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The 3-Step, Completely Painless Plan to Learning About Personal Finance

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It’s no secret that tech careers offer flexible schedules, the chance to work on challenging, engaging projects, and actually allow you to use your creativity in the workplace, but—on top of all of that—they seriously pay well, too.

But, making more money with a tech career isn’t a one stop solution to solving your financial woes. Whether you’re happy with your income or feel like you’re scraping by paycheck-to-paycheck, one thing stays the same—it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and out of your depth when it comes to finances. And once you start bringing in more money, it’s critical you know what to do with in in order to truly reap the benefits.

For those of us who don’t even know where to begin with financial planning, wealth coach Barbara Stanny shared with Skillcrush a three-step process to start taking control of your money. If you spend just a few months following this play, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how painless it is to start demystifying your personal finances once and for all.

1. Every Day: Crack Open a Book

You only need to spend a minute or two on this step—don’t think of it as a huge homework assignment. Read just one page of a financial book before bed or scan the headlines of a newspaper’s business section—it all counts. This step is just to help plug you into what’s going on in the financial world, and to get you familiarized with trends and lingo. A little time goes a long way!

Stanny recommends reading Worth It by Amanda Steinberg, Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson, The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, The Wall Street Journal, and her own books as well!

2. Every Week: Strike Up a Conversation

We’re surrounded by resources beyond the most obvious digital search engine. Our peers, family members, coworkers, and loved ones offer a range of opinions and lifestyles, so simply get talking. Try asking: What do you wish you’d known about money 10 years ago?

Or, if you want to go double duty and dive into the ever-important waters of getting on the same page with your partner (if you have one), consider asking them: Where do you want to be in five years? Do you want to own a house? Can we talk about making a plan for our debts—together?

Stanny says she cast a wide net when starting these conversations herself, and took every opportunity she could to bend the ear of people who knew about money. “Whenever I went to a financial class and was impressed with the teacher, I’d ring her up and meet for a drink.” says Stanny. “I’d ask questions like: ‘How did you get smart about money? What do you suggest I do, what should I read, or who should I talk to? What were some mistakes you made and what did you learn from them? What’s the best advice you were given about money/investing/debt reduction, etc.’”

3. Every Month: Let Someone Save It For You

This doesn’t have to be another huge bill looming in the back of your mind: even little bits seriously add up. Set up your payments to automatic (like a monthly transfer of $10 from checking to savings), for a painless process that will reap mega rewards in the long run. If you need a little help getting started, there are even smartphone apps you can download to start the process for you—Digit is an app that links to your bank account and makes small withdrawals from your checking to your savings, automatically adjusting the withdrawal amount based on your current account balance. Acorns is another app that rounds up purchases you make to the next dollar, then transfers the difference into a savings account and invests it in stocks and bonds. This way, you’re saving for the future and even investing—and you don’t have to give it any thought.

Stanny says that after four consistent months of following these simple daily, weekly, and monthly steps you should start having an appreciably different relationship with your money. “You’ll start noticing that you’re understanding more,” says Stanny, and “you’ll start enjoying the learning, your resistance will begin to diminish, and you’ll begin to feel empowered and capable—like you’ve made a little bit of progress. The more you can appreciate any little bit of progress you’ve made, the faster you’ll keep progressing.”

Whether you’re saving for a home, trying to get out of debt, or just beefing up your savings so you’re not scrambling the next time you hit a bump in the financial road, it’s clear that spending even a little bit of time on financial planning is the key to hitting your money goals. Stanny’s tips are quick, easy, and something you can start doing right now—in fact, you’ve already hit today’s reading goal!

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