Hello and happy new year!
In a quick podcast episode today, I’m excited to introduce something new for you, plus an exercise to help you examine your relationship with money this week.
Tune in above or through your favorite podcast app, or check out the transcript below.
At the end of this episode, I share an exercise to help you reflect (or preflect) on your relationship with money. To dig deeper into this exercise with even more questions and a fun thing you can print and put in a binder or whatever tickles your fancy, download the worksheet.
Healthy Rich is a platform for inclusive, budget-free financial education. Become a subscriber to support our contributors.
Hello, and happy new year! You’ll just be hearing from me today as I experiment with a new way to approach this podcast — hopefully to make it something that brings more ease and joy into both of our lives.
In this quick episode, I’m excited to introduce something I’ve been working on for several months behind the scenes to help you deal with all of those financial goals and obligations that might be rising to the surface for you right now, like they do for so many of us at the turn of the new year. And at the end of this show, I’ll share an exercise to help you move forward this week.
To start, I have a question for you: How’s your relationship with money?
How’s your relationship with money?
For most of us, that relationship — like any relationship — is complicated. (Maybe in a good way, maybe not so good.) Unfortunately, most conversations about money skim over this part.
Too much advice about money focuses on how to get more and spend less of it. But that misses the point. It treats money as the end goal itself, when, actually, it’s just one more piece of the whole of your life.
Like any other element of your life, how money makes you feel, how you interact with it and how you see it fitting into your life are as important as how much of it you have.
That’s why at Healthy Rich we talk about your relationship with money as a piece of your human experience rather than a set of numbers and rules that exists separate from it.
A healthy relationship with money is the baseline for a budget-free life.
How you think and feel about money dictates how you behave around it, even if you don’t realize it.
Just like late-night deep dives with your spouse or group therapy sessions with your parents, facing and understanding your relationship with money is a vital step in owning and changing your overall experience.
This idea of how you relate to money — often called your “money mindset” — has been wielded by a lot of finance and self-help gurus toward the same capitalistic goals they pretend to circumvent.
That’s not what we do here.
A budget-free approach to your 2023 financial goals
My approach to financial education is meant to be an antidote to budget culture — which, if you’ve been following for a while, you know is that toxic set of beliefs around money that rewards restriction and promotes an unhealthy ideal of financial wellness.
But we need to do more than just rail against the dominant paradigm. If we want off this path, we have to have an idea of where we’re headed instead.
So I’ve developed a practical alternative to budget culture called the EASY approach.
I developed this approach through my work as a personal finance writer — and also through my own experiences of poverty and wealth and transforming my relationship with money from a very budget-culture-inspired mindset of shame and fear toward one where I prioritize ease and joy in all of my decisions without money weighing in.
To be clear: The EASY approach is not another budget, savings plan, debt payoff method or get-rich-quick scheme. I’m not here to replace one set of rigid rules with another.
Instead, EASY is a philosophy that helps you discover the value of your own perspective, skills and mindset to find ease in money management and experience life as you want to.
The EASY approach
The EASY approach consists of four pillars, which spell out the acronym E-A-S-Y:
Earn is about expanding your imagination of work to optimize for ease and joy, instead of striving for productivity and growth.
Automate helps you get money off your mind. Counter to budget-focused money management methods, we focus on what you’ll do with money instead of what you’ll avoid.
Save examines your financial goals and encourages you to ask why before saving, investing or dealing with debt.
Yield is the ultimate goal. Here, you make peace with money, and experience your life with ease through conscious spending and generosity.
I started to devise this approach — long before I gave it a name — a few years ago. Through personal finance media, I discovered a banking app that made it easy to manage money with what it called a “safe-to-spend” account. The app displayed only what was left to spend in your account after bills and savings goals were automatically funded. No restrictive budgeting methods that are common in other financial apps.
That company no longer exists — it was bought by a big bank that absorbed its customers and discontinued the product. (For the record, I moved to a credit union when I found out about the acquisition.) But I was sad to lose that intuitive approach to money management.
I couldn’t find anything else like it, so I developed something I now call a Yes Fund to continue the ease of the safe-to-spend method without using the app.
The Yes Fund was the starting point for the EASY approach, which I’ve developed since then as the foundation for how I write about money and the educational resources I’m creating at Healthy Rich.
By teaching through the EASY lens, I hope to help you understand your own relationship with money and manage your finances with the same ease I’ve been able to find.
The EASY Money Challenge
Over the next four weeks, I’ll be inviting you to join me in the first (hopefully annual!) EASY Money Challenge.
Each week, we’ll tackle one pillar of the approach: Earn, Automate, Save and Yield.
Following along with the challenge is an opportunity to learn about and examine your relationship with money from top to bottom — from the mindset and beliefs you hold inside of you to the cultural impact of our financial systems.
The EASY Money Challenge is not about hitting a savings goal, paying off debt or abstaining from spending for the next 30 days. We don’t condone crash budgeting, extreme deprivation or unsustainable discipline at Healthy Rich, because these practices don’t support a healthy relationship with money.
Instead, we offer this challenge as a way to get to know your money better so you can approach this relationship from a place of understanding instead of confusion or fear.
Throughout the EASY Money Challenge, you’ll learn to:
Recognize the wealth of resources around you.
Set your money on autopilot.
Evaluate and prioritize your financial goals.
Spend money with ease and joy.
Let go of the shame, guilt, fear and obligation that budget culture has embedded into your relationship with money.
Starting next week, all Healthy Rich subscribers will get a weekly email with your challenge for the week, and I’ll discuss each pillar on an episode of this podcast.
You’ll also get a worksheet to help you map your resources, financial commitments and goals, and find your own Yes Fund.
If you’re not already subscribed, sign up here to make sure you get an email as the challenge rolls out.
Whether you become a subscriber or just follow along in your podcast app, I thank you for supporting my work to create more resources like this and bring inclusive, budget-free financial education to more people.
EASY Money preflection exercise
Before I wrap up today, I’ll leave you with a few questions to warm you up to start examining your relationship with money. Grab a journal or a good friend to bounce your ideas off of as you think through these prompts:
How did adults around you talk about money when you were growing up?
What are some financial decisions you’ve made in the past month?
What central beliefs lie behind those decisions?
How does thinking about money affect your mood?
How do you feel when you hear others talk about money?
How are your beliefs about money serving you or limiting you?
I’d love to learn what you uncover! Hop into the comments of this post to share any responses you’re comfortable sharing with the community, or reply privately to this email.
Until next week, friends!