4 Personal Finance Articles We Loved This Week

Here are four personal finance stories we think you’ll enjoy this week. All were originally shared in Tiller’s team “Reading List” on Slack.


“Reading List” is one of my favorite channels in Tiller’s team Slack.

It’s where everyone in the company shares articles, podcast episodes, videos, and books they find inspiring, useful, or otherwise relevant to Tiller’s vision and mission.

(In case you’re wondering, our vision is money matters because life matters more, and our mission is to make financial spreadsheets easier, faster, and more accessible.)

Sometimes we share articles about building a sustainable business. Sometimes we share tech or spreadsheet news. But very often we share stories about personal finance.

Here are four from this past week many in the Tiller community will enjoy.

1: The Power of Logging Spending

In The Atlantic, writer Joe Pinsker published “I Made One Simple Financial Change and It Lowered My Spending,” about how he used behavioral economics on himself to improve his financial habits.

A key insight: Pinkser reduced his spending 10 – 15% simply by logging each of his daily expenditures. He believes the perceived pain of the extra step of logging expenses made him want to spend less. But the reduction was also triggered by a new level of awareness about where his money was really going:

“Perhaps the more definitive success of my system is the fact that, even as I have begun to earn more money, my monthly spending has remained more or less the same—a fact that I attribute in part to the increased clarity of my cash flow. (I also track my weekly spending in spreadsheets, which probably helps too.)”

In Slack, Tiller founder Peter Polson said “love this quote:”

“The conventional way of thinking about budgeting… usually puts a lot of blame on people when they’re spending money on things that give them pleasure. There’s a sort of puritanical aspect, like, I caught this person going to Starbucks. I think the real goal of budgeting is to make sure that you’re spending your money on the things that are the most valuable and enjoyable for you.”

I Made One Simple Financial Change and It Lowered My Spending is a fantastic article. Pinkser’s previous Atlantic essays are also recommended.

2. Spreadsheets > Cute Apps for Getting in Sync With Your Partner

There are many apps designed to help couples live more harmoniously, including when it comes to finances. However, the people profiled in Wired’s article “Here’s How Our Couples Keep It Together” skipped these apps and went right to the sheets. Spreadsheets that is – Airtable, Excel, and Google Sheets:

In the article, Deputy Editor Joanna Pearlstein said:

“I married a fellow geek, and as is evident to anyone who knows me, I love spreadsheets. For our wedding, we used Google Sheets to track costs, guests, seating arrangements, the dates on which thank-you notes were written and sent. Using Google allows me to make sure the spreadsheet is available on every computer, which is important.”

3 “Should We” Podcast Follow Up from Carl Richards

We enjoyed the video follow-up Carl Richards made to the mention of his book “The One-Page Financial Plan” on the podcast “Should We,” specifically episode 43 – Should We: Invest?

Carl Richards wrote “The One-Page Financial Plan” and “The Behavior Gap,” two books that are major inspirations here at Tiller. (We even offer a Values-Driven Budgeting template inspired by
“The Behavior Gap.”)

In the podcast, hosts Diana Kimball and Lisa Sanchez discussed Richards’ concept of value-driven spending, which means you sometimes spend more on the things trulyimportant to you, like great food, books, or travel with family.

The hosts also discussed how they use Tiller to track spending and manage their money.  Diana Kimball pointed out how Tiller’s automation is useful because it removes manual labor that doesn’t build awareness, while still leaving room for hands-on spending tracking.

Meanwhile, Lisa Sanchez talked about how the internet customization of spreadsheets made them a perfect tool for her. “I just made my own spreadsheet. My own way. No template. And it’s filled with pretty colors.”

4: What Happens When Your Financial Fears Come True?

On the Broke Millennial Blog, Kristen Wong published a post titled “The Time My Biggest Fear Came True.” It’s about what happened when she lost her job, the fear of what it could mean, and everything she did next.

“I never wanted to be filthy, stinking rich. I just wanted enough money to quiet that humming, to make life a little less complicated. To me, that’s the ultimate luxury: having enough money that you don’t have to think about money. Everything else is gravy.”

BONUS: Kristin Wong has a fantastic series of articles on the New York Times, including a few published during their recent “Personal Finance Week” for Smarter Living. Check it out.

DOUBLE BONUS: Wong’s new book Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford is also highly recommended. Great gift, too!

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