Smart Money Podcast: Give Yourself a Mid-Year Money Check-in for a Smarter Summer, with Shannah Game

Beat the financial heat with fun summer savings tips and get mid-year financial check-up strategies for a stress-free season.

Summer Activity Guide: What free things can you do to have a fun summer? Hosts Sean Pyles and Sara Rathner discuss summer money-saving tips to help you understand how to balance fun and finances during the warm months. They begin with a discussion of budget-friendly summer activities, offering tips and tricks on utilizing public facilities like pools and tennis courts, attending free outdoor events, and organizing potlucks with friends.

Mid-Year Money Check-in: How can a mid-year money check-in help your finances? Shannah Game, host of the podcast Everyone’s Talkin’ Money, joins Sean to discuss the importance and practicality of reviewing your finances this summer. They discuss overcoming emotional and mental blocks about money, practical exercises like “Rose, Bud, and Thorn” and the “Why, Where, What, and How” framework, and recognizing how emotions influence financial decisions. They also discuss tactics for setting small, manageable financial goals, the significance of community support, and how you can scrutinize every expense to ensure it aligns with your values and propels you toward your financial aspirations.

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Episode transcript

This transcript was generated from podcast audio by an AI tool.

Hey, Sara, do you find that money just slips out of your fingers a bit more quickly during the summer?

Oh, totally. There’s something about this super relaxed time of year that makes me care a little bit less about my spending. I blame the heat because I don’t make good decisions when I sweat. And I also don’t make good decisions when I have another cold, which I do. So sorry listeners, my voice is going to be extra delicious today.

Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money Podcast, where we help you make smarter financial decisions one money question at a time. I’m Sara Rathner.

And I’m Sean Pyles. This episode I’ll show you how to do a mid-year financial check-in with Shannah Game, host of the podcast Everyone’s Talkin’ Money. But first, Sara and I are sharing ways that you can be a cheapskate and still have fun this summer. So Sara, what is your first tip for folks who want to beat the heat without breaking the bank?

First thing, look for all the public facilities in the area where you live. You probably have access to public pools, even splash parks and tennis courts, and of course those double as pickleball courts. So if you’re trendy in that way, pickleball is like the new kickball. Like when I was in my 20s everybody played kickball, now everybody plays pickleball, but whatever.

I actually just joined a kickball league, so maybe I’m behind the time, or maybe I’m actually way ahead of the curve because things are going back-

Oh, that’s like so 2009 of you.

The year I graduated high school, so I’m living it up retro style.

You’re like, I’m going to pretend I was a 20 something when I was a teenager. Yeah.

Well, by then I was an early 20 something and kickball was the thing, but now it’s pickleball. So anyway, if you haven’t looked into this stuff, you might actually be surprised by how much is available to you for free.

Totally. Summer is full of free and low cost events. I mean, there are probably outdoor movie screenings, there are art festivals, there’s live music. I find myself turning to TikTok a lot because there are a number of accounts in my area that will just highlight whatever’s going on weekly in my area. So if you aren’t sure what to do or what’s going on in your area, check that out. Also, free weekly publications. There’s one in Portland called Willamette Weekly that tends to have great events. So anything like that where you can just get ideas is a great resource too. Also, if you find that meeting friends for dinner is starting to get expensive, maybe try meeting up at different events instead. You could pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks and it would be a fraction of the cost of going to a bar or a restaurant.

And speaking of meeting up with friends for food, this is something I did this weekend, the classic potluck. Yes, it’s always good for every generation. You get a full meal for the cost of making two quarts of coleslaw, which is really cheap to make, by the way.

And I would not be a resident of the Pacific Northwest if I didn’t suggest that people just find somewhere and go on a hike. I do realize that I’m pretty spoiled out here, we have incredible natural beauty. But even if you aren’t surrounded by mountains and forests and waterfalls, just pull up Google Maps, find a park in your area that you’ve never been to and make an adventure of exploring it. Your only cost might be transportation to your destination, but make sure that you bring a snack and some sunscreen and plenty of water.

Even if you don’t live in the majestic Pacific Northwest, because I don’t, you still might have some hiking or biking trails near you. And state parks are also great places to go hiking. It usually costs a couple bucks to park in their parking lots. And where I live in Richmond, for example, hanging out by the river and going tubing or kayaking are also really popular summertime activities that are relatively low cost.

Okay. Now everything we’ve mentioned so far, it takes place outdoors, but we know there are a lot of people that are more indoor type people. And also depending on where you live, you might be able to fry an egg on the sidewalk right now. I mean, Sara and I were just in Las Vegas for a work event and it was 110 degrees outside. So Sara, what do you think are some good ideas for people who want to save money and stay indoors where it is not so hot?

I’m glad you asked, because hiding indoors is my love language, especially this week. A heat dome is hitting much of the country, including where I live, so it’s going to go up to 100 degrees. Great time of year to seek out some air conditioning. Obviously major shout out to public libraries. If you have not spent time in a public library in your area, they have so many incredible resources. They also have things like eBooks that you can enjoy at home without even setting foot outside of your house. So you can find them without leaving, which is nice too.

But you could also look at museums in your area. Sometimes they have free admission days. That’s a nice big air conditioned space to hang out. If you take your kids or your grandkids to local children’s museums and you do that very often, you can look into a membership because if that museum is part of the Association of Children’s Museums’ reciprocal network, you can actually get 50% off admission at 200 participating museums in the US and Canada. So if you’ve got summer trips to other cities and you need to find something fun to do, that can help you save money on those trips and also at home.

And when you find that you are totally exhausted from the heat and don’t feel like taking on the intellectual pursuit of museum going, nothing for me is better than catching a matinee or a cheap movie at a second run theater just to get some a/c, turn off that noggin for a little while, eat some popcorn and enjoy a soda. So Sara, I would love to hear how you are planning to save money on your summer activities this year.

For me, honestly, just grabbing a picnic blanket and some drinks and snacks and meeting some friends outdoors has been a really easy way to get out of the house for very little money. My kid gets to roll around on the picnic blanket and we all get to hang out in the shade. I actually happen to live near a beautiful art museum that not only has a free permanent exhibit, but it also has gorgeous outdoor grounds that are open to the public. So it’s kind of like my second backyard.

That sounds lovely. Also, I feel like watching a kid roll around in the grass or on a blanket is its own form of free entertainment.

It kind of is. I can watch him for a while and he’s happy to roll around for a long time. You just hand him several small toys and he just stares at them and rolls around. It’s really fun. Yeah. How about you?

Well, my CFP coursework, shockingly, is very time-consuming. So that will be limiting my ability to do a lot of things that would be taking up my time elsewhere or perhaps money. So I guess that’s an unexpected perk of my schooling. But beyond that, my friends and I love a good grill and chill afternoon, which is kind of like a lazier version of a potluck. We’ll have some friends over, turn on the grill, heat it up and just throw some stuff on it and hang out in our garden. And if we feel up for it, we might pretend like we’re five years old and run through the sprinkler. It’s always a good time.

Yeah. Especially if it’s 100 out.

Well, those are a few ways you can save money and still enjoy the summer just in case flying to the Paris Olympics in first class isn’t in your budget, certainly not in mine. So listener, let us know how you are spending these long hot mid-summer days. Are you sitting in front of a fan wondering whether or not to buy a rental property for extra income? Maybe you’re sipping on some iced tea with a friend talking about the cost of enrolling your kids in travel sports. Whatever money decisions you’re mulling over, we want to hear about them.

And we may even invite you onto the podcast to join us for the conversation. So send your money questions our way by texting or leaving a voicemail on the Nerd hotline at 901-730-6373. That’s 901-730-NERD, or email us at [email protected]. And finally, before we get into my conversation with Shannah Game, let’s quickly check in on our Nerdy question of the month, which is what are you most looking forward to this summer financially speaking?

And we have a submission from a listener named Nicole who sent us an email. “Hi Nerds. Sadly, I don’t have any exciting trips planned, but I’ll be hitting some mini financial milestones soon that I’m excited about. This summer I’m going to reach my first milestone for my down payment savings account, my first 10K. And I’ll hit two months of emergency savings as well. Not the most glamorous, but the nerd in me is proud and looking forward to hitting more milestones. Thanks for a great podcast, Nicole”.

Oh Nicole, thanks for sharing that. And I’ll say, while you might not think that having $10,000 for a down payment and two months of emergency savings built up as living a glamorous life, I disagree with that. Putting in the time and dedication and focus to build up your savings for various goals and then enjoying the fruits of your efforts is a very luxurious thing. So please appreciate that and take some time to pat yourself on the back.

Yes. And know that the foundation of a real luxurious life is having your savings built up and funding your goals. It’s not getting into debt to buy stuff you can’t afford so you look good on social media, it’s being quietly wealthy.

Yes. Because with that comes a lot of freedom of choice.

Yes. You can move through life with ease when you know that your financial goals are being met. So I love this. I think this is a great use of the summer. And I’m sorry you’re not traveling this year, but hopefully in the future you’ll get to do that too.

All right, well now let’s hear from Shannah Game. We’ll be back in just a moment. Stay with us. This episode I’m joined by Shannah Game, host of the podcast Everyone’s Talkin’ Money, to talk about how to do a mid-year money check-in. Shannah, welcome to Smart Money.

Thanks so much for having me. I absolutely love this topic.

I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this episode and listener, I want to let you know that we are doing something totally new for Smart Money this episode. Shannah and I are doing a collaborative episode where we will each share our own versions of this conversation. So to hear my thoughts and tips about how to do a mid-year money check-in, check out Shannah’s podcast, Everyone’s Talkin’ Money, wherever you get your podcasts. And in the Smart Money version of this episode, we’ll hear Shannah’s ideas for how to leverage the emotional side of money to do your mid-year money check-in. So, Shannah, to start, let’s talk about why a mid-year money check-in is important. What would you say to people who don’t think this exercise is worthwhile or simply don’t feel like doing it?

That is such a great question because I think anytime there’s a to-do item around money, we feel like it is an absolute chore and it usually falls somewhere to the bottom of the list. And I think this has to do a lot with the emotions and beliefs and thoughts that we have around money. But I think really when we’re talking about mid-year check-in, it’s really just about we’ve got stuff we want to do, we’ve got things we want to experience, places we want to go, things we want to buy, wealth we want to build. And so the mid-year is just such a great time to really take a pause moment and evaluate where are we? How are we feeling about money? What’s kind of getting in the way and maybe what changes do we need to make to finish out the year strong?

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it can also be helpful to remember that money is simply a tool to get what you want out of life. To do all those things that you were just describing, Shannah. And this mid-year check-in is a chance for people to see if they are progressing on the right track from what they want to get from their money in 2024. So if they find that they’re making good progress, for the most part they might be able to keep doing what they’re doing and maybe do some little tuneups here and there. But if you find that you’re off track from your money goals, take this moment to make some bigger adjustments potentially.

Some people have one eye open, or barely one eye open on their money. And I find this regardless of whether you are making a lot of money, you’re happy with your situation or you’re not, wherever you fall on that spectrum, there’s always this tension and a little bit of a nervous feeling when it comes to money and particularly looking at how we’re spending our money and where we’re spending it. And I think sometimes we feel like there is this bad kind of devil that’s going to be on our shoulder and that is going to start reprimanding us for progress that we haven’t made or the decisions that we made with our money. And I really would love to get to a place where we could eradicate that idea that there is a judgment piece around money and that we need to somehow analyze our money from that perspective and look at it more aspirational and think about just what you’re saying, money is a tool, what do we really want to use our money to achieve? And I think that that kind of shift maybe moves us a little bit out of the overwhelm place and a little bit more in the empowered frame of thinking.

I think in the world of money and in life in general, the words “should” and “shame” go together a lot. People feel like they should be doing certain things with their money. We have these life milestones that we should be hitting. And if you’re not doing them, you can feel ashamed. But I think reframing it to be more aspirational, to be more self-reflective and positive, can really help people set the stage for the rest of the year. And one way that I like to approach this is through a little game that my friends play every so often. It’s called rose, bud, and thorn. And it’s where you take a moment to appreciate what you’ve done so far, what you’re proud of, that’s the rose.

You look at something that is in development and that you want to work on more that you’re happy with so far, that’s the bud. And then something that isn’t so great that you maybe want to prune back, that could be the thorn. So I would encourage people to really take a moment to appreciate the good things they’ve done already, think of one thing that you want to keep honing and developing, and then really one thing that you might want to change. And that can be a helpful way to frame this exercise as well.

I love that exercise and I love that you make the correlation between should and shame. One of my very good friends who was just this brilliant therapist, she’s always telling me to stop shoulding on myself.

Yes, it can get messy when that happens.

Yeah. Because I do that all the time and when I start hearing and paying attention to it, I notice that that is a common thing around money is we operate in this place of regrets and things that we wish we should have done. And I think that brings us back to this mid-year check-in because we can use that as, like you’re saying, this reframe moment. And just like your rosebud exercise, I have an exercise as well that I call the why, where, what, and how. And it’s just thinking about one to maybe two or three at the most, because our brain cannot handle more than three at a time, goals or things that we want to reach this year, and think about why is this important, where are we at, what do we need to do, what is getting in the way and how do we get there? So I think with both of these exercises, what’s great is they’re aspirational and they’re tangible as well. Something that we could do that hopefully won’t stress us out in this process.

What we’re both describing gets to the fact that there are so many different ways to do a mid-year money check-in. And a lot of what we’ve been describing so far has been around specific money goals that people might set at the beginning of the year. I also want to briefly speak to people who maybe didn’t set any money goals for 2024 because some people just aren’t like that. They’re not these big aspirational annual goal setters. So in that case it might be fine to do something simpler, more of a mid-year money tuneup than a full deep dive check-in. So maybe we can talk about a few simple tasks that people could do for this tuneup and a few come to mind for me. One that’s really important right now especially is shopping around for insurance.

We know that car insurance in particular has gotten really expensive over the past year, two years. And at NerdWallet we recommend that people shop around and get quotes once a year because it does not pay to be loyal to an insurance company. In fact, they may charge you more over time than a newer customer because you’ve just stayed with them and they know you’re not going to be shopping around potentially. So that’s one thing that I would recommend everyone do.

I am a big fan of shopping around. Actually my biggest money, I don’t even know if it’s a secret really, is I call my cell phone carrier and my internet carrier at least twice a year. And I always ask them, “Hey, am I on the best plan for the amount of usage that I’m using?” And I would say probably eight out of 10 times there is a new revamped plan that probably has some new feature that is less expensive. And so on a given year we probably save between $20 and $30 a month on kind of a continual basis just utilizing that one tip. But I would say another thing I want to add to the list, and this is one of the things that is not so sexy about money but I think it’s really important, is checking in on your beneficiaries. So if you set a life insurance beneficiary or a beneficiary for your investment account or even your checking or savings account, I want to make sure that that is the person that you would want that money left to. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but I’ve had quite a few friends who have had their partners pass away unfortunately and have not had those beneficiaries updated and not received money that would have been very helpful. So I think some of those non-sexy things are also important to think about when we’re looking at this mid-year time.

Yeah. And setting beneficiaries on an account, whether it’s your yield savings account or an investing account. It’s shockingly easy to do.

Yeah. I’ve been a certified financial planner for over 15 years now, and there have been so many horror stories of people who have been separated from their partner or they’re no longer with the person they were with and things in the beneficiary department went a little hairy where maybe they wanted something to go to somebody and it went to somebody else instead. And then families are fighting over this. So do your family a favor.

Right. Well I want to also touch on something that you mentioned at the beginning, which is how to do this mid-year money check-in without it feeling like just another chore. So one way to get over this hump of it feeling like just another thing to have to do when it’s sunny outside and you want to go swimming or something is to actually reframe it as an opportunity for self-care in a way, which sounds kind of hokey but also doing this and spending the time to really evaluate your money and set yourself up for success for the latter half of the year is truly an act of generosity for yourself and for your finances. And it will not take all that long to do, I promise.

And what piece, Sean, do you think we should incorporate some sort of, I don’t know, almost like a gamification element or reward or something that keeps us motivated on our progress? Even maybe if we haven’t made any progress. Do you think that’s an important element to bring into this aspect of doing these mid-year check-ins, specifically when it’s summer and like you said, we’ve got so many other things that we really want to do?

Yeah, absolutely. I think time boxing this, setting aside a single hour to do this and then making plans for something more fun after, maybe you’re going to have some friends over and you’re going to barbecue or you’re going to go for a nice walk in a park nearby. Making it so that you have a built-in reward is going to make it more likely that you’ll actually follow through on doing this because you know that you’ll have something to enjoy afterward. And that’s just how our brains work with positive reinforcement. So work with the tools that we already have at our disposal, know how your brain functions and what’s going to make it more likely for you to accomplish a task and then go and do it. And once you’re done with it, you know that you’ll be on the right track. You don’t even have to worry about your money for at least a little while and just go and enjoy the summer.

I would encourage people listening to go talk to your friends about doing a mid-year check-in, maybe you arrange a group dinner or something and you’re all there just doing these little tasks around money or you’re just talking about the idea of this. And I think that starts to break down these walls around money feeling like a chore or feeling like something that has to be overwhelming and complicated.

All right. Well, listener, this is where things are going to get really interesting. I’m about to get into Shannah’s take on how to do a mid-year money check-in. But to hear my thoughts about this when I go really deep into the mid-year money check-in and I even talk about how it has a lot to do with one of my favorite hobbies, gardening, check out Shannah’s podcast, Everyone’s Talkin’ Money, wherever you get your podcasts. Let’s get into it. Shannah, we already talked about the end goals of a mid-year money check-in, but let’s go back to the very beginning. What do you think is a good first step for a mid-year check-in? Where do you start?

So this is where I’m going to really go kind of head first deep into the emotional behavioral side of money, because I think before we start getting into all of the grand plans and all of our action steps, I think we really need to do a check-in with how are we feeling about money? And this is a question that I ask everybody to ask themselves very often. And sometimes people look at me with kind of a side eye, “What do you mean how do I feel about money?” But I think sitting with that question and thinking about what is coming up for you? Are you feeling overwhelmed this year? Are you feeling good? And then digging a little bit deeper. Okay, why am I feeling that way if I’m feeling stressed about money? Because maybe I haven’t been able to reach my goals. Okay then let’s look at that. Why haven’t you been able to reach your goals? Is there something going on? Have there been changes in your career or in your household? What is the core emotion or belief around money that we’re kind of struggling with? And can we work on that a little bit so that when we get back to the place of layering back in our goals and our action steps and all of those things, it feels like something tangible. Like we can actually make progress with those because we worked on that emotional piece of money.

I like that a lot because it’s not just I’m feeling stressed about money this month. Which I think is such a common feeling with money. When you dig into the why behind it, you realize, oh, well maybe it’s because I just had this vacation and it was really expensive and I really haven’t been able to save as much. And then you can get to a place where you can almost have a more tactical approach to it. It’s like you’re marrying the emotional and the tactical. And I’m one of those people where whenever there’s a problem, I try to find the solution immediately. I maybe should sit with the emotional stuff just for a little bit longer to really ruminate and understand motivations behind things. But that can be a great way to understand what you’re really working with, and then it gives you a clear path forward. No matter if you’re feeling wonderful about your money, which is awesome, think about what you want to continue in that vein. But if there’s something that’s kind of nagging at you, you can begin to really understand why that is and what changes you might want to make.

And I think that question really takes kind of a somatic approach to money. Which somatic is just a really fancy word for saying what’s going on in your brain, in your body. And so when you start to look at the emotional side when we’re doing this mid-year check-in, and I want you to start noticing whatever’s going on in your body. So if let’s say you are in a certain environment and that makes you start feeling a little bit stressed out about money, maybe your shoulders are getting tight or your stomach’s getting in a knot or even your knees might start buckling up, I want you to use that as a clue to dig a little bit deeper. What is it about this situation? What is it about this person? What is it about this environment? Maybe it’s even a TV show you’re watching and somehow that brings out these emotions and feelings around money.

Those are really good places to dig in and understand how your body operates around money. I think so many of us get off track with our goals because we overspend, and overspending is an emotional response that we have. It’s a very human thing that happens and I think there’s a good level of overspending that is healthy that is almost important to the human experience. But when it starts sacrificing our goals and then making us feel certain ways about our money, that’s the place where we want to really kind of dig in and take a look at that.

There’s even science that shows that when you’re feeling an emotion, like maybe you’re feeling angry about a decision that your partner made financially. If you just say, I’m feeling angry about this, it actually helps you have a level of remove so you can analyze it and not be so caught up in what you’re feeling. And then, again, with the idea of moving forward and finding a solution, it just makes all of that so much easier.

One of the things I teach a lot about, it’s kind of my signature system, is what I call heal, plan, and build. Traditionally when we talk about money, we want to dive straight into the plan / build phase, leaving out those other components. And healing is really around doing what we’re doing here, talking about money, figuring out what’s going on in our bodies and in our brains. And once we can work through that piece, then we can move on to plan. Which is really just about looking at our spending, looking at our goals, looking at where are we currently to get us to that build phase, which is about building wealth. How do we take where we’re at right now and how do we amplify that and grow it even if there’s a very small amount of money available. It’s almost like we’re starting a car up that hasn’t been started up in a while. So it’s like, how do we get it out of one gear and into another gear? So I think those three pieces of a puzzle, they work really well overall when we’re thinking about money, but certainly when we’re thinking about this mid-year point.

Now let’s talk about how people can take maybe this more introspective approach to a nuts and bolts sort of tactical level as they look to better their finances this year. How can they really begin to marry these different aspects of their lives and their finances and their mental state and begin to move forward?

I think that oftentimes when we think about goals, we think about really big, huge goals. People want to save to buy a house or they want to retire early, or these things that feel really important but very large and our brains can’t quite get behind them. And so I think tactically, thinking about how do we break things down on a real kind of micro level, something that is small, maybe you focus on one tiny little goal this month or this week or even this summer, something that feels like it’s doable for you. That isn’t trying to save $20,000. Maybe I’m just focusing this week on paying attention to how I’m spending my money. Or maybe I am at the place where it’s just about I’m going to log into my bank account and I am just going to see where things are at. Or maybe you take a wider scope, maybe it is you’re going to go in and increase your retirement percentage.

But I think really chunking down and focusing on some small little micro steps that you can do and achieve this year are going to be really important. And you talked about something really important on my show, which was this idea of purpose and really connecting with this “why” behind all of your goals. And I think both of us cannot reiterate that enough because that is your body and your brain connecting to that goal in a really powerful way that’s going to help you inch closer even when you feel like everything around you is maybe not going the way you want it to be.

I like that because just doing these smaller things can allow you to make progress over the long run, whether it’s the back half of 2024 or even looking into 2025, so you can get what you want from your money and really make sure that you’re utilizing this tool called money to get what you want out of life.

And there is this movement around transparency, we’ve obviously seen around salary transparency, but I think we can also borrow some of those elements when we’re talking about mid-year and we’re talking about our goals. And shouting out to people what we’re doing and where we’re at and the progress we’re making. I know it might feel awkward and a bit bizarre at first, but bringing our voice behind what we’re trying to do with our money, not only does it help other people be accountable to us and maybe keep us on the path towards that goal, but I think it does a lot to help us work through the emotions around money and not feel like things are so scary. The important piece is being able to vocalize where you’re at and how you’re in there with your sleeves rolled up trying to progress towards these goals.

And I think people will find that once they share what they’re working with financially or they log into their checking account, whatever they’re afraid to do, once they actually take that action, they’ll find that the fear will dissipate and it’ll become so much easier to do that the next time. I recently spoke with a woman who chronicled paying off $36,000 in credit card debt on her TikTok and Instagram accounts, and she found that to be a really helpful way to build a community of people. And I talked with her about how it was in a way an act of class solidarity, building this connection with people who are also struggling financially and trying to figure out their lives financially. And that was so empowering for her and for everyone involved, even if they were just sort of flies on the wall watching her journey, they found that they were able to be more candid with their finances too, which I just love to see.

I love that. One of the things I do on my show, Everyone’s Talkin’ Money, is I have a little segment that I put in each episode called Your Relationship With Money Is, and I ask people these four off the wall questions. And one of the most popular questions that people always tell me, like, wow, this made me really think, was to share a money secret that maybe you haven’t shared with anyone before. And I think the power around vocalizing A, hey, I’m in $36,000 of debt and B, I’m progressing towards that, or whatever your version of that might be, is such a healthy perspective to focus on money because there’s too much focus on the success of reaching that pinnacle, of reaching that goal and I think not enough focus on the journey and the progress.

Shannah, we know that this can be a really busy time of year for people, so I want to hear if listeners do only one thing for a mid-year money check-in, what would you suggest that be?

I mean, Sean, that’s like picking your favorite plant for you.

But I would say if there’s one thing, I want you to focus on how you’re spending your money. Am I spending my money towards my goals? Am I spending the money on things that I value? Sure, you’ve got to pay your bills. There’s always stuff that you have to spend money on that you really don’t want to, but I want you to look at every penny that’s going out of your bank account and think, okay, is this the most efficient way possible, or is there a better way I could be spending this money and then I can reroute some of the excess towards these goals? It’s like mining your bank account, and I think it’s one of the most powerful things you could do at this mid-year point.

I read the book Your Money or Your Life last year by Vicki Robin, and she recommends doing this exercise where you track every penny that comes into or goes out of your life. And I did that for a full month and I found it to be really eye opening and refreshing in a way because yeah, sure, I know where my money is going. I track it pretty thoroughly on a regular basis. However, there’s something about the action that you’re taking when you’re chronicling it that really makes you evaluate at a deeper level if it’s where you want your money to be going.

And I think when you do this exercise, there’s three questions you ask yourself. One, am I okay with this expense? And sometimes the answer is yes, absolutely I am. And that is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes it’s maybe, I don’t know. So maybe that means you might wait a little bit of time or maybe you might even cut that expense out. And then the third is no, actually this is not how I want to spend my money. And so I would say, try this experiment. Try it for a month and just see what you notice. I guarantee there’s going to be some shocking moments.

Yeah. Well Shannah, thank you so much for joining us on Smart Money.

Thanks so much for having me.

That’s all we have for this episode. Listener, remember that we are here for you and your money questions. So send them our way and turn to the Nerds and call or text us your questions at 901-730-6373. It’s 901-730-NERD. You can also email them to us at [email protected].

Also follow the show on your favorite podcast app, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and iHeartRadio, to automatically download new episodes. This episode was produced by me, Tess Vigeland helped with editing, Sara Brink mixed our audio, and a big thank you to NerdWallet’s editors for all their help. Here’s our brief disclaimer. We are not financial or investment advisors. This nerdy info is provided for general educational and entertainment purposes and may not apply to your specific circumstances. And with that said, until next time, turn to the Nerds.

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