Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Meadowsweet Money podcast! I’m Mimi Cirbusova, a Certified Financial Education Instructor and shame-free money mentor. 

On today’s episode, we’re talking about the dreaded word “should”.

We hear all the time from friends, family, and the talking heads on our social media about all the things we “should” be doing with our money. Saying things like “you should buy a house”. “You should buy crypto”. “You should be saving more money.” “You should…you should…you should.” 


If you’ve been following me for any time at all, you know I am kind of a skeptic when it comes to advice that starts with “should”. And in today’s episode, we’re going to look at the “shoulds” of our financial lives, discern what is for us and what is not, and I’m going to share a simple exercise to help you move from “I should” to “I will” on the stuff that actually matters.

Let’s dive into the episode. Thank you for being here.

Whew. Should is such a funny word. I wrote down some notes here. The top definition states that should is, “Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness; typically when criticizing someone’s actions”. No wonder the word should is filled with judgment, shame, and guilt! 

I want you to take a moment to think about the chatter in your mind and all the financial should’s you hear. Maybe your mind chatter is saying “I should go open an emergency fund”, or “I ought to get started on my retirement investments”. Or maybe it just says something like, “I know I should be saving more money.”

Think about how long that chatter has been going on in your mind. Some of my “shoulds” with money played on repeat for months, if not years, before I finally took action. And all the while, I felt worse and worse about myself for not actually doing anything. Because no matter how much we tell ourselves we should be doing something, that word alone does nothing to motivate or inspire us to take action.

Some of our shoulds come from the people in our lives. Like our friends or family, our bosses or coworkers. Some of our shoulds come from ourselves. I had a boss that was very well-meaning but believed every young person should buy a universal life insurance policy, which is ridiculous for a multitude of reasons. And I’m glad I never listened to him on that, but it’s easy for external shoulds from other people to become internal “shoulds” because of our relationships with those people are important to us. I mean, if you respect someone and hold them in high regard, it can be really easy to hear them say you should do something and believe that it’s right for you. Even if their advice isn’t actually helpful or reasonable or even feasible for your situation. 

So I want to offer a little exercise you can do to stop should-ing yourself. Or at least quiet that mind chatter a little bit so you can focus on what you actually do want.

I do have this exercise written out in the form of a blog post, so I’ll leave a link in the show notes for anyone that needs a more visual way of learning. 

The purpose of this exercise is to get all of our “shoulds” on paper and make decisions about what we actually want or need to take action on, and which things we can give ourselves permission to let go of; even if it’s only for this season of our life.

You’re going to need three sheets of paper, a pen, and a highlighter. I personally like lined paper since we’re going to be making a list, but use whatever you have on hand. You can do this exercise on a computer, but I would strongly recommend you try it on paper first so you don’t edit yourself too early in the process.

Ok, so starting with the first sheet of paper. You’re going to make a little chart with five columns. The first column should be kinda wide, enough to write a short phrase. Then the other four columns should be just wide enough to write a single digit.

You’re going to write out all of your financial “shoulds” in the first column. And I mean all of them. Your goal here is to take all of those “shoulds” your mind chatter that you can’t stop thinking about – no matter how big or small, vague or specific – and get them on paper. Maybe you keep thinking that you should increase your 401k contribution, pay off a store credit card, or create a budget. Whatever it is, write it down in a list in that very first column.

Once you feel like you’ve gotten everything down on paper, you’re going to label the four skinny columns as follows:

  • Ready
  • Willing
  • Able
  • Want To

These four columns allow you to look at each item on your list and decide how you feel about them. 

In the Ready column, you’re asking yourself how ready are you to tackle this item on your list? Do you have the resources you need to take action, such as time, skills, and information? 

In the Willing column, you’re asking, how willing are you to take action on this item?

In the Able column, you’re exploring your ability or confidence that you could take a small step forward on this particular item.

And in the want to column, you’re asking if you want to do this. Is this item important to you? Do you have the motivation to take action?

In each column, you’re going to rank your response from 1-10, with 10 being the highest score for each question. You need to be honest here. Go with your genuine first instinct. Nobody else is going to see this or rank this, or score it. There is no right or wrong answer.

What you’re looking for is an 8 or above in all categories. Pull out your highlighter and highlight any items on your list that has an 8 or above in all four categories of Ready, Willing, Able and Want To. On your second sheet of paper, you’re going to rewrite these items with the words “I will” at the beginning. So maybe you had an 8 or above in all categories for the phrase “I should pay off that store credit card.” When you rewrite it, you’d put “I will pay off that store credit card.”

Anything on that second sheet of paper is now something to add to your calendar, your to-do list, or your priority tasks. No more should-ing on these! Get it done and celebrate your accomplishment. 

Okay, back to the first sheet of paper. Look over the items that you did not highlight. For anything that had an 8 or above, except in one or two categories, circle the lower numbers. So maybe you said “I should open an emergency fund”, and marked an 8 under ready, a 10 under willing, and a 6 for both the able and want to. There’s a good chance you have some limiting beliefs here.

This is where the third sheet of paper comes into play. You’re going to journal about these “should” statements. Write out the reasons you are not ready, willing, able, or want to take action on the circled “should” item. No matter how illogical it may sound, write out your reasoning. The key to this part of the exercise is to become curious about your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions for why you feel you “should” be taking action, but have not yet. Do this for each “should” statement that you circled. 

This could sound like “I should open an emergency fund, but I’m scared I’ll never be able to save up enough”. Or “I’m scared I’ll dip into it for non-emergencies.” Or “I don’t even know how much to save!”

The great part about page three is that it allows you to come back with fresh eyes. Your list of reasons why you haven’t taken action are the blocks on your pathway toward that action. The good news is that reviewing these blocks allows you to see ways to move forward them from your path so that sustained action is possible.

Sometimes your reasons simply require more information (such as, “Where do I put an emergency fund?“) and that will help you to know what to research.

Others are based on stories we have about money (such as “Does having an emergency fund make me boring?“). This is an opportunity to get curious about your money beliefs, and ask yourself how true or helpful these beliefs are. This is where a money mentor like myself or a therapist can support you exploring these beliefs more deeply.

Once you have reviewed your blocks, you may be ready to add them back to page two, and transform these “shoulds” to “I will” statements. These kind of statements are about empowerment and action.

Okay, so go back and look at your list one more time from the first sheet of paper. For statements that are ranked low across the board, it’s time to get those “shoulds” go. You need to call a mental truce and stop beating yourself up about these. You will never feel ashamed or guilty enough on these items to take action, and that’s okay! Release yourself from these expectations, particularly if they are coming from other people. 

So that’s it. If you do this exercise, please let me know any a-ha moments you had. I would love to know what you think. Send me a message on Instagram or share this episode with a friend. 

Cool? Alrighty. Let’s head into our “in case you missed it” segment.

On October 22nd at 4:00pm eastern, I am hosting a FREE online intro workshop on the five foundational levels of the Money Mountain. If you are serious about finally getting a handle on your finances, but feel totally lost about where to begin, this workshop is perfect for you. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up as soon as you can. I’m going to leave a link in the show notes for you. The goal of this workshop is to help you gain confidence and master the foundations to becoming financially competent.

You’re going to walk away with so much, including a downloadable workbook and a replay link that is good for two weeks. Now you know me – I believe in transparency. So because I am offering this workshop for free, I’m going to take 5 minutes – yep, that’s it.. 5 minutes…to tell you about another opportunity to learn from me at the very end of the workshop. It’s not a sales pitch at all, just an announcement of something else I’m launching in 2024. 

If you sign up, I strongly encourage you to attend live because you will have an opportunity to ask questions, which is really important to learning.

So, again, the link is in the show notes for you, and I can’t wait to see you in the class!

Cool? Alright, let’s get back to some basics. Last episode I talked about emergency funds, and I mentioned keeping your emergency fund in a high yield savings account. And I want to talk about why these types of accounts are so powerful when it comes to long term savings. So, let’s get back to basics.

High Yield Savings Accounts. Why should you bother stashing your cash in one, versus just using a regular ol’ savings account? Well, the answer is pretty simple: compound interest. You see banks and other financial institutions make money in a bunch of different ways, but one of those ways is by you keeping your money in accounts. Letting your cash sit there. Banks and credit unions use that money to lend out to other people or businesses, or they invest that money to help them make more money through interest on those investments. That’s a super simplified explanation and about as clear as mud, but that’s the basics of how it works.

Now you could totally keep your long term savings, like an emergency fund, in a basic savings account. And that’s fine. But while your cash is just sitting there, it would be cool to earn a little extra back from the bank or credit union that is using your deposit to their advantage, right? Most traditional savings accounts, you know, the one that you kinda automatically get along with your checking account, those usually get 0.01% APY; which stands for annual percentage yield. This is a lot of vocabulary, but what I want you to understand is that the APY is the little bit of interest you earn by stashing your cash in that account. 

So let’s compare two scenarios. Let’s say you decide to put $100 a month into a regular savings account with your bank and they give you a 0.05% APY. At the same time, you open a High Yield Savings Account with a 3.75% APY and you put $100 a month into that account. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot, but let’s look at what that means over the course of a few years. 

Now if you set these two savings accounts up and you leave them alone for five years, how much do you think would be in the accounts? Well, over 5 years time, you would have deposited $6000 into each account. $100 times 12 months, times 5 years…that’s $6000. But that’s not how much you’d have in each account because of the Annual Percentage Yield (APY). In the regular, traditional savings account, after 5 years, you’d have $6,006.00. Ok, so not that impressive, right? But in the High Yield Savings Account with 3.75% APY, you’d see after 5 years, that you have $6,467.19. That means that a little bit of interest earned you over $460 just by the simple act of saving in a high yield account.

To be clear, traditional savings accounts have their place. They are great for short term savings goals. Like if you’re saving for a concert, or a new appliance you’ll need to replace later this year. Stuff like that. But if you’re talking about saving your emergency fund, or a down payment for a house, or your big annual family vacation…that’s a great place to put your money into a high yield savings account.

Remember, always do your due diligence when deciding where to stash your cash. You should always use a financial institution that is FDIC-insured (or in the case of a credit union, NCUA-insured). And read the fine print – are there fees to transfer your money to other banks, how long do transfers take, and are there limits to the number of transactions you can make each month? Of course, you should check if there are balance or deposit minimums before you earn the full APY amount advertised.

Anyway, I hope that explanation was helpful, and I hope you take a look at how a High Yield Savings Account can benefit you.

Until next time my friend, remember – you’re doing great, and I’m so proud of you.

Thank you for listening to the Meadowsweet Money Podcast, a production of Meadowsweet Money LLC. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a 5-star review on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. It helps others find our podcast and is greatly appreciated. And be sure to follow us so you don’t miss a single episode.

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