The 4 Walls of Personal Finance

Protecting Your 4 Walls: With so many strategies for “fixing” our finances, the “4 walls approach” keep us focused on what’s important.


Whether you rent or own, housing takes a big chunk of your income. Making sure that you allocate enough of your earnings toward rent or mortgage payments is a top priority for most families. Beyond housing expenses, it is also important to set aside money for emergencies that may arise concerning housing. Need a new washer in a year? Put a line in your budget to save for it over time. Rent payment increasing considerably? Add to the budget and save for a deposit over time. Looking towards the future and having a plan in place will prevent those big expenses from sneaking up on you.


Let there be light! And water, and garbage pick-up, and phone service… Our utilities are for all intents and purpose fixed expenses that should be included in every budget. Electricity and water are necessities, we also need someone to pick up the garbage. Having phone, cable, and internet are more subjective in their importance given your personal needs and wants. Whatever your needs are in this area, put it in your budget!


What are your modes of transportation?Does your work offer discounts on public transit passes? Could you save on gas by cycling to work? Regardless of how you travel, each approach comes with its own associated costs. Put transportation into your budget and remember to give yourself some cushion for irregular expenses like car repairs, a new pair of walking shoes, or an Uber/Lyft allowance!


Without following a monthly spending plan, food expenses can be the least predictable wall of them all. Making a spending plan for this category that allows for some wiggle room. You can save a lot of money by grocery shopping with a list and by cooking meals at home. That being said, budgeting does not mean cutting out any and all fun. Leave some room in your food budget for happy hour with friends, the morning coffee routine, or whatever you like to drink.

So there you have it! Housing, utilities, transportation and food are life essentials. Planning for reoccurring expenses is crucial to making our money work for us. Once our 4 walls are up and protecting us, we are free to plan out the rest of our earnings!

The Save First Blog

This is a financial blog designed to help you meet your financial goals. Our team of financial educators, counselors, and coaches discuss relevant topics for everyday financial matters.