When it comes to managing your finances, there isn’t always a “right” or a “wrong” way, and the exact approach tends to differ depending on the person and their unique circumstances. In this episode, we demonstrate this by walking through how each of us manages our own finances. You’ll see similarities and differences in the way we handle things and understand why the best course of action doesn’t always have to be the financially “optimal” one. This is part one of a two-part series, and in it, we cover organization and tracking, managing debt, and prioritizing/allocating cash flow.
Outline of this episode
- The first category: Organizing and tracking our finances [1:29]
- The second category: How we view and manage debt [10:31]
- The third category: Saving, prioritizing, and managing cash flow [15:03]
- What to look forward to in the next episode [23:33]
How we organize and track our finances
It shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone that’s listened to our other podcasts that the first step is organization. Along with that comes tracking key items, including all of our assets and liabilities in one place. As we’ve mentioned in other episodes, net worth is your assets (what you own) minus your liabilities or debt (what you owe). It’s a measure of wealth and gives a snapshot of where we are today and it’s something we look at over time as an ongoing benchmark to track progress.
We both have all of our accounts linked in our retirement software but we differ on how often we look at those numbers and what makes us feel good about our finances. When it comes to money, we all have perspectives and stories that we tell ourselves based on our own life experiences and upbringing. We call them money scripts and they impact the way we approach financial management.
How we view and manage debt
Debt is another area where there’s a wide range of how people feel about it. Some people are stressed about any kind of debt lingering overhead while others are ok with debt if it is optimal for the overall financial plan. One example is when you have a loan at a lower interest rate than the investment return you would get back on that same amount of money.
We both like to use credit cards for the rewards, but we both pay them off in full at least once— sometime twice— a month. On the other hand, we differ in our approaches to mortgage debt and we explain the why behind our decisions in the episode.
Saving, prioritizing, and managing our cash flow
This is definitely the biggest gray area and there’s no one right answer here. It’s where the different parts start intertwining and you can see why getting organized and having context allows you to break down this gray area into more manageable bite-sized pieces to create a plan that works for you.
While we genuinely never want to retire, we do have a goal of being financially independent by age 55. As we’ve talked about in prior episodes, financial independence is the point where you’re able to sustain your lifestyle based on the savings and investments you’ve accumulated. It’s the point where work becomes optional.
Another big goal is saving for college for the kids, but where we differ here is how we’re saving for the goal and the approach we’re taking toward college savings.
We definitely have a lot of similarities in this section, but as we said before there isn’t one right answer. So the biggest takeaway isn’t something specific; rather we want you to understand that each of these different areas is important to go through and address, but make sure it’s tailored to you.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Mint.com for tracking spending
- Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician
- Download our guide: The Financial Checkup