Welcome to the final week of the EASY Money Challenge, where we’re exploring a new framework to understand your relationship with money.
Today, we’re tackling the “Y” of EASY: Yield. Let’s learn how to say “yes” to you.
Tune in above or through your favorite podcast app, or check out the transcript below.
At the end of each episode in the EASY Money Challenge, I’ll share an exercise to help you fill out your Money Map — an inventory that lets you see where your money comes from, where it’s going and how you want to use it.
These exercises will help you gain understanding and peace in your finances without clinging to the budgeting habits so many people are doubling down on this time of year.
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Here are three key principles to make peace with money and experience your life with conscious spending and generosity.
No. 1: You can buy what you want
Capitalism and budget culture would have you live in a mode Karl Marx describes as, “the less you are, the more you have.” Spend less, do less, own less, share less, be less — and hoard more capital.
The EASY approach rejects this premise and encourages you to use money as it’s made to be used: spend it.
A lot of money management methods focus on this part of your relationship with money — have discipline in your spending, and the rest is supposed to fall into place. Of course, we know it’s much more complex than that. Abstaining from a latte or avocado toast today — or every day! — doesn’t determine your financial future.
Focusing on restricting spending is really just a way to blame you for financial circumstances that are much more nuanced than your individual spending decisions. It’s a lot easier for our culture to tell women to buy cheaper shoes than to have a conversation about the gender pay gap.
So, the point of the EASY approach is to let you say “yes” more often and buy what you want. We’re not trying to make you less — be everything you are and do what you want.
No. 2: You don’t want everything
The opposite of budgeting isn’t boundless spending. It’s conscious spending.
This is a simple way of checking in with yourself to note how spending makes you feel and how it impacts your life so you can use money in a way that feels satisfying and productive for you.
Instead of restrictions, conscious spending relies on regular check-ins and encourages an overall self-awareness in your relationship with money.
You can build that self-awareness and practice check ins in any ways that feel right for you. In another episode, I’ll talk a lot more about conscious spending and dive deeper into some ways to do that. For now, here are some ideas:
Keep a spending diary for a few days to become aware of your experiences of spending money.
Practice mindfulness meditation to increase your overall self-awareness.
Do yoga regularly to tap into the wisdom in your body, so you can sense what it has to tell you when you spend money.
Track your menstrual cycle to understand how various phases affect your spending decisions.
Add a note to your wallet to remind yourself to check in on your experience each time you pull out your credit or debit card.
However you do it, conscious spending is about recognizing not only how much you’re spending, but in what context: where, with whom, for what purpose, and how it does or doesn’t serve you.
No. 3: There’s always room for generosity
Yielding means using money in any way that aligns with your values and feels good to you — and that can include giving it away in big or small ways.
In our culture, generosity can raise feelings of fear and scarcity. Those are reinforced by budgeting habits and our culture’s individualistic mindset, which makes you feel irresponsible for giving money away if you haven’t taken a prescribed set of steps to look after your own finances first.
That feels like capitalism talking, not human nature.
I’m an atheist myself, but I can get behind the way a lot of religious traditions see money — not as something for us to acquire and own, but as something available for us to steward through this world. Various dogmas have various ideas about the right ways to be a good steward of money, but generosity is a common thread.
What you own isn’t truly yours; it’s just in your care for now.
When you see money this way, you don’t have to fear scarcity when you give it away or use it to benefit someone else. Their gain isn’t your loss, because there was never a difference between “your” money and “their” money in the first place.
Just like every other aspect of budget-free living, the EASY approach doesn’t prescribe any “right” amount of giving.
Instead, I encourage you to examine your mindset for those feelings of fear and scarcity when you think about giving money to things like charities, taxes and gifts. Do you feel resistance? What’s at the root of that? How can you address that mindset so you feel secure while letting go of your need for ownership?
Adjusting this aspect of your relationship with money is the key to making room for generosity — regardless of your resources.
Fill out your Money Map
Alright, it’s time to take the final step in the EASY Money Challenge! Grab your Money Map, and let’s find your Yes Fund.
If you haven’t already, download your Money Map here.
This week, we’ll find your Yes Fund, the safe-to-spend bucket of money you can use for spending and generosity without tracking or restriction.
Go to the “Find your Yes Fund” section of the Money Map, and fill in the totals for your resources, commitments and goals.
That shows you how much you have available to use each month, how much is going out and how much you want to contribute toward your goals.
Put those totals in the Yes Fund box, and do the math:
(Resources) – (Commitments) – (Goals) = Yes Fund estimate.
There’s no right number for your Yes Fund. On your first run through, it might be bigger than you expected or smaller — it might even be negative. That’s OK.
This isn’t a budget or a spending plan or any other set of rules. Your Money Map is just information to help you choose your next money move.
If you’re not satisfied with your Yes Fund number, look at the other areas of your Money Map to see what you might want to adjust. Do you want to…
Earn more money?
Cut some commitments?
Take advantage of community resources to free up some money?
Move to a cheaper location?
Deprioritize debt payoff or savings goals?
Find where you have power and influence to make changes to create the experience you want.
I’d love to learn what you uncover about your relationship with money through this exercise.
Is your Yes Fund where you want it to be?
Did you discover any areas of your resources, commitments or goals you want to adjust?
What surprised you about your financial situation?
Hop into the comments of this post to share any responses you’re comfortable sharing with the community, or send me an email privately to email@example.com.
If no amount of tweaking within a healthy lifestyle can stretch your resources enough to cover commitments you can’t drop, know this: That’s not your fault. That’s our society failing you. Use every community resource available, ignore commitments and goals that don’t contribute to your immediate health and safety, and feel no shame about that.
You deserve ease and joy in life — regardless of your past money moves or current resources.
Say “yes” to you
Next time you’re wondering whether or not you should spend money, take the EASY approach, and discover more opportunities to say “yes” to you.
Thanks again for following along with the EASY Money Challenge!
I’ll be back on the podcast soon with more topics to help you earn, manage, save and spend money with ease and joy.
Until next time, friends!
See all posts in the EASY Money Challenge
Image by @summerday via Nappy