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Three. I have noticed, as a financial minimalist, my personal finances revolve around three. Three credit cards, savings accounts, index funds, and mole growths. I proudly claim them all but that last one.
Some things should be complicated, like space travel and brain surgery. I am willing to sacrifice simplicity for stretching our reach into space or diving into the squishy grey matter that makes inner dialogue possible, but not for personal finances.
I would rather throw up a bit in my mouth than have it complicated.
The more complex something is, the worse it is. Don’t let the overthinking and complexity bias sway your line of thinking and decisions away from you.Filled With Money
Charge the Card
I’m allergic to debt.
There are times when I have to take out a loan, but it’s rare. I want interest to work for me, instead of against me. I have taken out loans for vehicles and a home, but I have managed to unclutter and uncomplicate my finances by keeping it down to one at a time.
Even though I avoid debt like a field of blooming weeds, I enjoy leveraging credit.
I have three credit cards.
Three seems like a small army, but I use them all. They all have varying levels of cashback: one has a standard 1.5%, another revolves in 5% categories, and one has 3% on gas and groceries. I rarely shop which means my credit cards look shiny and clean when they expire.
The weekly payment is for groceries, monthly for gas and restaurants, and the rarest even of them all – clothes.
I don’t spend much.
There seems to be little that entices the use of the charge card and what does entice requires larger deposits like a trip to the United Kingdom or early retirement.
The dynamic trio generates a couple hundred bucks annually which I dump into savings. I pay the cards off every month, so I avoid accumulating interest. That is how credit card companies are paying me to spend money, and it’s why they call me a deadbeat.
Account for Savings
I have three savings accounts. Three accounts for three goals.
One is a sinking fund for random bills like car and life insurance. Pricey little things that gurgle up and scoop up a paycheck which is why I plan, to avoid the pain.
Based on past payments, I estimate how much I need in a year. I work backward from that number and deposit smaller bits into a sinking fund I call Adulting Adventures. When the big, bad bill comes a calling, I have funds waiting to pay. Paying for the entire bill upfront is cheaper since companies charge more for payment plans.
The second savings account is the Skilled Sailor account, a fancy title for an emergency fund. If I lose my job or need an emergency flight from Antarctica, this account is the cushion for the cause.
Skilled Sailor comes from Franklin D. Roosevelt quote, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” Aye, aye!
The third savings account is Expedition Everywhere or the travel slush fund. Travel is my thing. As a thing, it is rather expensive. I set up a savings account and save each paycheck. When travel opportunities come up, all I have to worry about is whether the water is safe to drink, not if I have the funds for fun.
These three savings accounts are short-term goals or things that I need in one to three years. Since the goals are short-term, I don’t have the stomach acid to shove them into the stock market. The stock market is for long-term goals, not I-need-to-pay-for-life-insurance-next-month goals.
Indexing the Fund
I use three index funds.
I don’t have time, or interest if I’m honest, in researching companies. That is more effort than I am interested in sacrificing to the stock market gods. Instead, I invest in large swaths of the market and hitch my investment ride to the gradual increase of the overall index.
I don’t need to find a winner. I want the average growth of the market and with low expense ratios.
As I grow in wisdom and wrinkles, it becomes easier to spend less. Even junk I bought years ago manages to hang around because I clean and repair, as needed.
Eventually, something breaks or wears out, which is when I replace it with quality since odds are good I will have it for years, if not decades.
Like dress shirts.
I have a few nice dress shirts. The life I lead as an introverted government employee means I rare attend events where I need a nice dress shirt. Outside of a job interview. I’ve had them longer than most people have cars.
These shirts are fast fashion bought cheaply for their neutral color and flattering shape. Little did I know, I would have them half a decade later.
I still have them and wear them, but chances are good they will continue to populate my closet until holes or persistent stains turn them into rags.
I used to always struggle to make ends meet and then as I cut expenses, got rid of credit cards, and started to chip away at my debt, I realized that I didn’t need to make ends meet.
I needed fewer ends.Be More with Less
I didn’t intend to align my finances with a love triangle, but as I have continued to declutter my surroundings, money has paralleled the same path.
I don’t mind, but I am surprised. I wanted to cull material excess and somehow, along the way, my finances fell into the same structure I am crafting for everything else.