After giving it much thought, I decided to select a word of the year for 2024!
I’ve spend a lot of time reflecting on whether or not to choose a word of the year. Simply because not one word reflects my life overall.
I have a few different words I like for various aspects of my personal life and business life. Today, I am choosing to share my word of the year when it comes to personal finance for this blog.
My word of the year for 2024
My word of the year is purposeful.
By definition, Merriam-Webster defines this as having a purpose; full of determination.
I want to be intentional with my money. I have been giving so much thought to how I spend every single dollar!
Because like most things, there’s always room to review and revisit my relationships, including my relationship with money.
Here are five ways I plan to implement being more purposeful with personal finance.
While I haven’t chosen a word of the year every year, some previous years and the stories behind them have included:
Being purposeful starts with reviewing my budget
The first thing I did was review my budget and monthly expenses. I use a simple spreadsheet to track the due date of every bill and the general dollar amount.
I like to start with the fixed bills, like the mortgage payment, home-related expenses and insurance policies.
With it being the start of the year, the monthly mortgage payment shifted by a few dollars because of the escrow account.
Our health insurance increased by a few dollars, which I updated in the spreadsheet as well.
Once I finished reviewing the fixed bills, I took a look at the adjustable bills, like groceries, dining out and other miscellaneous expenses.
Set realistic budget numbers
I typically look through my credit card statements to get an idea of how much we are spending. I like to make sure the amount is still inline with what I guesstimate each month.
One area in our budget that drastically declined over the past several months were non-grocery but food related purchases. This included using delivery services and dining out.
While we by no means eat all of our meals at home, we’ve made a super conscious effort to lower our spending in this category.
The primary reason for this was an effort to focus on our health. This resulted in making better food choices, losing weight and feeling better about what goes into our bodies.
However, we still have a budget for this line item. It’s not realistic to eliminate this from our budget and we do use the money we set aside for this. Again, it’s all about using my word of the year and being purposeful with budgeting realistically.
Review the fees, tipping and fine print
I was a former restaurant server for a couple of years in college. I’ve always had a lot of empathy for the service based industry. It’s not easy standing on your feet all day, delivering service with a smile and hustling between tables and customers.
But for us, the tipping and fee culture has gotten too out of control. After traveling abroad, so many countries do not have fees and tipping. Coming home to the United States made us really question where our money is going.
Every business seems to be asking for tips and charging a fee lately. This has been giving us the ick factor! Really, it makes us not to want to spend money with these businesses at all.
And while we have sympathy towards workers, it is not our responsibility of taking care of every employee.
We’re always happy to tip for sit down service at a restaurant or someone who goes the extra mile.
Recently, we were asked to tip after purchasing a pretzel at the mall. We have spent our entire lives not tipping for this service, so it seems off to do now. Then asked tip at an airport kiosk at self-checkout. I could share another dozen instances, but you get the point!
And to be perfectly honest, sometime we really question who is getting the tip anyways, the employee or the business?
This year, in order to be more purposeful with our money, we are paying attention to who we tip and why.
And when it comes to fees, we have noticed numerous miscellaneous fees creeping into our once normal bills.
While abroad, the fees we paid at hotels, restuarants and deliery services were practically non-existent. For the exact same purchases at home, it is just astronomial for the same services.
As consumers, we are happy to consume!
But we’re taking a step back from fees, processing charges and tipping If this doesn’t align with our budget.
Learn how to get the most bang for my buck with every dollar
While easier said than done, I used to pride myself on being able to take a dollar and stretch it. I liked feeling I was getting more than my dollars worth.
Deals like BOGO, also known as buy one get one free, are still available at grocery stores. But it definitely feels like more effort to find these and shop the sales ahead of time.
Because we have switched to a somewhat healthier diet, many of these deals are for foods we no longer purchase. However, I am always on the lookout for deals when it comes to food or drinks I know we will consume.
But food shrinkage seems to be happening; the same dollar for an item gets a smaller quantity these days. We’ve all seen bags of chips or boxes of cereal incease in price while volume has shrunk.
I wonder how do we even make sure we are getting the same dollar’s amount that we used to a few years ago?
Using our word of the year, we plan to be more purposeful with shopping around for the best deal.
For example, we tend to default to Amazon Prime for ease of use. But lately, it’s not always the best price and shipping is taking much longer than the original two days.
I’ve added this extension to my browser when shopping to make sure I am getting the best pricing. Not only do I get the price, but I also earn cash back on all of my purchases.
Last quarter alone, I earned a little over $395 in cash back. This was all in thanks to my purchases from online shopping. This includes things like holiday gifts, home remodel purchases and basic items.
For over ten years now and thanks to my mother, I scan in all my receipts. I use apps like Fetch and Receipt Hog.
While these don’t help me earn back cash, they do earn me points. I then let these points biuld up for a year and redeem them for a gift card once a year.
Typically, I usually have enough points to exchange for a $50 – $100 gift card at a store of my choice. While this might not be a lot for some people, it’s worth the effort for me!
Reviewing subscription and membership services
Lately it feels like we have been playing the subscription game when it comes to consuming media.
We’ll sign up for a platform using a free trial, binge episodes and then cancel before our card gets charged. Have you ever done this?
We recently scaled back our media platforms. We recently switched to T-Mobiile for my phone plan and it includes Netflix and Apple TV.
Previously, everyone was using Straight Talk and had zero issues except it does not work internationally.
Seriously, if you are looking for a no-contract plan, Straight Talk is hard to beat. I’ve had it for years and have never paid more than $45 per month for unlimited everything!
In addition to Netflix and Apple TV through my phone plan, we signed up for Hulu for their $0.99/per month plan from Black Friday. We also have Amazon Prime, which we plan to pause this subscription when our membership is set to renew.
While we have had Amazon Prime for years, it no longer feels like a savings. We used to receive free delivery from Whole Foods, but now pay an additional $9.95 per delivery plus tip.
There seem to be less movies and streaming options. With the new addition of commercials coming soon, we are going to pause our Amazon plan. Who know, we will see what life is like without Amazon.
Our credit cards provide plenty of free memberships we utilize! We use Instacart, Door Dash and Grub Hub. As I mentioned above, we are still scaling back on the frequency of use.
We do not have a gym membership as we have a gym in our neighborhood. Between going on walks outdoors, our local gym and following a few YouTube fitness influencers, I’m happy this is a low budget item. However, I’ve routinely switched off and on with a Peloton membership and have been very happy with that!
While I will keep this to personal finance, I do enjoy membership and subscription services in general. Spotify continues to be one of my favorite paid platforms to use. I also subscribe to a few different Substacks and Patreon accounts.
Why my word of the year is fluent and evolving
I’m a firm believer that it’s ok to pivot and change things up over time. My word of the year is allowed to change! But being purposeful will serve me well in this season of life when it comes to personal finance.
Being purposeful with our money isn’t about setting limitations or changing our lifestyle. It’s about being more intentional with every purchase.
We’re excited to implement our word of the year in our budget and personal finance!