Have you been thinking about your finances lately and wondering what you can do to become more organized with your money? Join Alaina Fingal and me in this episode of the Productive Living series as we discuss how you can overcome fear related to your money, learn how to establish a budget, and save for your future.
Managing your money and making a life that matters
Alaina Fingal is an accountant, certified financial coach, author, and content creator. She helps busy people who struggle with budgeting and time management use a paper planner to get organized. She shares her easy approach to productivity & finances through her YouTube channel. Her work has been featured in many significant publications, and she was recently selected as one of LA Wire’s 40 under 40 along with such notables as Mark Zuckerburg, Rihanna, and actress Jessica Alba. Alaina lives in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband Torrey and their two daughters.
Alaina started her business in late 2017 when she was trying to figure out to “adult” better. She was a wife and mom and wanted to lead a more organized life. She had been working as an accountant for several years but didn’t feel like she was as productive as she could be.
At that point, Alaina decided that she was going to get organized using her paper planner. When Alaina writes things down and has a plan for the day, she feels the most organized, so she knew her paper planner was the key.
From there, Alaina started to organize and manage her money better, and then her friends and family started asking for help too. Her YouTube channel grew from that experience, and it has spiraled into the company it is today. Alaina loves teaching people systems and routines to help them adult better.
Alaina’s favorite planner and why it works
Alaina’s paper planner of choice is the disc-bound Happy Planner. She likes that you can remove and add pages and how customizable it is overall. She has tried other planners such as the Erin Condren Life Planner and Passion Planner, but the Happy Planner has worked out the best for her.
Alaina currently has two planners: one for home life and one for her business. Each planner is customized to exactly what she needs, including sections for health, home, money, and business. Alaina refers to her planner as a “Frankenplanner” because she has take sections from multiple planners and combined them into one large book with different sections. She has categories such as goals, mood, schedule, etc. This larger book allows her to have all her plans in one place.
Alaina has created downloadable budgeting templates that are available in her Etsy shop. They allow you to break down your budget by paycheck and plan exactly what you’re going to do with your money. Alaina hopes that by using these templates and watching her YouTube videos, you will be able to duplicate what she has done with the same amount of success.
Alaina’s advice on how to get started with managing your money
Alaina recommends you start first by learning your “Money Personality“, which is the typical way you handle your money and your relationship to it. There is no good or bad personality to have and each one has its pros and cons. It’s important to know which one you are so you can spend and save in the best way as it relates to your money personality. Eighty percent of how we spend our money is based on our habits, not our needs. You may think your spending is related to your circumstances but it’s often related to our beliefs around what we think we need. There are five different kinds of money personalities:
- Saver-loves to save money back for a rainy day; avoids needless spending
- Spender-enjoys spending money and shopping
- Security Seeker-enjoys spending but needs a plan for it
- Risk Taker-loves to gamble and grow their money
- Flyer -not motivated by money at all, no decisions are based on money
Alaina has a playlist on her YouTube channel defining each of these money personalities, which will help you discover which personality you have and how it relates to your spending habits. Alaina also recommends her budgeting playlist, a series of videos that walk you through how to budget your money on paper, step by step, as well as other video, ‘s on how to get started with budgeting.
Alaina first heard about Money Personalities in the book The 5 Money Personalities by Scott and Bethany Palmer. When she read the book, Alaina found it so helpful because she was able to learn more about why she and her husband viewed and spent money differently, which was a help to their marriage. They were able to have conversations in a new light and see each other’s point of view with this new perspective.
The importance of having a money routine
Having a money routine is similar to having a morning or evening routine, in that we benefit from it if we take the time to do it. Managing our money and taking time to budget can get away from us if we don’t make it a priority.
Alaina noticed there was a pattern when it came to her money: it would come into her account, she would spend it, and then more would appear when she was paid again. It was a cycle that had no purpose or thought behind it.
Alaina advises you to set aside a day and a time each week to review your finances, taking note of how much you have spent, how much you have saved, and if any important purchases are coming up. Alaina not only does this routine weekly, but monthly, quarterly, and annually as well. As a result, Alaina and her husband no longer overspend like they once did and are never surprised by purchases coming up, which allows them to save more money. The videos on Alaina’s YouTube channel go more in-depth about her money routine and how you can apply this to your own life.
What to do if you’re overwhelmed with money
If you are someone who is overwhelmed by money or would like to become more involved in your family’s finances, Alana has some tips for you. These tips and more are also featured in this YouTube video.
- Acknowledge that you have a fear associated with money-this is not uncommon and recognizing the type of fear you have can be very helpful. There are two different types of fear:
- The fear of actually being afraid of money- you are afraid that something bad could happen as a result of your money and finances, but you’re not sure what that is.
- Knowledge-based fear of money-this is something that has been created in your mind and feels very real. The way to overcome this type of fear is knowledge. The more you learn about money, the less fear you have.
- Start saving some of your money-if you are overwhelmed by your finances, this could be because you don’t have any money, or not enough. Start saving as much as you can, even if it’s just $5 out of every check. The amount doesn’t matter, as long as you are putting back something. This will always make you feel better.
There is no such thing as being good or bad with money. Money is a tool, a resource, that doesn’t determine your value or who you are in the world. Once you have realized this, it’s easier to become more comfortable with it and have conversations about it.
Fitting money management into your busy routine
If you are wanting to do a better job of managing your finances and learning more about money, but feel like you don’t have time to add a money routine to your schedule, you are not alone. Alaina says this is something she runs into a lot with her clients. Once she noticed this trend, she began to research more about productivity and planning because they are so closely related. If your money is all over the place, your schedule usually is too, and that is because you aren’t making time to plan.
Alaina said most people aren’t planning at all because they are overwhelmed, so she suggests you start with a brain dump (discussed in this video), writing down every possible thing you have to do, and look at the gaps and other pockets of free time you may have to focus on your money.
The second thing she recommends is to never take too much time working on your money routine. It shouldn’t take up a large chunk of your day and if it does, this means you may need to consider delegating some of your tasks to others because you have too much on your plate. Your money routine should take 5-10 minutes at the most, just enough time to check your bank accounts and budget.
We have become used to being so busy all the time that we don’t have any space in our day to manage our money. However, if we feel we can’t make the time, it’s usually because we are choosing not to. We choose how we spend our time, whether it’s with our family, watching TV, or something else. We can choose to make time to manage our money as well. Managing your money and budgeting is a form of self-care because it helps foster peace of mind.
Resources and tools Alaina recommends for money management
Alaina talks a lot about budgeting apps, even though she is a paper planner person. Her husband however isn’t, and you might not be either. They use the EveryDollar app so he can stay on track with the family budget along with her in a way that’s comfortable for him. They meet weekly to review their finances together so nothing falls through the cracks and she recommends you do the same thing. Alaina also uses Mint to look at their net worth, their debt, and a general overview of their finances.
Alaina has some books she recommends as well. If you are just getting started, check out the book Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This will really open your eyes to your relationship with money. She also likes the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, Worth It, by Amanda Steinberg, and The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class, by Keith Cameron Smith, which is a short read but one that will really change your mindset.
Questions for Alaina from the TPW Community
Betsy asks if Alaina could share a financial review checklist to help us focus on our money.
Besides video’s on the Money Personality and setting up your budget using a planner or app, she also has some on how to do your weekly/monthly budget close-out and the different things you need to do with your money on a monthly and quarterly basis. In these videos, she breaks down her own routines as much as possible so you can develop your own.
Laitha asks what we should consider as we approach retirement.
Alaina has a video on this topic, where she talks about the two main rules that you need for retirement, the numbers and calculations you need to consider, and how to not outlive your retirement funds.
Kristy asks how the average person can buy and sell stocks-and if the average person should.
Alaina holds a free weekly Zoom meeting (register on her website) called “Money Monday”, where she talks about different investments, how risky they are, and her recommendations for how to educate yourself on the stock market. She also recommends various books you can read on the topic.
Alicia wants to know if she should focus on one financial goal at a time.
This concept is very similar to what Dave Ramsey recommends and Alaina does agree with parts of it, specifically with building up an emergency fund. You may not have the goal of $1,000, as that could vary depending on your circumstances, but knowing what your savings goal is and getting that nest egg built up is important. After that is done, work on all goals at the same time, such as investing and paying off debt equally.
What do you do to get back on track on a day when everything gets away from you?
Alaina has these days a lot! If she is having a bad day or gets overwhelmed, she stops and resets. That reset may be taking the day off–she does not force things. She may watch TV or take a nap, but the most important thing she does is her Weekly Reset (featured in this video), which is a list of things she does to get herself back on track and feel more like herself. This involves both self-care and productivity. She does a brain dump, organizes her space, and feels much better.
Alaina’s last words for the listener
Don’t give up and don’t beat yourself up over feeling overwhelmed or struggling to adjust to a new money routine. We weren’t born knowing how to do this and it will take time to learn it all. Give yourself grace to learn and make mistakes.
What do you think? Questions? Comments?
Do you have questions for Alaina or me? Please share them in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
Connect with Alaina
Resources and Links
- The Organized Money YouTube channel
- Alaina’s free “Money Monday” seminar
- The Happy Planner website
- Alaina’s Etsy Shop
Books Alaina Recommends
- The 5 Money Personalities by Bethany Palmer and Scott Palmer
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- Worth It by Amanda Steinberg
- The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class by Keith Cameron Smith
Alaina’s YouTube video’s mentioned in the interview
- What To Do If You’re Overwhelmed By Money
- How To Do A Brain Dump
- 10 Apps I Use With My Paper Planner
- How Much Do I Need To Retire
- How To Improve Your Week-The Weekly Reset
- Money Personalities playlist
- Budgeting playlist
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