Financial Wellness: Tracking More Than Just the Numbers
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How well is your money working for you? Today we’re looking at how personal finance can be more holistic and reflective of what is most to you through financial wellness!
Financial Wellness: A Holistic Approach to Money
How did this year go for you?
I have not met one person yet who has had it go as they expected.
Even if you were financially prepared – emergency fund, debts are paid off are in the process of being knocked out, things shifted.
As I talked about in the last episode, we had expenses like transportation, travel, and eating out drop to pretty much zero or drastically cut while others like family entertainment and charitable increased.
A big reason why is that our finances – to a degree – reflect what’s going on in our lives and our priorities.
This is not exclusive to 2020.
However, I’ve been hearing from so many people here in the community and in my personal circle about how they took a step back and reviewed their finances.
They looked beyond the numbers and had some conversations about where they really want their money to go.
They’re looking at the next year when hopefully things will shift back at some pace to ‘more normal.
I was just discussing with a friend how having to stay at home more and in a sense slow down from her regular routine with the family gave her a chance to weed out unnecessary things. That, in turn, is fueling her plans for 2021 and beyond.
Maybe you’re at the point too.
That’s why I’m looking forward to today’s show. We’re wrapping up this year with how you can set up your finances more holistically and make it more reflective of your family.
Jason Vitug is here to help me out. He is the founder of Phroogal and financial wellness expert empowering a generation to live their dream life through financial knowledge.
Jason’s also the author of the best selling book, You Only Live Once.
In this episode, we’ll get into:
- Why tracking your numbers is so powerful
- Why financial wellness matters
- How to start planning for a richer life beyond the numbers
Ready? Let’s get started!
Resources to Make Money Less Stressful
If you’re overwhelmed and looking to smooth out your money system so you can focus on the big wins, here are some helpful resources to check out!
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Key Takeaways for Looking at your Financial Wellness
Before we wrap up, I want to focus on a few key takeaways I got from preparing this episode.
- The real power of tracking your money is not in the amounts, but the awareness.
- A rich life includes financial wellness.
- Budgets should reflect YOUR priorities and values.
Financial wellness is not a one-time deal.
If you ever want to talk about your progress, have any questions, or are stuck, please come chat with us and our Thriving Families Facebook group.
Why Tracking Your Numbers Is Important
Elle Martinez: This year has been kind of upside down in so many different ways. I wanted to talk to you because. financial stability is something for some people they took for granted. when certain pieces were gone, like their job or things shifted, they were left with
- how are you going to figure out the numbers? But
- what are we working towards?
Tthe way we were building our lives or, or living our lives, wasn't really working for us for it to be fragile.
So I want to talk to you about the numbers and the point of being aware financially.
Like I'm a fan of tracking numbers. I used to do like the net worth review when we were in debt and we were paying off that debt and I was getting so excited. it was fun to track the numbers, but more importantly, it was about the awareness, the mindfulness.
So how do you balance that? How do you balance. Being on top of your money and at the same time, working towards a life that you love, or, being more aware of mindful of the life that you have?
Jason Vitug: One of the key things I'd like to stress is that money isn't everything, but money impacts most things.
And because of that, we need to pay attention to the numbers. We need to pay attention to the financial aspects of our lives, because it does impact our ability to live our dream lifestyle or to feel free, or to feel able and capable and stable in environments such as this. And so money definitely is important.
And I think. A lot of us may say money does not bring happiness money. Isn't important money, you know, focus on purpose and passion. But if you don't get our money, right, it's very difficult to focus on any of those things that actually bring joy and happiness to our lives.
for me, I wanted to connect people to the concept that yes, let's take care of our finances, but at the same time, take care of building the life we want to live.
I got some pushback from folks, personal finance folks and said, Nope, I need to focus on the numbers, just the numbers.
And I totally agree. It's important for us to know the numbers, but it's also important for us to start creating the life we actually want to live because when we get to quote unquote that life, because we've reached the numbers, we're left with the question, this existential question of, okay, I'm really not that happy and I'm not doing the work that I want to do.
We need to have that conversation right now.
So when you're creating your budget, when you're thinking of about the debt payoff amount to get. To reach that freedom. We really need to start thinking about, what do we want to live? Or how do we want to live when we achieve those financial goals?
it's a really difficult question for many people to answer, because they're really in the details, the stressful situation of dealing with their finances.
they can't think of what it's like to not have those financial issues. I wanted to break that taboo and say, okay, let's talk about the numbers because I'm a numbers person.
I think it's important for us to budget. I actually don't even use a financial app. I use a spreadsheet because that's how much I like crunching the numbers and tracking it manually.
But I'm also the creative aspirational and big picture person, and most people are too. And so for me, I thought it was important for us to have this conversation. What is the vision for your life?
I mean, how many places do you go to, that's going to talk about personal finance is going to ask you. Okay. We'll talk about budgeting, but first let's talk about the vision for your life.
How do you see your dream life? most folks have a hard time articulating that vision. they go back and tell me, I can't really think about that right now because my child's about to go to school and I don't know how to pay for college. I'm behind on rent. I am not sure if I'm stable or secure at my job. So I really can't think about the future
I can tell you right now, you can have the framework. You can have the budget, you can have a plan, but if you don't know where you're going, chances are, you're never going to get there.
With everything that I've learned when I worked in corporate America, and as I run Phroogal, is that we need to have that big picture idea and then work backward in terms of creating the plan.
Identifying what those goals are and those goals can be financial security in terms of multiple income streams could be debt payoff.
We remove kind of the strain or, or the obligation to, to make Amun certain debt. So it's important for us to understand there is a connection between the numbers as well as the big picture vision.
Focus on Financial Wellness, Not Just Independence
Elle Martinez: I agree with a lot of what you said, and it was funny because you were talking about a situation that, you know, a lot of families are in, which is I'm just treading the water right now financially.
They feel like ‘ I don't have time to come up with a big picture', but then at the same time, I kind of see the other extreme.
Since we're in the personal finance space. And I'm going to say, it's not the entire community, but with the financial independence community where they are saving a significant amount of money, but they're so focused on the numbers.
‘I'm going to work 10 years on, save X amount to quit my job', but then you ask, well, what are your next steps or what are you working towards? How do you know if you have enough?
There's a disconnect or they're willing to sacrifice certain decisions. You see in the threads and comments because they feel like it's going to slow them down or take away from them quitting.
I find that fascinating because that kind of leads into this question. – why is it so hard? Because I've talked with couples and I asked them the same question. what goal are you working towards?
well, we want to save for retirement or we want to take care of the kids.
okay, you want to save for retirement. What kind of retirement? what's the ballpark of when you want to retire, do you want to travel or with your kids, are you going to help them out with college?
what does that lifestyle look like? And there's sometimes. Just a pause because they haven't thought about that.
do you have any suggestions to get the conversation started ?
Jason Vitug: Okay. I think when I define the big picture view. I talk about the vision for our life. And I think it's important for all, for all of us to be very clear about that vision and clear.
It doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't change. It actually does change and evolve as we move forward. But it's important for us wherever we are in our lives to start.
So when you're thinking about that big picture, I want you to envision what you're doing, where you're at, how are you feeling? And so again, we get into this touchy, feely aspect of personal finance and personal finances, personal, because it is about us.
It's about our thoughts. It's about our feelings. It's about our personal hopes and dreams. So we need to have these conversations.
most people can't think about their hopes or their dreams when they are treading water and things like that. Or they're so fixated in a number they don't think about what am I going to be doing, for further or afterwards.
I like to get people to take a step back and ask them the question, you know, Close your eyes. Take a moment to envision what you would do with your time. If you had no financial worries or financial issues or debt obligations, what would you be doing with your time?
time is an asset. It's something that, that we possess. It's something that we allocate towards work or towards achieving financial goals.
if you didn't have to go to work, if you had no financial obligations you needed to allocate your time to reach, how would you spend your time?
most people will tell me, I want to spend more time with my family. I want to spend with time with my friends. I want to spend more time with my partner.
what would you be doing traveling the world? are you looking at how creating more experiences? What is that? it's important for us to have those conversations and bringing in the element of time.
When we're talking about finances, gets people to start really thinking about, okay, what would I do with it when I didn't have any of these financial issues or debt obligations, it's extremely important.
What your dream life is like, what brings joy? What brings happiness and cheer life? And again, this is the things people have a pushback on. in the personal finance realm, because it is about the numbers.
I can tell you right now, Elle I have met many people in the financial independence movement who have reached and obtain their goal and absolutely are miserable.
I've met couples, who've reached their fine number and they are in couples therapy because after reaching that fine number, they're like, we don't know what it's like to be a couple working to building a life outside of a financial number.
they're reaching out to me going, okay. We didn't agree with you before, but now that we've at this point, We now see why it's important for us to have this conversation about our dream life.
These are conversations we need to have, and if you are a couple. I always say, sit across the dinner table with each other. It takes piece of paper. And you could say, Jason gave us this assignment, write down your dream lifestyle, every detail of how you envision your dream life to be, but there's no speak.
And you do this for about 10, 15 minutes. No speaking, you write it down.
when you're done, I want you to read what you've wrote. To your partner and then start the conversation because some of us, I may have a dream of owning a home and then another might have a dream of traveling the world or living in an RV with their kids.
I've seen that. So there's a disconnect. And of course, even if you get out of that, even if you reach your FI number, You're gonna hit an impasse where you're, you're not going to see eye to eye.
I think it's important too, to have these conversations early. And that little exercise has worked for hundreds of people, hundreds of couples that I mentioned, and most of them do bring in wine or a drink with them just to ease the conversation, but it does work.
Creating a Rich Life Together
Elle Martinez: You bring up a lot of good points. even though you have a picture and, you know, you have a vision that you're going towards life changes, you change, you grow, you evolve, develop, and it's okay.
your plans will adjust as well. But having a plan that you're working towards, it's much easier to redirect that momentum.
maybe you decide that. buying a house isn't, what you really want. Maybe you want something smaller, like a home base, so you can travel and you have a place to come back to.
And I also like the other part about how we should have these conversations constantly we've been married, it's going to be 14 years. it flies by, but we try not to take for granted.
I think 2020 we've had the most conversations, working from home with two kids, but they've been really meaningful and enjoyable .
I do want to ask you, because you live the advice that you say. You are working to live holistically, not just with the numbers, but more whole life. How has improving your finances and looking at the whole picture helped you?
Jason Vitug: one of the key things is that when I'm not worried about paying for my basic living expenses, my mind is able to explore my interests. And whenever I am able to devote my time and resources to an interest, you know, that's passion and passion makes us feel alive.
And so for the vast majority of time, is that I'm feeling alive because I can explore these passions because I'm not worried about my basic, covering my basic living expenses.
there's freedom to that. And I think it's really important for us to understand that, money is important, and impacts most things but understanding and quantifying the importance of money in our lives to help us live the actual life we want to live.
so for me, not having to worry about paying credit card debt or student loan debt or anything like that, frees me up to be a bit more creative.
I think too, it's having the basic things for me was figuring out what do I need in my life that allows me to a bit more freedom and it doesn't weigh me down. I realize that it's less and less about stuff and also less and less about accumulation of experiences. Right.
we think about experiences and stuff, you know, which one's better. I think it's just less of that. And just more deep. Deeper meaningful things.
for me being financially well means I can manage my money. It doesn't necessarily mean I'm financially independent or I'm financially free. That I'm a multimillionaire. It just means I'm financially. Well that I'm not constantly stressing about money. That then I can focus my energy on the things that bring joy and happiness.
So when I'm with my family, when I'm with my friends, when I'm with my dog, I can be fully immersed in that moment. And then that moment becomes like, you know, a truly impactful memory for me.
so for me, it's that balance, that we had discussed earlier, it's important for us to truly understand the connection between money and living, but also being clear about, about our values, being clear about that vision and understanding as, as you grow as an individual.
When you're no longer, you know, stressing about making that, that debt payment, you're going to start seeing things differently. And you're going to start noticing things. And they think too, in the climate that we're in people who are working from home, they start realizing things about their partner, about their wives, their husbands, that they hadn't known this because they regain back their time.
that time was the hour commute or the lunch hour that they weren't sharing with each other. And then that exposes us different conversations or different aspects of the people we've known for 14 years or more. And to me, I looked at it as an opportunity.
Yes. There's people that are, are strained in these situations, but then there was also people looking at it As a lot of the possibility
2020, definitely. You know, when we think of 2020 vision and clarity, it truly is giving us vision and clarity. And I don't want to disregard that people are facing unprecedented financial issues.
there are people who are making financial leaps as well. And those that I've seen that are making financial leaps have a plan. And it's was very curious to me how in this very tough economic situation that we're in. And there's a lot of unprecedented things we've never faced in decades or in the generation.
there are people that are buying homes, they're making money and I'm going, what's going on because I see the other end.
they realize there are, there are people with a plan. There are personal finance, bloggers and advisors out there who told me my advice for six to nine months of an emergency fund was too much.
That was too much cash to put into a savings account. It was just too much money and three months that that was the appropriate time. And then they had an about face this year saying, Oh, we need to have 12 months. And I go because, well, yes, because growing up and through the great recession, realizing that people were losing our homes.
And that was a lot of stress that the more we had in cash available that helps us weather the storm. for me, it was really important for. understanding and realizing the connection between people who have a plan and those who do not. And so it doesn't mean if you don't have one right now, you can't create a plan, but it starts with first that vision.
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This episode was originally published in November 2020. Show notes have been updated November 2022.