Budget Life List


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What do you do with your Christmas, birthday, refund, “surprise” money? Once you receive this magical free money, where does it go?

Do you spend it? Do you save it? What’s with all the questions? How you treat unexpected money says a lot about how you treat your money.

Ready, set, let’s dive into the million dollar mindset!


I have read a lot of books about personal finances. One recurring and powerful theme is that most millionaires don’t look like millionaires. There are flashy moguls like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Benzos but they are not the majority.

The majority of millionaires are people who live in normal houses, drive normal cars, and wear normal clothes. Chances are you see them as your neighbors living on your normal street. The million dollar question is: How do we get to that kind of “normal”?


Have you heard of the lifestyle inflation trap or as it’s commonly known, keeping up with the Joneses? Want to know the secret of normal looking millionaires? They don’t increase their lifestyle when it starts to rain money like those Jones do.

When you get a raise or start a job that pays more, don’t let that extra money equate to buying more. This effect has been scientifically studied; it’s fancy science name is “hedonic treadmill”.

This means the endless pursuit of more stuff. The wiser alternative is keep your current lifestyle and use that extra money to advance your financial future. 

When I quit my job during the pandemic, my next position in civil service paid more. I had the option to increase my spending with this pay raise, instead I increased my retirement contributions. That is how a baller on a budget rolls…..


Be a winner, make a plan, and execute that plan. In good times and bad stick to the plan. Don’t let that siren song of indecision call to your Amazon shopping cart.

I recommend having a plan for what to do when you receive surprise money, like the money people give you for surviving to your next birthday, extra hours at work, a refund, leftover budget money, or some other random event.

What do you want that money to achieve? Do you want to reduce your debt? Are you planning on paying cash for an epic vacation? Saving for a llama? Wherever you are on your financial journey, use this surprise money to fuel your smart financial goals.

My plan? If it’s less than $10, it goes to my Expedition Everywhere fund (aka life list savings account). If it’s more than $10, it gets to meet my little spreadsheet where it will get sliced into chunks that is shared among the various designated goals. All of a sudden, my goals feel like the mafia!

The million dollar mindset is all about planning, avoiding the Jones, and gratitude. One empowering step at at time!
The million dollar mindset is all about empowering your financial dreams!


Be grateful. Be grateful that you received money that you didn’t work for. While you’re at it, be grateful for all your money. Mindsets matter. Yes, this is a new age, avocado-toast thing. For a good reason. It’s hard to feel bad when your grateful for all you have.

Adulting is the worst, with its bills, insurance, and cleaning. You deserve all the shiny objects for all the adulting-less-than-fun tasks that you do. But those shiny objects will never make you feel financially secure. That million dollar mindset on the other hand costs nothing but may change your financial life.

Do you have a million dollar mindset? Or is your mindset a work in progress?

Keep exploring!

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