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- "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" author Ramit Sethi just released a new journal to use alongside his bestselling book.
- I've never been a good saver, but writing in this journal motivates me to do better.
- I combed through my budget and found an extra $100 in savings.
I didn't get good at saving money until I was 29, with a major gender-affirming surgery on the horizon. While the surgery was covered by California's state health insurance, I needed to prepare two months' worth of living expenses — around $7,000, which I saved up in just eight months — in case anything went wrong.
It took eight weeks for my state disability office to process my FMLA leave claim, which meant I used every penny of that emergency savings to make ends meet. Since then, I've become less disciplined as a saver, and I've been looking for ways to get back on track.
When I learned that "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" author Ramit Sethi released a new journal to accompany his bestselling book, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get back on track with my saving goals.
The journal isn't about technical personal finance skills, but about shifting your mindset
I expected Sethi's journal to include savings worksheets and have more technical personal finance skills, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't like that at all.
In an interview about the journal, Sethi told me, "I think there are a lot of books about money that make you feel like you have to get all your ducks in a row, you have to pull all your account information and get all your passwords ready. The philosophy of this journal is easy and fun."
Instead of giving you a rundown of technical personal finance terms, using the "I Will Teach You To Be Rich Journal" reminded me of why I wanted to achieve my savings goals in the first place.
Understanding what I want for my 'rich life' motivated me to save more
Because I spent my childhood moving around between different cities and countries, I used to think of buying a home as a major life goal. As I started filling out Sethi's journal, I realized that homeownership is actually less important to me than the ability to travel and live in two or three cities a year.
In the journal, Sethi writes, "One of my favorite invisible scripts is that you 'must' own a house. I rented an apartment in New York City for more than 10 years. Renting was an excellent financial decision for me because it gave me far more flexibility and freedom than owning. In fact, after running the numbers, I still rent by choice."
I realized that I didn't feel motivated to save for a home because I didn't truly want it — I just felt like I should want it. But when I started writing in the journal about being bicoastal, taking more time out of the year to travel, and spending more time with my family, it felt like a new flame was lit under me to start saving more aggressively again.
I combed through my budget and found an extra $100 in savings
In the past, I've made the mistake of trying to make too big of a change in my budget to start saving. I would say to myself, "I'm going to save $500 a month! I'm going to stop eating out completely, and I'm not going to go out to shows and events!" That saving mindset quickly backfired, and I spent my savings as quickly as I earned them.
Sethi's journal helped me feel like I have more than enough time to achieve my savings goals, and that I can set smaller, more realistic savings goals each month to make it easier. With that, I found four areas in my budget where I can spend $25 less: eating out, gas, clothes, and events.
By cutting $25 from each of these categories, it doesn't feel like complete deprivation. Instead of skipping all dinners and lunches with my friends, a $25 cut means I only have to skip one a month. Instead of feeling left out because I can't go to every single party or event, I only have to skip one or two a month to make a $25 budget cut — or simply focus on finding free events to attend.
The journal helped me understand that it's definitely not too late to start saving for my "rich life" — and I don't have to wait to start living my "rich life" either.