- “Finance for the People” is a new personal finance book that actually tackles systemic injustice.
- In the book, financial expert Paco de León recommends scheduling a 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 Personal Finance Insider stories.
It’s exhausting to listen to personal finance experts advise cutting back on your morning coffee to save for a
in a house without considering how much the cost of living has changed for millennials and Gen Zers in particular, especially after the devastating financial effects of the pandemic.
Enter: “Finance for the People: How to Control Your Finances,” written by Filipina queer expert and former financial planner Paco de León. In the book, De Leon addresses the systemic injustices that affect our relationship with money, and then gives readers advice on how to achieve “financial genius” within that system.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of paying off debt, saving for an emergency fund, and building wealth through investing, Leon’s first thing is to schedule a weekly finance time. Weekly finance time is 30 minutes to an hour each week to perform personal finance tasks, such as 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 escalate into bigger problems over time. After reading the book, I scheduled my own weekly finance time for a 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 was surprised at 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 me an hour and a half to get organized and another half hour to file my taxes through H&R Block.
2. Inform my service providers about my legal name change
The most daunting personal finance tasks are related 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 scary for me. On the phone or in person, customer service reps always make me feel like I’m letting their system down, or that my life experiences are just inconvenient to them.
I used my Wednesday lunch breaks to make those phone calls. Somehow, having a specific time set in my calendar to tackle an emotionally charged personal finance task made a world of difference.
3. Go to my state disability office
I had gender affirming surgery in November, but have not yet been paid for the time I was off work. I had to personally fight for my medical leave check 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 nearly 100 people waiting in line to speak with three customer service representatives about disability and medical payment.
Just like filing my taxes and communicating with my service providers, scheduling a specific time to do this task helped me prepare mentally and emotionally. I even took the book with me to read while 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 on their own financial journey. Some people need help choosing a retirement plan or saving for their first home, but others still need encouragement to simply build a healthy financial foundation.