⚡️ Be Better with Your Money in 2023
Resources, ideas, and exercises..
It’s 2023, and that means we’re all super motivated and inspired to be better versions of ourselves. However, 43% of people give up on their “better versions” by February, and 91% by the end of the year.
But this is your year — your year to be a part of the 9% of people who make it until the end! And the easiest way to make it is by having a plan and reminding yourself of your accomplishments along the way to stay motivated.
In this post, we’re going to cover:
A handful of money resolutions to explore in 2023
How to track your progress
My own resolutions + how I plan to achieve them
⚡️ Money Resolutions to Explore
Here’s the deal — 98% of you that are reading this likely have it all figured out. You’re subscribed to a self-proclaimed “super-nerd,” which means you probably have a little “super-nerd” inside of you as well.
I’m not here to step on your toes, but instead inspire you to do more research about a specific step inside of your plan, challenge the status quo, and get excited about change.
Let’s jump into things!
Do you actually have a budget? Or do you just tell yourself that?
“Budgets are for poor people, and I’m not poor!”
“Budgets are restrictive, and I want to live a life of abundance and options.”
“Budgets don’t work for me — they never have.”
Budgeting is weird — it creates a sense of accountability that a lot of people might not be used to.
For the longest time, I didn’t budget my monthly income because I didn’t want to admit to myself that there wouldn’t always be money to spend. I’m not sure if that was ego or stupidity — or both.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that a budget is not to be looked at as something restrictive — instead as permission to spend your money.
Maybe 2023 is the year you actually create a realistic monthly budget and stick to it?
Well, what does that really mean?
Budgets don’t happen overnight, and they take practice.
It took me months to find the right budget that worked for me. I had to begin predicting my average cost for utilities, the “right” amount to spend on eating out, how much gas I needed to buy for my car, and more.
👋 Here’s what I did that helped:
I made a Google Sheet that tracked everything I was paying for on a monthly basis. Subscriptions, groceries, rent, etc.
This helped me have a bird’s eye view over what was leaving my bank account on a consistent basis — so I could begin to plan for it.
Inside of the same Google Sheet, I began to add dates around when that money was being spent. For example, on the 9th of every month I’d be billed by my internet provider, and on the 22nd from Apple Music.
By adding dates, I began to have a sense of timing as to when I could reasonably expect the money to leave my bank account. And considering I know when my paycheck would arrive, I could begin planning what my bank balance would look like.
After identifying all of my predictable expenses, I began to plan my “unpredictable” expenses. For example, this is where eating out, shopping, and other “non-essential” expenses would come into play.
Think about it — you know how much your paycheck is and when you’ll get paid, you know when these “subscription-type” expenses will debit your account, you have a solid understanding as to how much they’ll be.. and now you’re predicting how much you’ll spend on “variable” expenses.
🎉 Congratulations! You just built a simplified version of a budget.
The goal here is to feel a sense of planning, understanding, and calmness.
Is there money left over? If not, how can there be? Here’s a video I shared to my TikTok a few months ago that might help you build a budget.
👉 How to stay motivated: reward yourself for sticking to your budget! This might be treating yourself to a night out or buying that (reasonably priced) thing you’ve been eyeing.
In my experience, the best way to stay motivated is to find someone to go on this journey with you. My friend Jacob and I shared our monthly budgets with each other at the start of the year and are doing all we can to hold each other accountable — and hyping each other up along the way.
Are you investing toward retirement yet?
I’m going to assume nearly everyone reading this post is investing toward their retirement — considering “investing” is all we talk about around here. But in case you aren’t, let’s figure out why — and fix it!
What does “investing toward retirement” really mean?
Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
Those are the two easiest ways to begin investing toward retirement — and they’re both pretty straightforward.
To preface this section, it’s incredibly important to know that the money you’re investing “toward retirement” cannot be withdrawn and enjoyed until you’re 59.5 years of age — it’s just how the system works.
1️⃣ Starting with the 401(k) — this is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that essentially is an opportunity for your employer to help you reach your financial goals. Your employer is contributing their own money to your retirement account — essentially free money.
Most employers offer a 401(k) Plan, and even a “company match.” The “match” is the free money — because they match your monthly contributions up to a certain point.
For example, let’s pretend you’re investing $200 / month toward your 401(k) Plan and your employer offers to match your contributions dollar-for-dollar up to 3% of your annual salary.
Assuming a $70K annual salary, your employer will match $2,100 of the $2,400 you contribute during the year — bringing your total balance to $4,500 despite having only contributed $2,400 of your own money.
Hit up your HR department to learn more about your employer’s 401(k) Plan — just don’t forget that once you begin contributing toward your 401(k) to budget that money leaving your paycheck every time you get paid.
You’re allowed to invest up to $22,500 in 2023 toward your 401(k) Plan — something I was not able to achieve while in the workforce. This number is incredibly hard to hit for a lot of people and you should not feel bad about not maxing out your 401(k) Plan.
Instead, start with baby steps. Work your way up to an amount that works for your budget over the long-term. And don’t forget — this money is being invested (usually on your behalf) into the stock market. My employer didn’t allow me to pick the funds the money was invested into, but instead my “risk tolerance.”
If you’re under 50 years old it’s usually okay to be on the riskier side of that equation.
2️⃣ Individual Retirement Account (IRA) — maybe your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) Plan, or maybe you’re self-employed? That’s totally fine! This strategy is for you.
But remember, similar to your 401(k) Plan at work you’re not allowed to withdraw and enjoy this money until you’re 59.5 years old. Well, you can — but you’d be forced to pay penalties and taxes and forfeit your hard-earned money to Uncle Sam.
So here’s the deal with these — it’s exactly what it sounds like: a retirement account for you, the individual.
Instead of contributing to a plan offered by your employer, you’re contributing money ($6,500 / year to be exact) into a brokerage account, then investing that money into whatever you’d like.
Here’s how it works — deposit either $550 / month or $6,500 / year or any number you’d like up to that amount into a brokerage account with this IRA designation then invest it into the stock market. And by “stock market,” I’m talking about $VOO.
👉 How to stay motivated: watch that number go up! That’s your retirement. Be proud of it. You can also compare your account balance to other people in your age bracket to make sure you’re on track.
👉 Apps that might help: if you’re the type of person that wants to just deposit money and forget about it, check out either Wealthfront or Betterment. If you’re the type of person who wants to invest into specific stocks and ETFs, maybe Vanguard is better for you.
Pay off the debt, seriously.
This might be a credit card you’ve just been lazy paying off, or maybe a car with only $8K left on the loan, or maybe even your student loans from 12 years ago.
Pay off the debt, seriously.
I’ll keep this section short because we all know consumer debt is bad and it’s robbing us of a prosperous financial future. With that being said, I really want to encourage you to be more mindful about what you put on your credit card or afford to these “Buy Now Pay Later” companies.
The average car payment in America for a used vehicle is $525 / month — that’s your retirement fund! Get crazy focused in 2023 and pay off or put a massive dent in your car note’s balance and wrap things up in 2024 — then use the money to begin maxing out your Individual Retirement Account.
$525 / month invested in the stock market returning 11.88% annually from age 35 to age 65 starting at $0 equates to $1.8 million in retirement.
Pay off the debt, and invest the difference.
👉 How to stay motivated: Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps are a great place to start learning more about paying off debt and their Facebook group is a wonderful place to surround yourself with other people in a similar (or worse) situation. They’re certainly a motivating bunch.
👉 Apps that might help: another Dave Ramsey plug here, but his EveryDollar app helps you track your debt payoff progress. You can also use Copilot!
⚡️ My Own 2023 Money Resolutions
I’m going to keep it 100 with y’all — I’m getting aggressive this year.
I’ve already shared my goal to have $2M invested toward my Dividend Growth Portfolio by the end of the decade, and for me to achieve that goal my budget needs to remain tight. However, on top of that goal — or maybe alongside it, I haven’t yet decided — I want to somehow max out my Solo 401(k) through Ocho.
Essentially, a Solo 401(k) is the same as a 401(k) Plan you might receive at work.
But as you all know, I’m self-employed — which means the only employer I have is myself. As a full-time content creator, I don’t have a consistent income. Instead, I make money from advertisements, consulting, platform revenue, and most importantly — you all.
💰 Here is a consolidated list of what I’m doing with my money in 2023:
Fully-funding my high-yield savings account — right now, it has 7 months worth of expenses inside of it but given the macroeconomic uncertainty I want to bump this closer to 10-12 months.
Investing in myself — I want to build a recording studio to start filming YouTube videos and I need to budget for both that and a video editor (let me know if you know anyone with experience).
Real estate — both personal and institutional.
Personal is simple — my house needs a new paint job, I need to replace a few outdated fixtures, and my patio needs to be completely re-worked.
Institutional — this is through Fundrise.com, a platform that allows anyone to invest toward institutional-quality real estate around the country.
🏠 Fundrise’s 2023 Predictions:
Fundrise just released their 2022 Letter to Shareholders — and it starts out with this bold, but compelling statement..
“We may surprise some of our long-time investors when we state that we are starting to become more optimistic and believe that we are nearing the bottom of the market cycle, with the next 12+ months presenting perhaps the most compelling investment opportunities that we’ve seen in the decade since we started.”
You might be saying to yourself, “Austin, real estate hasn’t crashed yet — why are you actively investing toward it? We all know it’s going to crash more!”
You’re right, there certainly is a correction on the way — but I’m not a real estate expert by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, I understand general macroeconomic trends and can read CNBC headlines — but there’s so much more to it that I simply don’t have the boots-on-the-ground experience to understand.
I know I want real estate to be a part of my personal net worth and portfolio — I own Nashville real estate for that exact reason — but I guess I don’t know what I don’t know, and I’m smart enough to admit that.
And Fundrise seems to have a plan — a plan I can get behind.
I have roughly $5K invested through their platform, and my goal is for that figure to 4X by the end of 2023. I want to “buy the market bottom” alongside them in places only the experts know where to look.
If this is something you’d like to do as well, you can join me here.
2023 is your year to get better with money — to not become a statistic, and begin to change your family tree. I’m trying to do the exact same thing, while trying to be as transparent as possible throughout my entire journey.
There will be good years and bad years — but one thing is for sure: if you don’t start, there is no progress (or lack thereof) to reflect upon once the calendar turns again.
If you have questions — email me or drop a comment below.
Let’s go build generational wealth, together, in 2023.
Disclaimer: This is not financial advice or recommendation for any investment. The content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.