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Are you "good with money?"

I know, that's not usually a question you hear in the tech industry, but Honeybadger don't topic is off-limits. 😁

Don't worry, you don't have to answer the question. I do want to talk about "financial engineering" though, because a well-engineered financial system can help you level up.

Everyone's heard, "money won't buy happiness." It's true; having a lot of money probably won't make you happy.

Here's a corollary:

Stressing over money all the time is guaranteed to make you miserable.

Money should give you freedom; it should give you the agency to act in your best long-term interests, not your short-term needs. It should let you plan your future objectively, and take risks when opportunity strikes.

Worrying about money is a fruitless exercise; it's best not to think about money at all most of the time. Money is a means to an end—a tool to accomplish life's goals, and mitigate life's uncertainties.

"But if I never think about money, how will my bills get paid?"

We're all engineers here... Let's do some engineering.

As engineers, we hate repetitive work. We routinely teach computers to automate routine tasks in our day jobs. We can do the same in our personal lives. For example:

I haven't paid a bill this year so far. Not my mortgage, not my power, my credit card, or investments... And yet, my lights are still on, I have a great credit score, and I've contributed to various savings and investment plans regularly.

All of this was done on my behalf, by automated systems I created.

My system is broken up into two phases: planning (manual) and execution (automated). The planning phase looks like this:

  • Annually: Long-term planning (set savings and investing goals, plan large purchases, etc.)
  • Quarterly: create monthly budgets, review investments
  • Weekly: briefly review spending, adjust budgets as necessary

The spending that results from my plan is fully automated; assuming I keep getting a paycheck, it all just hums along without any attention at all:

  • Income arrives via direct deposit to my checking account
  • Day-to-day spending happens primarily on a charge card (my wife and I use the points for Christmas shopping)
  • On the 10th of each month:
    • Monthly bills are paid via auto-pay
    • Automatic deposits are made to investment/savings accounts
    • Credit card balances are paid in full
  • Bank transactions are imported automatically to our budgeting software (we review and categorize these manually, to keep a closer eye on our spending)

So WHY would you go to all this trouble to create a financial system?

When you automate, you make things happen.

Financial engineering forces you to make a long-term plan and then execute it, removing the procrastination and uncertainty that usually accompany decisions involving money.

Life is uncertain. A good system smooths out the highs and lows. When life is good, the system helps you enjoy it. When life is rough, the system offers redundancy.

You don't need much to treat your finances like an engineering problem: just a little cash flow. Start by automating your bills, and iterate from there.

This is what we do.

You're an engineer, dammit. Apply your engineering skills to build systems that support the life you want. Learn. Iterate. Grow.

Now go ship it. :) 🚀

Co-founder, ⚡

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