The class I most looked forward to in grad school was Business of the Opera Business (aka BoOB). Taught by our Director of Opera Studies, we learned about taxes, working in Europe, and, yes, even budgeting. But I have to admit: the budget frightened me.
Staring at a blank sheet of paper with lines and boxes and categories and all of it with probably $25 in my bank account. Opera Singer Wes feigned excitement while Prudent Wes was scared out of my mind. Did I mention this class was taught in 2014? Nearly everybody brought their laptops to music school, but here we were being handed packets of papers explaining Roth vs. Traditional IRAs, what you can and cannot write off as an independent contractor, and how to survive a life with no money and constantly seeking employment. My favorite (read: most terrifying) example from the professor was to save salt/pepper/ketchup packets from various restaurants because you’ll be “cooking” from your hotel room.
Fast-forward to 2021. Economic Crisis 2 of my lifetime, but for the first time in my life I’m not scare of my finances. For all accounts I should be, but 6 years later many of those lessons I couldn’t learn in grad school have hit home.
But there’s something that we have on our side, my friends: technology. In a time when we are all stuck at home (and I hope you’re using this as a time to save on public transit costs, eating out, etc.!!) I’ve spent a lot of time on my computer. Actually, at the beginning of the pandemic I didn’t even HAVE a computer. I bought one because my eyes couldn’t take working off my phone for — OMG IT’S BEEN A YEAR.
What’s most amazing about using technology as an aide is that the anxiety around my finances is lifted.
Life in 2021 is all about technology so why not engage it in new ways to crush our financial goals and conquer our debt? I’m committed. Are you with me? What’s most amazing about using technology as an aide is that the anxiety around my finances is lifted. Sure, I’ll still worry I can always make better decisions, but by facing my fears around money I’ve found that I my choices gradually improve as I reap the benefits of tucking more into savings or paying down a bit more debt.
Tip — Employ Your Calendar
It will do work if you demand it. Take a breath and a sip of water. Now use the next 5 minutes and log in to every bill website and put those due dates on the calendar. “Petal payment due.” It can be that simple. Tell your calendar to notify you a day or two in advance. Scratch that — tell it to do both.
The week between paychecks I like to look at my calendar to see what will be due the coming week. (Notice how I’m not chastising you for the debt? It doesn’t matter how you got there because we’re conquering it now. Past you stuck Present you with the cleanup. We’ve all been there.) This step is important because I use technology to set up payments on the respective websites for the day of/after my direct deposit hits.
That’s it. Planning in advance is as easy as telling your calendar to pull its weight. My new practice is to change the color of the calendar entry once I’ve scheduled a payment through the company’s portal. Otherwise, bill paying becomes daunting. It’s intimidating and many folx would rather let the date surprise them than log into the credit card account. So put it on the calendar and feel good about it because you have a plan.
Almost every type of bill service you can imagine offers payment scheduling.
This isn’t autopay (though that’s nice for people who never worry about having enough in their account to cover the bills!), but it is preplanning and, in the long run, will help you maintain control over your bills. Almost every type of bill service you can imagine offers payment scheduling.
What I think is important about this method is that by scheduling my bill payments to come out right when I am paid it erases the worry around overspending before the bill is due. This technique has worked wonders on my anxiety around bills.
And the better I feel about my money, the better decisions I make with it.
Until next time,