I really, really hate exercising.
But, those first few minutes after I set the countdown timer for 30 minutes are the worst. I’d rather be doing anything else—doing the dishes, vacuuming, or even just stubbing my toe.
So, I trick myself. I’m not the brightest person out there; it’s actually quite easy.
I tell myself I’ll exercise for 10 minutes so I can at least say I did in fact work out. Once those ten minutes roll by I’m still feeling fine, so I tell myself I’ll go to 15 minutes and check again.
By the time 15 minutes passes by, my inner obsessive-compulsive person says that stopping on an odd number is stupid, so why not 20? And by the time I get to 20 I’m just like well, I made it this far. What the hell? Let’s go to 30 just for shits and giggles.
And that, my friends, is how I get my daily 30 minutes of exercise in—in nice, discrete, 5-10 minute chunks at a time.
This works great for my exercise routine. But, recently I was thinking: this is also the exact way I approach big money goals.
What is chunking your money all about?
Money chunking is quite simple.
One of the biggest reasons that people hesitate to get started with big money goals like saving or paying off debt is because it just seems like too much. People don’t even get started, because what’s the point?
So, rather than looking at your situation like this…
Let’s break it up into nice, easily-slayable chunks that you can knock out one at a time. Sorta like this:
Yes, it may be a long slog, but it’s one that’s a heck of a lot more doable than trying to beat your fists on an angry Andre The Giant’s chest.
How does chunking your money make it easier to save?
Everyone knows they need to save approximately 8.4 quadrillion dollars before they retire. Or at least it seems that way.
Even if you follow the multiply-by-25 rule, assuming me and my husband would want to live on $50,000/year, we’d still need $1.25 million. Cue horrified face.
Here’s the truth: I don’t have to have it figured out tomorrow. In fact, I don’t even have to save up that much myself. If I focus on what I can do today—$100/month until we get our emergency fund topped off, then at least 10% of our income after that—we can let the stock market do the rest.
Same thing with house savings. Did you know the median home price this month in Fort Collins, Colorado, is $352,300?! Most financial experts recommend putting a minimum of 20% down on a house. That is the rule we will be following, because our first homeownership experience was a massive failure of epic proportions.
That’s still a $70,460 savings goal! We don’t even make that much in a year!
Now, I don’t think we’ll be buying a house here in Colorado. But, wherever we do buy one, I can rest assured that the 20% down savings goal will be high. We’ll never be able to save up that much, right? So why even bother trying?
Fiddlesticks. We’re setting aside $100/month right now for our future down payment. Will it get us to $70k anytime soon? No. But it’ll chip away at the wall in small chunks so that when we are ready to save hardcore, we’ll have a lot less to go than if we had waited.
How does chunking your money make it easier to pay off debt?
That’s how much debt we’re still in as of this month.
That’s a hell of a wall if I ever saw one. It’s a wall that would make certain people in high places in the government envious.
When we first started, it seemed like there’d be no way we could get past it. Mi’swell resign ourselves to being in debt forever.
I’ll tell you the truth: we haven’t even started sending in extra monthly payments to pay off our debt. We’re still sending in the minimum amounts because we’re focusing on balancing savings and our debt.
But, when we do start sending in extra debt payments—and that will be a glorious day full of unicorns and double rainbows—we’re still planning on chunking our money.
Each $1,000 that passes by will be a milestone. A brick in the wall, if you will. And not the Pink Floyd kind of brick in the wall. A brick that we can smash like Hulk, celebrate, and cry victoriously, “VanSomeren Smash!”
How big should my money chunks be?
That depends. How much can you fit in your budget? How much money do you earn? How much do you need to reach your financial goals? How much feels right to you?
Related: Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By And Get Your Financial Life Together (affiliate link)
For a high-earner, $1,000 monthly chunks toward retirement may seem like no biggie. For the rest of us mere mortals, $100 monthly towards a house down payment or toward retirement (until you can afford more) may be all you can swing for the time-being.
Even if you’ve never saved before and all you can manage is $5 per month towards your emergency fund, go for it! Chunks can increase in size over time.
What’s most important is that you use the money chunking method to get started and build momentum.
No more excuses, guys. You don’t have to save a million dollars within the next few years. You don’t need to have all of your debt paid off tomorrow. You just need to chip away it at one chunk at a time.
Man. Now I’m really hungry for Chunky Monkey ice cream.
Do you break down your big financial goals into money chunks? Leave a comment below!