How Fiscally Responsible Are You (on the Company’s Dime)?

December 23, 2019



Inspired to become even better stewards of our money, my wife and I took on the One-Day-No-Spend challenge. If you’re not familiar, the exercise essentially calls for people to stop spending all together for 24 hours (or an entire weekend, for the super zealous family budgeteers).

The idea is to gain greater awareness around where your dollars go on a typical day and also to inspire fiscal ingenuity (e.g., I have no gas in the car; I’ll ride my bike to work).

Some may argue financial ingenuity is an outdated principle adhered to only by the most senior among us – citizens who came of age when bootstrapping, not buying, was the cultural norm. But, I’m here to tell you the spirit of thrift lives on in many of us Gen Xers. And, if the studies I read are correct, Millennials and Gen Zers are even more inclined to create rather than consume.

The No-Spend experience my wife and I had was every bit as eye-opening as expected. More so, actually. I hadn’t anticipated the exercise would change the way I think about workplace spending, too. But, it did. I began to think more creatively, more strategically, around how I allocated the dollars I’m responsible for as a leader within my company.

Frugality and mindfulness around money have been core values of mine as far back as I can remember. But, there’s always opportunity to continue growing. And so, I plan to apply three of the lessons I learned on my personal No-Spend day to the way I allocate budget at work:

Lesson No. 1: Accountability Partners are Key

When it comes to achieving any goal, nothing holds a candle to the accountability partner. Particularly in a collaborative environment like ours, finding a coworker to double check my ideas, and their associated costs, by is a pretty easy way to apply an extra layer of scrutiny to the plan.

Lesson No. 2: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

There is no limit to human creativity. This year, I will challenge myself to think critically about different ways to achieve the same outcome. If, for example, I want to touch base with a colleague, perhaps we meet over coffee instead of lunch, or perhaps at one of our offices.

Lesson No. 3: Inertia is a Powerful Force

In a corporate environment, there can be a tendency to spend (or exceed) every dime exactly per the budget. Much of this is driven by a fear of losing those funds the next year if we don’t. In 2020 (and beyond), I plan to question “the way it’s always been” when it comes to expenses.

Advocating for financial responsibility and championing financial wellness are important to me and my community bank colleagues. By becoming even more intentional about the money we spend as a leading Iowa business, we not only practice what we preach, we prove that fiscal ingenuity and thrift is alive and well.

Mark K. Phillips is vice president of treasury management services for Bank Iowa, Iowa’s second largest family-owned financial institution. He can be reached at To learn more, visit Member FDIC.