2 Ways for Visual Learners to Draw Up their 2020 Plan

2 Ways for Visual Learners to Draw Up their 2020 Plan

I’m a pretty visual person, so as much as I like scrawling a list onto a yellow legal pad there’s something about seeing things actually drawn out that can make them much clearer in my mind.

Now, let me get something straight… I’m not a good drawer. I am an enthusiastic drawer… but not a good one. But luckily that’s not a prerequisite for either of these exercises.

The goal is to get pen to paper and think through the next 12-month period of your life.

Exercise 1: Design your Year (or your next 5)

This exercise I stole from the wonderful book “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. They run a course at Stanford, which applies design principles to your life.

Their exercise encourages you to draw a version of the next 5 years. In fact, it encourages you to draw 3 VERSIONS of the next 5 years. One on your current track, one on a completely different track, and one on a track that might seem completely ridiculous to you right now (but you would secretly entertain if I promised no one would laugh at you).

I loved this exercise, and I’ve adapted it with my financial lens.

For those of you that want a better sense of the upcoming year and what it will throw at you financially, you can draw out the next 12 months using their method, sketching in major events, things you hope to do and even adding a few notes about potential costs, slow periods of work, and/or things you need to save for.

For those of you looking for ideas and more specific direction, you can sketch a few different versions of your year (or even do a 5 year sketch). Draw out a version on your current trajectory, and then sketch something wild that interests you… it’s only drawing after all… the stakes are pretty low.

Exercise 2: Colour Blocking out Your Work/Life Balance

This exercise is lovingly stolen from a mentor of mine that I work with at Spring Financial Plans. She recommends that instead of starting off the year by filling your calendar with work commitments and goals, to instead start out by blocking off your ‘vacation’ time (whatever that means to you).

This simple image really helped me see the shape of my year: when I planned to take some time off, when I needed to take time off to get over my jet lag, and when there were long periods with no time off (which I know from experience probably isn’t a good idea).

It also gives me the permission that I so dearly need to take time away from work because it’s baked into the plan right from the beginning.

There’s something about seeing it laid out in in one block with different colours that really helps me connect to it in a different way.

This is done using Google Sheets, but there’s no reason you can’t grab a few markers and do something similar on your calendar or favourite planner. Whatever is most comfortable for you.

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

Three Couples Talking About How They Manage Their Money

Three Couples Talking About How They Manage Their Money

One thing that I’ve learned talking to lots of couples about money is that there isn’t one right way to manage your household finances.

Some people like things to be all together in one big pot, some have only a vague sense of what’s in the other persons bank account.

The one thing that the ones who are happy with their joint financial lives have in common is they talk about money a lot. It’s not a taboo topic of conversation, and it’s part of the regular discourse in the house.

This week I wanted to share with you three different couples taking about how they manage their money. These recordings are from the podcast Because Money which I host with a couple of friends.

We’re not a terrible diverse bunch. We’re all straight and white and half of every couple is a financial planner… but even in this sliver of the population there are lots of different ideas.

Mimi & Chris

We’ll start with this episode of my wife and I talking about how we manage our money. Things have changed a bit (they always do), but we definitely didn’t have joint finances. What we did have was a joint idea of what we were trying to do… and lots of conversation.

  • 3:15 – the long (and stupidly complicated story) of why Mimi pays more rent than Chris
  • 9:38 – Managing money with a partner who makes a bunch more money than you do
  • 14:24 – Why it bothers Chris to not be able contribute as much as Mimi…
  • 16:31 – Digging into how we grew up financially…
  • 20:02- How dating Chris helped Mimi become a better saver
  • 26:13 – Do we give each other advice?
  • 29:07 – Planning for career transition and what’s ‘retirement’ for a couple of opera singers?
  • 35:20 – The stuff that we don’t have to talk about
  • 37:09 – We talk about whether we’ll even change the system

Sandi & Seth

Next up is one of my co-hosts (and dear friends) Sandi and Seth talk about money a lot, and it’s interesting to hear about how they manage that. Of course Sandi lives in the world of personal finance and they spend a lot of time together, so we have to grade that one on a curve.

And just to underscore how much there is no single right answer, we’ll hear how their money systems have changed over the years to suit their lives (like having kids) and as technology evolves (like YNAB).

  • 7:23 – How do you guys do money?
  • 10:57 – Who does what in the Sandi/Seth money system?
  • 16:09 – How often do you talk about money?
  • 18:01 – How do you talk about buying big stuff?
  • 24:57 – How do you talk about longterm financial planning?
  • 28:35 – When do you want to retire? If ever?
  • 30:29 – How do you guys invest?
  • 32:37 – How do you guys talk about money with your kids?
  • 40:35 – The Seth and Sandi dream vacation

Owen & Susan

Owen is another advice only financial planner and he graciously agreed to sit down with us to talk about he and his wife manage their cash.They’ve got young kids and have their money communication strategy down cold. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

You can find more about Owen’s financial planning startup PlanEasy here

 

  • 5:30 – Owen and Sue’s amazing, incredible, all powerful money meeting
  • 12:10 – What changed when they had kids?
  • 15:15 – Why Sue budgets in a Word Doc (and Owen DOES NOT)
  • 25:03 – What would Owen and Sue do with a surprise $3,000?
  • 26:10 – How do they figure out what’s ‘fairsies’?
  • 32:50 – What’s the advice you would give to other couples managing their money
Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

How to Build an Account Structure for Self-Employed Creatives

How to Build an Account Structure for Self-Employed Creatives

If your self-employed (and even if you aren’t) here are some accounts you should think about having

A tax account:

If you make self-employed income you should have a savings account for your taxes. If you can’t afford to put away a lot, put a $1 in every time you make income, but have a space for it. Once money starts rolling in you’ll be grateful you’ve build this into your structure

A business spending account:

Having a separate place to spend from for your business makes things easier. If it’s a chequing account you’ll have your own business debit card that you can use for expenses in the moment. You’ll also be able to better tell what money is specifically for your business (without stealing it from your rent).

A personal fixed expenses account:

A great way to think about sorting expenses into different accounts is ‘like things go together’. Why putting all your fixed expenses in one account works is because it’s a number that doesn’t change from month to month. You know that if you put $3,000 in that account, then all your bills will be paid. You also know that if you only have $2,000 there on the 1st… that you need to find some more money. Keeping it separate also helps the stress of accidentally spending money that’s earmarked for a fixed bill.

A personal spending account

The perfect pair to your fixed expenses account is a separate spending account. You can use this for all your other monthly spending (food, transportation, movies, Pokéman cards). If you’re using a debit card for all that spending you’ll be able to easily check in to see how much money you have for the rest of the month. It will help you answer questions like “can we afford to go for dinner tonight?”

A series of savings accounts for annual expenses

Everything that isn’t a fixed monthly expenses or a general monthly expense can have a separate savings account. Yup… you can have that many savings accounts. Name them after the thing you’re savings for. Call them ‘Christmas $50” or ‘ Health $100” and then put that amount in them every month (or as often as you can). Even if you can’t fully fund them every month you’ll be able to easily see how much you have set aside for that purpose. It will help you answer questions like “how much can I spend on Christmas this year” or “Can I afford to go on a vacation”.

Download a blank version of this worksheet here

 

How much should I put in these accounts?

That depends on your own numbers. You can go through some old exercises of ours to get an idea or you can just pick some numbers and experiment (not for fixed… that will have to be the same).

Try putting $200 in your spending account and see how long it lasts.

Experiment and see what works and what doesn’t, and then adjust and add accounts where you need.

Which banks should I be using for this?

Again, no right answer… but I am aware that using bank accounts like this can really up your fees.

Go back to the work we did last week and see how much your accounts are costing right now, are there ways that you can reduce those monthly fees? Do savings accounts cost a lot at your bank?

One option is always to use an online bank such as Tangerine, PC Financial or EQ bank. But make sure to check with them as they sometimes have limits on the number of accounts you can use or perhaps won’t have the spending choices you want.

Always go back to what tools you need to spend and save… and then compare the costs of getting that in order to see what’s worth it to you.

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

What Do You Use To Do Money?

What Do You Use To Do Money?

When it comes to our basic money tools, most of us haven’t looked at them since we picked them. The majority of the people I talk to don’t really know what kind of bank account they have or what it costs.

There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but it means that lots of us aren’t really sure if we’re using the right tools.

Defining the ‘right’ tools

There is no ‘best’ bank account, and I don’t think you’re a terrible money person if you have fees on your account.

The purpose of this exercise isn’t to change everything about what you’re doing. It’s about taking the opportunity to look at your tools, see what they’re good at and what they cost … and decide if they’re helping you use your money the way you want to.

That’s it.

You get to make the rules. You get to decide if that fee is worth it to you or not. But in order to do that… you have to take a little gander at what you’re doing right now.

Looking at some basic tools

  • Chequing accounts – great to use for money you need to spend right now
  • Savings accounts – really good for money that you don’t need right now, but will need in the next 1 – 5 years.
  • Business accounts – good for people who want to do business in a name that isn’t their name or have multiple people access the account
  • Investment accounts – these are good for money that you want to spend in the future (a good rule of thumb is at least 10 years from now)
  • Budget apps – good when you want to know exactly where your money is going
  • Spreadsheet – good for people who want to write out all their information in a place that automatically does the math for them
  • Envelopes – great for folks who don’t like technology and mainly use cash

I like to look through these for my clients and ask a few questions.

  1. What do you use this account for?
  2. What does it cost?
  3. What perks does it have?

You can find most of this with a quick google search. Take a glance and note down the things that apply to your life (no need to memorize everything, just find the perks and fees that apply).

It can also be interesting to take a quick gander at your statements and see if you regularly pick up any extra fees like overdraft fees, or extra e-transfer or transaction fees.

For credit cards, take a few moments to pinpoint that annual fee (if you have one) and figure out which month it comes out. Those can always be a surprise when they hit the balance. Also take note of your interest rate and how much your minimum payment is (if you have a balance).

Why should I spend my precious time doing this…?

I get it. This kind of basic tools audit is no ones idea of fun, but it’s information that so many of my clients really find interesting … and it’s pretty easy to do it on your own.

I sketched this out in 15 minutes.

It might help you find something that you’re paying for that you really don’t need, or plan for an annual fee that you forgot was coming.

Mainly it gives you the basic building blocks that will help you answer the question – does the way that I use money work for my life? Is it making things simple and clear…. or are there some things that are jumbled.

If you’re interested in sketching it out like I did, here’s a BLANK VERSION of that worksheet.

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

The Cost of Stability & The Hidden Life of Trees

The Cost of Stability & The Hidden Life of Trees

I’ve been reading a lovely book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Apart from being a fascinating and romantic look at how forests work, there are sooo many amazing financial metaphors.

… now… you know I love a metaphor… I LOVE IT SO MUCH… and as I was reading today there was one that I had to share.

It has to do with what happens when a young tree loses the support of “a mighty mother tree”. These giants offer support in a hundred different ways including sending nutrients to the smaller trees as well as literal physical support.

When they fall, the younger trees are left to manage for themselves and learn how to be stable on their own.

“The process of learning stability is triggered by painful micro-tears that occur when the trees bend way over in the wind, first in one direction and then in the other. Wherever it hurts, that’s where the tree must strengthen its support structure. This takes a whole lot of energy, which is then unavailable for growing upward.”

GAH! METAPHOR!!

Learning stability often starts with pain:

I have the incredible privilege of growing up with the support of a ‘mighty mother tree’. My family helped me not worry about money for the first 20 years of my life.

My process of learning how to be stable started as I moved out on my own. And it included a whole lot of painful mistakes.

I named a lot of that pain failure. I beat myself up a lot for how I ‘really should know these things’.

But now I feel differently.

So many of the people that I work with are craving stability. They are at all stages of their lives and careers, but most of them are feeling the pain.

But that pain isn’t failure. It’s a message of what needs to be strengthened. The reframing of that is a powerful message for me, since instead of something to ignore and be ashamed of, it’s something to notice and bring into the light.

“The thickness and stability of a trunk, therefore, build up as the tree responds to a series of aches and pains.”

Cool right?

Increasing Stability Often Halts Upward Growth (for a little while)

Stability is the first step towards growth, but it doesn’t always feel like growth in the moment… in fact it can feel like you’re standing still.

For the tree it means deepening roots and increasing the “thickness and stability of the trunk”. For us it means restructuring resources, building a cash flow buffer (getting one month ahead) and taking care of the annual expenses that can cause debt.

Spending 6 months building a one month cash buffer instead of making big payments on your debt can feel super frustrating, but it’s creating the stability that will make paying off your debt for the last time so much more possible.

We only have so many resources, and investing in stability usually means that there’s less for our other big goals. From the outside it can seem like we’re not making any progress at all, but it’s the progress that needs to happen if we want to… *sigh*… grow up into strong and tall trees.

… sorry for that last one

Want to start getting control of your money? How can I help?

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

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