Money, Mental Illness, and Me

*NB: for once, this post actually uses Referral Links!!! If you decide to sign up for any of the services referenced using links in this post, we both get a lil somethin’ monetarily from the services. Go us!

My one of my Words of the Year for 2020 is Investment. I’ve already spoken about my investments in myself and my writing here, so for this prompt I’m looking at it from a purely financial viewpoint.

Full disclosure – I suck at money. I am sharing a few strategies that are working for me to save effectively while I dig myself out of the hole I am currently stuck in. Results may vary, do your research before making any decisions. All observations are from my experience as a person living with mental illnesses and bad money habits. Use your discretion and best judgement in considering strategies for your situation.

So let’s just get this out there now – money and mental illnesses do not (always) mix. Add in tendencies to spend rather than save and you get disaster.

My general money pattern is: monitor my bank account every day, keep tabs on every penny, deny myself things and experiences I really want…then while wallowing in the resentment of what I CAN’T do, I spend on STUFF – books, yarn, takeout, whatever pretty shiny piece of jewelry caught my eye, etc.

And once the high of acquisition wears off (and let’s not mince words – it’s a high), I’m back where I started with the monitoring and the denial and the resentment.

Needless to say, I’ve been so busy doing debt control & reduction in the last 18 months that I haven’t been saving as I should be, which makes me get resentful, and the cycle repeats.

So it’s time for a new strategy – one I can actually stick to.

First thing I did was join a community on Facebook called Financial Common Cents – that has helped me more than anything. The group is incredibly supportive, and has helped me think of money and dealing with debt and savings in different ways.

Secondly, I figured out what kind of strategies worked for me. “Put into savings account” and “put cash into an envelope and hide it in the back of your sock drawer” are not good. There is always another bill to pay, or money I owe someone, or SOMETHING I need to use it for.

Plus (and I know this will make me sound like a spoilt 12 year old) if I feel like something is an obligation, I’m 1) going to resent it, 2) less likely to do/stick to it and 3) more likely to fall back into my old patterns.

So I needed a set-it-and-forget-it type of strategy combined with not having easy access to my money so I can’t pull it on a whim. Enter my 3 new best friends: Acorns, Qapital, and Self.

Acorns is an investment app. You link up a funding account and set your preferences – you can do a round up on all purchases made with that account, a one-time transfer, take advantage of “found money” opportunities (when a brand contributes a percentage of your purchase to your account) – answer a few questions to tailor your portfolio, and let it go.

They have other features like retirement savings and a debit card, but at this moment, all I utilize is the savings transfers. I think I threw in a whopping $5 to start it up, and if your funding account dips below a certain amount, they pause your withdrawals so you don’t overdraw. No contracts or commitments so you can withdraw or close at any time, but it does take a few days to a week for that process.

If you use my link, we both get $5. Huzzah!

Qapital feels like a game that helps me save, so therefore I love it. It’s recently moved into a paid membership model, but they do have a free Basic option, which is what I use. Much like Acorns, you link your funding account and set your rules, and your deposits are automatically transferred. No contracts or commitments, withdraw/close whenever, give a few days for your money to be returned.

What’s fun about Qapital is the kind of rules you can set – right now I have round ups set, AND I have silliness like “when the International Space Station passes over your home address, save $1.00” and “when temperature is above 80deg or below 32deg, save $1.00”. You can even link your Fitbit and set rules for saving when you hit step or sleep targets.

The downside is because it’s not a bank, it’s not an interest bearing account. But it’s something I don’t have to think about (they have an overdraft protection rule built in too), and I can actively track progress to the goal I’ve set, which makes me so happy.

If you use my link, we both get $5 in our account. Double Huzzah!

For my credit score in specific, I’m using Self, formerly Self Lender. It’s a credit-builder loan to yourself – for a $15 origination fee, you set the duration and amount of your payments, and Self holds it in a CD for the duration of your loan.  At the end of term, your CD matures and you get your money back.

It reports to the 3 credit bureaus, and as long as you keep up on your payments, it helps with  your length of credit history, your on-time payment history, and yes, helps to raise your score.

I’ve been doing the “$48 a month for 12 months” plan since March of 2019 – in that time my score went up by 58 points, I’ve never missed a payment, and my CD will fully mature in February 2020, so I will get the money I’ve put in back within 10-14 days.

Then I’ll probably start a new one and keep the good progress going.

Here’s my link if you want to investigate – you won’t get a bonus if you use it, but better credit will do nothing but help in the long run. so I think it would be worth it.

So that is how I am investing in my future over the next year. With some job things looming on the horizon, I’m anxious I’ll be able to continue with the pace I’ve set, but hey, that’s what side hustles are for!


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