By Angela Barbash, Principal
Luckily, where I lack in some areas, such as posting more than 1 blog post in 6 months, I excel in other areas, such as journaling and self-reflection.
For those readers who are following my bullet journal journey (bujojo?) on Insta, you know that I delved in deep in February and it’s been a boon to my personal productivity and overall happiness level. For those of you not following the journey, you can go here, here, or here to learn more about what bullet journaling is and how it might be an effective tool for you.
It’s a new month (hello May!) and that means closing out the previous month’s spreads and setting up the new month’s spreads. In March, I had tested out ‘a line a day’ spread – a one line sentence describing the most memorable aspect of the day. In April I decided to change it up a bit and do ‘a lesson learned a day’ – a one line lesson that I did not want to forget.
Reading back over April’s lessons was amazing, heartwarming, comical, and in general, interesting. I thought it was so interesting that I might share three of those lessons that particularly pertain to personal finance here with you. I thought about sharing the complete list, but it’s personal and while I do intentionally take the opportunity to live in my vulnerability at times, sharing the whole list publicly is a little too vulnerable for me. I hope you understand. 😊
Here we go!
Lesson #1 (learned on Sunday, April 16th): We deserve a date budget – it’s imperative.
Are you a parent? Then you know a little something about this. We welcomed our first awesome human into the world almost 2 years ago and have seen little of each other alone since then, despite it being drilled into our heads by our wiser elders to take time for ourselves. We originally committed to giving Grandma time with the little babe on Sunday afternoons so we could ‘get things done’, like grocery shopping/cleaning/errands/etc.
Once the first Sunday came around, this Sunday in fact, it was more like ‘we’re going on a date, see ya!’. And oh how nice it was! This came after spending a month getting our cash flow management on a better tracking system, so naturally the next thought we had after ‘this needs to be the thing we do, not clean the house’ was, ‘we need a budget for this!’.
Guilt-free fun is imperative, friends. Even if your budget of time and money is only 1 hour a week and $5, it’s something, and something is better than nothing. For the sake of your sanity, give yourself a date budget.
Lesson #2 (learned on Sunday, April 23rd): Write down better details when comparison shopping.
After reading lesson #1 you might be able to tell that our first date was actually window shopping at REI for a new family tent (hey, everyone’s definition of ‘date’ is different!). The following Sunday we went to a different retailer to comparison shop and I found my notes from the first excursion to be insufficient.
There’s nothing worse when engaging in responsible consumerism than not having enough information to make a confident decision. This resulted in trying to look things up on other retailers’ websites, reading through specs and reviews, and making new notes. Having insufficient notes lead to more time on our phones (blech..) and wasted time in the store.
Save yourself time and money and take great notes when comparison shopping. Include price, make/model name/number, dimensions and weight, features, and anything else important to your buying decision.
Lesson #3 (learned on Sunday, April 30th): The hardest part is starting.
Apparently, all my best lessons are learned on Sundays? Interesting.
As financial planners, we fulfill a lot of roles for our clients, not the least of which is encouraging them to take the leaps they need to get their lives to the place they want. This can be anything from starting a new education program for career advancement, to starting a new workout program for good health, to using a new fintech tool for tracking their expenses.
Even though we all know that taking these leaps are critical steps to fulfillment, we still find ourselves struggling just to take that very first baby step. After that baby step every other step becomes easier as they build upon the momentum gained before them. With momentum, the flywheel starts spinning and the steps become strides, the strides become jumps, and the jumps become leaps. We hardly ever start leaping from a standstill, it usually starts with that very first baby step.
So, think of one thing you’ve known for a while that you’ve wanted to start. Got it in your mind? Now, ask yourself, why haven’t you started. Fear? Laziness? Distraction? Think about the concept of a baby step. What would be the first baby step in this new thing you want to start? Making a phone call? Sending an email? Filling out the application? Eating a banana for breakfast instead of pancakes? Taking a walk?
Whatever it is, do it. Today. For real. Go do it. You got this.
I hope you found this helpful. If I know who you are and you’d like to see the full list, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Facebook or Insta. Thanks for sharing in these lessons with me. Make it a great day.
I release you into the wild…