Money drama takes a lot of forms in our lives. One of the things I’ve learned as I got more and more into editing my life so it incrementally looked more and more like my best life , I realized that eliminating drama from my life was something that would help leave a lot more room for joy and contentedness.
All the gratefulness exercises in the world weren’t going to make the negative things in my life go away. Whenever I pictured my ideal life, it wasn’t filled with drama like late bills, stressing over car repairs, or having debates with family members who were going to try to tell us (once again) why we needed an emergency credit card to help us through a tough time instead of using a savings account.
Today, I want to share some of the biggest ways my family and I have learned to eliminate money drama that keeps stress in our lives, and hold us back from living our best life.
1. Simplifying finances
Anything that causes you to make decisions again and again is complicating your life, and causes money
- what to do with “extra” money
- what to do when money is tight
- how you’ll handle life events (like car repairs or illness)
Real life example: One of the things I tried for a while was the whole “having multiple accounts” business, which sucked. It not only made life complicated, but it also was impossible to automate and left me with more work managing money than I previously would have done. Each payday I had to remember how much money to transfer, do all the transfers, and then if something unexpected happened, I had to figure out how to juggle it all.
There was also no way my husband could log into the bank account, take a quick look at the numbers, and know where we were financially.
2. Remove your ability to sabotage it with automation
Automate everything you can. If you’re always rushing to pay your bills, or constantly paying them late or waiting till the last second, it’s time to automate! A lot of people think automating it hard, but it isn’t at all. Even when our income was very low, or irregular, we had our bills setup on automatic payments to help us make sure our bills were always paid.
Quick tips for setting up automatic bill pay:
- Pay your bills when it’s convenient for you. If you get paid weekly, it may be easier to pay your bills that way. For example, your electric bill may get paid the second week of the month, even if your due date isn’t due until the 29th. You might pay your rent on the 15th of the previous month in order to make sure you’re always ahead (we do this) even though rent is due on the first.
- Know how much you need to set aside each paycheck to meet your needs. I use Simple bank to do this automatically for me, but you can use the free 15-minute budget tool I’ve created if you’re a member of the OYL Club, which breaks down how much money you need to set aside for all of your bills each paycheck.
3. Budget your life how you actually do it
A friend of mine who was chronically irresponsible with money was starting her journey to break the cycle of dependence on her parents for her living expenses. If you’ve ever read the Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley, she was the type of daughter who’d always received a lot of “outpatient care” in the form of checks to supplement her lifestyle when her and her husband “couldn’t” handle their own bills and expenses. She wanted to turn it around, so we started talking about budgeting.
She told me one day she couldn’t budget for her spending because it was too complicated. Her problem was that she bought her dog food at Walmart along with her groceries, and budgeting for both things was causing too much stress.
“Why not just budget them together? You buy them at the same store, at the same time, they both have to be purchased… so why are they separate in the first place?”
“Oh. I never thought of it that way.”
Overcomplicating your budget = anything that means you’re making more decisions on a regular basis. Make one decision and stick to it to simplify the drama and stress around money. (Yes, this goes back to #1!)
- If your husband normally packs his lunch, but forgets or is too tired to do it a couple of times a month, budget for it!
- If you know that once a month when you’re hormonal you’re going to want extra snacks in the house, budget for it
- If once a week you end up grabbing dinner out, then feeling like a failure, just make that part of the plan and stop fighting it.
Making a budget that doesn’t represent how you actually live isn’t going to make you change established habits. That’s just setting you up for failure.
Make your budget something that represents your real life.
4. Make a plan for life events
Life events to prepare for:
- car repairs
- health events that keep you from working
- increases in variable bills (like if you pay utilities)
- regular bills
So many people these days act like normal, everyday events are a tragedy, which is a huge source of money drama.
“Why does this keep happening to me?!” is a rather stupid thing to say when your car breaks down. If you own a car, it’s going to need repairs and maintenance, and that isn’t some horrible curse that’s happened to you, that’s part of vehicle ownership.
If your family depends on you to work, then there are times when you might not be able to work. That could be due to an injury or illness, whatever it is, it happens. Especially if you’re an hourly worker and missing a day or two of work would be a bad thing for your paycheck financially, then expecting this to happen and having a little money set aside to help make up the difference isn’t a luxury, it’s just planning for the future that’s going to happen.
I used to do all of these things. Because it was normal in my house growing up, and in my husband’s, to be taken surprise by life events. I remember when I created our car repair & maintenance fund as a completely separate savings account from our emergency fund, building it $20 at a time. I felt like a bloody genius and it changed our lives so much.