Shake It Up and Question Everything

From Podcast #194: Question Everything, the one in which Jesse questions whether the latte is really the problem.

You can question the $5 latte. I can’t stand how often people give coffee as the example for frivolous spending. Expensive coffee, $5 a day, 365 days a year, you’re talking about $1,875—I don’t think that’s really the win.

Yes, you can question, and say, “Oh, I should brown bag my lunch, I should make a grocery list and consolidate my shopping, I should coupon, I should car pool, I should cut out the latte.” All of those are good things, and they will help you save money.

I like the questioning.

If you are really working Rule One, giving every dollar a job, and all your priorities are lined up and you decide that spending a ton of money on food is not really what you value, then yes, of course you should change it.

But what I don’t want, is for you to feel like because you questioned the latte and eating out at lunch, that you’ve really pushed yourself with hard questions. You haven’t really questioned much of anything.

Don’t just question the small, easy, obvious things. Question the big, fundamental structure of your finances.

Not every month, but once a year. Once a year—question everything.

You don’t want to always be questioning every big piece of your life. It’s a mid-life crisis in the making. But once a year, it’s a good exercise to sit down and really ask yourself,”Should we live here? Should we drive these cars? Are our kids in the right activities? Do I still like this job—this career? we have the kids and all the activities we have them in? Could we downsize? Should we move back to be with family?”

This is the kind of questioning that makes you uncomfortable. This is the kind of questioning that asks you to think about things you consider non-negotiables.

I want you to question the bigger—the biggest—components of your financial life, and dig for answers, because that is what really drives big financial change.

If you talk to someone who really turned it around financially, or you hear a story about a huge debt paid off, it’s not because they stopped with the lattes or started with the coupons. They transformed their lives because they made huge sweeping changes and really shook things up.

You can’t always shake it all up right away, but you can pick and choose some big components to examine under a microscope and really ask yourself, “Do we want to really do X? Is Y really what we want?”

It’s healthy. Not all the time, but about once a year it is very healthy and very fun.

And if you’re sharing finances with a partner, you’ll see this process helps to bring things to the surface. You will have deeper conversations, and get to the root of values and dreams and issues—all of which, can get lost in the whirlwind of the day-to-day grind.

So, once a year, question everything.

For more about how to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get out of debt and save more money, faster—subscribe to the YNAB podcast today! Until next time, follow YNAB’s Four Rules and you will win financially. You’ve never budgeted like this.