“I Can’t Afford It.”

These are my least favorite words in the English language.

Seriously. They really piss me off.

Disclaimer: I’m not talking about the millions of people who live in poverty across the world. Poverty is a real problem- and one that I’m dedicated to alleviating.

I’m talking about your average middle-class unsatisfied (and ungrateful) person who can afford more luxuries than 90% of the world. Saying you can’t afford something as an excuse disrespects those who truly can’t make ends meet.

There are only two reasons for saying you can’t afford something: one, you don’t want to buy it, and you’re using money as an excuse. Two, you wish you had more money, and you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

can't afford

If that purchase was life-saving, you would be able to afford it. You would do whatever it took to pay for it.

The reality is, you’re choosing not to spend the money, for whatever reason. You always have a choice, whether you realize it or not. You might feel that with student loan payments plus rent plus the clothes you “need” for work, you don’t have any money to take a vacation. But in reality, you’re choosing not to travel because the student loan payments, rent, and clothes are more important to you. If traveling was the most important thing in your life, you could buy fewer clothes, get a cheaper apartment, or do whatever it would take to find the money.

Give yourself permission to spend money on what’s important to you

You don’t have to spend money on traveling if it’s not important to you! And it’s okay to admit that. When someone asks why you aren’t going skiing with the rest of the group, tell them the truth: you would rather pay off your student loans faster than spend money on travel right now.

Yes, it can be scary

It’s totally understandable that you would feel scared to be open and vulnerable about why you’re not joining your friends on the trip. You’re sharing your true values with your friends instead of giving some lame (but socially acceptable) excuse about not having the money.

If they respect you, they’ll respect your values and appreciate your honesty. If they don’t respect you, do you really care what they think?

Knowing that you can afford anything is empowering

Instead of feeling sorry for yourself when you see that adorable dress with the $300 price tag, you can do one of two things: Buy the dress and be happy with your choice because that dress is meaningful and aligns with your values. Or, don’t buy the dress and be happy with your choice because you’re saving your money for something else that is meaningful and aligns with your values.

You create more of what you focus on

So when you focus on what you can afford (a.k.a. anything that truly matters), you’re going to attract more of it- more confidence, more of what matters, and even more money. Or, you could continue to focus on what you supposedly can’t afford and attract more self-pity and excuses. It’s your choice.

I’ll take more of what matters to me, please. What will you choose?

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Comment below to share how you are going to cut “I can’t afford it” out of your life!

Choose Your Struggles in Life

I started listening to the audiobook of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson this weekend. The book provoked me, challenged my beliefs, and made me think harder than I had all weekend- a definite success.

The Best Question to Ask Yourself

Manson claims it’s not about what positive experiences we want, because everyone wants the same things. We want to be happy, to be successful, blah blah blah. The real question is- what are we willing to struggle for?

What in life do we want so badly that we will gladly take all the crap that comes with it?

Take being famous. Sounds great, right? Money, beauty, and all that. But movie star fame comes with its own challenges- the hard work before you’re “discovered”, the paparazzi, the criticism, and so much more. You don’t get the benefits of fame without the problems of fame.

No matter what you’re working towards, there are always going to be struggles in life. You just need to ask yourself if the struggles you’re choosing are worth it.

My Decision

Right now, I’m making a big decision in my life- choosing between the stability of my current job and taking my coaching business full time. Planning out the struggles I’ll face in each scenario helped me put my two options into perspective.

Stability comes with boredom, with time spent away from my loved ones, with doing work I that doesn’t excite me, and with regret that I never gave my dream a chance.

Trying something new means a lot more risk, uncertainty, and vulnerability. It means putting my dreams out into the open and dealing with people’s reactions.

Which struggles in life do I want?

I’m honestly not yet sure. Neither is an easy choice. I’m leaning towards vulnerability right now- I really don’t enjoy boredom or regret.

Whatever I decide, I want to be willing to take the challenges that come with my choice. If that’s taking my business full time, I want to embrace the hell out of being vulnerable and not knowing how people will react.

The benefits will be fun, but accepting the difficulties will make the difference between giving up or sticking with it when I’m having a bad day.

I’ll let you know which struggles I choose.

What’s worth the struggle to you?

Share the challenges you’ve chosen in the comments!

Best wishes for the week ahead.

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Are You Using the Wrong Budget?

Does the thought of budgeting make you sick?

It’s totally understandable that you would be stressed out by budgeting! There’s so much to do and so much pressure on the idea of having the perfect budget.

But here’s the thing… You may be using the wrong kind of budget system!

How is there a wrong kind of budget?

There’s a wrong kind of budget for you. If it stresses you out to the point of feeling ill, or doesn’t help you break your bad spending habits, then it’s not working!

I have a personalized spreadsheet that I check every morning. This system really works for me- it’s the first thing I do at my computer every day, and it’s one of my favorite parts of my morning routine.

To many people, this sounds stressful or unnecessary. You may do better checking your finances periodically, especially if you already have good spending habits.

The point of budgeting is awareness

Having a budget helps you to be aware of your financial situation. Once you’re aware of what’s going on, you can begin to improve your situation. So you want a budget that shows you the whole picture without making you miserable.

Just like different learning styles or time management methods work for different personalities, the best budgeting style depends on you.

Once you find a method that works for you, stick with it! Many people think there’s a “one size fits all” budget, and that’s simply not true.

So how do you know what budget system is right for you?

Take this quick one-minute quiz!

I created this quiz for you to find the best budget for your personality. I’ve also included some bonus downloads in your quiz results 🙂

are you using the wrong budget system?

Happy budgeting!

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PS-I’m kind of obsessed with TypeForm after using it for my quiz:

Try it out at http://referral.typeform.com/mzcyqx9. If you upgrade, we both get 10% off for life!

Net Worth Update: May 2017

It’s that time again… here is May’s net worth update! And…

Asset Total Monthly Change Percent Change
Wells Fargo (401)k $21,451.04 +$1,043.29 +5.11%
Betterment- Brokerage $13,745.17 +$232.20 +1.72%
Synchrony- High Yield Savings $5,565.04 +$1,121.47 +25.24%
Checking Account $1,106.45 +$171.63 +18.36%
Total  $41,867.70  $2,568.59 6.54%

I planned for $1,117 in May to put into my brokerage and high yield savings accounts- lower than my usual $1,500, also due to the car costs I mentioned. I ended up contributing $1,157, so slightly more than expected! The other increases are from my automatic 401(k) withdrawals and market increases.

I also bumped my Early Retirement goal from $850K to $1M… Estimating how much I will really spend after I am no longer working is not an exact science, but i think $34K/year was too conservative. So, I raised it to $40K/year, which is basically what I am spending now, minus costs that I know for sure are work-related (continuing education, gas for driving to work, etc.). The $34K/year to $40K/year change is equal to $850K total to $1M total.

New status = 4.19% of new $1M goal saved.
Net Worth Update

Again, I do not include my car (or house, as I am renting) for two reasons: first, I intend to drive my car as long as I can safely hold on to it. Secondly, my main goal for tracking my net worth is to save up enough for early retirement (current goal- $850K, which I was able to bring down after lowering my expenses). For early retirement purposes, I only want to include assets that will continue to produce passive income.

A breakdown of the accounts I have and their progress this month:

Wells Fargo 401(k): +$1,043.29

This is my retirement account through my company. I contribute 6% of my income and take advantage of my company match, which is up to 6% as well. My Betterment brokerage account is my first priority, not my 401(k), because I don’t want to pay tax penalties for withdrawing money during early retirement. I use Smart401(k) to determine my allocations within the account and maximize returns. This increase is due to my normal contributions plus market increases.

Betterment (Brokerage): +$232.20

Betterment is my main account for my early retirement goal. I contributed $200 this month, and market increases accounted for the rest. While I’m focusing primarily on my sabbatical, I want to keep making regular contributions to Betterment as well. I’d love to have $15K in this account before scheduling my sabbatical so it will still grow while I don’t have a salary.

Synchrony (High Yield Savings): +$1,121.47

I use this as my Emergency Fund and as a place for short term savings. I’m working on replenishing my emergency fund to $15K as well as using this to save for a 6 month sabbatical from my full time job. On days when I’m struggling with my job, it’s nice to look at how much I have in this account already- so close to being halfway there!

Checking Account: +$171.63

Slight increase this month- I think because I paid my credit card bill in early June instead of late May.

Income and Expenses

Below is my updated Wall Chart for the month… you can see my income and expenses. The bottom line (the one you can barely see in yellow, ha) is income from my investment accounts- once this line crosses my expenses, I will have reached Financial Freedom! For more on Wall Charts, see my recommendations on building a better budget.

WallChart

Do you track your net worth? Did you reach any milestones this month? Let me know in the comments!

3 Things to Do in Your 20s

It’s way easier to change your habits and mindset in your 20s than in your 50s. So why not save yourself some trouble? Use these 3 things to do in your 20s now!

3 things to do in your 20s

1. Take a Deep Breath

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, or you wasted a bunch of money when you first got out of college, it’s understandable that you would be a little freaked out. And that’s okay!

But I promise you, none of that matters. You can’t change it; you can only change where you’re going from here. So take 5 minutes, take a deep breath, and let go of any previous mistakes you’ve made. Write it down on a piece of paper and rip it up. Give yourself a clean slate, and move on to the next step!

When you notice yourself thinking about old mistakes, remind yourself that it’s okay, and also that it’s time to move on.

2. Know What You Want

Do you want the huge house, fancy car, and first class travel? Are you working towards early retirement? Do you want to pay off your student loans?

You’re going to have a different budgeting strategy depending on what’s important to you. So what’s the #1 most important financial goal you have? That’s your #1 priority. And you should be able to see your top priority by looking at your expenses from last month.

My priority right now is saving $15K for my emergency fund. The very first thing I do when I get paid is transfer money to my that account. That way, I always contribute to my goal, instead of running out of money at the end of the month. If I’m going to make sacrifices, I’ll cut out eating out or something else I don’t really care about- not my #1 goal.

You don’t need to worry about investing AND paying off debt AND buying a house at the same time. Just pick one and give it your all.

3. Talk to Your Friends

I love that it’s becoming popular to talk about money. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Money Mustache and Budgets are $exy for years, but I’m just now finding people in my real life that I can share with.

So whether it’s your real-life best friend, an online forum, or me (I love talking to my readers!), I’m going to challenge you to have at least 3 people you can talk to about money. It doesn’t matter if they’re just starting out on their journey to better finances or they’re an investing expert. You just need someone you can talk to, whether you’re admitting you don’t know what a 401(k) is or when you kicked ass on your bonus this year.

Do you know a friend who needs these tips?

Use tip #3, and start the conversation with the sharing buttons below!

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