So look, I get that we are money hobbyists and all the things we do to stay “financially woke” may seem like a lot sometimes. If you’re overwhelmed, I come bearing good news: it’s doesn’t have to be like that forever unless you want it to be.
When you hit your stride, your money mindset just melts into your life and you can let go of some of the rituals and let your habits take the lead.
The transformation is different for everyone, but here are four ways my journey to financial independence changed my day-to-day:
1. I’m hyper-sensitive to marketing.
I stare at a screen all day at work so there are days where I feel like I’m drowning in marketing messages. In order to stay financially disciplined, I have to actively work to drown out or replace the noise created by consumerism culture. I can’t change my work environment, so for me this starts at home. We are proud cord-cutters for over 5 years now, and happily pay $5 extra to watch a commercial-free version of Hulu. I also try to listen to podcasts or other streaming services instead of traditional radio during my commute. Next on my list is junk mail! One of my New Year Resolutions is to eliminate it from ever coming into the house. This is partially because seeing stacks of it gives me anxiety, and partially because even though we fund the USPS through our taxes – we are not the customer, we are the product.
2. I don’t monitor my money nearly as closely as I monitor my time
I used to have a ritual of starting my day by checking my accounts and budget tracking apps every day. I don’t really do that as much we automated most of our financial plan, but I do still manage my calendar DAILY. Financial independence has truly made time and money transferable for me. Emotionally, I feel the same way about wasted time as I do about wasted money – managing this is a form of self-care. At work, it means I protect my time by time-blocking places where I need to accomplish something. I encourage my colleagues to have thoughtful agendas and objectives for any meetings they schedule with me. When I’m the facilitator, I go out of my way to prepare so that it’s the best use of my time and theirs and try to make the meeting high-impact by involving multiple people. At home, this means…
3. I am constantly “inventorying”
This is two-fold: 1) avoiding food waste and 2) controlling the “just need one thing” trips to the store. And by store, I mean Target…I have a weakness for Target. I spent 4.5 years of my career working there so I know how to shop it. And in the absence of a 12-step program, I just have to limit the likelihood of an impulse purchase. I use our Amazon Echo to remind me of my recurring purchases like baby formula and I can order it on command. We also keep a running list for groceries on the fridge. If something is running low, we add it and it gets included in the order. Here is a link to the template Mr. r&R created for us to use. It’s organized the way a grocery store is set up, so you’re not wandering around.
4. Getting dressed is the easiest part of my day
After I gave birth, I had a new body and a new lifestyle that demanded clothes that were fashionable but not fussy. Instead of sinking back into old habits and buying enough clothes for 8 people, I adopted a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a set of clothes that you can mix and match because almost every piece works with each other. This approach gave me the boundaries and structure I needed to buy with intention. I’m positive this decision has saved me thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. I can literally grab and go, no daily decision required.