Money moves you can make at any stage of finances that will add the sexy back into your money. Seriously, lighten it up and let's have some fun!
Booking a second date with someone who is bossy, controlling, and demands-that-you-order-from-apps-only stingy is not going to happen (well, unless you're into self-sabotage). In fact, you'd probably do everything you can to never spend another moment with this person, like dodging their phone calls or turning down random streets when you unluckily spot them approaching.
Iceberg, dead ahead!
And then there's that person who oozes sex appeal. They're confident, they're self-reliant, and they can multitask like a boss. Did I mention they even surprised you with a gift? Swoon.
So which is it with your money? When you think about your overall money system – even if “system” might be a generous term – is it repulsion, or swoon?
Avoidance, or magnetic attraction?
If your money is bossy, stingy, controlling, or otherwise repulsive to you, then you need to bring the sexy back. Otherwise, how will you ever want to deal with it?
Add the sexy back with these money moves…
Clean It Up and Make it Shiny
I'm so into organizing that when I found a free de-cluttering course called Queen Sweep I hopped on-board right away. Not only was it torrents of fun, but I learned a lot!
One of the lessons during the Money Broom week was to keep your wallet clutter-free, with your cash tidied up and facing the same direction. It's sort of the first action you can take to clean up your money and pay better attention to it (Suze Orman says that your wallet is a physical representation of your relationship with your money).
While you're making money moves anyway, I say make sure you have the type of wallet/purse that you actually want to use. You know, one you're excited about instead of one you are embarrassed to whip out. It's important that you feel positive each time you access your money.
Funny side note: I used to have an ING Direct online savings account before it converted to CapitalOne360. The reason I signed up for it was not purely because of the interest rates; each time I signed into my account there was this upbeat, orange ball and it made me smile. I figured, that's gotta be a good thing!
Infuse Glam into Your Account Names
Checking account, savings account, IRA account…these names don't exactly scream “feed me money!” Usually you can give online accounts a nickname. So I challenge you to give your accounts benefit-driven names that electrify you.
…”Margaritas on Mexican Beach ”
…”Freedom from 9-5 Fund”
…”Get Out of Apartment Fund”
…”$5,000 Big Ones”
And as you reach your goals or come up with new ones, change the name again.
Make Your Money Work for You…While You're Snoozing
There's nothing sexier than your money working for you (aka earning you even more moolah) while you get to play, eat, and sleep. The key to making your money sweat harder than Richard Simmons in HD is setting up a few things that will continue to work without your input.
Here are money moves to make in order to put your money to work for YOU:
- Open up a savings account with the highest interest rate you can find (hint: online savings accounts have much higher interest rates than brick-and-mortar ones).
- Open up an interest-bearing checking account so that each month before your paycheck is divvied up to bills, you get to earn a few bucks that are yours to keep.
- Link your credit, debit, and loyalty store cards up to a UPromise account for free, and earn FREE cash towards college for a member of your family. And yes…you can sign yourself up as the benefactor if your student loans are with Sallie Mae through the UPromise Loan Link program. Each $10 in free cash goes directly off of your student loans. And this is on top of your credit/debit/store loyalty cards rewards programs!
Gamify it…because a Little Competition is Sexy
Guess what game I play with our money? I'll give you a hint: it's called “For Keeps”. Basically, I find a gazillion +1 ways to keep as much of our hard-earned paychecks as possible…while still getting the things and experiences that we want out of life. Having played this game for over 15 years now, I can honestly say I'm quite good at it.
There are other games you can play to liven things up, such as counting down your savings goals or your debt repayment goals using a visual. You can create a fundraiser-type visual where each month you get to color in a slot representing another chunk of debt paid, or another chunk of savings made.
My friend Helen and I also used to compete with each other (in a good way) over electric bills. Knowing that we would show our stuff once a month meant we were both more motivated to turn lights off after leaving rooms and unplug vampire appliances after use. It was actually a lot of fun!
Set Your Money Up to Surprise You with Gifts
Yes, your money can give you surprise gifts. You can funnel your spending through a rewards credit card and rack up the points for doing so. If you need a bit more control over your spending, then try a cash-back debit card that is linked to your checking account. My husband and I have racked up over $3,000 in free gift cards since 2006, as well as $200 in cash by using these methods (did I mention we've gotten several free roundtrip tickets from signing up for certain credit card bonuses? Travelling for free is way sexy).
Clean Up Your Money Dialogue
Your words are your life. Whichever words you choose to describe yourself, your situation, and your reality is…your reality.
If you ever want to understand someone else's world, listen to the words they use. If you ever want to change your world, listen to the words you use.
That Money Lie I Kept Telling Myself
I can't tell you the number of times I've declared, “we can't afford that”. And you know what? It was a lie every time I said it. It perpetuated this sort of where I felt incapable of living the kind of life I wanted to because of some outside circumstance.
The fix was not to make gobs of extra money each month. It was actually much simpler than that: change my words. Instead of “we can't afford that”, I started saying, “we choose not to prioritize our spending to buy that”. Bam.
Suddenly I felt much more in control because it was a choice I was making.
Maybe you think I'm just playing cutesy word games to make myself feel better, or maybe you actually can't afford X.
So here's where words come into play again.
Money Conversation Game-Changer: Rework Your Words into a Problem
Think about how great it would be to work out problems in the background of your life!
Now, you can.
A woman in my mastermind group, Maria from The Money Principle, told us once to phrase and define issues we are having into an actual problem, because brains love to work out solutions to a problem.
Honest to goodness, this actually works.
When you introduce your how to manage your money issue in the form of a problem to your brain, the answers often pop up at the weirdest times – in dreams, after slathering on shampoo in the shower, during your commute – because your brain keeps working on a problem you've identified whether you know it or not.Your words are your life. Words you choose to describe yourself/situation and your reality is...your reality. Click To Tweet
So instead of replaying the same old scripts that don't make you happy, by turning them into an actual problem, you can find the answer and move ahead in your life.
Examples of Money Conversation Opps to Create an Exploration of Solutions
- I finally have myself to the point where I'm making good money but still am living paycheck to paycheck becomes: What would it take to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck?
- I'm still broke and stressed becomes: What does an un-broke life look like to me? What's the first step I need to take to get there?
- I'll never get out of debt becomes: How can I make it so that I have a clear plan to pay off this debt? How do I figure out which debt to payoff first?
- Who can afford to retire becomes: How does someone at my income level and in my situation start to save for retirement?
- I can barely afford my monthly bills becomes: What are the changes I need to make in order to leave myself a buffer each month?
- There are always contingencies that happen that we don't have the cash for becomes: How are we going to build an emergency fund?
- Our income is low and bills are high. We make almost exactly what we bring in becomes: How much more do we want to earn? How are we going to earn $X more?
- I'm terrible at numbers becomes: What sorts of things are people who are “good” at numbers able to do? What are the types of things I need to learn in order to consider myself “good” at numbers?
- I've been in debt before and gotten out and just gotten back into it again. What's the point becomes: Why did I get back into debt again? How can I avoid that in the future?
It's Your Turn to Change your Money ConversationPhrase and define issues you're having into an actual problem, 'cause brains love to work out solutions to a problem. Click To Tweet
I'll bet your brain is starting to work even just reading these problems, whether you realize it or not!
So, how about we use all that brainpower of yours to re-word some of your own stresses in your life?
Maybe the answer won't be obvious, maybe it won't be something you feel like you are capable of doing. But by rephrasing your situation into a problem and allowing your brain to work on it, you might surprise yourself with options you didn't know you had.
Add the “Personal” Back into Your Personal Finances
If something doesn't work for you, you're extremely likely to stop doing it.
Common sense, right?
Even though it's called “personal” finance management, 90% of the financial information available on the internet is like a piece of boxed vanilla cake – oldie but a goodie, yes, but lacking some flavor.
I'm not dogging the advice that is circulating out there – let's face it, things like “spend less than you earn”, and “max out your retirement savings each year” are golden as far as your financial health is concerned.
But I am saying that too much of the time you're not given ways to tweak these Benjamin Franklin-era pieces of advice to work for you and your family.
Let me show you what I mean with several examples of how my husband Paul and I added the “personal” back into our personal finances…and still benefited from the sound advice:
Regurgitated Financial Advice #1: Max Out Your IRA Each Year by Making Equal Monthly Contributions
Max out your Individual Retirement Accounts each year, which means contributing $5,500 per account. Do this by contributing an equal amount each month ($453.88 per account, or $5,500 divided by 12 months) for dollar cost averaging purposes (you can find out more about what the heck dollar cost averaging is here).
Why it Didn't Work for Us: Since we live pretty far from my family, we typically travel to see them during the end of year holidays for an extended period of time. Several years ago I figured out that it would be great to have extra cash flow in the last two months of the year.
How We Tweaked it: We still max out both of our IRAs; however, we do it in 10 months instead of 12 to open up funds at the most expensive time of year for us.
How You Can Further Tweak this for your Personal Situation: Do you have summers off, or work seasonally? You can choose which months to shut off (if your contributions are automated), or you can just manually not contribute certain months. Divide your maxed out contribution ($5,500 per person for Roth/Traditional IRAs) by the number of months you wish to contribute to find out how much to automate those months.
Regurgitated Financial Advice #2: Don't Be in a Hurry to Pay Off Your Low-Interest Student Loans
Student loan debt is ‘good debt' that typically comes with a lower interest rate, plus you get an interest rate tax deduction at the end of the year so the advice is that you should not be in a hurry to pay it off when you could be using those extra payments for something else.
Why it Didn't Work for Us: We loathe being in debt. Once we got engaged in 2009, we made a huge push to pay off the remainder of my $36,000 in student loans as well as the remainder of Paul's debts to start our marriage off right.
How We Tweaked it: In May 2010 we came to the conclusion that our savings account and the amount owed on my student loans would intersect sometime in August 2010. So, we went for it and got rid of the last $8,000 in student loans all in one fell swoop.
The reason why we took this rash move is because we had backup plans in case an emergency crept up while rebuilding our emergency fund. For example, we had $1,500 sitting on the sidelines in a money market fund at a brokerage firm that we could easily liquidate for emergencies. We also each have Roth IRAs. While we would never want to tap these for money, we knew that we could take out the contributions we made tax and penalty-free in the event of an emergency. Finally, we also had established credit lines. Of course it would have stunk to go back into debt right after getting out of it, but we saw these as a last resort to float us for the 30-day grace period.
We could have taken the full 11 years to pay off our debt (like our creditors wanted us to; I'd still be in debt while writing this except that I decided instead to manipulate my debt), but 5 sounded a lot better to us. So far our interest savings from paying this debt off has been $2,700+! Plus we quickly rebuilt our emergency savings.
How You Can Further Tweak this for Your Personal Situation: Wiping out most of your emergency savings is a bit rash. So if you have other financial backups, you may instead want to periodically send a lump sum from emergency savings into your student loan debts to make a real dent in the interest you're being charged. Then, work on replenishing your fund.
Regurgitated Financial Advice #3: Have a 20% Down Payment on a Home
You should have a 20% down payment ready (plus closing costs) when purchasing your home. One specific financial reason is that if you don't, then you will likely need to pay something called PMI insurance (a few extra hundred dollars per month to insure the lender against you foreclosing).
Why it Didn't Work for Us: One of our top priorities was to purchase a home after getting engaged in June 2009. Well…we didn't have 20% to put down. Still, it was a great time to buy with low interest rates coupled with that first-time, $8,000 homebuyer's tax credit (the one you got free and clear).
How We Tweaked it: We ended up putting 14% down, plus came to the table with closing costs (plus bought a refrigerator and a new-to-us used car one month later…fair warning: you should not wipe out everything you have in order to come up with that 20% + closing as things may go wrong immediately after signing your closing docs). This worked out well for us because Paul was eligible for a VA loan which does not charge PMI for down payments of less than 20% (note: there is a VA loan funding fee you pay at closing).
How You Can Further Tweak this for Your Personal Situation: Are you or the person you're buying a home with eligible for a VA loan? Look into this as a possibility if you do not have 20% to put down on a home. Also, there is a way to still get out of paying PMI on a home purchase without a VA loan. You'll need to work with a lender. If you can find a seller who will pay closing costs, and the lender puts the PMI insurance as a lump sum on the front end of the loan, then you could get out of paying it. Of course this will have to make financial sense to the sellers as well, so be prepared to negotiate!
My point in showing you these examples is that if you've tuned out because you keep hearing the same, un-personalized financial information from everyone around the web, I'd love for you to tune back in. The fact is, if you followed all of that advice, you would be light years ahead in finances. I hope I've shown you that there is wiggle room where you can still benefit from the advice but tweak it to fit into your own life.
Money that multiplies is sexy. Money that makes money for you while you sleep is sexy. And money that enables you to live the life you want is sexier than…well…use your imagination. Make those money moves!