Welcome to Orange Jalapeños Finance! You might need this blog if you have ever said to yourself:
- “My finances are a hot mess, but I’m too overwhelmed to fix them.”
- “I’m afraid people will laugh at how little I know about money!”
- “I’m no good at [saving / investing / earning more money] and I’ll never be good at it.”
- “How am I going to ever have enough money to do what I really want to do?”
- “WTF is a Roth IRA, and why am I the only person who doesn’t have one?!”
Nodding your head? Maybe even laughing or cringing in recognition? Friend, I’m right there with you. Personal finance can be scary, but you’re definitely not alone in your journey! I’m walking right along there with you.
Net Worth And Self-Worth
I created Orange Jalapeños Finance to be a place that uplifts, encourages and never puts down people who are trying to be better about money. Because let’s be honest, people can be really judgmental about money.
And when others judge you on how you handle your finances, that can really undercut your confidence (whether or not you’re actually making the best decision for you). This then erodes your ability to make better decisions in the future, which can lead to analysis paralysis…and ultimately you’re worse off than when you started.
So to prevent all that from happening, my mission is to build up your net worth through building up your self-worth.
That might come off as a bit pithy, but I truly believe it’s the most sustainable way to build up your wealth. Why? Because it focuses in on the key engine of personal finance: decision-making.
Your Decision-Making Framework
While this may be obvious to some people, it’s worth stating: managing your personal finances ultimately boils down to decision-making. It’s full of questions like, How much should you have in emergency savings? What kinds of retirement funds should you have? Do you save more or pay off debt first? And on and on…and on.
So if you want to improve your finances, then you first need to work on improving your decision-making framework.
This is where critical thinking, self-confidence, and self-compassion come into play. If you are constantly working to improve these three things, a few things will start to happen:
Improved critical thinking will help you see financial opportunities (and potential disasters!) where you hadn’t seen them before. This could be anything from finding a better retirement account, to being smarter about debt payoff, to earning more income.
From there, increased self-confidence will give you the courage to actually pursue those opportunities, and/or actively avoid disasters. Why? Because you’re more confident in your abilities to actually follow through. And thanks to your improved critical thinking, you know that you’re making the right decision for you at this moment in your life.
Increased self-compassion is the gentle assurance that if and when you mess up, things are going to be OK. Everyone makes mistakes, especially after trying something scary and new (like finally investing)! Self-compassion allows you to try out new things with the permission to suck at them, because you know that you are more than the sum of your financial (and personal) decisions.
And finally, critical thinking comes back into play at the very end to synthesize what you’ve learned and store it for the next financial decision to make.
Still with me? Lovely!
A Real Life Example
Once you start operating on the “more critical thinking → more confident → more compassion” cycle, you’ll start to see it everywhere! Here is a quick example from my own life:
A few months ago, my husband and I realized that our primary cash savings were earning 0.01% in a traditional savings account, much less than the “high yield” our bank originally stated we would be getting (critical thinking). After researching the interest rates of several reputable banks online (more critical thinking), we decided to open a new online high yield savings account (confidence).
However, within weeks even that interest rate tanked to below 0.60%. This was on par with the market, but still discouraging. We wondered if maybe there were better options for us, and asked our financial advisor for his recommendations. I’d categorize this as self-compassion because we admitted to ourselves that we might be wrong, and asked for outside help.*
After discussing our specific goals and time horizons with us, our advisor recommend we put a portion of our cash savings into a municipal bond fund. We weighed the options and decided to go for it (critical thinking/confidence) . Now we’re earning a much higher yield in that fund, and it’s federal income tax-free because it’s a municipal bond fund.
We continue to evaluate this strategy on a quarterly basis, but it’s working for us right now and meets our goals. And it’s all because we noticed room for improvement, took action, admitted when we were wrong, and learned more to make a better decision.
*Note: I do not encourage that you regularly move your cash savings around just to chase minimal increases in interest rates. In this case, however, the difference between accounts was so great that it was worth it for us.
Got all that? Great Because writing up that example reminded me of the two most critical factors to great financial decision-making: your goals and your values.
Your Decision-Making Drivers: Goals and Values
Being a confident, compassionate critical thinker is awesome. But without knowing what goals and values drive you, you’re kind of like a Tesla without…well, a driver! You’re incredibly smart, great at processing feedback, and undoubtedly gorgeous…but without a destination or someone to take the wheel if you veer slightly off course.
At Orange Jalapeños, I’ll do my best to keep you on course by reminding you of these two questions: 1) Does this fit your goals? and 2) Does this fit your values?
This is a discussion that merits a much larger space than the About section of a blog, so I’ll just briefly touch on each:
In personal finance (and life), it’s always a good idea to have short, medium, and long term goals for your money. Every dollar to your name should have a goal or purpose, including “sit in this savings account for a long time” or “buy an awesome luxury vacation.”
And as you go through the content on this blog, constantly ask yourself if the topic you’re reading about fits with what you want to accomplish in the short, medium, or long-term. And if it doesn’t, leave it for later and move on!
The types of goals you set, the way you approach problem-solving, and the things that you prioritize in life should all be rooted in what you value. While this might sound obvious, it’s sometimes shocking how much time, energy, and money we all devote to things that don’t actually matter to us. I’ll share resources for identifying your values and how to better root your actions in them.
I know that this approach works because I see it all the time in my own life! When I’m aligned with my goals and values, my life seems to be in a state of flow – even if I’m experiencing external stressors like, oh, a pandemic. But if I’m just floundering around, my stress and anxiety skyrocket. Just ask my therapist.
Where To Go From Here
Thanks for sticking around this long! If you’ve made it this far, then I recommend starting with the Four Pillar overviews of Orange Jalapeños Finance: Saving, Earning, Investing, and Giving.
From there, you may want to take a deeper dive into whichever topic suits your fancy, particularly some of our quick win suggestions.
And of course, if you have any ideas of your own, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line in the Contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible, or write to me at maddie [at] orangejalapenos.com.