How We Stay Financially Motivated


Yo! We hope all of you had a fierce weekend. I’m not even sure what that means. In case you missed it last week, Johnny and I have started contributing on AOL’s DailyFinance, and here’s our first article. You would think with writing about personal finance all week, Johnny and I would be rather obsessed with the topic. And while it’s certainly something we’re passionate about, it’s not something that’s constantly swimming through our heads, day in and day out. We both have other hobbies, believe it or not. Oh, and we also have a few teeny responsibilities that consume us, such as working full time, keeping ourselves and our baby bathed and clothed, teaching our baby not to eat our cat’s food, and trying to relax every once in a while. Sound familiar to any of you?

And so because of the craziness that is life, our financial goals and motivations get bounced to the nether regions of our brains. That’s when we’re just coasting financially. But coasting ain’t gonna cut it if we’re going to keep a budget, buy a house, and save for our little munchkin’s future. So to get those financial-savvy juices pumping through our veins each day, we need a little extra motivation. Financial motivation comes in many forms — here are a few of our favorites:

Watch/Listen To Financial Shows

During different periods of our marriage, we’ve had different financial guilty pleasures. At one point, Johnny and I both listened to Dave Ramsey’s show daily at our respective places of employment. Our current show of choice is the Suze Orman Show. We record it on our DVR and keep it on in the background while we work on our computers.

Read/Subscribe to Financial Literature

In the same vein as watching or listening to financial shows, we also enjoy puttingour nerd specs on and reading financial stuffs. Our financial written word drug-of-choice for the past couple of years has been Money magazine, which we receive monthly (and which we only subscribe to when a deal comes up, of course!). Also, the Internets are full of online financial content via blogs or news sites, which  typically have their own money section.

Try New Financial Apps

For me, there’s something about seeing my money in a different way that gets me excited. Although Johnny and I keep up our budget through the HomeBudget app (and occasionally Mint) each month, I do like to try out other apps as well. In November I’m going to give the free app Level Money a try just for kicks.

Give Ourselves Weekly Challenges

Sometimes in order to keep our finances ever-present in our minds during the daily grind of the week, we come up with little financial challenges. How many days can we go without spending a cent? How many creative meals can we create before going grocery shopping? How long can we drive on Empty before we run out of gas? Just kidding about that last one. These challenges are especially effective during weeks when we feel like we’ve gotten into the habit of spending.

Focus on One Motivating Factor

Each person’s financial “clincher” will be different. But for us, all we have to do is think about our girl and the future we want for her, and suddenly we’re 100% focused on having all of our financial ducks in a row. For a while, our motivating factor was reaching our goal of being debt free. While you may have many goals, it’s important to focus on the one that motivates you the most.

babygirlour little motivator

All of these motivators, though small, keep that financial ball rolling in our house. One night last week while we worked on our laptops, Johnny and I turned on The Suze Orman Show (we’re straight up thrill seekers) in the background. Soon we were discussing 529’s and maxing out our Roth IRAs. And I can pretty much guarantee that conversation wouldn’t have come up organically otherwise — we’re not that nerdy.

So ye be warned (pirate talk is okay if Hallowen’s near, right, matey?). If you stop by our house in the evening, you’ll likely end up watching a little Suze with us. And we’ll probably drag you into a detailed conversation about how we’re calculating a 529 plan for our daughter. What about you? How do you keep your financial senses up and running at full speed?

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  • Reply Well Heeled Blog October 28, 2013 at 7:36 am

    That is something I find challenging – how to achieve the balance between being financially motivated and committed to financial independence and goals, while not letting that overshadow everything else…

  • Reply Ray Ray October 28, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I couldn’t even read the post because I scrolled through and saw the cuuuutest baby picture! How adorable. I’ll go back and read, promise 🙂

    • Reply Johnny November 8, 2013 at 4:49 am

      That’s probably my favorite photo of her. That little girl sure knows how to lounge on a hotel bed.

  • Reply Elvin @ Journey To Millions October 28, 2013 at 10:00 am

    What keeps us motivated is our goals. We regularly remind ourselves how important our goals to us. This fuels us to work hard, stay on track with our budget and let go of impulse buys.

    By the way, I agree with Ray Ray, it’s indeed a very cuuute baby. Congratulations on your first article in AOL’s DailyFinance.

    • Reply Johnny November 8, 2013 at 4:49 am

      Thanks, Elvin!

  • Reply Brian October 28, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Much like you, our little guy is our main motivation. Like most parents we want him to have a better life than we have. That starts with teaching him the basics and as he gets older teaching him more about money and the way the world works. For now we just stick to learning to throw a ball and to sign “Thank you” when someone gives him something.

    • Reply Johnny November 8, 2013 at 4:51 am

      Our little girl is finally learning how to throw a ball, which in my eyes, is as or more important than nearly every other life lesson. She may not know how to balance a budget when she’s 20, but she sure as heck will know how to throw a ball.

      • Reply Brian November 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

        Don’t underestimate teaching her that skill. Someday she may be famous enough to have to throw out a first pitch at an MLB game. Nothing more embarrassing than looking like a fool doing that!

  • Reply Rob October 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    “How do you keep your financial senses up and running at full speed?”

    Well Joanna, for years – ever since I graduated from uni and started my IT career (as a “bucket programmer”, to quote a phrase – lol), I was always fascinated in reading business and financial books. The habit never stopped and later on, with the appearance of the internet, I next got hooked on reading online financial blogs, articles, and commentary experiences from others. Might sound boring to some but over the years it paid off quite well for this “conservative nerd”! 🙂 So long as the bills got paid regularly and our family’s basic “needs”, if not always “wants”, were met, I was a happy camper (and so was my wife, which is what counts, eh?)

    That said, I figure the motivation to keep one’s financial senses sharp and focused is to have continuous learning directed at one’s goals in life. Never stop setting goals for yourself and your family, where applicable. No coasting allowed.

  • Reply Ashly October 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Although I don’t write a financial blog, I do write a blog about my life as a newlywed and money management has become top of mind now that my husband and I are working towards achieving financial goals together. He’s the saver and I’m the spender so in order for me to keep myself on track and learn to be financially intelligent I love reading PF blogs (like yours!) and watching any reality TV show hosted by Canadian money guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I’ve never really given myself mini goals to achieve– I’ll have to try that next. My main motivator right now: to own our own house one day.

    • Reply Johnny November 8, 2013 at 4:54 am

      Owning a house is definitely top-of-mind for us, too. We’re still a bit off from reaching or even thinking about reaching that goal, but it’s a regular topic of conversation. And we’ve heard a lot about Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Sounds like us Americans are missing out on some solid PF talk.

  • Reply Laura November 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I enjoy reading PF blogs – could you share a few that you guys read regularly?

    • Reply Johnny November 8, 2013 at 5:01 am

      With the addition of our little girl, our PF blog reading has suffered quite a bit. But that doesn’t mean our RSS readers aren’t chock full of blogs. Some of our faves right now (and it’s always changing) are Budgets Are Sexy, Words of Willams, and Blonde on a Budget. And while I can’t speak for Joanna, I also love the Lifehacker Money section (

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