In the first part of this Scrum Your Money series, I explained scrum values and establishing a positive money mindset. In part two, I will cover the importance of money transparency and using sprint ceremonies to inspect and adapt your money progress. Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. Please discuss your specific situation with a financial advisor.
The Scrum Guide states that, “with sufficient transparency, an agile team can inspect and adapt.” This means that for a Scrum team to improve and make progress, there needs to be a high level of openness and visibility into the work being done. Remember your money team? Whether it’s yourself, your family, or a partner – everyone on your money team needs transparency into the money flows and goals.
You won’t know if you’re on track to meet your goals unless you have a budget. I know budgeting gets a bad rap, but budgeting is not just about sacrificing and suffering. Budgets are a tool to display money facts.
Whether you use an integrated tracker or a simple spreadsheet, budgeting provides the transparency to see your current and projected money flows. These data points can turn frustrating questions (“Where is all my money going?”) into fact-based options (“If I want to increase spending on X, I could reduce spending on Y”).
There are so many apps and online tools available for tracking money flow! I love my manual Google spreadsheet, but several coworkers are big fans of You Need a Budget (better for tracking day-to-day expenses) and Copilot (better for tracking investments and net worth).
Next, I will review scrum ceremonies that build in intentional touchpoints for inspection and adaptation of your budget.
Scrum uses sprints and ceremonies to structure periods of work as a team moves towards a product goal. A sprint is a short period in which the team commits to complete a set amount of work. Calendar months lend themselves nicely to one-month sprints.
Ceremonies are regular meetings with specific objectives to review and inspect progress during the sprint to achieve the sprint goals. Just like in Scrum, you should break down your financial journey into sprints. Set short-term money goals for one month at a time and meet before, during, and after the month to inspect and adapt your progress.
Before each sprint (month), have a sprint planning session to determine which goals you’ll work on during the upcoming month. Review what you accomplished the previous month, and what you want to tweak or achieve this upcoming month. This process will help you stay organized, motivated, and aligned with your financial objectives. Since you’ll be tackling one small piece of a goal each month, it’s easier to stay focused on your progress instead of getting overwhelmed by the big picture. Examples of monthly sprint goals could be:
- Increase your savings rate by 5% this month
- Save an extra $500 toward your emergency fund this month
- Pay off your smallest debt this month
While these are the goals, how you accomplish them during the month is up to you! Perhaps you come up with extra cash by selling things you no longer need, taking on a side hustle, working an extra shift, canceling a streaming service, or cooking at home three nights a week instead of dining out. During the month you can focus on tracking your expenses, monitoring progress towards your goal, and making any necessary adjustments.
Scrum uses daily standup meetings to share updates and discuss progress. Apply this practice to your personal finance by having a daily check-in with yourself or your money partner(s). Reflect on your financial activities from the previous day (bills paid, planned spending, surprise expenses, or cleared refunds), discuss any challenges or achievements, and make any necessary adjustments for today to stay on track. If you are using a tracking tool, enter the inflows and outflows for that day. Discuss what purchases or automated bills are expected tomorrow.
At the end of each month, conduct a sprint review to assess your financial progress, celebrate accomplishments, and identify areas to improve on next month. This reflection process will help you continuously improve your financial habits and decision-making.
Review and Reassess
Scrum encourages a culture of continuous improvement, and the same philosophy should apply to personal finance. Regularly review your financial performance, reassess your goals, and adjust your strategies accordingly.
See Part Three for a beginner’s personal finance backlog.