Money is an anxiety-inducing topic. Short-term investing, long-term investing, budgeting, savings — all of these are terms that create walls between being financially responsible and just pretending that your debit account has no end in sight.
As a first-generation Latinx in the United States, I also have the added reality of having to learn a lot about finance on my own and for the first time. In conversation with a friend we spoke on how we were the first time in our family’s history where “survival” was already taken care of — we had disposable income, the question was now, what were we going to do with it?
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley is a Money Coach, Financial Nutritionist and runs The Fiscal Femme. As a Latina who is trying to get her finances in order, I asked Ashley to shed some light on best practices that have happiness and feeling good about my money at the core.
Feinstein Gerstley explained that the first step is to keep a money journal. The goal is to see a visual representation of all you spend and receive, this way it puts the one too many Uber ride into a better context.
Here are 8 more tips to get your financial health in order.
Give yourself exciting finance goals
“Start with the fun part. What are your goals? What are you saving for? What do you want to achieve with your finances? Not only does coming up with exciting goals motivate us, it quantifies where we want to be so we can figure out how to get there!”
Adopt a powerful money mantra
“We tell ourselves some pretty terrible things about ourselves and money. And when we do this over and over it becomes our money mantra. We typically think of mantras as being positive but they can be negative as well. The good news is, we can replace our non-serving money mantra with something much more powerful. Our old money mantras are bound to come up but we can recognize them, notice that they are no longer true for us and replace them with our powerful new money mantra.”
Think of investing in the long term
“We don't want to invest our short-term saving like our rainy day fund or the cash we plan on using for vacation. By thinking of investing as a longer-term strategy, we have already mitigated a lot of the risk because now we have the time to wait out any shifts or downturns in the market. If you are nervous to start, start small. You can start investing with just a couple hundred dollars. We learn by doing and get more comfortable as we practice.”
Forget ‘budgeting’ go for ‘happiness allocation’
“I actually hate the word budget because it typically makes us think of restriction and saying no to ourselves (Kind of like a diet. Food and money are really similar.). I call budgets happiness allocations because I think that's a much better description. They are plans where we decide how to allocate our money in the ways that are going to make us the happiest in the short and long-term. Once the plan works, we can spend what we plan guilt-free.”
(Really) treat yourself.
“It's important to remember what we really want as far as our goals and values. We want to align our spending with what's important to us as much as possible in order to get the most happiness per dollar and meaning from our spending. Maybe going on vacation is a true treat or paying down your credit card debt. Look at each expense in terms of your goals. Is it still worth it?”
Treat saving like an expense
“Separate and automate our savings and investing. When we have a separate savings account, the money is not so accessible to our checking account and we don't see it as available to us. When it's automated we don't have to think about it and each week or each paycheck the money is transferred out of our checking account like any other expense. This is how we prioritize paying ourselves first. When we wait to see what's leftover to save, we are prioritizing paying everyone else over ourselves. ”
Have a money party
“It's a bi-weekly meeting with ourselves (and can be with our partners / families too) where we show our money some love and carve out time to deal with any financial to-dos. They typically hang over our head, stress us out and often get put on the back-burner but when we create the time to deal with them, we can rest assured they will get done. As things come up throughout the week, you can add them to your money party agenda.”
Look at expenses annually
A $4.30 latte every single day may not seem like much, but Feinstein Gerstley explains that it can add up to $1,569.50 annually. “Looking at our expenses annually shows us the true impact of each expense so we can allocate our money in the way that's going to make us the happiest in the short and long term.
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Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.