A Few Grownup Thoughts on Spending

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I have always loved school, and the feeling of uncapping a pen and cracking open a brand-new notebook, ready to learn, never fails to thrill me. A few weeks ago, Natalie and I had a chance to experience that fresh-start feeling with a Society of Grownups pop-up class called “Spending Plans.”

The class was held at Cafe ArtScience, a restaurant in Kendall Square with a fun atmosphere and unusual food. Over cocktails we started chatting with the rest of the group, and then participated in the class and more discussion over dinner. It was such a refreshing experience to talk about money with others who may be in different life stages and have different goals, but are all interested in understanding the ways they spend.

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I especially appreciate Society of Grownups’ focus on being more intentional and making sure that spending lines up with values. So much more helpful than a cookie-cutter approach! For some people, saving to buy a home might be important, whereas others might prioritize travel: the takeaway was to make sure that your money is reflecting your own priorities.

A few of our takeaways:

Be mindful, not mindless.
We’ve all heard not to go grocery shopping when hungry, right? The same impulse shopping applies to other categories as well. Some tips from the group included to wait 15 minutes before buying something to see if it still holds the same allure, unsubscribe from all the flash sale alert emails to avoid temptation in your inbox, name your savings accounts so money not spent has more emotional resonance, and finding a buddy also interested in being more mindful about spending. Instead of buying little things here and there when you see sales or something calls to you from the checkout line, that money could be used deliberately towards something you really care about.

Big vs small priorities. Needs, priorities, and wants.
Making a list of big stuff and small stuff you spend money on, and then categorizing those things is enlightening! The categories may shift over time, so repeating the exercise now and again can be a good idea. This discussion got me thinking about how much I prioritize having some money available to say ‘yes’ to coffee or lunch these days — getting out and about with Serena feels so much better than spending too much time at home!

Listing ‘needs’ and putting down a number can help gain an idea of how much money may be left over for ‘priorities’ like renovations or travel and ‘wants’ (like fall shopping!) Factoring small indulgences like those occasional lattes into a spending plan can help it feel more realistic. After getting a basic handle on a budget, tracking your spending can be so motivational. Natalie and I both use YNAB (the classic version) and really love how it helps us understand our spending, but other websites like Mint, an Excel spreadsheet, or even a paper and pen can help you accomplish the same thing.

Reducing fees and enjoying the free.
Some shared tips from the participants included using credit cards wisely to benefit from points, making the most of your library card and free events around the city, and seeing whether some bills can be reduced —  all can offer a little more breathing room between paychecks. There are so many great free or reasonable things to do in Boston and the surrounding area, and we try to make the most of that!

We had such a fun night out, and the thoughtful and enlightening conversation around spending has given us lots of food for thought. We have found it empowering to feel more in control of finances and embrace our inner Grownup!

If you are interested, Society of Grownups is offering two more pop-up classes this fall

“Spending Plans” at Post 390 in Back Bay on 10/26 (Such a cozy spot! That fireplace in the bar area is just so lovely on a chilly day.)

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“Couples & Money” at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square on 11/10 (Another cozy spot!)

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This post is sponsored by Society of Grownups, a Brookline-based company offering classes, events, and financial advice to help navigate being a grownup and encourage conversations about money, happiness, adventure, and personal values. Check out their classes and more here.

Image Credits: 1) Laura Chassaigne 2+3) Society of Grownups 

2 comments
  1. Kate says:

    I am a huge YMAB fan too! I also think you would enjoy Ramit Sethi’s book, “I Will Teach You to be Rich” 😊 He talks about financial priorities and somehow makes it enjoyable and even funny!