Kids and Money: Which Financial Lessons Parents Should Teach?

Today we’ll look at how you can teach your kids to be financially savvy! 

Teaching Your Kids About Money

One of our responsibilities as parents is to teach our kids essential skills they need and finances is part of that. 

Good or bad, if you look at how you handle finances, you’ll probably see the impact your own parents had on you. 

Our example is a crucial part of teaching them, but we also need to consider those conversations we have with our kids. 

What lessons are passing on to them? How can we guide them to not just be financially savvy, but also thoughtful with how they use their money? 

It’s something we talk about from time to time. Our two daughters are now ten and seven. They’ve had their allowance for a few years and overall they’re getting the hang of it. 

Now we’re trying to figure out how to approach other financial topics like budgets and investing in a way that’s engaging to them. 

Thankfully there’s some really good resources out there that can make those conversations easier. 

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • Creating a flexible game plan of topics and when you want to introduce them to your kids
  • Discuss some of the big questions parents have about allowances
  • How to introduce them to the family budget

There's a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to Teach Your Kids about Money

If you're looking for ideas and resources to prepare your kids to be money-savvy, here are some to check out! 

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

Establish Your Goals and Gameplan 

One common hangup parents have with introducing finances to kids is that they focus on the numbers. 

I get it. That’s the part we see, right? When you’re balancing a budget, watching your investments, and saving up for something, you’re reviewing the numbers.

You may want to jump into a super basic budget and teach them not to overspend their allowance, but for most kids, that’s not going to get them on board. 

Actually one of the first things to do is step back from the numbers and discuss the lens of how we manage their money – your family’s values. 

Once you take care of the essentials like food, housing, and clothes, where are you spending your money and why? What matters most to your family? 

Having that reflection will help you be able to explain to your kids why the budget looks a particular way. Maybe you love to travel and so that’s where you spend your money. Maybe you’re foodies. 

When you understand those priorities and values, you can then show your kids that money can be used beyond a basic budget. It also gives you a leg up on finding a way to introduce money on their level. 

Introduce money from their perspective.

One of the best ways we’ve found talking to our girls about finances is by tying it to something they love and are interested in.

Our very first conversations about a budget was actually over snacks. 

When our oldest was three going on four, she would ask for us to buy this, that, and every snack. We decided to give her a snack budget for the week. She had $5 she could spend. We’d show her the prices and compare how much she could get of them.

Very basic, but it was at a level she understood and it was something she cared about. 

Now our girls are into games, animation, and art supplies so when we discuss savings, it’s tied to those.

Find something they love and start teaching with that as an example. Is there a summer program that they would love to join? Are they looking to get a game system? Upgrade their phone, laptop? 

You can teach the foundational pieces of finances through that lens. 

Play games.

Another way you can begin having those conversations is with games. No, I'm not talking about monopoly. I’ve yet to play a game of monopoly with a group of friends and we are all still happy in the end. 

There are some fantastic ones out there, some of them specifically designed to open up conversations about money and give them a bit of practice. Cash Crunch Junior is one of those games.

They pick up helpful skills like tracking their money, saving, and thinking before spending their cash. It’s also fast moving so 

The idea is to talk about principles of money in a relaxed setting while having some fun. Not only are they passing on a lesson, but also conveying money talks doesn't have to be boring or stressful. 

How Allowances Help Kids

Let’s talk about one of the most common questions I get when it comes to teaching kids about money – allowances. 

  • When should we start?
  • How much is enough?
  • Should they be tied to chores?

All good questions and things we’ve discussed and continue to adjust as our girls grow up. 

In The Opposite of Spoiled, – which you should definitely read when you have the chance – Lieber discusses how allowances can be a powerful tool in helping kids use money as a reflection of positive values including generosity and entrepreneurship.

When Do You Start An Allowance? 

Experts suggest starting an allowance around the time they start kindergarten, but you have a clearer idea on what your child can handle.

This is also a good time if you haven’t already, to open a savings account for them. 

How Much Should their Allowances Be?

As you might guess, there is a wide range of what families are doing with allowances.

In terms of how much to pay,  when I was digging around, I found that a weekly allowance is typically around 50 cents – $1 per year of their age. 

If you have a 6-year old, you're paying $3- 6/week. If you have a 10 year old, it’s around $5-10/week. Of course tailor it to your kids, but the idea is that you give enough so if they’re saving up for a purchase, they can get it in a reasonable time. 

Should We Tie Our Kids’ Allowance to Chores?

There are several ways you can go with your allowance and chores. The popular options include:

  • Allowances are tied to all of your kid's chores.
  • Allowances are separate from your kid's chores.
  • The final is a hybrid where there are some core chores that are required regardless of allowance and other chores where kids can earn some extra money.

They all have pros and cons, depending on your kids.

Right now their allowances are not tied to chores. We're a family and to keep things manageable, all of us have to contribute.

We expect the essentials (tidying up their room, taking care of our cat, and weekly clean-ups) to be done regardless if they get an allowance or not.

If they skip out on their chores (and we expect it will happen), then we'll take away a privilege, like tablet time.

Now we do have some extra chores that do offer extra money. Those tend to be seasonal work like prepping the garden for planting or raking leaves in the fall.

Should We Include Our Kids in the Family Budget?

We’re now at the stage where our girls have a pretty good understanding of saving and can do a really basic budget for their goals.

What we are discussing now is being more transparent with them, particularly our oldest about our family budget. 

It’s important to us to have her feel comfortable with budgeting when she’s an adult. We also want her to have a clear idea of what it actually takes to keep things running. 

Taking our own advice, we’re going to introduce a game. I’m giving each of them a sheet with three expenses we have:

  • Our mortgage
  • Groceries
  • Our last family getaway

Here's wat they came up with:

Looks like we have some work to do.

Going forward, I’ll let them know the average monthly budget and keep them in the loop if we have any special expenses coming up. 

By easing them into it, we’re hoping it makes me feel more comfortable asking about the numbers. 

Handy Tools to Teach Kids About Money

Now if you’re looking for tools that can help you and your kids manage money they are some great ones out there. Two of my favorites are Goalsetter and FamZoo

We use FamZoo as a way to easily manage allowances so it divides it up automatically into spen, save, and share goals.There’s so much more you can do. You can set it up to have your kids Parent-Paid Interest on their savings, reimbursements of family expenses, also loans. 

Goalsetter is another wonderful tool for families. As the name suggests, you can create a goal and work together on saving up for it. As an added bonus, friends and family can chip in.

I think both of these are fantastic options for families looking to work together on their goals and get their kids more financially savvy. 

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap up I focus on a few key takeaways I picked up as I was working on this episode.

  • Focus on values over numbers.
  • Your example and conversations are important. 
  • Incentivize good behavior.

I know we just scratched the surface, so if you want to discuss this more. Come join us in our private Facebook group over at Thriving Families

It’s free and fun! We’re going to swap ideas and stories about our kids and how we’re helping them.

Just head over to We’d love to see you there! 

Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah from Pexels.

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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Music and Photo Credits

Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio.

Getting Good with Money and Dumping Debt

Want to pay off debt, but are on a tight budget? Learn how one family became debt free (mortgage included) on around $50,000 a year!

Getting Good with Money

I love to highlight a variety of stories about how the different families face them, both with making the numbers work and with the conversations they have during the process.

Last week, Toni Husband shared some of the ups and downs of her debt free journey to pay off over $100,000 of debt. 

Knocking out that mountain of debt including getting her husband on board and finding a pace that allowed them to pay it off without sacrificing time with their young kids. 

There are other struggles when it comes to becoming free, including making every dollar go further when you’re making closer to the median household income of around $67,000

Which is why I’m thrilled to have Jessi Fearon on today’s show. 

Jessi and her family paid off their debts including their mortgage on about $50,000/year income.

In her new book Getting Good with Money, she talks about some key changes they made as well as offering practical tips on how families can get out of debt.

In this episode we get into:

  • Identifying your money type, triggers, and key behaviors to adjust
  • How to have more productive conversations about money as a couple
  • How to find and make money to hit your financial goals faster

Are you ready? Let’s get started! 

Resources to Dump Your Debt Faster

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.

Understanding Your Money Mindset and Personality

Elle Martinez: I love following what you're doing online, not just with paying down debt, but the message you're sending with families with hope, especially us parents, where we're juggling so many different things with finances.

You and I know that this time of year, a lot of people are motivated and on their list of things to improve for the year is getting better with money.

They want to either pay down debt, save, invest, but it's hard to stick it out. Something I appreciated in your book, which was before you come up with a plan, kind of assess who you are, what's your money story, and how you interact with money. Cause you go into a couple different like personality or mindsets.

Could you go over first of all, the different types and for yourself, what did you have to do?

Jessi Fearon: Absolutely. The first one is the Daredevil. The Daredevil doesn't have any savings or little to no savings, rather. So they're living life on this tight rope and hoping that no little hiccup, no little bump in the road happens. It does. They're completely derailed and it's financial catastrophe.

I have definitely been all four of these different personalities. So I have definitely been the Daredevil before more times than I care to admit to.

I've also been the floater. The floater is someone who lives at paycheck to paycheck has no idea where their money is coming in. It has no real plan for their money. They keep trying to make progress, but because they haven't gotten really real and honest with themselves and how it is that they're using their money is all a complete mystery to them.

The other one is the spender. Yeah, the spender is, it's not someone who's just necessarily going in blowing all of their money, but it's someone who doesn't actually know what their spending trigger is and we all have them, including savers.

We all have something that whatever it may be, whether it's a good deal or we, again, where we see something and we think, oh, so-and-so would love that. We pull that trigger and we spend the money. If we don't reconcile that within our budgets and within our money management, it will completely derail whatever plans that we have.

The last one is the avoider. I was an avoider for a really long time. And the avoider is someone who doesn't plan for their future. Mainly talking about retirement here, but someone who does it plan for that 70 year old self. They kind of think, oh, that 70 year old self is. Way out there, but you know, it's funny.

Cause then all of a sudden you wake up one day and you're a lot older than 21 and you're like, ‘oh wait, I'm a lot closer to being retirement age than I am to a teenager now. So what am I going to do'?

As I said, I've been all four of these and for me discovering that about myself was realizing the way that money made me feel.

Working Together with Your Money

I'll use me and my husband pat for an example. My husband is a spender. I'm a safe. So for me, I like to have a lot of money in the bank account, but I also don't ever want to spend any, like I like regardless if we actually have to spend the money, I don't want to touch that money in that bank account.

Like I want it to sit there and be really, really big, you know, and with some around in my goal cleans, I want that, that makes me feel good. It's like a little trophy sitting on the shelf that makes me feel safe and secure. Whereas for my husband, he likes to spend money, but that doesn't mean that he wants to honestly spend all of the money and blow all of them.

And just means that he wants to have that ability to spend whenever he needs to or wants to spend. He wants to be able to have that ability to do that because it gives him a sense of accomplishment. And I say that because for us that's one of the key pieces for us was that we had to kind of come to terms with, okay, how does the money make us feel?

Like, what is it about money that we value? And the reality is that we. Something with money that we attach value to. And for me, it was safety and security for my husband. It's a sense of accomplishment and success.

Neither one of those answers is right or wrong. I know sometimes people want to answer in the way they think they should, like, well, I should say it's for safety and security or because I want to give a bunch of money to everybody. But it's okay if it's for you, it's accomplishment and success. That's totally fine.

Just own up to it because then it helps you figure out from there, like, okay, how am I using money? When money comes into my hand, what is my first thing that I'm doing with it? Am I immediately going out and spending the money?

Am I hoping that nothing comes up? So then that way we don't have any hiccups in the road, we don't go broke. The car doesn't break down. Whatever.

In those cases you may be a spender. You may be a Daredevil, or you may be a floater. If you weren't planning for retirement, then you're an avoider and you have to ask yourself why in all of these situations and getting down to that brass tax of why we'll help you reconcile and come to terms with these and then make progress and changes that you need to make.

Conversations Needed Before You Can Line Up Your Numbers

Elle Martinez: I love that. Yes. You not know about this, especially you've written a book about budgets specifically.

Yes. You have to have the numbers line up and there's a process to that but at the same time, if you don't address the root of it, which is why do I view money this way? And why do I act when I'm stressed or I'm coming up with a specific situation.

If you can't answer that, or you can't work through that both yourself. And if you're married, you know, with your spouse, Not impossible, but it's really hard and it's really slow to get through and make real progress on whatever your financial goals are.

I love that you opened up with that with those conversations, because that's something you can't avoid.

We were kind of the opposite. So I wouldn't say I'm like a spender, I guess, like you mentioned with pat, I don't want to spend everything, but I was comfortable with spending.

I would do too much. I was paying down debt. It was also saving a little bit of saving, a little bit of investing. So it was like going everywhere, but not really making any progress.

My husband, Rob was just like you, which is like money for him was security. I think for me, it was like freedom and options. Until we had that conversation, it was like we were just doing the same script over and over again and not really making that progress.

I'm glad you've included in the books. I think that is going to be a big breakthrough for a lot of couples and families.

Jessi Fearon: Especially when you're married, I'm a big proponent of like figuring out for you individually.

Get clear on money with you, like sit with it and really think about it. Because the clearer you get on how it is that you feel you value a new use of money the easier it's going to be when you have those conversations with your spouse.

You're going to be able to articulate your point and your spouse is actually going to be able to hear it because now emotion has been removed from the conversation and you are clear.

You're personally clear on how it is that you manage money and that will help bring the conversation to a much better place than if you're just screaming and yelling. Because I know that conversation really well too.

Dumping Debt on a More Typical Budget

Elle Martinez: I think we've all been there, you know? You don't see eye to eye. And when you let the emotions take over, it's very hard to make any kind of progress or see each other's point of view.

Another thing I appreciated with your story, and I think many people relate to is you did this without a huge income like you and I were fans of debt-free stories.

I love, and I'm rooting for families that open up more opportunities for themselves by becoming debt free.

At the same time, there have been times where I'm frustrated and I'm rooting for them where it feels like you read the story, they paid off this crazy amount of debt in like two years and then you read in the paragraph, they each make like six figures or they've had family help them with buying a house.

Again, nothing wrong but if that's the only money story that's being shared or that's the one that's being shouted out it can be discouraging for a family who has either a huge amount of debt that they're dealing with, or they don't have that large income to throw towards the debt.

First of all, thank you for including your story with that. I think that needs to be shared more, but what advice and encouragement would you give to a family that finds themselves in a more typical situation with their debt?

Jessi Fearon: First any income level is okay. I feel like I have to say that because, for us, we did this on just over $47,000 a year salary.

I know that for my husband, sometimes that was hard for him more than for me. I think he had more pride issues with that. That was really difficult for him because so many of his friends made so much more money. We had in comparison to our income level, a lot of debt and we had to figure out how to pay it off.

I was going to have to go back into the corporate world. So for us, what it came down to was, okay, what do we want more of?

Did we want me to be a stay at home mom? Do we want me to go back to the corporate world and having to put the kids in daycare? Because at the time we had two kids under the age of two, which that would have been even astronomical.

I can, God bless every single parent that has their child in daycare right now, because I can't even imagine what that cost is right now.

I know back then it was going to be crazy and it was with my paycheck, just to put them into daycare.

At the time my husband was working a graveyard shifts. So most of the burden of [taking] kids to daycare and them up from daycare and then doing the cooking dinner and feeding them, getting them in bath, saying prayers, reading the stories and going to bed, doing it all over the next day was all going to fall mostly on my shoulders.

So we had asked ourselves, is that the life we actually want is that what we're building?

I think key piece that any family of any income size has to ask themselves, what are we building like, is this what we want? When we are on our deathbed and we look back on this time, is this what we hope that we had built during our lifetime?

For us, that was not what we wanted and so we knew that we had to either find a way to make that $47,000 a year work, or I was going to have to go back in the corporate world and who, and we were going to have to live a life that we didn't necessarily want to.

Again, sometimes we have to make temporary sacrifices. that's not saying there's any shame that that's a situation that you find yourself in cause we certainly considered that, but for us it just became clear on our why and why we wanted to do it.

From there it made the actual sticking to our plan so much easier because we knew what we were fighting for because if you don't know what you're fighting for, then it's going to go up in smoke.

You're not going to, you're not going to actually try to achieve anything at that point, because once it gets hard, cause it will get hard. Yeah.

Define Your Family's Priorities

Elle Martinez: It definitely will. I mean, it's, it's not a matter of if it's when and I do love how you framed it cause it is included in the book. Like what kind of life do I want? What kind of life do we want?

It's very easy to get into the script of, ‘oh, I'm saving for retirement'. Well, let's just take that. What does that even mean to you? What kind of retirement?

If my husband had a choice, it'd probably be like a cabin in the mountains and I'm imagining traveling. So we were having these conversations and figuring out what does that even mean?

Like ‘I'm saving to buy a house'. What kind of house? Where do you want to live?

Having these deeper conversations definitely makes it easier to kind of work backwards. Okay. Well, if this is the type of house, or this is the neighborhood we want to live in, let's look at the numbers.

You give a lot of great advice and maybe kind of share a few of your favorites about finding money. Again, if you don't have a ton of income, you got to get creative with the budget and at the same make it sustainable, especially when you have kids.

Where to ‘Find' Money on a Tighter Budget

Jessi Fearon: Absolutely. Yeah, because kids have a way to eat at your budget. They really do. Especially the older they get, okay. Diapers may have cost a lot, but then once your boys started growing up, then all of a sudden they're just like eating you out of house and home.

So side hustles, I call them side hustles. I know that sometimes people now don't feel so nice about those words, but anything that you're doing on the side to generate additional income.

One of my favorite ways and one of the easiest ways for any of us to jump on board that is to ransack our houses and sell off stuff that we don't need or use. Most of us have a closet full of stuff that we don't ever use.

We probably don't want to open the closet cause we know there's a bunch of stuff in there and we don't want to deal with that mess. We know and so just pull it out, sell off what you can.

Don't focus on the fact, oh, this thing costs me a hundred dollars. And then like, if I can't get you at least, you know, $89 for this, like I can't sell it. Like, don't focus on that. The money's already been spent. It's a sunk cost move on from that, sell it for what you can, and then take that money and throw it immediately to whatever your current goal is.

Whether it's saving your emergency fund, paying off your debt, saving for retirement, whatever that current goal is and neatly take the money and put it.

The key point there is that action of taking the money and immediately putting it. So if you just sell it and then don't move that money to that current goal, it will slip through your fingers. Trust me, it doesn't matter if you're a saver or spender, it will disappear. I promise you.

So that is my favorite way that most people can generate additional income. The other way is to think about your skill sets that you have.

If you're an administrative assistant, you can take that and become a VA and start doing things, after your kids go to bed at night, you know, spend an hour or two doing VA work. Which VA stands for virtual assistant for bloggers or for other companies.

Same with accounting, as long as your company that you work for is okay with it but if you're you're an accountant or you do bookkeeping, you can do that as well online on the side. Do that for bloggers or for other companies that work online.

Same with photography. Believe it or not. If you're actually really good at taking landscape photography, you can actually. Those landscape photography, photos, that to various companies, because they'll use it in like calendars and stock photos and all sorts of things. So you can sell that for royalties. You know, and just anything like that, just get really creative with the skillsets that you have that you can use.

Also there's places like VIP kid, which you can teach online. So. Cool parent, you can actually teach online.

Same with Outschool. Outschool [is] another fantastic platform that if you're an educator or you're just someone who has some sort of you're a music person, you know how to play the guitar and you want to teach other people how to play the guitar. You can actually make a course teaching people how to play the guitar online and earn money from that.

There's a lot of different ways that you can do that. You just need to come up with what your skillsets are and the time that you have available and what you can do and maximize that time and your skill sets.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I'd love that. And I do agree with you. Like people have very mixed feelings about side hustles and I think it's the connotation, but then again, what kind of life do you want?

You get to decide like, am I going to spend X amount of time for short knocking this out, or am I going to look for something a little more sustainable or pull back? Because I want to have that time with my kids, especially when they're little and you don't get that time back. Yeah. I love that.

New Opportunities and Options When You're Debt Free

Elle Martinez: Also something that I really appreciated with reading your book is that message of, as you are paying off the debt, you get to decide how. You get to live your life with your family.

You have more options and more opportunities and you know, it's been a crazy couple of years, Jesse. Yes. Yeah, yeah.

Unfortunately depending on where you were in your financial journey, when COVID hit the financial fallout from the you know, you were either I've heard from some families like new opportunities or rose, or when opportunities came up, they were able to take it.

On the other side was, unfortunately, if you were deep in debt, it was almost like you were obligated to make choices, more geared towards the finances versus what's best for your family.

I don't want that and I know you don't want that for listeners. So if there are now. Starting their journey or restarting their journey because they are focused on getting out of debt.

Can you kind of share how that's benefited you personally, what opportunities have opened up because you guys have knocked out that debt, including the mortgage, which is amazing.

Jessi Fearon: One of the best things that we ever did for our family, for our children is becoming a debt-free because my husband actually does not make much more than that. $47,000 now. I'm he makes a little bit more than $52,000 a year right now.

And you know, he's self-employed. He owns his own business and he could theoretically pay himself more money, but then he wouldn't be able to pay his employees.

What he pays his employees. He wouldn't be able to give them the vacations and the paternity, what, you know, these are men that work with him cause he's in construction. So these are guys who are becoming fathers for the first time. So he's able to give them paternity leave and able to do certain things for his employees as well as for his customers and his client that he would not be able to do if he took a bigger salary.

But because we have been able to become debt free and intentionally design our life this way, we don't have to make a whole bunch of money to have an amazing life. My kids get to go on vacations that me and my husband would have never been able to go on as kids and we're able to do it debt free. Now, granted, when we started our debt free journey, that wasn't the case, our vacations of choice were camping and backpacking down the river.

Elle Martinez: Those are exciting.

Jessi Fearon: We still do them today because they are fun and just like you work together as a family and it's really great, you know, but my kids actually get to go to the beach now, you know, they get to go to the mountains, they get to go do these things that, we didn't get to do every year as a kid. And so it's blessed them.

It's also blessed them with the fact that I'm not just a stay at home mom anymore. I'm now a homeschool mom. When the public school shut down. My boys were in public school. We just, we discovered very quickly that digital learning and me did not mix very well.

It did not go over very well, but I also discovered just how far behind my boys were in school. And so that opened up the opportunity for me to be able to homeschool my boys and then now my daughter as well. I'm able to homeschool all three of my children here at home.

I don't have to worry about, you know, the math now, right? Like if this kid's been exposed to, to COVID and, you know, test positive and all this stuff, like how many days until they go back to school, I don't have to worry about that.

My kids don't have to worry about that and it's just been, it's been so nice to not have those disruptions and not having to worry with, well, what's my county gonna decide as far as are we doing digital? Are they going to school or what does this look like?

Having those opportunities has been such a blessing for my family. I'm so grateful to former pat and Jessie who made these hard choices too, in the sacrifices that came with it to go on this journey and become debt free, because it truly has freed our family from just from not being able to live the life that we desired.

We're able to, when these opportunities come up, we're able to assess, okay, is this the right opportunity? For our family, we don't necessarily have to do opportunity or, you know, had to say no to it because we don't have the money or the time available to do.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I absolutely love that. And I think that's like the best definition of financial freedom.

It's not the number in the bank account. It's the options that you have that's best for your family.

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Music and Photo Credits

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What to (Really) Expect on Your Debt-Free Journey

What’s the process really like when you’re paying off over $100k of debt? Today we get into the habits and mindset changes Toni and her family made during their debt-free journey! 

Debt-Free Journeys: Different Paths and Strategies

I love a good debt free story. I enjoy seeing others work hard to get rid of the credit card, student loans, car loans, and other debt that is weighing them down. 

I also know personal experience is not always fast or even a smooth process. For us, it began with getting on the same page with how we wanted to tackle it. Then there was the reality of the numbers. 

My husband has his first post-grate job and I had a part time internship. With time, we found our rhythm and knocked it out. 

I’ve also had quite a few episodes on this podcast and on Couple Money sharing people’s journey, including Toni Husbands.

What I loved about her story is that it wasn’t a ‘We paid off ‘$100,000 in year and half story’. 

Which in all honesty, I enjoy watching and reading too, but when that's the main narrative being shared, it’s a bit discouraging because they tend to gloss over key details. 

When you dig into the article, you can see that both are earning six figures or I’ve even seen where parents chip in for them to buy a house in an expensive city. 

My problem isn’t with those details, but the fact that it gives the false impression of how easy it is to become debt free. 

In many cases, it’s a commitment and in that journey not only are you freeing up your finances because you don’t have that debt anymore, but you’re opening up options. 

In this episode we are discussing a lot of the nuances and struggles that can come up. We’ll get into:

  • Some of the hurdles and challenges she had to overcome 
  • Which habits helped and what she would do differently
  • Opportunities that opened up now that’s she’s dumped her debt

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Dump Your Debt Faster

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.

Starting Your Debt Free Journey in 2022

Toni Husbands: I'm looking forward to what 2022 has to offer and how we can make the most of it.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I'm glad you say that. Anytime we can make a change is good, but this time of year, a lot of people that's on their minds. They've hopefully had a nice winter break. They could relax their friends and family, but they're looking forward to accomplishing something, especially when it comes to finances.

I think last two years for many families has been a case of let's just tread water. Let's just not, In a worst situation. But they're ready to tackle on, especially debt. That's one of the top three goals every year.

I've had you on the podcast before, and you're like my debt expert buddy.

Toni Husbands: Right, right.

Elle Martinez: Yeah; because you've been through that. You and your husband paid off over a hundred thousand dollars of debt.

One of the things I wanted to point out, which is I find amazing, first of all, that's a huge amount, but second of all, I think you're like most people, it was not an overnight, we paid it off in 12 months story.

So for those are just listening for the first time. Do you mind kind of doing a high level review of that debt-free journey?

The Bumps and Hurdles When Becoming Debt Free

Toni Husbands: Sure. Sure. So you're exactly right. It was not an overnight process, took us seven years to do that. And that was all encompassing of creating that mindset shift.

It took us, it took us a minute. I'd say at least 12 months to even just get on the same page that we both agree that we should be doing this. And we paid off $107,000 of debt over that time, but we didn't start with that much money. Right. We didn't start with that much debt, which kind of shows you like we were making progress and then life would happen or maybe a decision would be made and we will take on more.

Then we would make progress and then something would happen or a decision will be made and then maybe some more debt was, you know, so it was kind of a, it was a rollercoaster.

So while it wasn't a straight shot from a to Z like I said, there was a lot of wind rows. There were some pauses, there was, second guessing and reflection all of that, all of that in there. But the one thing that I'm, that I'm very thankful for on this side of the experience that we didn't stop.

There's a, there's a classic quote. Somebody said, I love it. It's just like, you haven't failed. It's just success in progress.

So that's the thing about wherever you are in your process, whether you started, I feel like it's kind of like that about paying off debt, losing weight -wherever you are in your process. Just remember you're not where you were at when you started.

As long as you just taking that next step, taking that next step. I think even sometimes it's you mentioned, you might feel like you've been treading water for a little time. Sometimes it's like mentally necessary to just kind of press pause, just press pause and just smell the roses for a bit, you know, or breathe for a bit.

Go through the process of getting out of that. So sometimes it just, either things happen to you or decisions that you make and, and it sounds good in the beginning, but you might hit my feet. I might have, yeah. Might have a different result, you know, further down the road. Each time, like you've learned from it grown from it, you've experienced something.

Maybe one person in our case, maybe one person wants to do something other didn't, but there wasn't, you didn't have the details at the beginning to say like, feeling like this is not a good idea, but I don't necessarily have like the facts to back it up.

So we just do it. It turns out not to be such a good idea, but guess what both of you now know you don't ever have to have that argument again. So it's just, it's a process.

That it is a process that we'll get through it. Each experience is another lesson learned and I'll will make you smarter, make you stronger for the end.

And eventually you will be sitting on the side of the podcast telling Elle how you paid out of it, how you cut out.

Don't Let Comparison Rob Your Family of Joy

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I love hearing, you know, when people reach out emails or social media about that success, and it doesn't matter if it took them a year or took them seven or however long. I am so excited for that.

I love you brought out some really good points. First off, you know, when, whenever I share a story on the podcast, my idea is that I would like to give models with people's stories, take ideas from it, rather saying, then giving them a map saying heal. This is the plan. You have to follow it.

Exactly because we are all starting out in different situations for some, they are maybe newly engaged and now they're in, before they get married, they have get their finances squared away. That's great.

Maybe they've already been married and what they're doing, isn't working, you know? And so now there's baggage w whether it's financial or even how they approach their money, that they have to undo first and then, you know, focus on that.

So our journey are going to look different because we're starting at different places and then we all have different goals, the following. So I love how you address that.

Sometimes we're making fast progress, we're going up that hill and sometimes we got to pause or go down.

Exactly. Cause it's all tied together. Right. There isn't a perfect budget. There are some great tools out there. There isn't like this one path that's going to make sense because we're in situations where maybe you mentioned, and this happened with us. We weren't exactly on the same page with the how.

We had an idea, like, okay, definitely want to pay off the debt, but the how the pace at which to go with. Also give yourselves grace for that. As you figure out a budget that you're both happy with, especially with families.

Staying Motivated to Pay Off Your Debt

Elle Martinez: Now that you're on the other side at any point while you were paying off this huge amount of debt, were you frustrated either at the speed of it or even the process of it?

If so, like how did you stick with it?

Toni Husbands: So, yes, yes, yes.

So, hello. Good question. I think that number one and most important for me in terms of sticking with it. It's like celebrating small wins, celebrating and appreciating small wins. So when you pay that first thousand dollar credit card off, that's a win, that's a milestone, and don't like the little that something, or when you pay the first 500, whatever.

Maybe it's I haven't overspent in the last 30 days, whenever you see changes or progress, like celebrate those, appreciate those.

One of the things that I did. So we were still kind of using just basic spreadsheets and printing it out. And I would print out my budget and put it on my refrigerator. Then after the month was over, I would file that. Over the over time I built kind of a nice little. File folder of budget sheets.

I would actually go back through and look at my budget sheets to see progress. And it was like for me, therapeutic to see cross offs or little notes that we had made, okay, we can do this or whatever. I would start to see my list. I had listed all of my items and my debt items in a little section and I had a whole section and I would see those numbers shrinking.

That would, especially in the times where things were not so dynamic because, paying $400. Oh on, $40,000 of debt in the beginning it's like trying to, I'm looking at last now. So trying to move the snow with a star, something like that.

doesn't seem like it makes me feel like it doesn't feel like it, but you look at that over over months then years and stuff like that, then you can kind of remind yourself like, oh wow. Even though I'm feeling like this is kind of slow going. When I look back at where I started, because I have this record and we can even do that now with our tools.

Go back and look at your history, you know, pull up your go back and look at your progress and all the graphs and all the pie charts and everything, all the nice colorful tools and stuff like that.

Look at that history and, and reflect on that and just remember like, wow, I haven't, I'm not where I want to be, but I'm not willing to start it much further beyond where, where I've started. So keeping a records, but even maybe journaling, the system journaling and go back and read that.

Breast you were about not being able to stay on budget and now you're budgeting in your sleep. Those things are, even if you can't necessarily see them or maybe you can't touch them and in a physical sense, but that's still like concrete progress.

That mindset shift on Monday just to the point where now I can even see this in my budget sheet. Where my husband started to come on board and so now you see more of his notes on the budget sheet. Whereas before he was just like, I don't agree with this, but now he's like making, then once we got out, we were still arguing about how to approach, our finances and you can start to see more of his notes and stuff like that.

That was another milestone for me. I would don't minimize even small wins. Those are going to be huge fuel for your momentum or just your mental sanity or your personal motivation.

Cause it's going to take some of that. You have to figure out what it is that you can keep yourself motivated to go because the debt, I don't want your snowball list or however you doing there, you know, there, there might be an extended period of time. And so how are you going to keep yourself going and, and, and excited and do stuff around about continuing to make that progress in each of them? For me, it was looking back at my budget.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I love that. I never would've thought like how powerful journaling could be cause we're all different. Some of us are visual, our mutual friend, Michelle she loves the vision mood boards, like establishing that and tracking progress with that, but journaling is also a great one.

It sounds like you've picked up some really good financial habits as you're developing that muscle and paying off. What habits have stuck now that you're this new phase, you're more on the investor side and which habits or mind shifts did you have to make because now you're no longer paying debt and you're investing?

Toni Husbands: Good question. I will say honestly right now, the habit that I don't even struggle with anymore. Recognized thing needs versus once that's something I don't struggle with at all anymore, or I don't allow the temptation for the shiny new thing, because I am thinking now about, okay, so I can go.

I spend my money and basic my heart on time on this shiny thing, that'll look nice and Instagram photos, or I can stay focused on, the goal right now, which isn't investing.

We're having a save more and invest more, which again, they don't have immediate payoff. You know, like it's not something I can touch. I'm not buying a piece of property every month, right? I'm not buying something here or I don't know what the next thing is, but I know that I'm going to want to do something. So I have more of a focus on using my money or diverting my money to things that are going to build wealth versus spending for trinkets that don't have any long-term value.

Now there are some things that I like to eat , like travel. I like to do so those are things like, I plan for makes sure that we're doing with cash. That we can pay cash for it that I'm not traveling with strings attached. Cause I like to say I'm not coming home and having to worry about how I'm going to pay the bills later.

I think the thing I think about too is I don't want to be in that place.

I do that. I don't want to be in that place where I am burdened by debt. for me, that was a sense of, it was stressful, you know, source of anxiety. I don't like that anxiety. I like the the options. I feel like doing, like investing money or buying property or thinking about, oh, I'm buying this and my children will one day be able to benefit from this.

Those are the things that give me like joy and a sense of freedom and like even creativity.

Having to spend on things are items that are just going to pile up interest in it terms of debt or, or that I'm going to have to be kinda juggling or, or shifting or borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Like that was not an existence that I enjoy at all. I don't want to go back down that road.

I think those are kind of the things both the positive and I'll say the thing I want to avoid that kind of keep me in this place now wanting to maximize and be super, super efficient with the money that I have.

You know, it's like, we only have this, we have a finite amount of time and, years of energy, I don't want to like maximize it. And I don't want to spend that time. Yeah. It's enough. I don't wanna spend.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I agree with you and you brought up something interesting, like opportunities. COVID and the financial fallout, depending on where you were; if you were in a good financial spot, I've heard from a lot of people, new opportunities, or they took advantage of opportunities.

On the other side of unfortunately seeing where they were just at the beginning and their employers put pressure on them to kind of leverage that they had to keep their job. And maybe they made decisions that they felt didn't put their families interests first.

So for those listening and they're at the beginning of their journey, I'd love to maybe share some encouragement for them.

Now that you've paid off that weight, got that debt off your shoulders. What opportunities have opened up for you because of that?

Toni Husbands: Okay. Oh, I left my pursuit. So we have in the last, I'm going to say five or six years, maybe a little bit more in the last five or six years. Been real estate owners for about probably not going on 20 years now.

We've had real estate, but in the last maybe five or six years, we've really started to Think about developing a portfolio portfolio and we're like rental income and would become a major passive income source for us.

One of my goals is to achieve a financial independence. Basically financial independence is where your passive income exceeds your monthly living expenses. And and so we have Dell delved into some things that I never would have thought before. We've obviously started adding to our real estate portfolio from a perspective of rental income, but we've also taken advantage of the opportunity to save and build a patch so that we've been able to like purchase real estate purchase houses and flip them.

That was something that I did in 20 maybe 2018. I bought my first home water for cash and then,

Elle Martinez: wow, that's a big accomplishment.

Toni Husbands: We flipped it and we were able to sell it. Now I will say in that experience, we didn't make a profit in the actual transaction. What that transaction did was give me the confidence to know that I had like assemble a team and going, cause I know nothing about construction.

I'm not even interested in like swinging hammers. That's not something I'm interested in at all, but the idea of acquiring property, fixing it up and then adding that to our portfolio over to income is something that was a good thing.

The next year from that experience that we've made no money from, I think we on paper, we lost $5,000 from that experience. We ended up purchasing another property and two years later, I think we made 70,000 from that.

Those experiences have come because we, number one, freed up my our cashflow to do some different things with, and also just Taking that, that burden of stress of worrying about finances off the table.

Now we're now some creative ways for adding to our bottom line. After that experience again, and I say just meeting the people that I work well with on, on renovating houses has led to now we've purchased talk about the opportunities that happen in as a COVID.

I probably wouldn't have thought about that had not everybody come home and been remote. So we ended up moving to a vacation town, which is about eighty miles outside of the city that I currently live in. We bought a property that our teaching right now, we're in the process of renovating it now to turn it into a vacation rental that number one we can use when you want to come up here, because this is a nice place, but also that pays for itself and also generates it.

We're looking at the passing it on so that we can accomplish our goal of financial independence. So these are some things that when we're not stressed about finances.

We're not fighting each other about finances. So just whether to buy a place here or where to buy this place, so those are the kinds of the base that we have now.

Right. It's about progress about like how are we going to build wealth? How are we going to provide for our family? How are we going to leave a legacy, for our children's children, which is something that is definitely very important to me.

Those are the discussions we're having now because we're not bogged down in. You know, do I pay my car note or did we pay our chase bill and we pay it, you know, or do, or do I buy some little shiny thing to make me feel okay for, you know, make me feel a little bit better for, for the next 30 days, but then I have to keep up the notes on it.

You know, those are the types of things I'm looking at now, purchases that will put money into our packet versus taking money out.

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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.

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Housing Hacking to Pay Off Your Debt Faster!

Learn how one couple creatively used house hacking to pay off their students loans faster!

Paying Off You Debt Faster By Thinking Outside the Box

Welcome back! It's the first week of a new year and I have a question to ask you – how many times have you seen the phrase new year, new you already?

How does that make you feel as you're planning out what you're going to do in 2022?

While I hope you're energized and enthusiastic about your family and financial goals that you want to tackle this year, I can also understand if you're a bit frustrated by all the hype about how important it is to hit the ground running.

Honestly, I kind of feel the same way.

I've been writing about that intersection of personal finance with family and marriage for over a decade.

Every year as we talk about setting and achieving your goals, there are certain patterns that I see happen over and over again.

The biggest one is how few people are actually hitting their goals.

Fidelity and a few others in the personal finance space and beyond do annual surveys and reports to track what people are working in the new year.

While most people start off optimistic about how things are going to go, many times they burn out before they hit their actual goal.

There are many reasons for that and of course, these last two years have thrown a lot of people for a loop, with COVID in the fallout from that.

However, I think a core reason why people aren't able to tackle their goals is how they approach it.

A few episodes before we wrapped up the year, I was talking about setting up those pieces, building those better habits- making sure that your goals are smart, very specific in that you work backwards to break it down into small steps.

Finding a System That Works for You

Those are key components, but there's another ingredient when it comes to not just making your goals but sticking with it and being consistent. That's finding a sustainable system that makes sense for you and your situation.

I see too many families get very focused on this specific of how. For example, when paying off debt – should we use the debt snowball, avalanche or lasso? The answer is it depends.

  • It depends how much debt you have.
  • It depends on how much extra income you have right now to put towards that debt.
  • It depends on the type of debt you have – high interest or low interest.

All these different factors mean that different families will have different approaches. When I have interviews on hereon the podcast. I want to give you models, not necessarily a map.

The map is what you do. You create this destination that you want to achieve. You can then take the habits or systems or ideas from others and hopefully make it your own. You'll then be more likely to stick and be consistent with the process and see it through two, you hit that goal.

So all this month, we're going to do things a little bit different. Yes, we're going to be talking about families that have hit some great goals together and get into the process of how they did that.

More importantly, though, we're going to be digging into how they were able to find a system that fits them and their season of life.

One of the most important steps is to address and acknowledge where you are now with your financial journey. Then you can see which tools would be best for your situation. So that you can achieve whatever goal you're pursuing.

Another piece of that puzzle. Is to find a process that you enjoy.

If you are trying to tackle a big goal, say you have a mountain of debt to pay off. Or you're trying to get a house down payment put together. Chances are it's not going to happen overnight. So again, that consistency's important. But to stick with it, you have to feel motivated. And one of the best things you can do is find a process that you think is enjoyable.

And some ways fun. Which is why I'm so glad Jillian Sirianni from Frugal Friends is on the podcast today

She and her husband had the big goal of paying off their student loans and cashflowing her degree. It took some creativity as you heard in the teaser because they had to find money in their budget somehow.

They went for a big win and did some house hacking. Not only were they able to save and pay off debt; they had a little bit of an adventure along the way!

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

  • why going for big wins in your budget can be a game changer
  • some unconventional ways you can slash your housing expenses
  • skills that you may already have that can save and make you money.

Are you ready? Let's get started!

Handy Tools to Pay Your Debt Off Faster

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.

We’ve been Coastal members for a few years have been happy with their services.

They have wonderful services and accounts to make saving easier including their competitive money market accounts!

As I mentioned in the episode, if you're a Coastal member and are thinking of consolidating your debts, check out Coastal's options to refinance!

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?

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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. 

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Note: Interview is edited for clarity and length.

Paying Off Dent By Slashing Housing Costs

Elle Martinez: You were trying to pay off student loans, which I know is on the minds of a lot of them in the community, but also debt in general. You and your husband, Eric took an unconventional route, especially when it comes to housing.

So before we jump into how you did that, can I ask who started that conversation and who came up with that idea?

Jillian Sirianni: Which one of you is crazier? That's what I want to know. Oh,Elle first of all, I love the theme that you're pulling out. Thinking outside the box, because I think that that is the primary component.

When we're looking at really slashing debt or getting at other financial goals. A lot of times it does take thinking outside the box and moving past some of the limiting beliefs or mindset that we have. Some things are more attainable for some than others so I think there's permission and there's ways for all of us to find ourselves on this journey and what fits for us.

So to answer your question of who's the greatest fear on it? I think for my husband and I, we kind of are neck and neck with that. I don't know that I could fully say who actually ended up making the final call.

But I do remember when we were considering well, before we even considered tiny living, we were looking at boats and motor homes. Not for us.

We were not, we were poor by a lot of standards. We were on vacation. Family and they were talking about, oh, wouldn't it be fun as an extended family to have a used boat that we can share in the summer times together.

So my husband loves to scour Facebook marketplace and Craigslist at the time. Although we don't use that as much anymore, it's gotten a little more sketchy.

In that process, as he was kind of scrolling through, it was looking over his shoulder and seeing these motor homes and realizing whoa, That's everything you need. Why would that need to be just for vacation? What if we were to consider living in it?

So I think it was kind of this, he was looking at it. I was looking over his shoulder and we both add this. What if question? And then that turned into reality. Yeah.

Is Downsizing Your Home Right for You?

Elle Martinez: So can you kind of give me an idea, the general timeframe of having that conversation? Because I think all of us get inspired.

I know for me, I look at the tiny homes and maybe not the super tiny homes, but this idea simplifying and kind of paring down the things we don't need. How did that go from, this is a good idea to let's try this out?

Jillian Sirianni: For us, we move relatively quickly so I would say it was only couple of months before we ended up pulling the trigger on a motor home. Now, granted that was because of life, stage and obligation and responsibility.

We were renting at the time, month to month at this point so we weren't locked into. We don't have kids didn't have kids at the time so we were able to make a shift relatively quickly. It really was just a matter of finding the right deal, finding a good fit for us.

That is the case a lot of times, especially when you're buying used to kind of got to be able to jump on the deal as you find it.

My husband, thankfully, he knows a lot about motorhomes and found a really great one for us and we within a couple of months, bought it pared down, moved in, did that life.

Elle Martinez: That sounds exciting, but I want to take a step back cause I know you definitely saved money. A lot of times when we were doing financial goals and family decisions, there's a little bit of melding and the layers kind of get tangled up.

So were you trying to simplify and saw that this was one way you could do it and save money to use, to pay down the debt? Or were you thinking, we got to pay down the debt. Let's look at these big expenses. What can we change? How did that work out?

Jillian Sirianni: That's a great question. For us, it was definitely looking at the numbers, not only paying down debt, but at the time I was in a place in my career and educational goals where I was seeing an opening to go and earn my master's degree.

When we looked at the numbers and our earnings it just didn't line up, and we said, ‘we've got to find somewhere'. That's one of the things that caused us to look at well, what are our biggest expenses? We lived pretty simply before that. I don't know if I would have described myself as a minimalist at the time, but simply, frugally, absolutely.

In that slow going process of paying down debt on very small incomes. We saw as an opportunity to really cut back on a major expense living expenses due for most people represented usually about 30% of our incomes and so if we could slash that, what an amazing opportunity.

So a lot of people, when they saw us do that, their first question was, well, where are you traveling to? And that wasn't the case. That wasn't the goal.

We did do some traveling, but for us, it was living within our means. We wanted to be able to afford our housing and be able to pay down debt and save and potentially earn my master's degree, which by the way I did do as a result of that motor home.

I know it's such a celebration, but that was the reason and that was the, as you said, Elle thinking outside the box, then that we thought, oh, well, we're already just renting and it's very inexpensive rent, but we found a way to slash that even for.

Look for Big Wins in Your Budget

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. You bring up a good point. It's like, what's our circumstances at that time?

Every family is different where they are in their season of life, but I really appreciate that you were willing to look at all of the expenses.

I talk about this on the podcast a lot. I said, yes, you know, it's good to save $5, $10 here and build some good habits, but to have some huge wins, like. Housing, big expense transportation, if they have a car payment and food, like those are the three biggies. If you could get those under control or somehow optimize that, not that you can coast with everything, but it's so much easier.

So kudos on just putting that and keeping that on the table to discuss, even if you didn't decide to go that route.

Jillian Sirianni: Yeah and as you mentioned too Elle fun, like cool, to be able to have this experience and be able to see the actual big win and our finances as a result of this decision, but also learning along the way and things that we're able to implement as a result. We had a lot of other even non-traditional living experiences even from there.

I will say at this point it might come up later, but own and live in a home. It's a small home, but this wasn't for eternity and I think that that's a big misnomer about tiny living that it has to be for forever, or this is a lifetime decision now.

I think even not having a limiting belief in that regard, that I could just do this temporarily to get at a financial goal and then make changes from there based on life situation and my desires that next juncture in the road.

Elle Martinez: Absolutely. You mentioned you had to pair down. Yeah. So first of all, how big are we talking about this, RV, this motor home space was and how much pairing down did you have to?

Jillian Sirianni: So we went from an apartment that was probably about 1200 square feet so not massive, but two bedrooms, big living space, full kitchen, everything you would imagine there to about 800 square feet in that first motor home that we lived in. So relatively big, it had slide outs and. Yeah, it was a good size motor home, I would say, but it was quite the process.

Thankfully, I had moved a lot of times before that, so I became pretty good at understanding what that's going to take, but I, I definitely made throughout our transition time of what am I donating? What am I selling? And what am I taking? And actually there's a fourth category of storage.

We did end up taking out a small part of my parents' attic to put some things that we imagined we might need eventually this may not be an eternal life decision that we live in 800 square feet so let's put some things aside, so we don't have to rebuy them years down the road.

So those four different categories found their homes in four different locations throughout the house. And it really was quite an exercise of identifying and really paying attention to my lifestyle throughout those couple of weeks of what am I using most often? What might be necessary and what's not what is not going to be able to fit? And isn't going to actually have value or benefit to my life in a tinier situation.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I know sometimes that can be difficult. Like this past year, my mom moved, she's getting closer to retirement. She wants to be with the grand babies so she's rightsizing her house.

She had a nice space, but now she realizes she still wants to have people over. But she had to kind of do that inventory of like the stuff that she had. How often does she use it? Does she want to keep it? Does she want to give it to her friends? Sell it? Like you mentioned, temporarily she stored it just until she knew for sure that this was something she wanted to keep or not. It is the process.

You mentioned your motorhome was used. So be honest with you, was it moving ready or did you guys have to update that or did you do any customizing?

Jillian Sirianni: It was move in ready, quote unquote, but dated. So my husband and I in a previous. I would say life we've been married almost 10 years now, and we've had different side hustles together throughout our marriage. One of which was home renovations.

So we actually had a small business doing renovations for people. It's something we enjoy doing. It's a fun thing for us to do together so we did do quite the overhaul of this motor home. Did our own renovations.

It wasn't necessary, but we wanted to make that little space beautiful and our own so we certainly did our own renovations.

I mean, I'll be Frank about numbers. We were able to purchase it for $18,000 and we put a couple thousand dollars into it and ended up selling it at a profit. We made about $12,000. Yeah. Yup. Great. And that's how we were able to cash flow. My master's degree was through the sale of that motor home then eventually. So it did, it did. I mean, we –

Elle Martinez: get a home for 18,000 now.

Jillian Sirianni: We were able to say we own our home. Just within our means. And at the time, I mean, I'm a social worker, so you can imagine what my salary has been that, but

Elle Martinez: I do love that because it allow you to pursue a career that's meaningful for you, you know? And you do it on your terms.

You lived in another motor home and you tried some other, can you tell me a little bit of those adventures and how that went?

Jillian Sirianni: Sure. I'll take you a little bit on the quick snapshot of the journey. It was the larger motor home and then we moved into and house sat in a log cabin.

So a couple who was nearing retirement, but final years of work and they needed to. I go work in England, but yet they didn't want to sell their home or rented. They just wanted it taken care of. And so us moving into that log cabin allowed us to sell the motor home, but still live rent, free cash master's degree.

Yes. Amazing. From there, we moved in with my grandmother who has dementia and wanting to prolong her ability to be in her own residence for as long as possible. So we then moved in with her. Of course, that was rent-free, but we cared for her. So there was a lot of exchange there yeah. In the caretaking role.

And then from there we bought and lived in a trailer. So the pull behind, not the vehicle version, but a pull-behind trailer. That was the biggest downsize at 170 square feet.

It was so good though. And then sold that and the sale of that was our down payment on our current home.

We are now homeowners and live in St. Petersburg, Florida, but that was the kind of non-traditional living situation that we were in for about four years .

Elle Martinez: Yeah, that's fantastic. If you don't mind me asking, how did you learn about that house sitting? Was that like a friend of a friend or in your network?

Jillian Sirianni: It was within our network. Yes. So it was a friend who knew that we were the type of people who might be open to something like that. Flexible and able to live in someone else's home.

I will say that's not for the faint of heart. And I did learn a lot through that, both in living in the log cabin, as well as with my grandmother, what it is to live in a space where you don't have any of your own things. Right. And I didn't have my own towels. My own dish were my own home goods, but am I able to be content and live in an instant.

Where nothing of it is mine, but I'm able to still make a home there and be content. And my goodness did that teach me so many things that I've now carried over into my own home.

But that, that was through friends or friends however, anyone interested in it absolutely is available to people. There are websites that help connect those who are looking for house sitters with how cities, many people find themselves in those situations where they don't want to rent it.

They don't want to sell their home. They just want it taken care of. So, it's, it's not only for those who have connections.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, but I think it also goes to show that when you take those first steps, your network knows oh, they're willing to try something different.

I think most people their loved ones want to help them out so communicate your goals. Like, Hey, we're trying to tackle debt or, Hey, we're doing this being up you know about your goals.

You never know what opportunities can pop up. Cause I think that's something we overlook or we think loud. I don't want to talk about like, you know, I'm cutting back because I'm, you know, trying to pay off this debt or I'm trying to save up for a house down payment, but if you put it out there, a lot of people will support it.

Jillian Sirianni: It can feel daunting, but I think it's such a good tip Elle to, in anything, right? Whether we're looking for work or we're trying to reach financial goals, or we need a housing situation, I think exploring our own community and telling people that I think sometimes it can feel uncomfortable and maybe even taboo for whatever reason.

But man, do I admire my friends who send me their resumes and say, Hey, I have no expectation here, but if you hear of anything, let me know. So many times it has worked out that, okay. Maybe not in the immediate moment, but now I know so-and-so is looking for something and, and I can help out in that way. So utilizing our own community, I think that's great. Absolutely agree.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I know for us, it was that stage where we were saving up for a house and we just put it out there. We love to eat that's our socializing, but we needed to save money and it actually was so beneficial. We didn't realize that that time we had friends who were already homeowners and they're like, let's do some potluck.

Let's get out of that rut of going out and meeting somewhere and let's go to each other's places and they realized like, you know, we could save some money. This is always good. Uh, upped our kitchen game with cooking years later. You don't know until you put it out there.

Everyone has a talent and I think most people want to share, you know, if I can help them out, I'll help them out. If there's an opportunity that they think that could, help me, they do that. But if you keep it to yourself, if you're not sharing your, your goals or what you're looking towards, it's hard for people to, you know pitch in.

Jillian Sirianni: It's an untapped form of wealth and capital. If I can even put it that way of when we might find ourselves limited and finances, well, what else do we have available to us?

Who's in our community. How can we utilize friendships with reciprocity? I'm not just saying. Take advantage of, but you might find that others are in a similar place and there's so much that can be gained through relationship and given, and we all desire that that reciprocity and relationship that we don't have to.

I know I described myself as, you know, Poor by some standards, when we moved into our motor home, but also rich and wealthy by others because we did have an amazing community of friends and family. And so I think recognizing that there is more to it than just what's in the bank account.

Elle Martinez: Yes. And I think a lot of people want to share their talents too. Like you mentioned, think outside, that box of only helping financially, maybe there's a talent or something we could swap with each other where it's mutually beneficial.

If someone's listening and they're thinking, you know what, I'm not sure if I want to do the motorhome thing, but I love this idea of trying something different.

Even if it's temporarily, like you mentioned, what are some life lessons or tips you would suggest?

Jillian Sirianni: Absolutely. And again, there's freedom in this not one person's journey needs to be everybody's journey, but I think we don't talk enough about the intersection of our finances with minimalism simple living.

Uh, eco sustainability. And I think that is something that I did learn more about through my non traditional tiny living experiences that I think can be passed on without actually doing something drastic. And so I think even the message of what can we scale back on? Where can we simplify even where in our current lives with how.

Now looks, where can we declutter and free up mental space and energy within our homes? Where can we cut back on some of the mindless spending? I know for me, that prior to moving into tiny living, I love thrift store shopping and yard. I still do like that, but I will say I did it almost as a hobby or weekend activity.

Whereas when I moved into a tiny home, it's like I can't just bring in things, even if it's inexpensive things, I don't have space for it. I think just being more intentional and mindful about what we're spending money on, even if it's inexpensive, even if you have room for it, Do you need it?

Does it serve a purpose? Is it going to help you towards a financial goal? So I think some of these learnings we can implement, even if our current circumstances aren't forcing us to live super small. I also think that just aiming more at that values-based spending, really identifying what's important to us.

Where are our values? How can we make sure that our spending and saving aligns with our values? And where it doesn't the freedom and permission to get rid of that thing. That I don't have to do that even if other people are doing it, people think I should be doing it. I think I should be spending on it.

If I don't actually enjoy it or value. Yeah, there's there's room to adjust our lifestyles. Again, not needing to do something incredibly drastic. And I just think intentional living, we w there are components of what I walked through that I think anybody could implement to varying degrees somewhere along that spectrum.

I think at the end of the day, also looking at what we deem fixed expenses. I think sometimes we just blow past rent, transportation bills, mortgage, you name it because that's fixed. Those are the bills. Now what else? Let me cut coffee. Okay, great. But like you said, L that's not gonna help us long-term cut debt. Really have those big wins that we want to have.

Thinking outside the box, looking at those fixed expenses again, doesn't mean you've got to move into a motor home, but where might there be room? Maybe we're stuck in a mortgage that is super massive. It doesn't align with our values anymore. Kids are out of the house.

I love the term you used for your mom sizing for her current lifestyle. Maybe. Super important. So you don't need a large house anymore and downsizing or whatever capacity that that means. Or maybe you no longer need two vehicles and one vehicle will do it for you. Or maybe we could flip the whole thing all together and you've got room to host people on your property.

You could be the place where other park their motor home or tiny house, or you've got something to rent out on your property and thereby gain community, but also earn more money. So I think, again, we think outside the box on these massive things, and we might find room for ourselves. I think just people often myself included.

We need permission to do that. We need somebody to kind of. AHRQ the fire to think, well, what is available to me with the resources that I currently have?

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. I love this and I am totally in agreement about value based spending. I know initially it's hard because you do, especially if you've dealing with these bills, you feel like they are all fixed in a way, like you're stuck with us.

But I think like that first step is, can you define the one or two, the few priorities that absolutely. You will never cut from your budget because they bring you that much joy or, you know, you would be miserable without it.

It took us a little bit of time, we did like little money challenges to figure out like, oh, okay. I definitely want to have this in my life or yeah, I really didn't care. But for you, I'm curious, kind of like to wrap things up, like if you had to summarize your must do's or your priorities, that absolutely your budget will support, what would you say those are?

Jillian Sirianni: Yeah. At this point in time and I think that there's room for that to change as life seasons change, but I've narrowed down that I think some of my highest values and priorities are community and our relationships, generosity and beauty.

I think most of what I spend on most, if not all, could be correlated to those top three values and priorities. And so again, what that means for me might shift but at this point it does include food. I am with you on that one.

I that doesn't always need to mean going out to eat, but sometimes it does definitely supplying food to other people. Hosting is the generosity and community piece.

We have a lot of people in our home and staying with us and, and the beauty piece is traveling. Right now for me, I really well COVID really did a number on me with

So thankfully I then moved to a place that I find beautiful and I live near the water. Right now, So means is renovating our home and making it a space that we find beautiful. And so those things I'm okay with spending on and we'll make room to spend on within reason. Of course, we've all got to look at our income and what we can afford and what makes sense for us, but that's where my money is going currently. And I'm thrilled for it.

Elle Martinez: That's exciting. That is fantastic. Now I know. Just scratched the surface because I feel like you have a ton of good stories. So if anyone's listening and they want to, learn more about you and those adventures and lessons learned, how can they do that?

Jillian Sirianni: Oh, you're so kind out Elle I have a podcast with my good friend and cohost Jen, the frugal friends. So you can listen to that anywhere you find podcasts. And also just our website for FrugalFriends

We've got all kinds of fun stuff going on. You can learn about it there and find our episode archive. I know you Al said you might link some episodes specifically about tiny living, but we did do a couple of spots on that.

Elle Martinez: I hope, and I feel like this will inspire families to, find what creative path makes sense for them at this stage of life to tackle those family and financial goals, because it should feel like an adventure.

I don't want anyone listening saying, I have to pay off debt in three years and I'm going to be miserable. No, you can have fun and take care of those financial goals. Thank you so much, Jillian. I'm so glad you came by.

Jillian Sirianni: Thanks Elle for having me. I love the message of freedom you're spreading. Thank you.

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Music and Photo Credits

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

Helping families with kids find the right path and pace to financial independence that fits them

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