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This week, Chelsea discusses the four big money goals she reached simply by becoming a more thoughtful, responsible person.

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Chelsea: Hi guys, it's Chelsea from The Financial Diet and today I'm here to talk about some financial goals I've reached. the catch being that I've reached them without really trying. And I know you might be thinking well that's sort of useless you were just sort of effortlessly good with this thing about money and what are we supposed to learn from that? But the truth is that I was really able to change these things "effortlessly" because I changed not only how I view money, but how I viewed myself. So my strategies for reaching these goals were more like existential let's say, but their results were very real. 

One of the most difficult things about your 20s as you move through them is really defining and redefining what you consider to be an "adult" Chances are that when we were teens or just beginning our 20s we probably had a lot of really big expectations about what our life would look like by 30. We had certain things that we wanted to reach or achieve or own that would allow us to consider ourselves grownups. A lot of people say "Oh, I'm going to be married at 27, own a home by 30, and have my first kid at 31" or some timeline like that. And then as you move through your 20s you realize 2 big things: a) there's no 1 goal you're going to reach or obstacle you're going to overcome that will suddenly make you feel like an adult and b) everyone's definition of maturity is very different.

There could be someone who has no desire to get married even if they'd been with the same person for 30 years and they could be best friends with someone who's always thought of adulthood in terms of marriage. There could be someone who absolutely aspires to own a home by a certain age and someone who has no desire to own one at all or could take it or leave it. So it's important to keep in mind as we grow up that only are we allowed to change our goals based on who we are and what we've already been able to do, but we also shouldn't expect that one thing is going to make us feel totally different about ourselves. For example my parents had me at 27 so I always had this vague idea that I was going to have a kid around 27... I'm 27 and lol. I could not want a kid any less right now, someday, but not for me right now. And that doesn't mean I'm any less of a 27 year old or any less of the person I am. 

And money is a lot like that too, we start out with this really big goals and a lot of times our "adulthood goals" are really tied up with money about what we will look like financially at a certain age. And just like we all know no one ever really feels like a grownup, no one ever really feels like they've totally made it financially. When I was younger and really terrible with money I used to have a lot of really specific ideas in my head of how I would be with money by this age, you know, things that were very tangible like owning a home or having a certain amount in the bank etc etc. And then I realized that I was comparing myself to everyone around me instead of really comparing myself to who I was a year ago. Starting TFD and understanding how money can be so different for everyone has really helped me sort of not only recalibrate my goals as opposed to what they used to be, but also really celebrate the achievements for what they are. 

And that's exactly the kind of achievements I'm talking about today. Money goals I've reached that didn't really require a specific strategy, but really required a change of mind. To someone else who's always been way better with money these goals might seem kind of silly, but to me they're huge and that's what matters. So the first goal I've reached with money this year has been paying off my credit cards in full every month and actually enjoying it. Now long ago I got a pretty big check from work and I was really surprised to see when I got that really instincts with what to do with it were a) to put 90% of it away for things like paying bills, building back up and emergency fund, etc. but even with that 10% left that I had kept to have fun with I took about a 1/3 of it and payed off my little sort of like dinky rehab credit card that I told you guys about before. 

I got that card a couple of years ago essentially when I was trying to rebuild my credit that had been totally messed up. And when you have that terrible credit a bank won't actually give you a real credit card they give you this rehab one that you can't really do anything damage with, but it allows you to pay a bill on time every month. And I don't need it anymore and I should in many ways get rid of it, but I find that there's something really satisfying and really important for me mentally to have this thing that is just my own each month that I'm responsible for to pay off. And the fact that I really enjoy doing it and enjoy proving to myself that I can do it has been a huge goal.

My second big goal I reached this year has been giving someone money if I feel like I can't trust myself with it. So something I should clarify about that 90% of that big check that was put away is that I gave it to my partner so that he could allocate it, you know, to the different things that needed to be done for my own responsibilities, for our shared ones because I knew that if I had that big lump sum in my checking account for even like a week while I was doing something with it, I'd be more liable to make an impulse purchase that I would later regret. I've gotten good at managing smaller sums of money as they pass through but when I see a big number like that I know I can tend to slip into my old habits even if that just means like an evening on Amazon Prime.

My goal with the next big check that's coming this year is to handle it entirely by myself, but for me it was a really big stepping stone to pass that money off to someone instead of letting myself be distracted by it. Now this might not work for everyone getting, you know, a parent or a partner or whomever to help you manage your money, but if you know that you're someone who kind of has bad impulses with money and it can be triggered by something like seeing a big number in your account, it's okay to ask for help. And it's okay to admit that the road to getting better with money may not always be a perfect straight line. 

My third goals this year was really taking stock of what I have literally in writing before I buy something new. As I've just mentioned one of my huge problems with money is always impulse buys. I've drained my checking account in one day at a dress shop that I really liked, I've bought a couch at 2am tipsy at my old apartment, like I've done every dumb impulse purchase you could imagine. And there've really been 2 key changes that have helped stop that. 1) I pretty much don't fast fashion shop at all anymore. It's been about a year and a half that I've gone once and that's because it was always a huge place for me to impulse shop. But 2) and more importantly, when I want buy something now I force myself to write down on an excel spreadsheet what I already have.

You guys may have seen on TFD I posted an example of one of my objectively a little bit insane travel spreadsheets when I make whenever I'm packing to go somewhere. But I do that specifically so that I don't find myself buying things out of desperation when I'm away because I forgot to pack them, which is a huge former problem. And it's taught me that that exact same theory can be applied to everything. Now if I say I want a new pair of shoes for example the first thing I have to do is go through all of my shoes in my closet and likely get rid of like 2 or 3 pairs before I buy it because I know there's stuff in there that I don't need. 9 times out of 10 though, making the list makes me not want to buy it. 

So the last goal for me that was a really big one is that I no longer shop as like a travel activity. I love urban travel like there's nothing I love more than just spending like hours walking around a city I've never been to or a city that I know and love and just taking in the feeling of being in the city. And a huge part of that, as we all know, is walking around like the markets and the bazaars and the high streets and the boutiques. And it's really easy to feel like one of your day's activities when you're somewhere new can be shopping. I used to spend hundreds of dollars when I definitely didn't have it when I was traveling because I felt like I just needed to shop on a given day.

And to change this I've really 2 big things: 1) on my travel spreadsheet I give myself a little column where I get to put one or two very specific things that I wanna find while I'm there. That turns days wondering through the high streets more into a treasure hunt and less into like I'm bored let's just spend hundreds of dollars on nothing. For example when I went to Paris a few months ago my 2 very specific things were a very thin silver bracelet and pashmina scarf neither of which I found remotely near my budget so I didn't get anything! And the other thing I've changed is that if I know I'm going to a place where I'm going to wanna shop super badly I'll just leave my cards at home and take a little bit of cash. 

Learning to preempt myself against my own bad habits has been one of the biggest changes for me in the past year. 27 looks very different personally and financially than what I was probably imagining at 19, but I feel confident and frankly really adult because I know the progress that I've made compared to who I was a few years ago. I have no idea what my life is going to look like at 30, but I know that if I keep improving myself in all of the ways that I can, that's it's going to be a good place. But the most important thing is that I know that there's no one magical key that's going to suddenly make me feel like an adult. As always thank you for watching and don't forget to hit the subscribe button and to go to thefinancialdiet.com for more... Bye!