- “Finance for the People” is a new personal finance book that actually addresses systemic injustice.
- In the book, financial expert Paco de Leon recommends scheduling weekly finance time.
- I tried it for a month, and it helped me file my taxes and change my name on my bank accounts.
- Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.
It’s tiring to hear personal finance experts give advice to cut back on morning coffee to save up for a down payment on a home without taking into account how much the cost of living has changed for millennials and Gen Zers in particular, especially after the financially devastating effects of the pandemic.
Enter: “Finance for the People: Getting a Grip on Your Finances” written by queer Filipina expert and former financial planner Paco de Leon. In the book, de Leon addresses systemic injustices that affect our relationship to money then gives readers relatable advice on how to achieve “financial awesomeness” within that system.
Before getting into the nitty gritty of debt repayment, saving for an emergency fund, and building wealth through investing, de Leon’s first is to schedule weekly finance time. Weekly finance time is 30 minutes to one hour each week to do personal finance tasks like checking your monthly subscriptions or calling your
provider to see if you qualify for a lower rate.
For people like me who have experienced financial trauma in the past, it’s easy to let money-related tasks snowball into bigger problems over time. After reading the book, I scheduled my own weekly finance time for one month and it helped me do these three scary personal finance tasks.
1. File my taxes
I spent weeks worrying about my taxes because I recently went through a gender-affirming legal name change. After reading “Finance for the People,” I felt like I had a cheerleader in my corner who knew what I was going through. I committed to doing my taxes for an hour at a time, and I was shocked how little time it actually took.
In 2021, I had a mix of freelance and full-time income. I had to gather W-2s, 1099s, and other documents to get ready to file my taxes efficiently. It only took an hour and a half to get organized, and another half an hour to file my taxes through H&R Block.
2. Tell my service providers about my legal name change
The most daunting personal finance tasks are connected to my legal name change. Changing my name was one of the best and happiest decisions I’ve ever made, but navigating bureaucratic processes is terrifying for me. On the phone or in person, customer service representatives always make me feel like I’m defrauding their system, or like my life experiences are simply inconvenient for them.
I used my Wednesday lunch breaks to make those phone calls. Somehow, having a specific time set on my calendar to tackle an emotionally loaded personal finance task made such a huge difference.
3. Go to my state disability office
I received a gender-affirming surgery in November, but I haven’t been paid yet for the time I took off from work. I had to go fight for my medical leave check in person at the state disability office.
I scheduled an hour of my weekly finance time to take care of this, but waiting in line took two and a half hours. There were almost 100 people waiting in line to speak to three customer service representatives about disability and medical pay.
Just like filing my taxes and contacting my service providers, scheduling a time specifically to do this task helped me prepare mentally and emotionally. I even brought the book with me to read while I was waiting in line, and it made me feel less alone.
What I appreciate most about “Finance for the People” is its ability to meet the reader where they are in their own financial journey. Some people do need help picking out a retirement plan or saving for their first home, but others still need encouragement to simply build a healthy financial foundation.