You Need (more than) A Budget: Lessons from #YOLObook

Read to the end for a chance to win a copy of this book.

About a month ago I had the pleasure of hearing Jason Vitug speak as part of Phroogal’s Road to Financial Wellness tour stop in Nashville, which was a frank and surprisingly entertaining conversation about money featuring Vitug and others. One of the core takeaways from the event was a challenge to have more open conversations about money, and with this in mind I approached You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and Purposeful Life.

In all honesty, I must admit: I’ve not always been a big fan of personal finance books, or blogs, or speakers. I find that most of them fall into one or two categories: The extended humblebrag about how the author has tons of money because they were smarter than you and saved 90% of their six figure salary for years, or the extended humblebrag about how the author micromanages their finances to the nth degree, knowing where every penny goes, fully giving in to their spreadsheet fetish.

(For a useful, more candid and less judgmental site, check out CashvilleSkyline by Kate Dore.)

None of this really helps people, and if you are struggling to manage money well (as I have at times in my life), it can feel more like trying to start exercising while your trainer laughs at you. Like most people, I know I need a budget, and I need to spend less than I earn, emergency fund, etc. etc. But I didn’t know why I could not translate that knowledge into action, and Vitug’s recognition of this disconnect is a big part of what makes You Only Live Once great.

The author spends only a small amount of the book laying out budgets and savings plans, instead focusing on the individual’s relationship with money and how that informs all the other financial behavior in a person’s life. Or as Jason describes it in both his talks and the book, developing a healthy money mindset. This means actually spending some time thinking about what you want as a person, and what your core values about money really are. It also means identifying and acknowledging negative emotions about money, things like a scarcity mindset, which can become nearly pathological and derail even the best attempts to use money wisely. Here the book is at its most useful, offering exercises and tools to help the reader define what their core financial goals and values are, and then using that as the basis and motivation to implement budgets and savings plans to achieve those goals.

I think that the message of the book (as I see it), namely that personal finance is about emotions and values more than dollars and cents, is especially important to entrepreneurs. If there has been any takeaway from Startup Southerner up until now, it might be that starting, building, growing a business (however satisfying) is really hard work, and involves significant financial risk. Approaching it with a clear set of personal financial goals can make that uncertainty less stressful, by framing that hard work and sacrifice as part of personal financial values. To put it simply: don’t start a business until you are sure what you really want, out of life and out of your money. You Only Live Once is a map to get from undiscovered and unreconciled financial attitudes to clear goals and financial harmony.

Startup Southerner Giveaway Time!
Did this review make you want to read this book? Want to look like Jason with the #YOLObook?

One lucky winner will receive: an autographed copy of You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life and a Startup Southerner t-shirt!

To qualify for the drawing:

The drawing period will close at 11pm CST on Monday, August 8.

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