Baby steps are beautiful, my friend.
You’ve probably heard me say that before. But it bears repeating! AND I want to give you loads of good ideas about what exactly I mean by a “baby step.”
Because “go big or go home” is hogwash. And baby steps … are often the most powerful steps you can take.
Over time, small shifts add up to big change. In any area of life — physical fitness, work, education … and certainly money.
3 small money upgrades I recently made
These minor changes are making a major difference in my day-to-day financial reality!
#1 I got my first business credit card (after 18 years in business!).
I had a credit line years ago when I had a business partner, but I never had a business credit card. I applied for this one to earn miles so our family can travel more! I’m not savvy about the travel miles game, so we’ve hired a consultant to help us learn how to play this game. It’s an exciting new step!
#2 I return online purchases I don’t like.
This is an ongoing practice I have to minimize money leaks. When I purchase something online and don’t like it (especially clothes), I make sure to box it up, send it back, and get that refund. Closing loops like this is so important.
#3 I took over our QuickBooks from my husband.
I first learned QuickBooks 20 years ago, and I’m grateful to this day for that training. It took time and energy, but was one of the most empowering moves I ever made in myself and my money relationship.
After doing my own bookkeeping for years — then handing the biz bookkeeping to my bookkeeper and our personal bookkeeping to my husband so I could take a nice long break — I’ve now taken back the bookkeeping! I got all of our 2018 data finished and actually texted my husband, “QuickBooks is MINE now.” Ha! It feels so good!
We can continually fine-tune and upgrade our money world.
These three new, small money upgrades are just some of the more recent examples. Every few months, I ask what needs attention or fine-tuning in my money world, and find the support to make it happen.
When I shared these 3 small changes with my community, they loved it — and responded with their own!
Here are 54 other money baby steps — from our community and beyond.
I hope they inspire you to find your own next baby step!
- Check your credit score. We love Credit Karma. It’s free and doesn’t hurt your credit to check!
- Cancel Hulu, Netflix, or other subscriptions or memberships you don’t use. (And yes: you need to be looking at your numbers to even notice this money leak.)
- Pay off your mileage credit card every Friday night — what a way to kick off the weekend, dreaming of your free travel, interest-free!
- Got a repair to make? Look up how to do it yourself!
- Take yourself on a Money Date. It can be five minutes or fifty — whatever you have bandwidth for. Here’s how.
- Give yourself permission to have ebbs and flows. In money, just as in all of life, our attention and priorities WILL shift. Spending more time on money stuff right now? Or less? It’s OK!
- Update your budgeting spreadsheet (or tracking app) with business expenses, if you have them.
- Find a 0% interest credit card for a balance transfer.
- Get a stylish accoutrement to slip your receipts into at checkout. (I used a vintage cigarette case for years and adored pulling it out later to input my spending into QuickBooks.)
- Start tracking your spending. I ALWAYS recommend simply tracking for a few months, before trying to make many changes.
- Set up a bookkeeping system. Which system is best? The one you use, of course! Excel spreadsheet, pen and paper — YNAB, QuickBooks, Mint, Money Minder … your choice! Here’s help just picking one!
- Hire a bookkeeping trainer to help you get started. YES there are wonderful people who will help you demystify a system! And YES making that phone call or sending that email to a potential bookkeeper counts as a wonderful baby step!
- Try a new feature on your bookkeeping system. Switch from monthly to weekly view, for example, compare two different months, or pull a report.
- Decide: what’s your biggest “money leak”? What would feel good and doable to do about it?
- Check the thrift or consignment stores before buying new clothes. A community member says doing so “saves money and keeps usable items in circulation. My default always used to be to buy new, but now I realize there’s often new or ‘like new’ – in the past month I bought a MacPro laptop for $375, a kitchen mandoline for $2, and shirts (with tags still on) for work for $9/each.”
- Simply peek at your numbers. Open up your bank account and look at the balance. Look at your total debt or assets. Hint: No need to “rip off the band-aid,” here. Stay present with yourself. Take the time you need. Stay in your body, in your heart.
- Call to negotiate a better deal on your internet, cell phone plan, or credit card interest rate. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
- Put due dates on your calendar so you’re not late on payments. This will help your credit score and save you money on late fees. A community member shares, “I enter all my bill due dates into my calendar twice now – once with a 5 day “heads up” reminder and then again on the day its due. I used to do it only on the due date, but having an alarm ahead of time ensures I never miss it now.”
- Create values-based spending categories. That way, it’s easy to check in and see if what you’re spending is in alignment with your values. Here’s how to get started.
- Do a Body Check-In. This is THE single biggest, smallest, profoundest money baby step I can recommend. Here’s how, including a little audio from me walking you through it.
- Shop around for higher interest savings accounts. A community member shared, “I closed all but 2 of my Capital One 360 accounts in favor of Ally Bank savings accounts. They earn more in interest.”
- Clean off the desk (or nook or dining room table) where you do money stuff. Make it clean, tidy, warm, and inviting. Add a candle, potted plant, or anything else that makes it feel good to you — even sacred.
- Clean and organize papers. “This was one of these niggly, low priority, kept getting pushed to the back burner but bothering me tasks. We bought and sold 7 months ago and I just had everything sitting in a pile. I also cleaned our fireproof safe. There were a LOT of outdated papers in there.”
- Make an updated list of your accounts and pertinent information. As a member of the Art of Money community says “My hubs takes a back seat to bookkeeping and god forbid something ever happened it’s important he have all the information in one place.”
- Consolidate dormant investment accounts. You might work with a financial planner to help you with this.
- Set up an account to automatically save you money. Some apps will round up purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the rest in a savings account — others automatically invest money for you, etc. There are many around now, including UPromise, Acorns, ClarityMoney, Stash, or others. (Please do your own research on these!)
- Decide what to do with your extra money. A community member shares “I just paid off $13,000 of credit card debt! I’m now trying to adjust my budget to wisely yet enjoyably manage an extra $500/month. It’s more difficult than it sounds! It was actually easier to be focused and say no to everything while I worked towards my goal, and now that it’s over I want to loosen up a bit (eg, enjoy eating out, maybe a new outfit) without piddling away my extra money.” Hint: I usually recommend a combination approach: some savings, some enjoyment. But you get to decide what works best for you.
- Invite your sweetheart to a different kind of Money Date — story time. No practical stuff, just stories — about money! It’ll open your heart to each other. Here’s a guide.
- Re-organize your filing folders for taxes. A fresh, pretty folder with flowers or stickers may not change your bracket — but it can make that stack of papers feel prettier!
- Grab a blank journal, head to the park (or a cozy cafe) and spend 30 minutes free writing about your relationship to money. What was it like for you in childhood? What were some defining moments, around earning, spending, saving? What lessons did you learn from your mother, father, community, and lineage?
- Find a great money book to read (or listen to). Some of my favorites: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin, The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny, or of course MY book, The Art of Money. Reading 10 minutes a day definitely counts as a baby step!
- Create your own Money Healing Ritual. Here’s inspiration from one of my own rituals.
- Forgive yourself for “feeling behind.” Deep breath. You are not behind. Trust your timing.
- Put a “check in” post-it note on your credit card, on the dashboard of your car, or on your mirror, reminding you to come home to your body.
- Reach out. Get support. From a bookkeeper, an accountant, a Financial Therapist, a trauma specialist — even a massage therapist!
- Sit with your numbers. Simply sit with them. Pour a cuppa tea. Don’t try to change anything. Just be with them.
- Spend an hour researching tax deductions for your small business.
- Buy a blank journal to collect your thoughts about money. Dreams, memories, plans, worries. Spend 10 minutes writing.
- Have a habit of overgiving? Find one place in your life to set a boundary. Resign from a draining board of directors or say “no” to a family member who’s asking you to waive your fees for them.
- Put yourself on a conscious spending plan. Only spend what you’ve planned to, ahead of time. Or, if that feels too restrictive: make sure you track everything you spend, whether that’s on paper or a tracking app. It all starts with knowing your patterns!
- Spend a few moments journalling: what does “success” with money mean to YOU? (Alternatively: what does “abundance” mean to you? Or “maturity”?) Remember: you get to define these in your life.
- Learn “resourcing,” a somatic tool to help you work through overwhelm or other challenging feelings. (Here’s help from SE Practitioner Karin Robbins.)
- Think about how your personality type or patterns shows up in your money relationship. Spend 15 minutes free writing about those connections. My favorite personality typology system is the Enneagram, and here’s an exploration of how the 9 types show up in our money relationships.
- Make a list. (Don’t even check it twice.) Overwhelmed with your financial worries, To Do’s, and things that keep falling through the cracks? Simply getting it out of your head can clear some space and ease.
- Listen to some inspiring money wisdom. Might I suggest my Art of Money podcast?
- Consider what money lineage you want to leave behind. Especially if you have children (but even if you don’t!) freewrite for awhile: what gems, insights, or hard-won wisdom have you gleaned about money in your life that you’d like to pass along?
- Make a Holiday budget. Include gifts, travel, dinners, decorations, and anything else that makes the Holidays feel special to you. Start planning and saving for it now. Here’s more.
- Got debt resistance? Try renaming your category — whether in your tracking system, Excel spreadsheet, or even (to start) just in your mind. “Student loan” might become “Amazing Education.” That medical debt might become “Healing Journey,” and your tax debt might become “Financial Integrity.” Play around and see what fits for you — and never underestimate the power of renaming. (Here’s more inspiration.)
- Find one thing in your money relationship to forgive. Whether it’s a “mistake” you made, a resentment you’re holding, or something else … sit with it and see: are you ready to forgive and let go?
- Spend 20 minutes researching debt consolidation companies.
- Update your financial identity. Who are you now, with money? Present time, present eyes. Here’s help from Fabeku Fatunmise – SO good.
- Create a 3-Tier Money Map of Intention. SO much better than a “budget.”
- If you’re self-employed, sit with your rates for a few minutes. Ask yourself: is it time to raise them? Here are some non-obvious perspectives to consider.
- Feel into generosity. Are you giving as much as you’d like, right now? Would it feel good to find a charity to support, perhaps setting up your Amazon Smile account? (My husband and I have supported charity : water and Kiva, over the years.) If money is tighter, are there non-cash ways you can give, like volunteering or donating? More on money and generosity, trust, and spirituality here.
Take a step, baby
This list is in no way complete! But I hope it gives you an idea (or twenty) for the kind of baby steps you can start taking in your own money life.
Remember: small steps like these add up to big change!
Did one of these steps inspire you? Or spark an idea of your own? Maybe you’d like to tackle one of these per week, for the next few weeks!
Feel into what’s right for YOU, for NOW. One person’s baby step is another’s big leap.
Whatever you do … remember to celebrate!
Cheering you on,