Using the Radical Middle to Master Your Money

Happy Friday, Friends (and a very special happy birthday shoutout to my mom 🥳)!

Last week, Kim shared some excellent advice about how we can all find our own version of the Radical Middle to hold tension between financial goals.

One line has really stuck with me all week: 

Finding the Radical Middle means laying down what you “think” you should do and holding the tension between what you’ve been told and what reality will allow you to do.

As I worked through the focusing questions and the four steps to implementing the Radical Middle in our budgets & lives, it hit me: 

My nomad journey is my own perfect little example of the Radical Middle. 

I’ve always been torn between “running off” on a grand adventure or doing what I’ve been told was expected of me—buying a home and “settling down.”

Then, I finished my doctoral program with an absurd amount of debt, and there I was, entering my 30s, feeling stuck between two extremes: blindly seeking adventure vs. reaching financial freedom.

At some point in 2023, I decided there had to be a better balance.

That’s when I developed this “harebrained” nomadic pet and house sitting scheme—a plan that is true to my values, allows me to explore (on a serious budget), and significantly cuts my housing costs so I can allocate extra money toward my debt payoff.

Holding the tension between these two extremes has been critical to my debt-payoff journey, but also to my overall happiness and wellbeing. 

Something else helpful in my own Radical Middle is making sure I always have a month’s paycheck set aside in a high-yield savings account to cover any unexpected travel costs.

If you haven’t yet opened an HYSA for your sinking funds, check out CIT Bank, who is offering a 4.65% APY. **

So how can you find the line and make it your own?

Shuhari is a Japanese martial art concept that describes the stages of learning to mastery, and it’s extremely helpful to remember when looking for your radical middle.

Shu Ha Ri roughly translates to “follow the rules, break the rules, transcend the rules.”

Photo credits to Tim Barlow Online

💡 Shu (守) means to follow a teacher fully without question. When you’re a total beginner, it can be overwhelming to hear many different opinions on a subject, especially with a subject like managing money that does have many right ways.

Following one teacher and all their rules isn’t bad, it’s encouraged, but you shouldn’t spend much time here.

⚡ Ha (破) means to break away. Once you have an understanding of basic principles, you should experiment with breaking the “rules.” 

This is where you can start to compare your desires, lifestyle, and season to that of the teacher you’re reading or listening to and change things that just don’t feel right.

🎯 Ri (離) means to transcend. At this stage, you’ve “mastered” your skill (not to be mistaken for perfected!). It’s important to get to this stage, but not to rush it.

Pretend you’re there too soon, and you could lead yourself (and others) down a path that could be destructive to your (and your friends’) finances.

With my nomad journey, I’m currently in the “ha” step. I’m writing my own rules about managing money and living responsibly.

Of course, I know my rules may seem totally wrong to most people—and that’s okay! That’s the magic of the personalized Radical Middle. 

That said, this week I want to leave you with an extra action step. 💡

Think about the concept of Shuhari.

When it comes to managing money, what step do you feel like you’re on?

Are you ready to move on?

This week, do one thing that helps you become a better “master” of your money.

Reply to this email or tag us on Instagram to share more about your own Radical Middle!

As someone currently navigating conversations about a likely ADHD diagnosis myself, I loved hearing more about Managing Money With ADHD/Neurodivergence on Tuesday’s episode (EP 390). Jen & Jill shared some great tips for managing money from a neurodivergent financial expert, and I’m excited to try the strategies that were new to me!

It seems like my grocery bill gets bigger by the week, so I’m always looking for a good grocery shopping hack. Fortunately, Jen & Jill dish out some great advice on the Best Seasonal Grocery Sales on today’s episode (EP 391)!

Tune in wherever you get podcasts and let us know what you thought of the episode over on our latest Instagram post!

 Listen: To a great sleep manifestation music playlist! It took me a few nights of experimentation to find, but I’ve been loving this one!

 Watch: If you’re still thinking about the sustainable clothing brands I featured in Wednesday’s Friendletter, you might be interested in The True Cost, a documentary about the impact of the clothing industry on our world.

 Do: Download the Beni chrome extension and let them do the hard work of finding the clothing/shoes/accessories you want at a fraction of the cost. Because they connect you with the pre-owned stuff!

 Meal Plan: I’m heading out on a Spring Break hiking trip this weekend, so I’m prepping easy to grab, budget friendly snacks. I refuse to gatekeep these High Protein Oatmeal Bars (3 Ways!). Pro tip: add frozen blueberries. Thank me later!

Catch ya later,

⭐️⭐️ P.S. Want to share all this goodness with your friends AND earn cool Frugal Friends merch?

**Means this is a sponsored or affiliate section. We may earn a small fee or commission when you choose to try one of our sponsor or affiliate partners. But opinions are still 1000% our own.

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