Category Archives: Life

Travel Hacking Your Family Vacations: Discovering Epic Deals

How does a summer vacation in multiple countries sound? Road-trip around the US? Month in the Bahamas? 

Learn how one family of five plans and travel hack these epic trips so they’re getting an incredible deal!

Ready to Travel Hack an Epic Family Vacation?

Last week we discovered the risk and rewards of travel hacking with credit cards. This week we’re diving into planning the actual trip. 

This is why I’m thrilled Justin from Root of Good is on the show today. I interviewed him years ago on Couple Money and he shared how he and his wife were able to retire in their early 30s with three kids. 

As you heard at the top of the show, he and his family have gone on some incredible family vacations. 

Here’s the thing, though – they’re more affordable than you realize. Part of their strategy does include using credit card rewards, but it’s so much more than that. 

Justin uses different sites to optimize those details like travel and eating, which adds up quickly. 

In this episode, we get into:

  • how to plan for family vacations with kids
  • finding deals on flights, hotels, and transportation
  • getting the most value out of the experience while still relaxing

Are you ready?

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Optimize Your Travel Rewards and More

Looking for ways to save on your next family getaway? Here are some fantastic resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first including an annual loyalty bonus. We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit with an IRA is you get to choose how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start-to-finish – for FREE. They handle the process from start-to-finish, and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and becoming financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on AppleSpotify, or Audible.
  • Buy me a cup of coffee!

Travel Hacking Your Family Vacations: Credit Card Rewards

Learn how you can find the best credit card rewards and travel hack so you can save significant money while enjoying a fantastic and memorable vacation!

Travel Hacks to Enjoy Your Family Vacation for Less

We typically talk about ‘responsible’ financial goals, like paying off debts, saving for emergencies, vacations and buying a house, investing for retirement, and so forth. 

Those are wonderful things to take care of, but money can also be used for fun things as well, including travel. 

Look, these past two years have been stressful for so many families and I understand that many of us would like to literally get away from it all.

TripAdvisor did a survey earlier this year to see how people plan to travel this year. They found:

  • More people are looking to travel in 2022 than pre-pandemic reported travel levels
  • Here’s the interesting takeaway: roughly 3 in 10 Americans (29%) who traveled for leisure in 2019 said it's more important now than before the pandemic to splurge on a big trip
  • 41% of Americans said that traveling to a destination they've never been to before would be more important to them now
  • The top three most important considerations, across the markets surveyed, in future travel plans to visit a destination was to get immersive by seeing new places, having new experiences and learning about history and culture.

Planning a family vacation can be a way to not just relax, but mentally recharge and reset ourselves a bit. 

We’ve changed our destinations and stayed in state for most of our trips. Yeah it was a great money saver, but we also got to rediscover and enjoy some awesome spots here in North Carolina. 

We’d love to expand our horizons this year while still keeping safe and staying on budget. 

If you’re in the same boat, I think you’ll enjoy these next two episodes. We’re going to look at how to travel hack your family vacations so you can enjoy more for less. 

Next week we’ll discuss the logistics of planning an epic vacation on the cheap. This week we’re going to dig in and see if you can really snag a deal with travel hacking and credit card rewards.

That’s why I’m happy to have Daniel Rathfelder on the show. He’s the VP of Card Services over at Coastal Credit Union. He’s going to get into how those regards card programs work and how to get the most out of them. 

In this episode we get into:

  • Finding the right reward card
  • How your credit score is affected 
  • Optimizing your credit cards to reap the rewards and not get into debt

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to Optimize Your Travel Rewards and More

Looking for ways to save on your next family getaway? Here are some fantastic resources to check out:

Don't forget to join our Thriving Families Facebook group!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first including an annual loyalty bonus. We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit with an IRA is you get to choose how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start-to-finish – for FREE. They handle the process from start-to-finish, and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Travel Hacking Using Credit Card Rewards

Elle Martinez: Many people have different ideas about travel hacking with credit cards. To double check we're on the same page, here's how I describe it.

Travel hacking is where you can get a discounted vacation- in some cases practically free one- by strategically using credit card rewards. Those rewards can be points, miles, and cashback.

Now you accumulate those rewards by using your credit cards for purchases. Many hackers gained the most by signing up for new cards because typically that's where the big bonuses and rewards are.

Now you could, and others have benefited from this, but how exactly does this work? How do the credit cards stay in business?

Daniel Rathfelder: Utilizing points to redeem for travel is not a new concept. I mean one of the most popular travel cards out there is the Delta sky miles, American express card, for example. That's been around for ages. I think we've all probably gotten an offer in the mail for it or something.

It's definitely one of those, those products that allows people to utilize sometimes their daily spending and redeem that for travel.

From an industry side, Travel cards are built around two key components. One is high interchange on travel merchant categories. So if you're using your card at say a Delta airlines or a Southwest or spirit or whatever, those particular vendors pay a higher interchange percentage on that transaction.

I'm just going to make a round number two and a half percent and so that credit card provider gets two and a half percent of your transaction for that as income. That's why you see usually the travel cards have slightly more appetizing rates or rewards rates than what you would see on a normal like cashback card, where they have to kind of blend the whole thing where like a grocery store, obviously doesn't pay two and a half percent of your transaction. They're more like 0.8 or 0.9% so very different in some of those strategies.

But utilizing a card to make the purchases that are specific to optimizing that reward offer and possibly the introduction of getting a new product definitely allow somebody to redeem for free flights and whatnot.

How Travel Reward Cards Work

Elle Martinez: Yep. There's always costs. I found this fascinating because of how we use credit cards. We have a cash back credit card that we typically use for a big purchase or vacations. We put it on the card and immediately pay it off. That way, if there's any problems, it doesn't mess with our regular checking and savings.

And they can deal with the credit card company. There's always going to be some, trade-offs not just with travel rewards, but with credit cards themselves. Before you sign up for one. There are a few things to consider so that you maximize the reward while not getting burned.

Daniel Rathfelder: The things to think about are what are you actually using in your daily life? You can relate this to that; you're not going to get yourself in trouble, which is the second piece of those rewards cards. Which is those typical high interest rates that you'll see.

You'll start to see the best rates for some of those travel cards in like the 16% number. That's pretty high as an industry. Whereas like lower cash back card or a non rewards card, you can get as low as like eight, 9% on a lot of those. It's very different in the approach and what you want to accomplish with.

How to Find the Right Credit Card Rewards for You

Elle Martinez: If you've been online, looking at anything financial or travel related, you've probably seen those ads about signup bonuses on some of those cards. Typically you have to spend so much within the first three months to get those really great bonuses, but how do you know which rewards are good for you and your family?

Daniel Rathfelder: Yeah, I'll start with annual fee. That's a big one. A lot of the times they'll waive the annual fee for the first year. But then you're from a credit side, you don't usually want to open and close credit cards very quickly. So you're going to be charged at annual fee for multiple years before that, even if you only use it once, put it in a file cabinet or a safe and put, tuck it away for a number of years. So that in mind, it's not just a, one-time kind of hit there's re continuation of that fee.

The bonus stuff is great but a lot of the time and, and what we study in the card industry is how to activate a consumer into a product because none of it pays for us from an activation side, if they're going to use it once and never use it again.

That's why the annual fee sometimes exists. That's why there's three months of incentive, because they're trying to build a behavior for you to use that card.

That's why that happens. So those incentives say, a 60,000 mile bonus or something like that. It was there with a annual fee of say, $95 in waves for the first year.

Then there's probably sometimes like a $20,000 bonus. If you spend say $1,500 in your first three months. A pretty attractive offer, right, right out of the gate. again, Think about what you're doing making sure you can pay that vacation off, or you get a 16, 17, whatever the APR is associated with the card.

Then you're going to be paying that $95 fee the second year, the third year, and probably the fourth year. If you don't use your card ever again, and that's always built into that and you never get those introductory points typically again. The rewards, rates can be anywhere from two to 5%.

Are Those Credit Card Travel Portals A Good Deal?

Elle Martinez: This is serious business for sure. If you decide to go with reward cards, you got to know the ins and outs of it to maximize those bonuses. For some cards, they incentivize you to use their travel sites.

Daniel Rathfelder: The other thing to look for is there's some companies that will be specific to using their travel site. So you can only get that like say on the 5%, which is on a couple of different providers, you have to go through their specific travel.

Spirit airlines, for example, would just typically known or jet blue, low rates on airline fees. You're not going to fly jet blue. You're not going to fly spirit. They have not even options typically at some of those sites.

Be prepared for slightly more expensive flights like American airlines or United or Delta or something like that. You'll pay similar prices or the same price as you would if you book directly through Orbitz, but it's Hey, we're going to use that site.

The reason that they do that is they avoid that interchange a loop because they don't pay; like a orbits, for example, they'd have to pay a percentage for that interchange fee. If you go direct to a site that's owned by the institution, they don't pay that. They just debit the card. They create a backend electronic process and say, okay, I'm just fine and they avoid that. That's why those points systems are a little bit higher through those, those sites.

Is the Annual Fee Worth It?

Elle Martinez: It's probably the personal finance nerd in me, but I was fascinated by how these programs work, especially with the psychology of getting cardholders to develop new habits. There were also a couple other points that caught my attention, like annual fees. I was not aware until digging into it recently.

How varied in how much it could be between cards. I was speaking with someone who's pretty much a professional travel hacker. Don't worry. You'll hear from him in the next episode. He recommended the card and the annual fee was just under $400 but it had a ton of bonuses on top of the one we eventually got.

Considering how much he and his family traveled compared to how we do it, I can understand why he went for it and it just didn't work for us on the number side.

That's why it's so important for you to sit down and look at the numbers to make sure you understand how you're spending and that if you're going with a credit card, it aligns with that.

Which Reward Cards Are Best? Cash Back Cards, Points, or Miles?

Daniel Rathfelder: Yeah. That's a really good conversation to have and to think about when you're going into, what card should I get? How often are you going to use it? If it's kind of a one-time thing a year, like that's how my family offers. We take one nice family vacation a year. That's what we do.

We might go and disappear like to beach or something a couple of times a year, but that's about it. It's not this grandiose, Hey, let's travel and have everybody do that.

A lot of the times, if you're not a frequent traveler or using it for booking frequent travel, the benefits for travel are sometimes less than if you were to look at just using your everyday cashback card.

Even putting all of your general purchases on it, including your travel, a lot of companies will allow you to bank that cash back piece and let it sit off to the side. Then when you're ready to do that vacation, go ahead and dump that over.

It's just an easier way to maybe maintain a lifestyle and not have to change behaviors and not have to watch, make sure. Hey, did I make sure I made the payment on this other card before the due date and don't have credit reporting history or late fees or anything like that. Definitely a couple of different avenues, but it depends on how much you travel.

Elle Martinez: Speaking of paying off for your family, there's another thing to consider when you're trying to find the best rewards card for you. Which is the right option- points, miles, or cashback?

Daniel Rathfelder: Yeah, so miles, a little bit harder to do because as seasonality changes and so forth, it's not something as tangible as cash, right? Like we all know what a dollar represents. We don't really understand 10,000 miles represents, like it's a little bit of a question and that 10,000 mile piece can change.

It's actually interesting, like the cost of gas, for example, for everyone has gone out including airline industry. You know, what you could get for 10,000 miles a year ago is very different than what you can get for 10,000 miles today. And it sometimes like, Why doesn't that compute?

Why do I need 25,000 miles for the trip that I only need 10,000 last year? But yet the way that the mile odometer kind of runs on the rewards points is always the same. It doesn't change the card. Now I know that some people would say, well, that's a pretty direct relationship to the cost and cash.

Yeah. But if you're getting a cashback card, you at least know, maybe I can choose a cheaper flight or maybe I can choose a flight live another carrier or whatever. That would be a little bit less. So it again, depends on how often you travel.

A lot of times, like you were saying your friend's recommended a card that he uses all the time. It sounds like he's a frequent traveler. He probably enjoys going to the airport lounges. But in that same token he, he probably enjoys flying the same carrier or the same airline pretty regularly. There's no bonuses because he's flying an airline with maybe using their card and, you know, free checked bags or free upgrade or something like that.

Again, it's all built into that financial model for them, but yeah, that, it's very different.

The other thing I'll say a lot of people do is they'll actually sign up with a business and use their credit card with a points model or something like that to accrue. Then sometimes use that for personal personal gain if they're traveling a lot for business.

That's a fairly good avenue because at least, it's possibly under the business for the credit reporting side. At the same time from a financer accounts payable piece, that's an easier ask to make sure that those are paid on time.

How Your Credit Score is Affect When Opening New Reward Cards

Elle Martinez: Since we're talking about opening up new accounts, one concern I heard from families was how doing that affects your credit score.

Daniel Rathfelder: I think the one common misconception people have when they talk around credit score is they think, well, if I do this, how many points do I lose off my credit score? That's not necessarily the case.

It kind of depends on your full picture, but what I will say is every inquiry that put on your credit report, which this would be an inquiry. If you apply for a card and get a card or even just apply, it does add to the risk of what the model sees so that typically lowers your score.

If you had a great credit score and then did 20 credit card inquiries to apply and see which ones you got approved for, maybe you've got to proof for all. That would cause a lot of detriment to your credit because you did 20 inquiries and then possibly you open 20 accounts up. Even though if you never put a balance on any of them or paid them on time or whatever, it, it is more risky to a lender to give you a loan later.

That's really what a credit score is: a representative of is the associated risk or it's really a probability of bankruptcy.

If you have more inquiries or open more cards to get more bonuses we, as a financial institution are going to go, Hmm, they're a little bit more of a risk because if something were to go wrong in their life, a life event happens, which those happen all the time.

They now have say $60,000 available for credit card debt, almost at the drop of a hat. Right. they could go all of that credit card debt, and then we might be on at the same time if we extend to them alone.

So it's not necessarily a direct relation, but yes, it does affect your credit. Then closing the credit cards after you're done using the points that actually has a more negative effect than just opening the card.

Now, some people even us as a financial institution might recommend that for certain cases, but in a lot of the cases, if you have a good credit score and start closing credit card accounts that will lower your score, at least temporarily until that back.

Being Wise with Travel Hacking Using Reward Cards

Elle Martinez: I hope you enjoyed seeing how those credit card rewards programs work. Before we finished up, Daniel had some great advice to keep in mind.

Daniel Rathfelder: Honestly, it's kind of pick and do the planning, right? Any part of your financial life should be somewhat, at least the majority planned. What does that monthly budget look like? What savings? What's retirement? Generic things; right?

Even the credit card component, like you were sharing traveling with your family, possibly in the fall, how often are you going to do that?

Is that like once, every couple of years? Try to maybe take ourselves out of the pandemic for a couple of minutes, but pre pandemic or post pandemic. What does that look like for your family? Is that going to be an every year thing and then start to figure out, okay. If I do that every year, what it's going to cost?

This is my fee. I can calculate what my rewards are going to be now on what they're going to be next year. Start doing just some really, really simple math. I mean, this is back of napkin, use your iPhone calculator, math. It's not super hard.

Then is that something that you feel is that there's risk and your other pieces of your financial life that would, if you opened up a credit card, You'd have to put something else on it. Would you ever pay interest on it or could you pay it off?

Those are really important. And then I'm going to go back to my earlier point. Could you just live with a cashback card? I mean, again, all of these providers, they typically have it cashback card without a travel rewards component to it that a lot of those don't have annual fees.

As a benefit you would compile and get the cash and use the cash when you're ready for that vacation. Then do you need a manage it? Is there a credit score issue? Is it easier for you to control?

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and becoming financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple, Spotify, or Audible.
  • Buy me a cup of coffee!

How to Find the Best Personal Finance Books for Your Family

Learn how to find the best personal finance book for you and your family!

Best Personal Finance Books for Your Journey

One of the things I love and appreciate about books is how accessible they are and affordable for a lot of people. When you're starting the beginning of your financial journey, chances are your finances aren't in a good spot.

It’s not always clear what your first steps should be or even what type of budget would work for you. Naturally you’re going to want to see what’s out there. 

If you’re grabbing a ton of them, like when you’re trying to do a deep dive especially with money, your local library can be a treasure trove.

But then there’s this other challenge, how do you find the right book for you? That can be a struggle because there's always a new book coming out.

Today we’re all about finding that personal finance book that lights a fire and gets that spark going for improving your finances.

Which is why I’m thrilled Kate Moody is joining in today’s episode. She’s a personal financial educator and coach and former librarian.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • A way to scan and hone in on helpful personal finance books
  • The three different types of experts to consider when choosing your books
  • Tips on vetting personal finance podcast and videos

I hope you enjoy! 

Resources to Manage Your Money Easier

If you want to chat some more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit with an IRA is you get to choose how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start-to-finish – for FREE. They handle the process from start-to-finish, and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Note: Interview is edited for clarity and length.

Finding the Best Personal Finance Books for Families Pursuing Financial Freedom

Elle Martinez: one of the things I like about books and we were talking about this just a little bit ago was how accessible they are and affordable. I remember when I had that wake up call that was tens of thousands of dollars of debt and I needed some kind of plan.

I felt like books were so helpful at that stage but how do you find the right book? I think that can be a struggle because there's always a new book coming out.

I wanted to talk to you first off. I saw a video on your channel. I think that really spoke to me and I loved was how you first made that connection with personal finance and books and an interesting book. Could you get into how that all has happened and what motivated you to get into personal finance?

Kate Moody: Yes. Yes. So I graduated from college five beta Kappa. If I can see right there, that's the Phi beta Kappa at fancy pants honor society. The fanciest offensive pants on our societies, as a matter of fact. I got home from graduation. My mom is a public school teacher and she often buys a lot of materials for her classes.

And then she brings them home over the summer and I'm looking through her books.

Elle Martinez: Same. I remember that

Kate Moody: wasn't just my household then. I'm looking through her books and I found this book that looked like it could unlock the secrets of the universe kind of in a way. I was like, ‘Ooh' and I pull it out of the box, go sneak in my room and go to read it.

And let me, I have it for you here. Cause when she retired, I made her send me the bill. Oh. It's called growing money, a complete investing guide.

Elle Martinez: It's a complete investing guide and you can hold it in your hands. What more can you ask for?

Kate Moody: Yeah, I mean, it's written for eight year olds and mind you again, this is like a week after earning a pretty good honors award from my undergraduate degree.

I like to point that out because I always want to tell people that the right book for you is the book that will meet you where you are right now. Because if I were to jump into a regular personal finance book for adults, it probably would have been really scary for me at the time. But this, because it was written for kids, it was super approachable.

Yeah. I think if an eight year old. I can get it too. And it really did it finally like, oh, that's what a stock is. Oh, that's what a bond is. Oh, that's what trading is. Okay. Interest rate, like all that stuff where if you don't have that basic foundational knowledge, you really can't go any further. Yeah, understanding how money works.

This gave me that foundational knowledge, which gave me enough confidence to then go on and to like upgrade to personal finance for dummies, you know, like and then up and up and up and up. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. You got to start somewhere, but I think you bring up a couple of good points.

The first one is just because you're an expert in one area doesn't mean you automatically know about finances because that had been my experience. It was a great student, love learning, but when it came to personal finance, that just wasn't automatic.

Also too, I would say on the personal finance side, there were a lot of books. It was just very intimidating. I don't know who they were trying to serve with with the financial terms, especially if they claim that they were going to be for people just starting out with finances. I feel like there were two kinds of problems butting up against each other.

So how do you cut through that? Like say. I don't know what I don't know. I know the basics of a budget, but I'm not keeping up with it. How do you sort through all the personal finance books that are out there and find one that kind of clicks? Any tips?

Kate Moody: Any tips,please…any tips, former librarian. I've got notes in my multi-colored notebook here, color coded and everything.

Okay. So my professional librarian tips and all of these, I'm going to give with a grain of salt because although I'm going to give you a bunch of good things to look for in books, it is 100% possible that a perfectly good book might have these what I'll call sort of a red flag sort of sniff tests.

Like not sure, 100% possible that really good books would fail. Some of these and terrible books would pass. That's just sort of the nature of the beast of anything.

And honestly, these suggestions are anytime you're looking for a source of authority on any subject, these are actually really useful. I did not come up with these myself. These are librarian rules of thumb.

Some of them are actually created by the association of college and research libraries and they're what I used to teach in libraries about how to figure out who is in authority and who to listen to, and when not to.

First off just the things to look for is when I pick up a book, I don't even have to open it up. Like I can basically just look at the front and the back cover and maybe the copyright page and then that's kind of it and I'll know whether or not I should read it or not.

The first thing I look for is who is the publisher? There are five major publishing houses in the United States like Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins like big names that people would probably recognize.

So if it's a big name publishing company that produced this book, that means. That one, a lot of eyes have been on the book. A lot of eyes have been through the material. They've checked it. They've made sure that the information is accurate. As of the time of publication, they made sure that everything that is in there is true and useful and probably somewhat entertaining or interesting, or well-written because they've got copy editors going through it. So there's that kind of publishing company. Generally a good sign.

Other publishing companies, you would see our university presses. Those are for academic works. Although the information would be the highest quality, actually, it is not meant for a standard audience. So. But you don't want to read a university

Elle Martinez: press, not your first book,

Kate Moody: new, new and then there's let me get into self publishing and vanity presses, which are used when people want to just publish really fast very often.

Cause it is a big process getting published by a major publishing house is going to take possibly two years. And so a lot of people are like, I'm not going to deal with that. I'm just going to go and have it done in three months at this other thing. But the problem with that is that you don't have all those eyes.

The material. So when I see that it was a vanity press or self-publishing, those two terms are interchangeable. Like that's just like, okay. And red flag, a little one, like I said, everything here is with a grain of salt, but that's the first thing I look for who is the publishing company?

The second thing I look for is the author.

So usually they'll have their credentials. Somewhere on the publication, usually on the back cover, maybe on the inside back cover. There are three different types of credentials that convey authority on somebody.

One is if they've done research or they have an academic background in this material. These are like PhDs, there's a lot of Nobel laureates have written books, probably all of them actually. Or if they have certifications like a certified financial planner or an accredited financial counselor, CFP and AFC, those are the two biggest ones that I look for. So there's those, those credentials.

The second one that conveys authority their work or their station in life. What kind of authority does that bring them? So there's journalists like financial journalists out there are often write great books. There's people like Michelle Singletary, Beth Kobliner oh, and for academic people or people with good certifications. I wanted to mention Jill Schlesinger.

She's yeah, she's great. And she's a CFP. And she's, and she spent like 20 or 30 years as a trader and helping people with their portfolios. So she has both types of that authority, one, her job, and also the certification.

Lastly is personal experience. Those are the ones that are really inspiring to hear how other people got through the same thing that you're getting through right now.

With them I think the best thing about those is the inspirational, because it makes you feel like you can do this too. When somebody comes at it from the outsider's perspective, sometimes it doesn't make it feel possible. People like Tiffany Aliche, Tanya Hester, and I'm just naming a few names that were the first ones to come to mind. I'm sure that you could name a bunch of people.

Elle Martinez: I think you bring up some really good tips and advice and something I would add listening to you is whenever I'm trying to purchase something new, whether it's finance or anything is if it's a subject, I want to understand, I try to get two to three books.

I don't rely on one book and I like how you have kind of the three different expertise and that can get you covered where you get that inspiration. And then if you want a little more financial technical knowledge, you have that in there too. And some people are really good at piecing everything together.

I do love those tips. I know you've got more.

Kate Moody: I managed to limit myself to this three and only one of them has three subgroups. So you already went through the three subgroups, so, all right. Just like in social media. Like whenever you're buying something from Amazon, you look for social proof.

You probably read the reviews before you buy something from Amazon. Same thing with personal finance books.

They'll have, if there, if there are good reviews, they will blurb them on the back of the book on the inside cover, maybe on the first page or something. So one of the books that I love is millionaire next door and not even so much, the quality of the blurb is what I'm looking for.

I mean, of course you want it to say something good, but who did it? So on the back they have Forbes and the Washington post. And then if you look on the inside, they've got USA today, Boston globe, San Francisco business times like dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, all these major publications, read this book and liked it.

So that's important. The awards, like I mentioned, if somebody won a Nobel prize in economics, I bet you, their book is pretty good. It might be hard to get through, but I bet you it's pretty speaking as an irrational exuberance back behind me was written by [Robert J.] Shiller. I believe he did win Nobel prize. I have not read it. I need to get to that.

Elle Martinez: But you said yet.

Kate Moody: Yes, yes. I have not gotten to it yet. And I did want to note that just because a book is a bestseller does not mean it is good.

Elle Martinez: I agree. I agree. Or it's helpful for you, you and your situation. I've been there too. I've had some books recommended to me and I started. And I did not finish it.

I should put that there. You don't have to finish the book if it's not working for you.

Kate Moody: Yes. Yes. 100% librarian stamped approved. If you don't like the books, stop reading it. Move on. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: I know being a daughter of a teacher, like part of me is like, I got to finish. I got a completed. No, you don't.

Kate Moody: Yeah. So those were my sort of big things just to look for immediately. That's what I look for before I grab a book. And then, I read about, well, what is the book cover? Is it something I'm interested in? And if it is great, I'll read the first chapter, so, and see if I like it. And I love that you mentioned about picking up a few books.

Yeah. Because there's a lot of great information out there. Don't limit yourself to just one and you don't have to read the whole book. You can skip through books. I mean, ideally you would read the whole book, but if there's only three chapters that you want to read, read those three chapters. Great. Give yourself a gold star. Move on.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. And I think also when we talk about books, a lot of it's going to be the same. Like if you're doing a personal finance book many of them are going to have overlapping advice. When you're reading several of them, you're going to see where overlaps and hopefully, they're all giving you good, solid financial advice.

The key is also to find that perspective speaks to you. I think we got into this a little bit before she hit record was, they're coming from personal experience, their journey. For example, when I wrote my book, that was the perspective of I wanted to help newlyweds or couples that had been married.

They're in this marriage, they're ready to go, but they have no idea how to work together on finances. And so that advice, 80% of it is going to be very similar to what you hear for, a single person. I mean, you need to have some kind of goal. You need to have a spending plan, but you're going to have that unique situation perspective. So I'm going to say, well, these are discussions you need to have, and this wouldn't apply to someone else outside here in this situation.

It takes practice. But when you read, understanding, okay, they're writing from their perspective, then it's easier to kind of grab the nuggets that you need and then, oh, okay. Well, that's nice to know, maybe in the future, I might need to know that, but today I'll just skip that chapter because that's not what I'm working on at this point in my season of life or this point in my financial life.

Kate Moody: Yeah and there are a lot of people out there who have written those kinds of books. I like to tell people, if you find somebody that you drive with you, like the way they write, you find them entertaining and engaging, read that person's book. Just because they're all saying the quote unquote like same thing or very similar things. That's not bad. That means that it's time tested advice.

It's like trying to get healthy. If you're trying to get physically healthy eat right and exercise. That's what you should do that we all know eat right.

Elle Martinez: That's bestseller advice right there.

Kate Moody: But unfortunately the bestseller advice is eat grapefruits all day long.

I feel like just find whoever, if you engaged in the material. And there are so many really great personal finance, authors and speakers right now, who you can find online and you can just find anywhere they probably have a book.

Elle Martinez: Before we wrap up, I do want to talk about, you know, we love books, I enjoy books. They were so incredibly helpful. I still read them to learn something new, get a different perspective, but that's not the only way you can learn about finances.

I was curious, do you have any recommendations about other things like YouTube channels or podcasts?

Kate Moody: I don't know if you want specific recommendations, but everybody learns differently by the way to like, so if you're visual, probably something more like YouTube, but if you're need the audio input yeah. Always listened to, as I mentioned, Jill Schlesinger.

Again, because I like her because she's very engaging. She's interesting to listen to. Plus she has decades of experience and the certified financial planner credential.

There's another person on her shows who is also a certified financial planner. So like they talk it out between them and sometimes they disagree and that's fine.

It's important to understand that when it comes to money, there is no one size fits all.

Elle Martinez: Yeah I know there's some guard rails, but there's a lot of leeway and it also depends where you're going, what your financial goals are too. Maybe you don't want a traditional retirement. Maybe you want something different.

Kate Moody: Oh yeah. And like I know a few people who really don't have much in the stock market, but they own a lot of property. Yeah. And they're like, that's my retirement. Okay. Great. If it works for you. Perfect.

As far as YouTube goes, that one, anything online, because it's so unregulated and same with like that book publisher, but there's no other eyes on it. Massive grain of salt and You use your noggin.

There's a lot of people who are fantastic at media and marketing and getting their face out there, whether or not there are any good at financial stuff is kind of something else entirely.

When it comes to YouTube, there are great people like you. I also like the financial diet on YouTube is probably my favorite financial channel. I think they've got a lot of really, really high quality videos, always solid advice on YouTube.

If you're online, the same rules apply that I mentioned with books. What are the qualifications of whoever is writing it? Academic, work, or personal experience?

A giant red flag and most of my red flags, I say grain of salt, this one, no grain of salt. Just go run is if somebody specifically says go buy this stock or bond right now,

Elle Martinez: I think that's also something that we should mention whether it's a book, YouTube channel, if you're doing a podcast. They don't know your personal situation and your financial circumstances, because if you're like most people it's complex, it is full of layers so it's not a one size fits all advice. You really have to do your homework with that.

Kate Moody: Oh yeah. Yeah. Like if you have a multi-million dollar portfolio and most of it is in like index funds and bonds and some real estate, it's very well diversified.

And then you say put in a hundred thousand dollars on crypto. Well, for you that wouldn't be much. If you've got a multi-million dollar portfolio that is a small, small portion of your portfolio. Sure. You can lose it.

But if you then go out and say, well, I just bought a hundred thousand dollars in crypto. You should too. But somebody who maybe is making 30 grand a year and who doesn't have that kind of wealth. I mean, I don't think that there's any certified financial planner out there who would think that that's a good idea to get into something so risky.

Elle Martinez: I think it all comes back to when you're educating yourself, you want to go with trusted sources.

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How to Hack Your Habits to Achieve Your Financial and Fitness Goals

How confident do you feel about hitting your goals this year? Today, we're going to be discussing not only how you can set up your habits to hit your financial goals, but also any health goals you're trying to knock out this year!

Habit Hacks to Keep Your Money and Health Goals

There's a lot of overlap between fitness and finances.

Not only are these two of the most popular goals people have every year in terms of trying to improve them. They're also the ones that people struggle with and quit before they get to their goal.

Years ago when we were starting to pay off our debt and make some progress with building up our savings. I was thinking about a lot of the parallels between the two.

Even though we're talking about different outcomes. The tools that we need to get to our goals, to reach them are the same. Uh, Many times we have to change our mindset. We have to adapt and adjust our habits. We also have to put in place some kind of system so that we're consistently working towards our goals.

I thought this episode would be really interesting because we're going to be seeing how we can do both. How can we build our finances and get a little bit healthier this year?

Which is why I'm glad Billy Hofacker is here on the show.

Not only has Billy and his family paid off over a hundred thousand dollars of non-mortgage debt, an under five years. He's also a gym owner and coach and the author of fitness profits, a simple plan for achieving financial freedom.

So he has a pretty good idea of how to encourage and help others reach both their fitness and financial goals.

In this episode, we're going to get into:

  • how Billy slipped into debt but then how he used habits from his fitness to climb out of it
  • how to stick with your goals, even when you're not motivated, because they're going to be times when that happens.
  • how to develop habits in systems to help you improve your finances and your health this year.

Are you ready? Let's get started!

Resources to Start (and Stick with) Better Habits

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Note: Interview is edited for clarity and length.

Slipping into Debt

Billy Hofacker: Yeah, things were going well. I was young guy. I was married to my lovely, beautiful wife, which I still am just hit 13 years and yeah.

Thanks. I'll start a family and I was doing what I loved. I was helping people transform their bodies and lives through personal training.

I thought I was just doing what I was supposed to do. I and then that one day my life changed Elle. I was getting ready for work. It was seven something in the morning, knock on the door, which was a little weird, nice and early.

I opened the door and to my surprise, there was this big, big muscle bound dude standing on my stoop with tattoos all over his neck, a shaved head goatee, and turned out to be a really nice guy by the way, but it makes the story better.

As I look past him, there was my, my, not my Lamborghini, not even my Mercedes, but my brand new white Honda accord was hooked up to his tow truck.

And man, what a utter embarrassment and shame and all types of emotions, rollercoaster of emotions, but that's where it started for me.

We dug in and we discovered that we were we were $130,000 in non-mortgage debt. That sounds crazy. You know why? It sounds crazy because it is, and it is a lot.

It was a huge hole. I will say a lot of that wasn't high interest debt. It was still debt. It wasn't mortgage debt. It was in addition to the mortgage and it was it was a real wake-up call.

A lot of people ask me, like, did you know, how did that happen?

It's actually hard to bring myself back there. I'm like a different person. I really am. I can't imagine that I got into that position and the easiest way to describe it.

It's like we talk about the parallels with fitness, which here's one of them. It doesn't happen overnight.

I did not get into $130,000 of debt overnight. It happened with that first swipe that first time and just like, it's not the one Twinkie that's going to put your overweight, right?

It's just those small decisions that we can make over time. Most people, they don't know, they don't gain a ton of weight in a short term.

We work with a lot of older people at the gym and a lot of them have never worked out. They went through their whole life, raising kids and everything, and they never really had a major concern for their health.

Thankfully I was a little bit on the younger side and that was helpful.

Avoiding Looking at the Numbers

Elle Martinez: I think so many people can relate to that. I know for us, when we got engaged, we talked to some friends that were happily married for years and we wanted their advice and they told us, you know, have you talked about money yet?

At that time we met in college. So we're both broke college kids. This shouldn't be hard. And we realized, oh, we completely are not on the same page.

I specifically remember, I couldn't give him the exact debt. It was a mix of a small amount of credit cards, car loan, and then the student loan. So I totally get what you're saying about not exactly knowing the amount, not being aware of it.

When you talked with your wife about this, how was that initial conversation ,because you know, your car is leaving.

Billy Hofacker: Yeah. So I am, I think I'm okay saying this. I am generally more calm than her when it comes to things like that and a quick example of that.

What we're married and she worked in Manhattan and I'm like 45 minutes from Manhattan. I actually picked up Manhattan to go on a trip and I parked down on the ground level.

I went up to her office and said, hello to her coworkers and go, come back out. And the car's gone and we're about to head for like a little vacation.

And I look up and I see right there, it says like trucks only or something like, ah.

That was the first time where I realized we were very different. She completely panicked. Oh my gosh, what are we going to do? And I just like, like without missing a beat, I said, we gotta find out where the car.

Did I was like, that's the only thing I can think. That's the way my mind works very practically. And that's similar how it was here. And I don't blame her. I mean, she had every right to feel very stressed, very discouraged and scared, I guess.

I mean, can you imagine? I mean, I can't even imagine even I went through it you know, she's married to this, this guy who's supposed to take care of her.

I was supposed to be the guy that's that she can trust it to support her and, and all of a sudden the car's gone. And yeah, that was a difficult time.

Deciding the Dump the Debt

Elle Martinez: Yeah. So I can understand different personalities. My husband and I, I think we each have moments where one of us is just like, we'll work this through, this will be fine and then the other one is like, this is too stressful for me.

It's different what triggers us. It's always fascinating. Couples are like that, but yeah. So when you were at that point, what was your first thought or goal about fixing this?

Where you, I mean was immediately, we just have to take care of one piece of this, getting the car back, or did you think, okay, this is a symptom of a bigger thing? Let's take a step back and look at the whole picture.

Billy Hofacker: That's a really good question. I don't know that I thought of it that way, but I would say that it was a little bit of a combination, but I definitely had the bigger picture in mind.

I remember thinking that, ‘This is it like this is going to change'.

If there's any strengths that I have – and I have a lot of weaknesses – one of the strengths I have is I've always been in different areas, not in finance, but I've always been pretty determined to do something. Like when I put my mind to it, like I was really into sports growing up.

I was the kid that was getting up before school to practice and I really put my mind to it so I just remember thinking that. This is it I'm going to do whatever it takes. We're going to find out how to do this and go from there.

The crazy thing was, and the embarrassing and crazy was that when the car was repossessed, things were bad. Yes, of course. But the car didn't need to get repossessed. That was more due to just complete disorganization.

Cause I remember we needed to come up with some money to get the car out of, out of a place where they, where they put it. You know, and, and we were able to, so it was like we had to pay more money than ever because now we had to pay all these fees.

So that was a real, like kick to the gut because we were already struggling now and I'm sure people listening can relate.

It's like, when you know, you're already kind of feeling like you're hitting rock bottom and you get pushed down further. It's sucked. I can't, I can't sugarcoat it, but we had the money.

We were able to pull it from somewhere and get the car.

Elle Martinez: Yeah.

Billy Hofacker: So we had the money to get the car out. We had the money to make those payments, or at least one of the payments. I didn't even know that that was like a possibility.

You would think that I would be like worried the car's going to get taken, but it wasn't even a thought in my mind.

I was just like all of a sudden the guy's on the stoop and that's just shows you how much we were sweeping the dirt under the floor.

Overcoming Hurdles to Improving Your Finances and Fitness

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I can totally relate to that. And I think a lot of people can too this past year and a half, it's going to be almost two years have dealt with different things.

Even if you were financially, set in terms of savings, there's still a lot of uncertainty stress.

I noticed that a lot of families in our community talked about, they felt it with their finances and honestly like fitness stress, they wanted to work out. They didn't have time. They just kind of felt like, I guess you can say physically disorganized with things.

Now they're working from home now. They got to create this space and now there's no boundaries.

So, they're starting out this year like, I'm sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. They have big goals, I want to get healthy and I want to get financially fit.

Sadly the majority of the time after a month or two, it kind of fizzles out. From your side since you seen both, what are some of the mistakes or habits or the hurdles that people face with?

Billy Hofacker: Yeah, that's good. There's so many parallels. I would like to point out if you'll let me later on.

As far the hurdles that are common between the fitness and the finance side is people they get excited and I think a lot of times we base it too much off of our feelings. So we'll say, you know, I don't feel like getting up and I'm not trying to sound like I have it all together.

Cause, I can have the same issue, but I'll give you a good example like this morning I was up at 4 45 to work out at five. And did I I feel like it?

I'll tell you that it would've been much nicer to stay in bed a little bit longer. I think when we just base it off, how we're feeling that works in the beginning, cause you're kind of feeling excited.

Maybe you're seeing some initial changes and with both fitness and finance, both of them, you tend to see some initial changes. Like it may not be a huge weight loss, or you might not become a millionaire right away, but you're going to start seeing things change.

You're going to start seeing maybe a little less money spent or a little more safe, or you're gonna start seeing maybe a little more energy, a little more clothes feeling better.

This is normal. So as you're listening, just remember that it's normal. It is not normal to go on a straight line to success.

Building Better Systems

Billy Hofacker: I like to tell people it's never happened. It's interesting that we all think like we're going to be the first person that we just start something. We never have any problems. And then we all, we get to the top of the mountain. That's just not how it works.

You can talk to anybody. Elle you've had tons of guests and I've had tons of successful clients. They all have had the hurdles. I think it's preparing ourselves that there are going to be these problems in these hiccups.

It's not about being perfect. It's giving ourselves grace and it's just being consistent most of the time, rather than just basing things off of, you know, how I feel today? I don't feel I do my budget. I don't feel like working out.

It's that's just the person that I am. I'm the type of person that organizes my finances, even when I don't feel like it.

I'm the type of person that gets up in the morning, even when I don't feel like it, because until we can create that identity with ourselves and another probably leads to other thoughts, like how do we do that?

Adapting Your Habits Towards Better Goals

Elle Martinez: There's a lot of things that you've touched upon that I find interesting, especially in terms of like mindset and, and having those habits and it doesn't have to be dramatic. I know there's this desire to have dramatic results.

If you're someone who doesn't work out or haven't had time to, then you're saying, oh, I'm going to work out like one hour, five times a week.

You're setting yourself up for failure. You saw my little setup here. This is that a necessity. I get up at five and get my coffee. I do my reading in the morning to kind of mentally set myself. And then before I start work, I trick myself.

I tell myself 10 minutes with the kettlebells. It doesn't usually doesn't end, you know, 10 minutes, but just at least do 10 minutes get that started.

I've noticed a difference those days where I keep it. I feel better. Like you have already had a win for the day, so it's all connected with the mindset.

I want to talk to you about that a little bit more. How were you either on the financial side or with fitness? How do you get those habits?

How do you build that mindset? Little by little, because I know willpower will only get you so far. Like you said, there's some days where you just don't want to do it.

Billy Hofacker: Absolutely. I think what was interesting for me was that I kind of had that dialed in. I was a competitive martial artist and I was an athlete growing up.

So I kind of had that dialed in with the, with the fitness side and it's kind of frustrating. It's like, why can't I be like this in this other area?

The truth was I was able to, so that's just encouragement for everybody is that you, 100% can do it. It's just a matter of just using those same skills in one area, because everybody's good at something, right.

Nobody's listening. And like you're either a good parent or you're good in business, or you're good with your fitness or you're good with your finances.

It's just kind of using those same skills and learning them in a new area. [Its] also being willing to get some help, because there's somebody that can help you.

Accountability Can Boost You Towards Your Money Goals

Billy Hofacker: There's somebody like you, that somebody like myself, there's somebody out there. It could be a book, it could be coaching, whatever it is that is powerful because now you're going to get somebody else's insight, somebody else's guidance, somebody else's accountability.

We all just do better when we're together, rather than trying to do it on our own.That's one of the hurdles that I didn't get to is that we try to go it alone.

You said what, what can you do to make it easier when you don't feel like it? What if you had somebody that was meeting and that you cared about, you actually cared what they thought of you and they were going to meet you?

It could be a personal trainer that you pay for, or it could be a financial coach that you pay for, or it could be a friend that you're going to, it could be going for a walk.

It could be a spouse, it could be a child going for a bike ride, but somebody is depending on you to be there. I'm going to say there's a dramatic increase in the chance that you'll show up.

One of the I'll give a couple of book references. One is atomic habits and the other is the slight edge, which both of those kind of point to the idea of the little things and talking about habits and there's tons of good books, but those two have a lot of practical tips.

One of them from atomic habits is when it's something that you want to do to make it easy.

So here's an example. I got up today at 4 45. So what I did was I laid every single thing out that I needed.

I went everything from my clothes to my shoes, to the cup that I'm going to use for my water, like everything. So when I got up there wouldn't be an excuses. Oh, I can't find my socks.

You know what? I'm going back to bed. So you just, you just do the, you just, you just make it as doable as possible.

The opposite is true. If you want to avoid doing something, then you make it hard. So you make it hard to do the thing that you don't want to do. So when it comes to fitness or health, if you want to avoid eating chips, willpower's overrated.

Like you said it only goes so far, but if I come home after a stressful day and there's a bag of Doritos on the table, guess what's going to happen? I don't care how much willpower I have I'm going to crush that bag of. Where as what would happen if there was a bowl of apples on the table?

When I w I would just as easily eat the apple, because I'm making the thing, that's that I don't want to do, I'm making it hard and I'm making the thing that I want to do. I'm making it easy.

Make Time for Money Dates

When it comes to finances, it's the same thing like, I know you specialize in working with couples, and that's one thing that we do is we try to make it simple and easy for us to work on our finances.

One of them is we do a monthly date where we talk about these things and we try to, you know, make it, do what we make it more realistic by. We put it in the calendar. So if it's not in the calendar, It's not going to happen so we made sure that we put it there.

We make sure that we do it when we're not exhausted. We make sure that we prioritize it.

We try to make, maybe we'll do it over a glass of wine or something to make it more enjoyable because yeah, if you're going to constant, there's something to the fact of, we just got to do hard stuff and it's good for us at the same time.

If we're constantly just doing all these hard things and never enjoying anything it's, it's going to be hard to be.

Focus on Keystone Habits

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you. I talk a lot on the podcasts about those money dates and for us, it's awesome. It's just a good rhythm. We're parents to two kids.

The schedule gets full very quickly, but it's nice to set aside time. I think initially, everyone's kind of getting used to it that how do you talk about it and plan for it, but now it just, it feels easier.

We automate so much of the bill payments to transfers, you know, the investments. Now we can actually talk about the goals. Are we going on vacation, the next winter break, or are we going to be setting aside money for a house project or upgrading the basement office?

Those little changes definitely add up. So many things I want to talk about, but I do want to talk about Brazilian jujitsu. I did TaeKwonDo for a few years, got my black belt as well.

I think there's also a parallel there, which is some people feel like they got to get everything right in the beginning. They'll see on television or, you do MMA or are part of a gym that does that?

Billy Hofacker: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I've had two fights and I had been doing Brazil Jitjitsu for a long time.

Hone in on the Foundational Skills

Elle Martinez: Yeah. And same thing. Like sometimes people will see those stories wherever they catch their news where someone's retired in five years or someone's done this and they see the end and so they immediately want to jump in there.

When you're a white belt, I don't know the belt progression with Brazilian jujitsu. You really on the fundamentals. You may not even see the connection. The more advanced techniques, but you can't do those things until you get the foundation.

What do you consider kind of the foundations for you as you were becoming debt free and then also with fitness, for those that are also trying to get back into better healthy habits?

Billy Hofacker: Yeah. I think even going back to some of your other questions about the roadblocks or the hurdles, I think a lot of times we, we overcomplicate things.

Brazilian jujitsu; I can't remember the quote. I'm not going to do it justice. But it can be so complex and like a lot of things like that, like boxing is like that, right? It's like boxing is probably a better example because you got a few punches, right? You have a jab, a hook across an uppercut, you know, maybe some others stuff like that.

But it's like the sweet signs. Like there's also so many different ways to do it. And so many ways to put it together where the fundamentals are just getting better and better at the basics. That's going to be the number one thing for all of us.

A lot of us are looking for, the new plan, maybe if I read this, this new book that I heard about, I'll find like the real secret, or maybe if I listened to this podcast episode, I'll find out like the trick to get my money situation, right.

Or I'll find the diet that can help me to drop weight quickly or the insane exercise program.

I'm a huge believer on the fundamentals. The same thing with jujitsu. It's like first you got to learn the position. There's a saying that says position before submission, and it's just learning proper position.

What's the posture that I need to learn and practice so that I can defend myself? I can protect myself. That's the first, if I want to survive. If we can kind of compare that to finances, it's some of these basic things that everybody talks about.

What's my current situation? Where am I at? We call it doing an inventory. Maybe it's a net worth score, or maybe it's credit, or maybe it's your savings rate, or maybe it's your debt, how much you have?

That's the basics, how many people, they just don't even know myself included. I didn't know the answers to those.

I didn't know the answer to any of those questions. So for me to like start with some crazy plan, it just wouldn't have made sense. I have to get the basics. So once I have the basics, I know how to defend myself.

I can start getting a little bit more on the offense, you know, so I guess with finances, you have the defensive things, right? You want to make sure you have your insurance in place. Make sure if you have loved ones, you want to have that life insurance, you want to make sure you're, you're prevent, you're preventing like a catastrophic situation from, you know, from really ruining you.

You get some of those things in place and you can start playing more offense, you know, it might be looking at your your, your income and, and where that's going, you know, and what your goals are. Setting goals is another huge one for a foundational principle, whether it's fitness.

There's like two schools of thought. There there's one school of thought that goals are overrated. And I do, I do see the I'm a big goal-setter. So I'll just get that out of the way. But there is some truth to if you're, if you're so focused on a goal, sometimes it can, it can be counterproductive because we've all seen people that my goal is I had a guy like this. My goal is to get out of this. And then they get out of debt and they don't handle it correctly from there.

And then they end up going back into debt because they didn't really secure those habits and insecure that identity and same thing with fitness. Like my scariest client is the one that says, I just have a wedding coming up or I have a vacation coming up and I just need to lose 10 pounds for the vacation.

And all I could think of is yeah, and then what happens after the vacation? Right? Cause that's, that's where your sole focus.

Other school of thought is you just need to work on the things like, just do the habits. Don't even set a goal. Just start, just start tracking your spending, start doing a budget start and eventually you'll get there.

I think both points have some good in them and I believe in both, I think it's good to set goals. I just think you need to be hyper aware that once you set a goal, you can be very intentional, very focused. Once you hit that goal and I've made this mistake is you forget to celebrate and you just think about the next thing and then you never get the real joy out of it, because it's always about the next goal.

It's finding that balance of setting a goal, working towards it, enjoying the journey because success is the journey, not the destination.

You are successful when you start doing those habits. When Elle gets up at five in the morning to do her kettlebell workout, she's successful. I don't care if she's at her goal and how much he wants to lift or anything like that.

She's successful because she's taking those steps just like you're successful. When you're doing your money dates, and when you're doing your, we call it a spending plan or when you're tracking your spending, you are successful.

Learning that pattern of setting a goal, celebrating, and then setting a new goal. It's an interesting kind of balance.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. Oh my goodness. I feel like we can keep going on about this, but I am curious because you've mentioned we talked about the parallels between the two of finances and fitness. What is that difference that you've noticed?

Billy Hofacker: Yeah. So I, when I talked, I told you the one, and then I thought of another one. You actually triggered the thought when you said about automation.

I would say that this is just a slight difference that I thought, I think you can automate certain things in each area. It's probably a little bit more difficult to automate the fitness. I just feel like, with finances you can set up your automatic transfers, you can set up your automatic payments.

Well, the fitness, there's nothing that's going to be able to get out of that bed and into that, into that gym.

But that's not the one I was mentioning before this one. I don't know what it is about this. I just find it like so fascinating. It's that when someone's working out, you generally can tell like the average person who has a healthy lifestyle, they kind of look the part, right?

That guy probably works out. He got some muscular arms or that woman probably works out. She's pretty lean or she looks strong.

Where with finances, when you look at somebody, you really can't tell. In fact, it's almost the reverse, the person who looks like they're successful financially, usually isn't as much because by the very definition we look at people who are doing a lot of things.

They're going on a lot of vacations. They haven't like a lot of nice cars and a big house. So it looks like they have a lot of money, but in fact, just by the them, having those things, they have less money because they had to pay for those things.

Whereas the person who made. It's like the millionaire next door. Maybe they don't go on a lot of vacations and they may be way wealthier than that other person. So you really can't see how somebody is doing financially.

Of course you might get an idea, but I just find that so interesting.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. It is fascinating because it just changes your perspective about things. Just like with health and fitness, it's about a balance. You have four kids. You're a

Billy Hofacker: father of four. I'm a father of four, but I have to mention, we also have a dog. We just got a dog.


Elle Martinez: okay. So you have a full house. So it's all about that balance. It's getting fit yes, your own health, but also, so you can live a better life, a happier life.

It's good about getting your finances in a good spot. But it's not just, just to accumulate money and savings and investments, but actually spend it, when you have to, to enjoy life, to have that financial freedom, which is the topic of your new book that came out this year.

So I know, thank you. I know there are people listening that want to learn more from you and find out more about what you're doing. What's the best way they can and pick up your new book?

Billy Hofacker: Thanks so much for letting me share that. I would say. A few places. You can just get the book right on. Amazon is called fitness profits. And again, it's Billy Hofacker. So you get the book there. I also have my own podcast, which I'd love people to check out. it's called your fit is money coach podcast.

I would say that's especially good for people. There's anybody listening who is really into fitness or they are, maybe they're interested in becoming a fitness trainer or they are a fitness trainer, or they know a fitness trainer and that's good.

And I have a website too, but those are, those are good places.

Okay, let me, can I just share one more thing?

Elle Martinez: Yeah, go right ahead.

Comparison Robs You of Joy and Results

Billy Hofacker: One other point, I think it's worth mentioning with the pitfalls and the commonalities are something that is so detrimental and I've done all of these pitfalls.

I'm talking to myself as well, but you mentioned before, like we look at the black belt and we look at the millionaire, we look at the person who's totally fit and we're comparing like ninth grade.

Let's say, you know, with our third inning and not that it even matters. Even if it was your both of your ninth inning, it still doesn't make any sense.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Eleanor Roosevelt said, and I think it just takes a lot of our joy away when we're comparing ourselves to others. That's a huge pitfall with finances.

You don't know how people are doing anyway; probably not what you think People are posting the things they want you to see on social media.

The other quote I heard is that we're comparing, our reality with their highlight reel. So it's just kind of stay focused, stay in your lane and just really worry about the people that you care most about.

Not these people that yeah, you may care about, but you really don't have those, those, those deep relationships with them and just stay in, stay in your own.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I appreciate that and that's a great note to end on because we're there to support each other in the community.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money

Music and Photo Credits

Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio. Photos by Clem Onojeghuo and Nubia Navarro from Pexels

Flexible and Affordable Family Vacation Ideas for This Year

Many families are looking for getaway this year. We'll go over flexible, memorable, and affordable family vacation ideas!

Planning a Family Vacation in 2021

How do you plan for a year where you don't know exactly what to expect? 

I think that's been the unofficial theme this season.

We've been talking about how to create a budget that's flexible enough? How do you figure out your schedule? 

Now I'm hoping maybe a little cautiously optimistic, how do we plan some family fun, maybe some trips if possible?

Summer is coming up, people are getting vaccinated and while we’re not out of the woods just yet, I’m looking to travel more. 

I’m looking forward to going to the beach, whitewater raft, and maybe going for a longer trip. At the same time, I want to keep some flexibility in case things change. 

Which is why I’m so happy Karen Cordaway is here. She’s the author of the Everyday Bucket List. 

In this episode we’re going to look at:

  • How you can build and cross off your bucket list
  • Creating a flexible plan for travel this year
  • Affordable options vacation idea

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Save on Your Next Family Vacation

If you're looking to start planning and saving for your next family trip, here are a few handy resources to check out!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

Why You Need to Be Flexible with Your Family Vacations This Year

Karen Cordaway: I'm a planner, we've all had to have to learn how to be flexible because there's so much, we don't know. We could spend all this time planning and the whole thing changes.

So I think in a way, if you just kind of have an outline, you start throwing out ideas. Maybe we could do this. Maybe we could do that.

I understand when you're traveling, you really have to nail down dates and coordinate with your spouse or, you know, make sure that you can do what you want to do.

Unfortunately, we know that we're trying to get everybody vaccinated and I'm just reading today that just because someone's vaccinated, it doesn't give you full license to travel.

It actually takes a few weeks to kick in. It doesn't mean you can't pass the virus to someone.

So when we don't even really know enough about this and the experts are still finding these out, it's hard to plan. You just kind of have to go with the flow.

That can be very hard for some people. So if you do want to set something up, if there's any way you could put something in place that it's a place that you know will be available.

It's not this hard placed to arrange right? Because those are the ones, ‘Oh, if I don't get it at this time, Then I'm not going to be able to reserve it'.

We have to kind of loosen up in that way. I mean, I have kids and I didn't really have a lot of babysitters. We always had to be flexible. We always would just do things last minute.

If you can be open to that, if there's places that you can go, on the fly. And there's always last minute deals.

So if you're someone who can function that way and be okay with that, that could work.

Like I said, once we're following the experts, cause I'm never going to tell someone to do something they're not supposed to do. I'm on that side of being super safe.

Finding Great Local Spots for Day Trips

Elle Martinez: Yeah. That's been us. We do love to travel, but last year we just stayed put.

What we ended up doing is if we left the house, we did day trips like hikes to parks. So there's plenty of space for outdoors, really embraced parks last year, and that was helpful.

It is a challenge, especially when we're talking about parents with kids, because not only do you have your work schedule that you have to figure out it's school schedules, which depending on whatever state you're in, it can be completely different each quarter.

One thing that parents should do is have different plans and figuring out, okay, if this is going to work, then maybe we'll do this. But if this doesn't happen, then maybe we need to have this as a backup.

For those that haven't heard the previous episode with Karen, she's the author of the everyday bucket list.

I love your approach with creating a plan and having just fun with experiences. It doesn't have to be these huge dramatic things where you're traveling across the world, though it could include that, but you're making these special moments throughout the year with your family.

I was curious how would you approach travel? Like how are you approaching travel with your own thing?

Karen Cordaway: Right now we're staying very close by and I live in a small state. So you would think, Oh, well, that's easy to see everything, but it's really not. Because right now we're just doing weekends and, you know depending on weather and schedules, it does things don't always happen.

So we're just really trying to explore locally and we've been pleasantly surprised.

I mean, Connecticut has a lot of really cool towns. Westport, Connecticut. We went to this place called Terrain, which is a garden center, a very upscale, fancy garden center. They have a beautiful store.

They sell stationary and all these different things for people who like to entertain, but they also have this place where you can have brunch. It's just so beautiful.

See, I'm someone who appreciates the experience of a restaurant or just being in a store or whatever, that kind of experience to try something new.

My husband and I, even though it was an impromptu thing, and we didn't know, we were supposed to make reservations because you have to for this place. Yeah. So we didn't know, but I just always try to keep a positive attitude.

I'm like, Oh, we drove all this way, but you could get takeout so it worked out fine because we went all around the store.

We looked at all these fancy pumpkin's if this was in the fall.

Elle Martinez: Yeah.

Karen Cordaway: It's funny because I used to joke that when I would see Martha Stewart's magazine back when she was like the only DIY kind of person, we'd have all these fancy squash and pumpkins, and I'm like, where do you get these kinds of pumpkins? Yeah. And this is where you get them!

What's funny is she like lives around there. I'm like, this is from Martha Stewart gets this stuff.

So there are a lot of interesting things if you really take time to dig a little you know, there are interesting towns or there's something special about your area that there's history worth exploring too.

You can do it locally. Those are just a few things, but because it's winter and I'm not a winter person-

Elle Martinez: [But you're in] Connecticut, what? That's like a winter.

Karen Cordaway: Nope. Well, you know, it's funny. A lot of people are snowbirds. You see a lot of Florida license plates, you know, a lot of people split time and I always thought about doing that.

You know, I'm secretly looking for my new place to live when I go travel.

Staycation and Indoor Activities for Your Family

Karen Cordaway: That's what I'm looking for outside of having fun, but if you're okay with it, indoors for now.

We're about to do Masterclass. And originally I thought, ‘Oh, $180, right?', but it's for a year.

And when you see all of the people on there, it's amazing. Like for standup stand-up comedy, they have Steve Martin. There's Steph Curry for basketball.

Santana for the guitar. They have all these lessons and I believe Issa Rae. I think that –

Elle Martinez: -was a new one. I have a membership too. I love it.

They had like Malcolm Gladwell for writing and there's a gardener there, Finley I think it was his last name. Really helpful stuff. Love it.

Karen Cordaway: Yeah. So it's like, you're either drawn in by the celeb, their topic, like Robin Roberts. She teaches about communication.

That's like the most important thing. When you think about it.

So you can like set up like a class, like little kids to me, we are easy to talk into things. They get excited about anything.

Create a Family Camp

After you learn the lesson, maybe you go outside and you shoot hoops and try to do, implement whatever it is that you're taught.

Karen Cordaway: So if you want to ramp it up a little, like maybe everybody wears their favorite basketball. T-shirt, you know, you try to make it like camp and yeah.

Think of it, like summer camp, you have a day of sports. You have a day of crafts, you have a day of this. Like if you kind of pump it up for kids and they get excited, it kind of makes everybody excited.

That's just how I feel. Yeah. Even, even to like, Whenever we would go on vacation and you see people that are wearing matching t-shirts, whether it's just for identification purposes, like we're all wearing red.

You know, my kid is wearing red today. It's like, something is more exciting when you buy t-shirts for it.

I know that sounds so goofy, but because we have to be creative, if this is your little staycation or your weekend, you know, put a little more effort into it, you know?

Little kids love that kind of stuff. Like when you take it to another level or if you're really dramatic, you could get them excited about almost anything.

Summer Vacation Idea: RVing as a Family

Karen Cordaway: I was reading, okay, this is AARP cause people who are retired because they're the ones who are having to come up with a lot of ideas too. They're in that age group where they have to be even more careful.

A lot of people are looking into RVs. They even have all these different types of lingo for docking.

They'll say like mooch docking, that's where you go in your friend's driveway and you use their electricity, or you could do it's called I think it's called crack docking and I'm like, wait a minute, What is this about?

And Cracker barrel will allow you to park there. There's Walmart, and it's like, yeah, you just have to be comfortable with that.

If you're open-minded or if you're used to that lifestyle, that could be a good money-saving tip

Elle Martinez: Yeah, it definitely also forces you to bond.

I was talking to what was it? Toni Husbands from Debt Free Divas. And she went RVing last year. That's what they did.

I forgot the campgrounds. She's in Chicago, but it was an experience, you know, you have the kids and you're all in this space. A great way to bond and still, keep socially distant.

Karen Cordaway: Right. So you just have to look into, I don't want to be cleaning out a bathroom. I can't say that part would be fun for me.

It's all about your comfort level and, and what is considered safe. Like if you have a relative in another state, you know I feel like if they don't accept money for the electricity or, you know, I'm not a moocher.

Yeah. But you know, buy them a couple of dinners or whatever, whatever it might be because we can be outside. If you're in a state where the weather is decent.

Starting (or Restarting) New Hobbies

Karen Cordaway: Definitely take up those hobbies, like biking and hiking and skateboarding and trying different things because now is the time to do that.

When you're all grown up, you have limited time when you have a job, I mean, you can explore on some level, but not the way you can as a kid, you know?

Have the fun of that through your kids, you have an excuse to try to skateboard.

Elle Martinez: I love these ideas, Karen for families. One thing we have is we're hoping by October to be able to do like maybe what we consider a regular travel, but that might not happen.

Any ideas or, you know, for families to kind of at least get excited, planning and saving?

Our idea is if three months before it doesn't look like it's going to happen, we can always roll it over for 2022, move that money for savings.

I need tips for like a family that's planning on taking a family trip at some point.

Karen Cordaway: Well, like I said, I would look into campgrounds places where you could hike.

Like I said, have a default plan. So when you're planning, you don't want to be so deflated if that trip doesn't work out. Have your plan B in place.

I wrote a post about Boston and yeah, I'm still, I did the freedom trail. I didn't really know that it was like this very informal mapped out thing.

I thought if I was going to sign up on a tour, it was going to be this official thing. It was going to be its own separate section.

You're really just walking through Boston and it's like this line that you're following. So if you read up a little bit about something so there's context and then try to do simple things like that.

I watch a lot of YouTube because even with the rides, when we used to go to Disney, you can preview and see, Oh, well we like this area, this looks like fun because there are things you could do outside.

I mean, there's street art in different places, anything where you can kind of like make your own little DIY tour.

If something doesn't work out, I would definitely just still keep researching and you can always listen to the everyday bucket-list podcast because those are the ideas that I give.

Elle Martinez: I know I was excited about that cause I was looking at Miranda, I've downloaded that. I'm hoping to listen to it. If not this afternoon, then tomorrow Yellowstone and some other awesome places around in her part of the country.

Besides the podcast, which I think is fantastic, you know, with ideas from people all around I'd love your book.

I think it's like one of those, it was good before, but I think even now with times like this, this is something to definitely pick up and for families to kind of go through, which is the everyday bucket list.

Karen Cordaway: Thank you so much. See, I try to encourage people as much as I'm someone who doesn't like to have too many books.

This is a book I believe it's better as a physical book, because then you have the worksheets right in there. You can go back to it.

For myself, I'm very concrete. That's just my little suggestion because. It's a short book too. And I purposely made it short because I just want people to get the, the process down and really learn how to prioritize.

Like in there, I even have an acronym like FILL, you know, you want to fill your bucket list with these ideas.

So much of it is having everything in advance.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. So Karen, I know we just scratched the surface. There's like so many ways we can go down the rabbit hole.

It's travel and planning, but if anyone's listening and they want to reach out to you learn more about the podcast and the book, what's the best way they can do that?

Karen Cordaway: Well, you can type in the everyday bucket-list podcasts. So you will find me, on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever. There are podcasts I'm on in most places.

Making Our Family Vacation and Trip Plans for This Year

I enjoyed speaking with Karen. Just like we talked about since we spoke, things did shift in the last month and half. 

Vaccinations have opened up to pretty much all adults as far as I know. We schedul;e and got both our shots. 

States have been opening up as well. Here in North Carolina, we’ve had some restrictions lifted and more businesses are closer to full capacity. 

That doesn’t mean things are back to normal; based on numbers, things could shift again. 

So here’s how we’re balancing planning and playing by ear. 

First we’ve been continuing to save. Vacations and trips are baked into our budgets. Saving ahead of time has been wonderful for us. I personally prefer knowing that after we’re done with a trip, that’s it. No worrying about paying it off later. 

While we use credit cards for reservations, we pay the balance off. 

Of course that money saved has to come from somewhere. As I’ve been sharing here on the podcast and on the site, we’ve paid off our non-mortgage debt. No credit card, car loan, or student loan payments. 

Instead we use that money we had been paying to hit our goals like paying the house off early, saving for vacations, giving, and investing for retirement. 

Creating our plan and then automating our finances has been a game changer for us. 

I have episodes, posts, and other resources on the exact details on how we did it – it wasn’t overnight. 

Second, we looked for trips where we could still have some space. The great thing about living in North Carolina is that there are plenty of options. 

Even when things were more restricted, we could do day trips and hikes around the parks and greenways. Besides the gas we paid, they were also free. 

For example, the art museum has some pieces you can walk around and explore outside and it connects to the greenway.  

It’s been one way we’ve stayed connected with friends while maintaining social distancing. 

Two trips we’re planning and reserving now are:

  • Beach
  • Mountains

They’re both great options for the summer. With the beach, we’re looking at skipping the usual tourist spots. 

This week I’m hunting for AirBnbs in Asheville and I’m looking at some activities like whitewater rafting and ziplining. 

As the fall and beyond, we’re keeping an eye on things. If things look good, we’ll firm up our plans around July. 

Taking it bit by bit is the way we’re going to tackle things this year! 

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap up, there are a few key takeaways I want to share with you as I was preparing this episode.

  • Have a vacation budget. I’m a big fan of including what matters to you into your budget. Trips for us are not just about escaping, but connecting. Having the budget is really handy for a few reasons. One, you can move quickly on any great deals you find. Two, you’re doing this debt free so when the trip is over you’re not worried about paying off the card. Three, if we don’t happen to use that money – like what happened last year, we can roll that into the next year or use it for some other goal. 
  • Think green. Add parks- whether’s national, state, local – to your rotation of destinations this year. These can be memorable and affordable trips for your family while still staying relatively safe. This could be an opportunity for your family to try something new. 
  • Be flexible. Last year really hammered in that there were things outside of our control. I’m cautiously optimistic that things will move forward, but I don’t know. There may be smaller lock downs or increased restrictions on the future in certain areas based on the numbers. To cope with that, we’re taking Karen’s advice and have some backup trips. As I’m making travel plans, I’m also being a bit flexible with dates to get some great deals. And I’m also checking reservations to make sure they have reasonable cancellation policies.  

Maybe because we’ve been staying more local that I’m really excited about this, but I'm so ready to travel more.

If you want to discuss this more – ask questions, swap ideas, and maybe get a debt-free strategy set up – don’t forget to join us in the Thriving Families group on Facebook.

Our goal is to help one another out. Hope to see you there!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and helps gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

Republic Wireless: Incredible Deals for Smartphones and Family Plans

Are you looking to save significant money with your cell phone bill today? I'll share who I use and how we're saving big without sacrificing great service!

Finding an Affordable Smartphone Plan with Great Phones and Service

After the year we had in 2020, I know many families -ourselves included -are reevaluating their finances, which means looking at their budget.

One lesson gleaned from the past year is making sure that our budget is optimized, not just for the essentials, but wherever we're spending that it's something that we truly enjoy.

There's no reason to keep subscriptions that you don't use frequently or pay too much for service that you're not getting.

So making sure that you review your bills once or twice a year can give you some significant savings and make sure that you're getting the best value.

One area where many families are overpaying is their smartphone bill.

Smartphones and family plans can be pricey.

Depending on which provider you go with getting an unlimited family plan for a family of four can set you back $180 to even $200 each month.

How would you like to cut that bill in half? It's completely possible and no, you don't have to settle for low quality cheap phones.

Innovation in the smartphone space has meant that there are some great alternatives and more affordable options where you can get the coverage at the big companies for a fraction of the price.

Today, I'm going to focus on one of my favorites and it's the one I use -Republic wireless.

I've been with them for around nine years and they have consistently given great service.

I've had the pleasure of speaking with Joel Kades to dig into how they're able to offer such a great deal with their plans.

We also get into their newest releases with phones, including the new Moto Gs.

I hope you enjoy!

Saving on Your Family Cell Plans with Republic Wireless

Elle Martinez: I appreciate you taking some time to talk with me about tech and how to get the best value, especially when it comes to smartphones.

Joel Kades: Thank you thank you for being a long-term member.

Republic wireless is in our 10th year. And I think you've been with us for most of those years. So it's great to be here.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. Not the very beginning, but I think shortly after. I've was immediately drawn by saving money. You guys have incredible rates for the plans, but what I especially appreciate and talking with a lot of families is getting the best value.

With tech, it is very easy to get into this cycle of spending a ton of money. Especially when you're talking about families, a big part of their budget can be their smartphone and their smartphone plan.

So originally I was definitely drawn to the price, but I especially appreciate with Republic wireless.

You guys are all about the values. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me and keep me updated with what's going on.

Innovating in the Cell Phone Space

Joel Kades: Oh sure. Really the whole origin of Republic was this combination of tech and savings.

It's like you started within a larger company called bandwidth. It's a big company in Raleigh that does it's more enterprise communications as a platform.

The founders said, you know, we make telecom technologies, can we do something to help save ourselves and other people money on their, on their cell phone bills?

So really where Republic started was this creation of what was the first and still the most efficient technology for putting your calls and your texts and of course your data onto wifi. Which was a novel concept at that time.

What that does is it takes it off the cellular network and puts it onto the broadband that you're already paying for. So kind of in a way you're not paying twice for that cell phone service, when you're at home and we pass those savings on to the members and use that technology to do so.

It evolved even further to how do we do the technology between the wifi and the cellular to how do we, how do we make smooth transitions? How do we bond those together to get better coverage for our members? We keep innovating and so that's really been the heart of the company.

It's how do we come up with innovations that help save people money?

I don't know even know if you're aware, Our most recent is old school home phones.

I see you have one in the back there.

Republic Wireless Extend Home

Elle Martinez: I had an interesting conversation with my nine-year-old. She wanted to know what was that what's a home line.

Joel Kades: Some of the origin of that was you know, for the nine year olds, a lot of times families don't want to get kids in that seven new 11 range a smart phone yet, and get them off the screens.

So we came up with this thing called extend home just over a year ago where we actually just with a small adaptor attached to a home phone.

Your unlimited home phone calls are part of your cell phone bill. So most people, most people quite honestly cut the cord, right?

So that's one way people have saved money, right?

So that was home phone bills. Even when they're bundled into your cable bill, they're still in there somewhere, you know, it's about 20 to $30 a month hidden in that bundle.

This allows you at no monthly cost.

It's included with the cell phone calls to actually extend your cell phone number to those other phones, those old school phones that you can pull them out of the closet or out of the drawer and there's little adapter to them.

It's like $49. After that there's no cost it's just included.

A nine year old might be home. You can call your own cell phone number. If you're way it'll ring on the home phone, they can pick that up. So it's really a nice innovation. They can also dial nine one one.

Yeah. If you're not home, which is easier. Other advantages, people just like forgot that they it's nice to have that home phone in different rooms and not be attached to your cell phone all the time.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I know technology can be a double-edged sword sometimes. You have your smartphone with you, you can do everything and then you want to do everything anytime.

Slashing Your Family Plan in Half

Elle Martinez: I definitely love, as the years gone by how things have improved the services, but I want to go back to what you were talking about. How you guys are able to offer it so cheap, which is the technology with the using the wifi.

Even back then, I had pretty good service because we don't realize how much we're on wifi. It's all around and why not take advantage of that technology? It's significant savings.

I mentioned like price was a big deal for us. For us, I believe when it was just the two of us, we originally paid about a hundred a month was for two lines and then every year, it kept going up.

And so that was my original draw.

Joel Kades: Yeah. I think the average is around 90 or a hundred per person these days, which is insane. I mean, I've seen different studies that are different surveys that show different things. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. It varies, but it's significant because I know everyone has their own cell phone plan, but for me, it was less than $40 for two lines.

You know, just based on usage because I'm using the wifi so much.

I did the one gig, my choice plan and then eventually I think I upgraded for an extra $5, two gigs, but like I'm on wifi so much. That is a considerable drop.

So if you're talking about a family that dropped or even a couple, a hundred dollars, and then you drop down to 40 that's 60 a month, seven 20 a year, You know, that's a big savings.

Joel Kades: And you're into the financial independence and wellness you apply that to the compounding that goes on and you get someplace really big.

We've estimated that we've saved our members throughout our history based on the differences. Compared to an average cell phone bill over a half, a billion dollars at this point and our 10th year.

That's a lot you the plan that you were on, the one gig plan, which comes with unlimited talk and text and all the data and everything over wifi, one gig of cellular wifi that is about more than 60% of our members are on that. Okay. The average of one of our members is $20 a month.

So you were right in that zone.

Almost a quarter of our members use the unlimited talk and text for $15 a month. No cellular data.

They just game the wifi and or they're just working at home or they are just hardcore with the wifi users.

Believe it or not my 17 year old games, the wifi now she came to Republic. She looks at that as a challenge. Whereas most kids are just like one on limited data and they're streaming all the time. She downloads her videos. She downloads her podcasts when she's on the wifi and then, uses it outside the home when she's not on my phone.

So she's really come around and a lot of our members have that kind of attitude.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I mean, it's kind of like gamifying and having fun with it.

Full Featured Phones That Are Still Affordable

Elle Martinez: I know one concern when I talk with people is, okay, do you get good coverage? I know for me, most of the time I'm here based in Raleigh, but business trips around the country, we have family everywhere.

I haven't had a problem with service, but one thing I liked about this, and maybe you can explain a little bit more . You also for the cell have two networks it's sprint and I forgot the other .

Joel Kades: Mobile. They were both T-Mobile now, but there are still these two networks out there and they had very complimentary no.

You know, different strengths. If you're one of our members and if you ever have issues with coverage where you are most of the time we'll send you that other SIM to try. So you're gonna have coverage when you're not

Elle Martinez: yep. When you're not on the wi-fi, but yeah, like it's I guess it's been eight, nine years since I've been [with] Republic Wireless, really hasn't been an issue. Another concern, but something you've guys have really excelled at is the amount of options for folks.

I know for some people my husband's in this camp, like there are specific phones. He is a pixel guy.

Some people have very strong feelings, , they love Samsung's the galaxies. I, myself am a Motorola girl.

I like those things are so durable, but you guys have just released, some new Motorola's in the series.

Joel Kades: Yes. We support a range of Android phones and that our wifi technology and our special technology that we build works with Android.

We're not apple at this point.

Motorola is by far one of the most popular of the brands in terms of offer and as you said, we just relaunched the whole line of the GS and These are full featured, very high quality smartphones and the range of one 49 to three 49. And

Elle Martinez: those are great prices.

Joel Kades: Yeah. I don't think our member's mindset is, Oh, I need to have a thousand dollar iPhone. I think a lot of people are changing in that regard these days, too. So with these Motorolas, there's different ones have different strengths. One of them has a bigger screen.

The power has longer battery life. There's the motor one 5g Ace 5g capability and a really pristine screen. So there's some something in that line to fit everybody.

We support the Samsung galaxies. Both the, a series and super high-end S series.

We just launched the S 21, which is the new kind of flagship one. So, but that's a different, that's a different group, right?

Elle Martinez: You have that choice, which I think is incredible. I think a lot in our community is about value. It's not a status symbol; at the same time you know, if we're going to buy a phone, I want it to last for years.

I'm testing out the Moto G stylist, the one that came out because I'm working from home. I have a laptop, but then when you have kids, you're doing the remote learning during the day plus you're trying to get your stuff done with work.

That stylist has been incredibly helpful. I've been testing it out and it's a very affordable price. But it doesn't feel like a cheap phone. It is a great value with that.

Joel Kades: Yes. That stylists, you know, some people it's about creativity and capturing ideas and for other people, it's just easier to do that.

Yeah, my daughter loves the stylist phone and she's more in that creative side and just always capturing something. They're wonderfulphones.

Once again, like, even on the Samsung, I mentioned the S 21, but then we also sell the A21, which is the second line galaxy phones are high quality, but only $249 instead of, you know, pushing up towards the $800 phones.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. It's finding that value for you. We have members that are they're diehards galaxies S series but they hold onto it until it breaks.

I'm one of those that I don't mind when it comes out to get to get a new phone, but I'm expecting it to last for years.

So there's a great option for different price points because with technology, you don't want to overpay for things that you don't use.

That's what I love about Republic wireless is that you guys have great plans, different price points for how you use it.

Now you have so many different phones at different price points.

Joel Kades: And you can always bring your own phone if it's an unlocked phone. You know, the unlocked Android.

You can go to our site, there's a bring your own page that has a list of all the compatible phones in the model numbers for those to make sure that it's the right compatible one that works with our service.

With those, all you have to do is go to the settings on your phone, look at about this phone and the model number is going to be there.

You can check it really long list of phones that are going to be compatible with the service.

The other thing that we have, that's a little bit newer and is a huge trend you know, more since COVID, but it really started a few years before and all about savings was kind of following the model of automobiles, which were pre-owned automobiles became a bigger, more high quality thing.

That's come to the cell phone world. We've partnered with a a company called

That's one of the highest rated of these, you get a quality product and if you go to our site under stuff, you'll see a page for SWAPO.

So you can go to swap phones and link from our page and it'll take you to a store within SWAPA. So only the compatible Android phones that work with Republic will be there.

For new members, you also can get a free SIM card with when you buy the phone on swap, I'd get a month free. There's a lot of different ways to save money on smartphones and still get a quality full feature phone. That's going to serve all of your needs.

You know, is it going to be the flashiest showpiece that doesn't tend to be our members. You know, much more independent minded , concerned about their budget and their finances more.

So we try to serve that market and really understand that market.

Elle Martinez: Joel, I really appreciate you sitting down and chatting with me and updating me.

Guys if you're listening and watching this, I'm going to include in the show notes and link below information about Republic wireless, their plans and their phones.

Like I said, I use them and I've been happy with this service, both for my own personal line and also for work.

And if you pay attention on Instagram, all through March, I'm going to be using the motor G stylist so if you're one of those photography nerds and love seeing if that's gonna fit your bill just keep an eye out at simplifying and enjoy.

Joel. Thank you so much for coming. I appreciate it.

Joel Kades: Hey, thank you for having me and thank you for being a long-term member.

Whatever provider you choose. I want you to make sure that you're getting the best value and service.