“I eat the same thing everyday.”

We are all creatures of habit. I am not one to have to do the same thing everyday, but there are a few things in life that are pretty similar from day-to-day.

As I mentioned in my blog “Phone calls: No thank you” last weekend, during Portland’s mini snowstorm, I caught up on my Fast Company magazines and found the article: “Secrets of the Most Productive People” in the December 2013/January 2014 issue. There was a mention of the CEO of LearnVest. See, I am a finance buff, so I am a fan of LearnVest, a website that helps with personal finance. I receive their newsletter, and understand where the CEO, Alexa Von Tobel is coming from with this quote in the Fast Company article:

“Since the beginning of LearnVest, I’ve never left the office for food. I eat the same thing every single day [an apple, almonds, yogurt, a salad…], and I never sit still to eat a meal. My ultimate goal is to create operating systems for myself that allow me to think as little as possible about the silly decisions you can make all day long–like what to eat or where we should meet–so I can focus on making real decisions. Because mental energy is a finite quantity.”

I get it. I feel like during my work day I go from meeting to meeting, and often barely know when I am going to squeeze lunch in, or eat while at a meeting or at my desk while quickly trying to catch up on emails before my next meeting. Based on the crazy day, the last thing I want to do is think about what I want to eat for lunch. I usually just restrict it to salad. That way I am eating healthy, usually raw food that my body can easily process. However, often there are many different versions of a salad that I can decide from at work which always makes my decision that much harder, yet by just sticking to salad, I have narrowed my options and made my brain not have to think so much in an already busy day. So I am not as extreme as Von Tobel, but agree that often when you have so many other decisions to make during the day, why complicate things even more by having to decide what to eat.

Are you with me?

Start young: play money, toy cash register

As more and more people around me have babies it makes me think about kids more and more. There are so many things to think about: car seats, cribs, bassinets, strollers, names, kinds of diapers, bottles, the list goes on. As they get a bit older the list shifts a bit to other very important ideals that a couple should, for the most part, agree upon in how they want to raise their kids.

When I recently came across this article on how to teach your kids about money it made me think, wow everyone should be starting very early in how they want to approach money with their kids. I was talking to a colleague just the other day. Yes, I can tell you this now, and it is possible that I have no idea what I am talking about! We were discussing how expensive it is to raise a kid these days, let alone thinking about paying for them to go to college. I paid my own way through college. I was in a work/study program, and I worked outside of that too. My parents could not afford to pay for college for any of their three kids. While it would have definitely been nice to have it paid for, it taught me a lot about money, about growing up, and about taking responsibility for my decisions. I probably would not have worked as hard to learn if I was not paying for it.

Now that does not mean that I will not help my future kid(s) out with college, but I want to do it in a way that helps them grow, learn, and understand what their decisions mean financially. Too often, I think parents write a check and walk away, and that does not help their kids learn about life. The above article starts with ages 2-5 on how you can use play money and play “store” together. Oh how I remember the plastic cash register I had when I was little. I loved watching the coins come down the side like it used to at the grocery store. Toy cash registers today I believe have scanners and credit card swipers. Oh well. Parents could still teach the value of money, and include a bit about how someone has to pay for what is put on that credit card.

Start young. Whenever we begin having kids I know I will start young too. I think conversations about wants, needs, and money help kids know and appreciate all that they have in the world. It does not have to be in a way of shame, but from a place of abundance and gratitude.

Start with the basics

Some of you that follow my blog know that I have a passion for money management. My passion evolved because I wanted to make sure that I truly understood what we were doing with our money, and that I trusted the information we were using to make our money decisions. I cannot do that in a vacuum. It means I have to read, learn, and ask the right questions. This recent Daily Worth had an idea that resonated with me:

“Money management is like cooking, or fixing a car or anything else you can learn,” says Myers. “But if you tell yourself you’re simply not good at it, you’re less likely to take steps to learn the basics you need to be financially healthy.”

I have to agree. While I am not a cook, I would feel comfortable calling myself a baker. I learned over time how to work with dough and understand why a recipe called for baking soda rather than baking powder. I am still learning new things about baking, and enjoy trying out new recipes. The same goes for money management. As the world changes and evolves fast, we have to shift and adjust with it, and be aware of whether the decisions we have made in the past continue to serve us, or if we need to adjust our financial allocations based on changes in the market, and our lifestyle.

Some individuals work with a financial planner that they trust, others rely on friends and family, and some look to books, the news, and the Internet to help inform them on what decisions they make regarding their money. Whatever step you take, I encourage you to continue to learn. Maybe you are young and a beginner, or you might have a family and are looking now at how to save for your children’s future, wherever you are in life, there is always something to learn that can benefit you today and in the future.