Adding SPICE to Your Living Space

I’ve read many articles recently about buying a home. Most of these articles provide definitions, calculators and information about the process itself. That can be useful and beneficial, but may not be the best place to start your journey.

As the Architect of your own finances, consider how home-ownership fits into your personal portfolio. In my previous post “Becoming the Architect of Your Finances”, I shared that your personal portfolio is an ever-changing collection of Skills, Priorities, Interests, Community and Experiences. It is the unique SPICE that you add to relationships and decisions. Since this evolves over time, take a quick inventory of your personal portfolio to help clarify your next steps.

Skills – What types of skills do you have in maintaining a home? Do you enjoy cleaning, repairing, landscaping, and learning new skills needed to care for a home? Ask family or friends about some of the skills they’ve had to learn as a homeowner. Check out local hardware/home improvement stores for free workshops and online DIY videos.

Priorities What is most important to you right now? How does your housing decision fit with your priorities and values? Think of how your living space impacts your health, social activities, finances, carbon footprint, flexibility and productivity. What changes could impact each of these areas in a positive way?

Interests What do you really love doing for yourself? What type of living space would promote those interests? Do you want large windows to fill your rooms with light? Do you need privacy to practice music all hours of the night? Would you like to share a space or rent out a room? Is location more valuable than size or appearance? Start a list to use as a framework of what you really want.

CommunityIdentify people in your network that have the expertise or skills you may need. To save money, consider bartering with friends for tools/equipment you may need only occasionally. Look into possible discounts or special promotions you may qualify for based on existing relationships with your bank, insurance company or employer. What connections would you like to develop further and how will your housing promote that?

Experiences – This is what really makes a home. It should be your safe place, a sanctuary when you need to decompress. As you think about past experiences, use that to clarify what to look for and what to avoid. Imagine how your living space contributes to the experiences you want to have.

In every decision there are trade-offs. Take time upfront to consider what you are willing to give up in exchange for those things that really matter to you, at this point in your journey. Realize that your living space should reflect your individuality.

Becoming the Architect of Your Finances

I believe that most of us are capable of accomplishing far more than we give ourselves credit for. In times of duress and significant obstacles, we dig our heels in deeper and push harder, focusing our whole intent on getting through. Surviving. During these stages, it’s challenging to think about managing finances and putting plans in place. It’s enough just to get through another week. That is precisely why it is a good practice to begin crafting your financial map before a crisis (or the next crisis) erupts.

A good place to start is taking inventory of your personal portfolio. We all have one, trust me. It’s personal and very unique to each of us. Your personal portfolio is an ever-changing collection of Skills, Priorities, Interests, Community and Experiences. Some call it your “secret sauce” or your “art”,  I prefer calling it “spice” – the seasoning you add to whatever relationship or situation you’re in.

Skills – This includes every type of activity you have some level of competence in doing. Creating spreadsheets, doing research, gardening, chess, speaking another language, changing oil, knitting, or anything else you can recall.Your unique combination of skills may very well contribute to uncovering potential opportunities. I’ll write more on that later.

Priorities – This goes a bit deeper. Think about where you are at this point in time. What is the most critical action for you to focus your time, energy and resources? This month? This quarter? This year? You may be at the beginning of a new stage or relationship, so building trust and respect might be pretty important. On the other hand, you may be in a time of transition, so building up reserves and support systems may come first.

Interests – This is really important. It’s not just about what you are competent doing, rather what you really enjoy doing or want to try. Your list should include the people/places/things that you want to have as a part of your life. What would you like to explore, learn, discover, create?

Community – These are your networks. Start with family, schoolmates, neighbors, co workers, people you play sports with or know through meetups. Add any professional connections, such as doctor, dentist, insurance agent, or your mechanic. You may consider using your phone settings to tag people by category, build hives of people in similar fields or by geography. Our connections to other people helps build bridges that otherwise would be practically impossible.

Experiences – What are some of the most defining moments in your life? Who are the people or events that impacted you the most, contributing to your convictions?

By identifying each of these areas, hopefully you will be able to gain a clearer picture of your personal portfolio. Your portfolio provides the framework to better define what resources you have at your disposal to begin crafting your financial map. It also works as a filter to gauge important decisions, by verifying if it fits with who you are or want to be,

You are the Architect of your own finances.

Coming up next: Building a Strong Foundation

Hacking Your Finances

Managing personal finances can be overwhelming and time consuming. Over the course of several years, we piece together different accounts and tools to keep track of activity. There’s usually not too much thought put into it, except to do what is necessary to move forward. We do what we need to prevent extra fees or penalties, not thinking too much of how to leverage the system to work better for us.

Through my blog, I propose we break down personal finances into smaller parts, analyzing how each part functions and the alternatives we have to customize it to meet our preferences. We’ll consider the relationship each part has to others and explore the possible outcomes of tweaking each part. This experimentation will help us better understand how to design a system that is interactive, adaptive and simple.

My hope is to build a community that is engaged, sharing frustrations, questions and financial hacks they’ve created to manage their finances. This experiment goes beyond following a static system or ten-step program by some financial guru, it’s about taking ownership of driving your cash flow to do what you want.

Growing up, my dad used to tell me that everyone wants to get their greedy hands on your cash flow – they are bent on getting whatever they can by whatever means possible. So, be advised and be informed.

Let’s get hacking!