One of my strengths is math. I’ve also used Microsoft Excel everyday for work for at least the last seven years. When it comes to budgeting or evaluating a stock, I often use lots of math. But that’s just because it’s something I like; there are ways to excel in your finances without using a lot of math. In fact, I propose that the most important elements of personal finance are not related to math.

  1. Budgeting using cash envelopes

If you don’t want to write down each purchase, but still want to budget your money, the cash envelope system might be for you.

To use the cash envelope system, you take envelopes and write each expense on them for the month. For example, you may have an envelope for rent, food, gas, etc.

Then when you get paid, you put some money in each envelope, until that envelope has enough cash in it to cover that bill for the month. For higher expenses, like rent, you’ll know intuitively to put more of your cash into it each paycheck.

  1. Paying yourself first

Paying yourself first just means that you consider your savings, investing account, or retirement savings, your first “bill” you pay.

Paying yourself first is important because typically if you pay yourself last, for some reason, there is never any money left over. I don’t know why this happens, but the solution is to just put the money in your savings before you pay any other bill. You don’t need to be good at math to change the order of what you pay and this change in behavior will increase your savings extensively.

  1. Emotional spending

Even though I’ve always been good at math, I still often spent way too much money because I was buying things for the happy hormones. I call this emotional spending. All the Excel formulas in the world couldn’t save my money from my emotional spending.

Before you go on an unplanned shopping spree, assess your emotions. Are you sad, bored, or angry? If so, consider some other activities, such as going for a walk, watching a comedy, taking a bath, etc. and then once you feel steady again, then do the necessary shopping.

  1. Compound interest

Compound interest is a mathematical event that makes your money grow even faster than you’d expect. And the great thing about it is that it occurs whether you understand it or not!

To utilize compound interest all you have to do is put your money in an account that gets paid interest. For example, if your savings account pays you 1% interest each year, then compound interest will start occurring automatically as long as you leave your money in that account.

These are just four items that can improve your personal finances without having to be good or use much math. There are many more non-math related behaviors that can make you LOTS of money, so don’t ever think you can’t be successful with money if you struggle with math.


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