Life and Money Hacks for 2020

I love life hacks.  Finding easier ways to conquer every day tasks is my jam.  This is also referred to as “creating margin” – aka, making more time for what matters most to you.  I also am a nerd and love personal finance.  So if you think I’m not entering the new roaring ’20s with all the life hacks and money plans, you’d be very wrong.  I’ve had a lot of difficulties over the last few years and have had to learn how to conquer different situations.  I want to share these life and money hacks with you, wherever you are at in life.  Hopefully you find something that helps you enter this year with a good bang!

Life and Money Hacks for 2020

If you are in survival mode

Oh man, I know this feeling far too well.  And I am so, so sorry you are here.  While you remind yourself this is a season and won’t last forever, here are the things that helped me:

Pick your clothes out the day before.  You know how you come home from work and change clothes?  Pick out tomorrow’s outfit when you do this.  It makes mornings so much simpler when you’re struggling to wake up and function.  And it makes going to bed quicker because you don’t have to add this to your nighttime routine.  You’re already in your closet, might as well make tomorrow easier!

Pick 3 tasks (or whatever amount you want) for the day to be successful.  I don’t mean big tasks either.  When you’re in survival mode, just making dinner AND doing the dishes in the same night can feel impossible.  So make your tasks simple, like paying a bill, making sure everyone had something for dinner (cereal counts), giving your kid or dog a bath.  Whatever simple things that you can do to make you feel like you won the day even if it’s the bare minimum.  It’s all about mindset.  You can read more about this in a previous post I wrote here.

Make small weekly changes and talk about them.  If you are really struggling keeping up with every day tasks, ask for help.  Get groceries delivered.  Ask your husband to be in charge of a couple meals a week.  Say no to outings when you know they will drain you further.  Give yourself grace when you can’t get something done.  It’s not for forever, just for right now.

If you want to save money on food

Meal planning is the talk of the town (or internet) and for good reason!  Like picking your clothes out the night before, it takes the stress out of the busiest part of the day.  No one wants to be asked “what’s for dinner?” and not have an answer!  After a long day at work, it’s nice to know you have everything you need to make an easy, balanced meal at home and save the expense (and calories) of going out to eat.  Bonus, you’ll never understand that meme about buying a bag of lettuce just to throw it out two weeks later.

If you’ve never meal planned, start with a week at a time.  And don’t pick complicated meals.  Pick 3 or 4 easy meals and double them if you have to for leftovers.  Then you don’t even have to cook every night!  I’ve been meal planning on a monthly basis for a while now and it has been life changing.  You can read more here.

If you are ready for some bigger plans

Maybe you already meal plan and conquered your food budget and aren’t in survival mode.  You’re probably looking at this new decade similar to us.  What the heck do we want to prioritize and when?  Have you made 1, 5, and 10 year goals?  We’ve been talking a lot about ours lately and making sure our finances are set up to support that.  There is no right or wrong answer – every one is different and will have different goals!  But here are the things we’ve been doing, researching, and calculating to keep us on track:

Sign up for life insurance.  The younger you do this, the cheaper it will be per month.  I think most couples sign up after they have kids, but you can do it before then too.  We got policies that would cover our mortgage balance and funeral costs.  If Landon died unexpectedly, I don’t want to have to move while mourning my husband because I can’t afford the house we built together on my own income.

Check your retirement accounts.  I’ve been hanging out with Bankrate’s retirement calculators a lot.  A LOT.  They have ones for 401k’s, Roth’s, social security, minimum disbursement, the list goes on and on.  But what’s great is that you just plug a few numbers in and can see if your current situation has you on track for your target retirement age.  If not, try out some new numbers and make adjustments in real life once you find the right amount.  You can even calculate what age you’ll run out fo money!  How much you need for retirement depends on so many factors and the internet doesn’t agree on how to figure that out but this is a great starting point.

Make your financial bucket list.  Maybe you already have a bucket list that has things that cost money (like go to Paris someday) but this list puts a dollar amount to it.  Do you want to pay off your house by a certain age?  Do you want to have all the cash needed for your next vehicle in 5 years?  What about college for your kids?  Or a family vacation next summer?  Sinking fund for new appliances in 10 years?  Determine how much you will need by when and see what is doable.

Track your discretionary expenses.  Last year we tackled a lot of different projects (like our deck and landscaping) and made investments we had never done before.  I started tracking all of these costs on a spreadsheet and found out how much discretionary income we had for the year.  This gave us a great idea as to how much money we should have this year to put toward long term goals after paying general living expenses.

I hope this list was helpful and gave you some ideas to conquering this year.  Rome wasn’t built in a day so you don’t need to make resolutions and then expect to be a different person the next morning, Monday, month, etc.  Slow and steady wins the race.  And trying is always better than not trying at all!

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