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Originally Published: Sep 20, 2022
Originally Published: Sep 20, 2022 Last Updated: Sep 21, 2022 7 min read
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This is an excerpt from Dollar Scholar, the Money newsletter where news editor Julia Glum teaches you the modern money lessons you NEED to know. Don't miss the next issue! Sign up at money.com/subscribe and join our community of 160,000+ Scholars.


I’m a list girlie, through and through.

Every morning, I flip to a new page in my Field Notes steno pad and write out the tasks I have to complete during the workday. When I was in high school, all my AIM away messages were to-do lists of various homework assignments. Before I go on vacation, I always compile a Google Doc of nearby attractions, and in my phone’s Notes app, I keep a running schedule of my upcoming concerts.

Creating lists allows me to organize my thoughts and work through things one step at a time without feeling overwhelmed. Lists also help me make rational decisions about my money. That's true for day-to-day decisions — after all, it's easy to avoid impulse buys at the grocery store if I bring a shopping list — as well as bigger, longer-lasting ones.

Enter buy now, pay later programs, or companies like Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay that let customers break up expensive purchases into smaller, more manageable payments made over time. Abbreviated BNPL, I wrote about them in February 2020. But a lot has changed in the past two-ish years.