In Pokémon, a trainer travels collecting and training pokémon to battle other trainers. In most of the regions, trainers compete in a league of eight gyms to receive badges. Each badge grants the trainer a new license for using moves outside of battle and encourages their high-level pokémon to listen to them. Once they have all eight badges, they can then battle the Elite Four for a chance to enter the hall of fame. After earning their spot in the hall of fame, the league registers the trainer and their Pokémon and the credits begin.
In order to complete this journey, trainers must build a pokémon team of six pokémon. The strategy of building a pokémon team becomes important to the team’s success. The possibilities seem endless with over 800 known pokémon species and numerous differences between individuals within each species. Trainers develop their teams in different ways, but all of them do so to win.
The same is true for personal finances. We use a financial management structure made of tools to help us manage our money. I call this structure our Financial Pokémon Team. We build our financial pokémon teams with a strategy that allows us to pay our bills, make purchases, afford trips and save for the future. Having a financial management structure is as important to our personal finances as having a pokémon team is to playing Pokémon.
My first introduction to the modern smartphone was the pokégear when I was traveling in Johto as a schoolboy. It gave me access to the time, a map, music and the ability to call mom and other trainers, like Youngster Joey.
Now, it’s 17 years later and my smartphone can do much more than that original pokégear. My phone is my notebook, dictionary, email inbox, news source, trainer, and entertainment. There are countless ways to use a smartphone, and today I want to share with you all the few ways I use mine for my personal finances.
June is Pride Month and to celebrate that I wanted to write about Pride. To me, every event during Pride is about celebrating our authentic selves and knowing who we are. Finding and maintaining my authentic self has been a little bit of a struggle at times, but I am happiest when I am true to me and life is the most rewarding.
Finding My Authentic Self
I was a weird kid growing up, like espurr weird, and I knew I was different. My father made it easier to be unapologetically me. When I would get down about being different, he would always tell me the same thing. “Look at the great artists of the world’s history. What made them so great was that they were different. They saw the world differently and brought that beauty to the rest of the world. They didn’t become great by being the same.” This always picked me back up and strengthened my determination to just be me.
Six months after I graduated my loans entered repayment. It took me a little while to really understand what was happening with my loans. The summer after I started repayment I developed a notebook system for tracking my loans' stat changes that taught me a lot about my loans. It helped me understand my loans, the changes that occur with them and how much I still owe. Although I included a picture below of April 2017’s notebook page, that is not today’s topic.
Today I wanted to finally introduce you all to my loans and my plan for paying them off. My boldore budget allocates money from my paychecks each month to keep my student loans well fed. We have developed a meal plan that it follows when determining how many payment puffs each loan servicer gets. Then each loan servicer has an individual meal plan that determines how those puffs get eaten by the individual loans they service.
A lot of people use the website/app Mint to help them manage their personal finances. Mint is a simple, one-stop shop for people to see the current status of their finances. A user connects their bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments and bills to it. Once connected, Mint can create graphs and other ways to help their users understand their money.
Mint also has a bunch of systems set up to assist their users with their money. It’s like a chikorita using aromatherapy to restore health to a person’s finances. With all of their shell bells and grass whistles, I did not find their aromatherapy helpful and canceled my future appointments.
I tried it for at least three months and did not find it useful to me. Not all of my accounts could connect, there was too much red, my own systems were better for me and I rarely checked it. I am sure it has improved in the past two years, but I think I’m fine without it for the moment.
As a trainer, I like to always have a good set of poké balls with me. I never know when I’ll need to grab one to catch an unknown pokémon and help make my team stronger. Once I catch a pokémon, I learn all about them by battling with them and by entering their info in my pokédex. Then when I encounter them again in battle, I understand how to defeat them and how they may hold me back.
I feel that a common struggle with personal finance is that fear and anxiety act like unknown Pokémon. Fears of not knowing how much debt someone has or needing to cut back can hold people back. Once we enter them in our "feardex", we start to understand how they hold us back. We just need to have the poké balls to stand up and catch our fears so we can make them our own.
Budgets are like pokémon. They are great tools to help us through our journey and reach our goals. This four-part series takes a look at my budgeting history and my journey to finding my current budget.
In part one, I shared my experiences of how my budgeting developed over the decade before moving to New York City.
In part two, I shared the challenging battles from my first year living in New York City and my wins and losses.
In part three, I shared my process for breeding my new budget.
In part four, I count up through my budget’s biggest level-milestones as we have been training together. These milestones highlight the moments in my budget’s training when I noticed it become stronger or demonstrate its strength.
In Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, trainers were introduced to a resume feature that reminded the player of the last few things they did the last time they played the game. This feature evolved into the journal in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. What I loved about these features was how helpful they were if I picked up a game after not playing for a while. Gone were the days of being confused why my last save was on a mountain with one pokémon at level 60, three pokémon at level 16 and two of the same pokémon at level 1.
This feature did not last long, which disappointed me because I like records and notes. I mostly just like keeping open memory in my head for other information if I don’t need it there and there is someplace outside of my head almost as safe. It may play into the millennial stereotype, but I think it just makes sense. I currently use four different methods to store my personal finance information: my financial diary, my net worth spreadsheet, my student loan notebook and my bill books.
I always thought being a grown-up would be amazing! But now that I am one, I realize it’s hard. Growing up is universally hard for people of all ages. Every stage of life has their hardships. I hear every day how someone can’t lift that or eat this anymore. Children have to learn to walk, talk, use the big kid potty and eventually do homework.
What I find makes growing up so hard for me is the never-ending challenge to improve my life. Navigating a career, starting a family and keeping myself healthy are just a few of my everyday challenges. Personal finances are a big enough challenge for me, they get their own sentence, blog and section in my RSS reader.
I do not claim to be an expert with personal finances. If you have seen my net worth, you may have noticed there is a lot of regeneration to be done, and I am working on it. As with being an Ace Trainer, I know that in order to improve, I don’t need to be afraid of losing. I just need to learn from the winners and figure out what works for me.
When I was a Youngster, I started a savings account to help teach me about banks and personal finances. At the time I thought banks were an important part of everyday society, like Pokémon Centers.
For those of you who don’t know, pokémon centers play a major role in pokémon society and culture. They are a place where trainers bring their pokémon to restore their health, store excess pokémon, offer areas for trainers to connect and all for free. Every town or city, no matter the size, has at least one. Some are even located outside of towns on routes and near caves.
In my mind, banks were a lot like pokémon centers. They kept our money safe, made trades easier, helped our finances stay healthy, everybody used them and they were free!
Before heading to college I opened my first checking account. Over the following ten years, I slowly learned that banks are not pokémon centers. Yes, they both provide storage and make trading easier, but banks are actual businesses. They can only heal our finances so much for free and they all offer different services to do that.