledge you acquired in school/university, nothing can quite prepare you for the spontaneity of the real world. Not to mention, the years fly by rapidly in an exponential fashion. The days are not prepackaged in tidy quarters/semesters where you can look forward to the consistent refresh & recharge experienced during winter, spring and summer break.

But we press on, and we learn what works best for us. The Essentialism book allows you to evaluate what truly matters to you independently, versus the needs & wants of others. One of the main themes of the book is: how can you contribute your best efforts and passions if you are spreading yourself in a million different ways? Despite the underlying tones of needing and wanting to have it all, how can you create an intentional life that allows you to flourish?

Here is a great line from the book that encompasses its message:

“Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter” (McKeown pg 4).

Then I got to thinking of Essentialism in terms of personal finance…

  • How many times have we said “yes” to an event, or an activity despite what parameters we set for our budget?

  • How often have we stressed about our next student loan payment because we were too busy spending all of our money in fear that we would miss out?

  • How consistently have we spread ourselves too thin attempting to accomplish every financial goal as fast as we possibly could that we neglected a particular expense that caught us off guard?

  • How many occurrences have we given into the temptation of “another round,” a splurge purchase, a treat yo’ self moment, that we suddenly turned a blind eye to long term savings goals?

When we are not essential with our money, we have competing interests forcing us in every which way. This could quite honestly relate to positive, or negative habits in relation to your finances. When we refer back to the Inverted U-Curve of Personal Finance we discover that thinking too little about personal finance can develop habits that drain your wallet. While thinking too much about personal finance can lead you to missing what life is wanting you to experience right now. Finding your optimal point of how much to think about personal finance allows you to practice Essentialism with your money.

If you say yes to every brunch-concert-weekend getaway-bar night-impulse buy-latest technology gadget-fancy clothes…where is the room in your budget to contribute to those student loan payments, future retirement savings, or goals to travel to where you want to go (and not just the passing fancies of someone else)? When you say “yes” to every request you may lose sight of what you value, what you would like to do, where you want to go, who you truly want to spend time with. Your contributions to your savings goals become less and less.

Then there is the other angle, where we may have too many savings-tax-expense-budgeting-investing goals in which we are expending a vast amount of effort & energy just trying to do it all. A small lump sum there, a deposit here, a couple dollars there, and they all should amount to something right? Yet when we are exhausting our mental capacity, and seem to be reaching the verge of argument over money matters with friends, family, significant others – our contributions to each competing goal can become trivial. Slip ups and mistakes may emerge due to your mental capacity stretching thin. Oversights to unforeseen expenses may emerge and knock your pristine budget that you felt was absolutely gridlocked.

To combat these negative aspects of financial matters, I recognized that we can practice the fine tuning of money & Essentialism. When we hone in on what we value, what matters to us, who we want to spend our time with – we can start saying no to things that take away from our financial goals. We can then enhance our motivation to contribute to our savings without conflicting and competing interests. Our energy is not displaced, but flourishing. We find the perfect balance between optimizing our personal finances, and discovering the ability to make our best contributions to what we value in terms of saving, donations, investing, etc. When you determine what is essential to you in life, you will discover ways to align your personal finances with a new found ease. 


How can we practice Essentialism with our personal finances? Can you relate to money & Essentialism? Let’s discuss below!