Broker Check
Zen Money

Zen Money

May 03, 2024

Isn’t everyone looking for more calm in their lives and in this turbulent world? Clients, from the wealthy to the scrappy, have at the center of their financial lives the accounts of money that are the fuel for living. It gives us the things we need and some of the things we want. Money is like an energy source that is expended and can be gathered. 

Problems happen when there are leaks in the system. The leaks always do damage – whether you’re very wealthy or counting every penny in retirement. At the center of financial planning is a keystone habit – tracking spending. 

Banish the ‘B’ word (for those who don’t know what I mean...budget is the ‘B’ word).  

My technique is simply tracking.  Just recording it.  Simple.

You can’t create hard and fast rules for many spending categories. The flow of spending is not rigid. There are so many channels of need and extraordinary circumstances that can’t be controlled or are opportunities too good to miss.  

Have you ever had an unexpected medical expense? Has inflation gobbled up more of your money at the grocery store? Have you had an opportunity for a dream trip with friends that’s a great deal and last minute? Is this something that you can completely control? (Maybe that last one, but that’s a different story because if you have the means, money is for living well, too.)  A budget in this case would leave you feeling defeated when costs unexpectedly take a turn.

Instead of a budget, just track your spending. That’s it. Write it down. Put it in a spreadsheet or write it in a notebook. Just watch the flow without emotion. See how you spend: what brings you happiness and what drains your account, and only write it down. Don’t beat yourself up if you are embarrassed when writing it down, just let it be. 

Capturing what you spend is transformative. A sense of cash flow is built. Hopefully you begin to naturally pause before making an impulse purchase because you’ve recorded the others and know the effect. Maybe you'll notice services you don't need or cancel a subscription. You will get a grasp of travel expenses and variations in energy bills. You will know your basic household operating costs and understand what you earn because that’s part of tracking.  

Write down your income – just write it down.  Don't judge it.

Our brains are amazing things that can begin knitting together spending and earning into an understanding, which will be a core component of a financial plan for living. 

Give me a call and we can talk about strategies. 

Also, here’s an idea that I love for tracking. Just an idea for those who like pen and paper and are reluctant to start. I use a spreadsheet, but for many a spreadsheet is too cumbersome.

One other thing -- I don't like phone apps that automatically track and compile spending.  I think they keep you removed from the process of understanding your cash flow and internalizing it for better decisions.