We humans are unique, complicated, and beautiful beings — all with things we love about ourselves (and maybe a few things we’d like to improve upon, too). Our strengths can be found in many areas: physical, mental, emotional, professional, interpersonal, and beyond. But there’s one strength we all must master to achieve success in the other areas of our lives, and that strength is financial balance.
Our money (and how we feel about it) can enhance or disrupt our lives, allowing or preventing us from digging deep into our core values and living the lives we dream of. In the new year, we want to give you the tools you need to fine-tune your abilities and achieve financial balance — so you can achieve those other goals on your bucket list, too.
Finding Financial Balance in 2020
It’s no secret that many of us have a complicated relationship with our money. A recent survey reported that 70% of Americans have trouble with at least one aspect of financial stability, with about one in five middle-income earners spending more than they make.
Even with a stable job (or two), it’s easy for the cost of living, unexpected expenses, and other circumstances to undermine your best efforts at achieving financial balance. Luckily, there is a solution — one that can help break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, set you up for savings, and pay off your debt. Best of all, achieving this kind of financial balance frees you up to spend your time and money on things you love.
So whether it’s fostering dogs, building custom tables, traveling abroad, biking across the state, launching a passion project, or spending more time exploring your city’s culinary scene, here’s how to strengthen your money skills and master financial balance in 2020.
The Path to Success
There’s no GPS for financial balance (yet!), but the Path to Success comes pretty close. Here’s the roadmap to succeeding with your money and why each step will keep you on track.
1. Have a plan.
Everyone has to start somewhere, no matter where you are starting, having a plan in place is the first step.
Why have a plan? People with plans are 10 times more likely to succeed financially. Planning (even thinking about planning) clarifies our priorities and increases the likelihood of getting important things done. With the Beans, we’ll do the work of creating a simple Plan for you and invite you to personalize it. From there, we’ll keep you up to date with how much you are Free to Spend so you’re always on top of your finances, not the other way around.
2. Have some savings.
We often hear that you should have “3-6 months’ worth of living expenses saved in your emergency fund.” While that’s a great destination, in reality, it would take most of us months to achieve. We recommend starting with a much more achievable goal: your Essential Savings.
Why are savings so important? Just a couple hundred dollars in savings makes an actual difference in your day-to-day financial decision making. When we are stressed about our finances, we make less healthy financial decisions. However, when we have cash reserves, even small ones, we feel more secure — which lets our brains relax. When we feel more secure, those relaxed brains make healthier financial decisions. The great news is that The Beans can get you started right away on your Essential Savings.
3. Spend intentionally.
Ultimately, spending intentionally helps you scale Maslow’s hierarchy. When we work, we trade our time and talent for money. When we spend money, we are trading our time and talent for things. It sounds crazy, but when we exchange our work (money) for something (a purchase), that thing becomes a part of us. If it’s something you feel great about, like buying fair trade, or it amplifies who you are in the world, like a new guitar pedal, you’re making yourself bigger in the world.
Why does spending intentionally matter? In our parents’ generation, economists treated each dollar as equal, and in a math way, we can see how they got there. Modern research tells us something different and significant: When you spend in alignment with your personality and values, you get more for each dollar. The Beans wants you to get more out of each dollar you earn and will be by your side, sending positive, proactive updates that build your awareness.
Real-World Financial Balance within Reach
The Path to Success is simple yet effective, with proven results in the real world for real people looking to achieve financial balance. One of our members, David, is a teacher living in Atlanta who was looking to get a better handle on his finances. After joining The Beans, David has paid off his credit card debt and is paying for graduate school to open up more opportunities in the education field.