Written by Alexis Cheung
Welcome to Money 101, the stupid-simple finance class everyone deserves. Need something explained? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you want to be rich (or, like, pay your bills, have some fun, and start saving) — but aren’t sure how to get there. Here’s a secret: build smart, simple habits.
It sounds unsexy and slow, but it’s the easiest way to have a healthy financial life. Here are four easy ones to start today, whether you’re fifteen or thirty-five.
Billionaires and super-successful people have “figured out a way to fall in love with boredom, put in their reps, and do the work.” It’s a quote from James Clear who wrote a book all about this called Atomic Habits. What he means is this: whether we’re talking about a major glow up or a big bank balance, your job is to be incredibly boring about sticking to your plan.
When you get paid, you have to set aside money for bills first. The amount leftover to blow on Depop or microtransactions or coffee will be smaller.
Project Runway judge and queen Elaine Welteroth makes more money than ever—yet she keeps her spending low. “I was raised to be very frugal,” Welteroth told the Cut (admitting that she saves barista-made coffees for two days). Instead of spending all her newly-earned cash on fashion, “I continue to live beneath my means because I like watching my wealth accrue.”
Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban believes no one should have a credit card. He’s right—but only if you don’t pay off the balance in full every month. If you can do that, you’ll build a high credit score, which tells money lenders you’re responsible enough to repay loans or mortgages. For those who can’t handle a credit card yet, find a service (hint, hint) that can help you build credit in other ways.
Go the manifesting TikTok route, say them aloud each month, text them to yourself. Whatever you do, just get them out of your head. When a goal enters the world outside your mind in any format, you build this invisible sense of accountability. (You can’t help it, so if you don’t want something, don’t say it aloud!) Maybe your goal is to move out, or create a “fuck you fund” à la Lucy Liu so you can leave any job or relationship. Even a post-covid vacation counts. Whatever your dreams, set them, save towards them, and give your money and financial habits real purpose.
Alexis Cheung is a writer from Hawaii.
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix