Tag Archives: podcast

Quick and Easy Guide to Streamline and Simplify Your Money

Today we’ll see how you can streamline your finances and easily manage your money! 

Simplify Your Finances

With summer unofficially starting this weekend, I can understand if you’re ready to switch gears and go into vacation mode. However, if you’re willing to set aside an afternoon or evening, you can streamline your finances to have much more time to relax and focus on the big picture. 

How?

Last week Bob and Linda shared a framework that I think could be incredibly helpful for busy families. This week I want to break things down so you can go through your finances fairly quickly and arrange things to make it easier to manage for the rest of the year. 

I’m also happy to have Gaurav Sharma co-founder and CEO of Capitalize, here to explain how you can have your old 401(k)s work for you. 

In this episode, we’ll dive into:

  • An easy and effective way to manage your money
  • Tools that can help you 
  • How to get the most out of your investments

Hope you enjoy!

Resources for Families Interested in Simplifying Their Finances

If you're looking to get ahead with your finances as a family, here are some resources to check out!

Don't forget we have the free course 5 Days to $5K. It's a week-long email course designed to help you find, save, and earn extra cash so you can reach your family and financial goals 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.

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

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

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

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

Simple Money, Rich Life: How One Couple Dumped Debt and Became Financially Free

Learn how one couple came together to pay off $400k of debt, become financially free, and give over $1 million!

Simple Money, Rich Life

Let’s start off with some good news: You don’t need a complicated plan to achieve financial independence or freedom. 

In fact, that’s probably either slowing down your progress or keeping you from even starting.

I’ve seen and personal experiences how a simple plan can be an effective way to keep you moving in the right direction. 

Bob and Linda Lotich are on the show today to explain how. They’re the creators of SeedTime and the authors of Simple Money, Rich Life: Achieve True Financial Freedom and Design a Life of Eternal Impact

Linda and Bob are coming on the podcast to discuss how families can reset things and have a rich life.

I had a chance to read their book and loved how it had s money great takeaways. 

I thought Bob and Linda did a really good job of balancing the head and the heart with this. You have this story of getting out of debt and showing the bits and pieces, but more importantly, those conversations they were having about the purpose behind this journey.

Besides working towards financial freedom, the book also examines doing something meaningful with the money, especially on the giving side. 

In this episode, we get into:

  • how Bob and Linda synced up with their finances and goals
  • tactics and strategies they used and recommend to pursue financial freedom
  • creating an easy to manage financial system that allows them to live debt-free and be generous givers

Hope you enjoy!

Resources for Families Interested in Financial Independence

If you're looking to get ahead with your finances as a family, here are some resources to check out!

Don't forget we have the free course 5 Days to $5K. It's a week-long email course designed to help you find, save, and earn extra cash so you can reach your family and financial goals 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.

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

Syncing Up on Money and More

Elle Martinez: In case you miss Bob on an earlier episode, discussing forming new habits. Here's a quick overview of how he started his financial journey with Linda. Those initial conversations, not only began setting the tone for their money but their marriage.

Bob and Linda: I think we need to start with the shoe box. All right. So we would explain the shoe box. It was kind of our first money conversation. I'm not great at setting up systems or organizing things, right?

Or spreadsheets. I I'm bored by it. I get lost in it. I get distracted easily by shiny objects. My filing system was a, well, it was actually like a file folder that I had in a drawer. That was not meant for filing.

Once that got overloaded and about yay thick, I would start putting things in a shoe box and then that would go in my closet. That was my official filing system.

So we are engaged and it is what it is. I know, but it's helpful because we're not like this anymore and it's valuable people were there. So we were engaged. We're not like this. I'm still like that around so much. So we're engaged and we get to that point where it's like, all right, let's have the money talk.

Where we both kind of like show our cards and reveal what's on the table and, Come and tell her, I was like, all right, I've had a lot of credit card debt, but I'm working to pay it off. I'm making some progress. I got a plan, blah, blah, blah. Then I say, all right, so show me yours. What's going on?

Then she takes a shoe box and just slides it across the table. I'm like, oh, what's this? I pop it open and we'll tell her to test. A lot of credit card on envelopes in there may be some of them on opened. Hadn't been looking at that is why at that point, you're getting calls from debt collectors in your parents' house while you're living there.

It wasn't a great start. So, yeah, so that was her start. I mean.

I was in a similar situation, does about three months ahead where I was living off of a credit card, living off a macaroni and cheese, you know, I had nothing else. And I had just kind of come to my financial head where I was just realizing I was a complete mess.

So we didn't have great beginnings, you know, and we came from middle-class homes and, you know, just buried ourselves in debt and doing silly things but that's where the journey began for us.

Talking About Money (without the Judgement)

Elle Martinez: I can definitely relate. When we had our first chat about money. I also, after we got engaged. It was an eye opener and to be honest, a bit awkward. Part of it is you're coming at it from a perspective of. This way of handling money makes total sense. But your other half is also thinking that.

What's interesting and encouraging from reading Bob and Linda story is how they felt comfortable enough to open up about finances because so many couples who are married or getting married. They have the shame and a lot of guilt and that stops them from really opening up and getting on the same page.

Uh, having a judgment free space where you can go over more than just the numbers. I can be a game changer. And this may be a new thing for one or both of you.

Bob and Linda: I mean, for me, honestly, I didn't grow up in a judgment free zone so it took me a little time. He was not judgmental. He wasn't trying to put shame or guilt on me for the mistakes that I had made in the poor decisions that I had made, but it did take me a while to get that off of me, because that was something that I grew up with.

It was like, well, you just kind of hide all this stuff. If you don't want anybody to know, you just hide it. And I think part of this is just growing in my relationship with the Lord where he doesn't put that on us and he doesn't want us to feel ashamed in front of him.

And Honestly, that was kind of the journey that I went on and I, a big part of it for sure was Bob not trying to put any of that on me.

I think just walking through all of that. I think it really came down to what was already in my heart. I don't know if you've ever heard that analogy. It's like, if a glass is full, here we go. This glass has a chai latte in it. If Bob bumps into it, chai latte is going to come out. If I'm already filled with shame and guilt and, tension around a subject, what's going to come out.

I think is helpful for me growing in this whole thing, because we got into this and again, I'm the spreadsheet guy. I'm the math guy and So I'm looking at the numbers. I'm like, all right, this is right. It's like, this is very black and white, you know?

This is a quantitative thing. It's like, this is right. This is the answer. This is the thing, what you are doing the way you're spending money, whatever, like that's wrong, that's wrong filing system, whatever the thing is.

The thing that I grew to realize that helped me a lot and helped our marriage a lot and I think bring a lot of healthy balanced is that she isn't wrong. And that I'm not necessarily right. This, honestly, this is really funny, but helped me just kind of understand that God creates people differently.

He wires people differently, and everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, and they're oftentimes offsetting and corresponding, with the person you're marrying. I was able to, and I'm really thankful, but I start to get an understanding for some of the value that she brought to the table and how I needed it.

I needed what she brought to the table, instead of just assuming that her way is wrong, my way is right, because I have the numbers, you know. That I think a lot with all of this and with our marriage health when it comes to money.

Yeah and that also gave me confidence to say, I actually do have something to say, I actually have value to add. Instead of, for a long time, I just thought, well, he knows what he's doing and I don't so I'm just going to do whatever he tells me to do.

I started going well, instead of coming out at well, like, wait a second, I'm going to do I want to do it this way? I didn't have to come at it from an anger point of view. I could come at it like, actually, what if we did it this way? Have you ever thought about that? You know, because he was treating me with so much respect in this area.

Simplify Your Money with this Framework

Elle Martinez: I'd love the honesty about the give and take with working with one another respectfully. Because sometimes it is difficult when you have such different approaches. After working on this foundation. Linda and Bob were able to get some real momentum with getting out of debt and building up their finances.

A huge help was systemizing things with what Bob likes to refer to as the straight a approach. Attention. Automate adjust an accountability.

Bob and Linda: One of the things I'm always trying to do with money, and I've been in this world now for over 20 years from banking to financial services to now being a whatever online blogger podcast or all that stuff, just talking about money for so long. I'm always obsessed with trying to simplify things and like trying to pull them out of the complexities and make them digestible and put them in a little package.

That was a big part of what we tried to do in this book. As I was taking this big picture perspective of right. How would I start over now, knowing everything I've known, everything I've learned from these last couple of decades, how would I start over now? How would I talk to myself in my mess and say, all right, this is the simple little path you can follow to get out of that and to get on a firm footing?

So the first one, like you mentioned is paying attention. This is something that I think, for people like you and I, and honestly, probably a lot of people are listening to a financial podcast, probably already do this, but most of the world doesn't.

We have to actually pay attention to what's going on with the money. This is the same thing what'd you hear with nutritionists? Have you ever been a nutritionist and you go talk to them and say, all right, I want you to write down everything you eat every day. Let's do a food journal and see what you're eating, see where the problem spots are and whatever. Simply by writing everything down, you suddenly start eating better.

It's like, you don't even have to try to eat better. You literally just write everything down and because you see clearly what's actually going what what's actually happening. Like, you'd get your behaviors begin to shift and change.

You know this, but it's the same way with money. Like when we actually see what's going on, when we actually are paying attention and some people do write everything down and that's a great exercise. It works well, but, but even simply using a tool like mint or personal capital just to actually be able to look back and say, all right, the last 30 days we've spent this much on groceries, or we spent this much on eating out because so many people, like Starbucks have no idea how much they're actually spending.

Right. So to be able to do that, like, it's just such a headstart for so many people. I don't know how you really succeed with your finances. If you're not paying attention to what's going on. You know what I mean?

Elle Martinez: I think most people will be shocked by certain areas with their budget. Like, you know, there are certain ones where you look at and you go, okay, that makes sense. And then there's always one where you're just completely surprised.

Bob and Linda: Something's wrong. Somebody hacked my

Elle Martinez: that's not right.

Bob and Linda: yeah,

Elle Martinez: It seems small, but just being aware of how your money is being used. Can shift things in a better direction. Another key way to get more control over your finances is by automation.

The Power (and Ease) of Automating Your Money

Bob and Linda: I remember reading probably four or five different books that just talked about automating, saving for retirement, building up savings, emergency fund or giving or whatever the thing is. Okay. Like, I'm like, oh yeah, that's fine. That'll probably help a little bit.

I'll get to that eventually and I just kept on putting it off and, and I don't know why it's like a five minute thing. It takes like no time. But I kept on putting it off, but if I trace back my trajectory like there is a clear inflection point from the day. I decided I'm going to automate this to not because again, so many of us depend on our willpower.

That's the thing that financially successful people like they don't have more willpower than everybody else they just learned to automate. Like, it's just that simple. They automate the things that are most important that they know they need to do. They don't depend on waiting till the end of the month to see if there's enough money to see if they remember if they feel like it, whatever any of those things.

And so automation is such an important key and it's the way to like set it and forget it and make your life easier. So you don't have to think about it. Like it's just a no brainer. This is super important for people like me who want to have it together, but just don't is it's like you just make it so that you don't have to ever think about it again.

You think about it once and then you're done. Yeah. Yeah, cause for me, there's no way I could remember, or it just wouldn't happen for one reason or another. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Automation has always been helpful for us, but in all honesty, These last two years with everything going on. It's been a huge time saver.

During the pandemic, we were taking care of things: switching the kids to remote learning work, had shifted for both of us, and then my mom in the middle of the pandemic wanted to move closer to us. So we had a lot on our plate. What gave us some peace of mind is that we knew that our system was mostly automated.

All we had to do was check in with it once a week, just to make sure everything was paid off.

So you might think of it as a small thing, but it can have a huge impact. It can help you have the space to focus on the more important things instead of stressing over the bills. Again we're trying to go with a effective yet simple plan.

Keeping One Another Accountable

Bob and Linda: That's the thing it's like, so many of these things are just quick and simple. It's a one-time decision that you make that will pay dividends. I mean, literally and figuratively, you know, for years and years to come.

Elle Martinez: I definitely appreciated how Bob and Linda also covered adjusting things. You have to have a flexible financial system. Life happens and you need to be able to change. And switch numbers as needed, or as you were getting more comfortable with your new budget. You might find ways to further optimize.

And then of course, accountability, which is kind of built in when you're married, you're encouraging one another. You have someone you're accountable to.

Now I know sometimes people hear accountability and they think this is another word for the blame game. But Bob and Linda have a different approach with that.

Bob and Linda: I think the thing I would add to that is just again, like I'm always looking to systematize things as much as possible because it's how I roll. With that accountability, it's like yeah, we do have an accountability factor with each of us, but at the same time, like we both need external accountability.

This is where having a budget that actually will hold you accountable is so important because I think, you know, one of the things that we struggled with for so long was we were using budgeting tools. The extent of the accountability was that the number on the screen would turn red and it would let us know.

And it's like, is that really, at least in our case that did not keep us from going over it. Didn't like, it's just, now we're just like, well, we'll fix it next month. We just keep on kicking the can down the road in any way. We just found that wasn't holding us accountable financially. It wasn't giving us a wall to actually bump up against.

So finding that finding tools that actually help you stay accountable are just really, really important.

Staying Balanced with Financial Independence

Elle Martinez: between how they communicated and the system they built, Bob and Linda were hitting some major goals, including financial freedom and independence. Many people get excited about this part.

This idea of, I don't have to work again. I'm free. I can appreciate that, especially if you're not happy with work and how things are handled at your company or in the industry you're in. However with financial independence. There's so much more to that.

One of the things I appreciate about the journey.

Is how it helps you become more aware. It can also nudge you to prioritize your goals and start shifting your habits so that you can reach them. This framework can be a game changer, but as Bob and Linda noted in their book, There's a balance to keep.

You have to be careful that this path to financial independence is not just focused on the numbers and optimizations. I've seen conversations online, hearing from others about how it's all focused on getting to a million dollars or whatever that number is. Or trying to get to this number as fast as possible.

There's no mention of quality of life, maybe shifting your work schedule so you can have more time with the family and no discussion of what you're actually working towards. It's simply getting out of the rat race.

I thought Bob and Linda had some fantastic thoughts about that.

Bob and Linda: A lot of people forget, and I know that I forgot this or never realized it and it's so common sense, but you have to be wary when you have moving goalposts.

Oftentimes with a lot of these financial goals, especially when it's an arbitrary number or whatever. It's like when I have a million dollars in the bank, then I will do X or Y. Then it will be at peace. Then I will be comfortable. Then I will give more whatever the thing is.

Those goalposts it's just always move and so this was one of those things.

Giving has always been a really important part of our journey and just something that has always been done in our heart and how it's been the big motivator for us to actually try to earn more. It's been that. And within that, even though we had that kind of desire, We still have the desire to spend too much money on ourselves and to whatever. Like, so both of those desires are there. They kind of fight against each other.

One of the things that we began doing that has helped this a lot, was we at age 31, we began giving basically giving our age. So we've been given a 31% at age 30, one of an increase in that a 1% every year when we turn we're the same age, you know?

That has been so great for us because it's forced us to grow in the direction that we want to grow. Our giving is automatically growing. Presumably our income will hopefully continue going up as well. And and it just puts us in a position where we're doing the thing kind of automatically, that is most important to us.

We found that to be really, really helpful to kind of handle tension of not getting too hung up on whatever the financial goal is at the moment and keeping first things first, you know what I mean?

Support the Podcast!

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

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

Travel Hacking Your Family Vacations: Discovering Epic Deals

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

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

Ready to Travel Hack an Epic Family Vacation?

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

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

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

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

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

In this episode, we get into:

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

Are you ready?

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Optimize Your Travel Rewards and More

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

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

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

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

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

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

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

Travel Hacking Your Family Vacations: Credit Card Rewards

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

Travel Hacks to Enjoy Your Family Vacation for Less

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this episode we get into:

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

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

Resources to Optimize Your Travel Rewards and More

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

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

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

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

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

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out how and get started today

Travel Hacking Using Credit Card Rewards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Travel Reward Cards Work

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

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

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

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

How to Find the Right Credit Card Rewards for You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Those Credit Card Travel Portals A Good Deal?

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

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

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

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

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

Is the Annual Fee Worth It?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Your Credit Score is Affect When Opening New Reward Cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being Wise with Travel Hacking Using Reward Cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Money Diaries: Pandemic Pivots and Budget Shifts

These past few years have been challenging for many families. Today, we chat with the Stewart-Isaacs about how they've worked to pivot and thrive!

Family Finances During the Pandemic

Everyone I personally know has been impacted these last two years, financial or otherwise. We’ve had to adapt, pivot, or in some cases push through some challenging times. 

If you’ve spent any time in our thriving Families facebook group, you can see we’re supporting one another as we work with what we have and towards our family and financial goals. 

Today I want to highlight the Stewart-Issacs, a local family here in the Triangle area (who during a conversation we had are also Coastal CU members). 

Michael and Shemekka have had some pretty big shifts to deal with since 2020.

They were featured in the NY Times last year in their money diaries series and shared their numbers as they navigated through life changes such as having a baby, job switch, remote learning for their kids, oh and buying a house.

In this episode, we get into:

  • Balancing work from home while having kids doing remote learning 
  • Buying a house in the middle of a pandemic
  • Teaching their kids to be financially savvy and thoughtful

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

Resources to Stay on Top of Your Money

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

Money Diaries: Pandemic Edition

Elle Martinez: I can't believe I'm saying this. This is two years since the pandemic started and I don't know anyone who hasn't been affected in some way, shape or form.

I saw your incredible story in the New York times.

Credit: NY Times

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: Going through that pandemic was an interesting time period. So to have that opportunity to be a part of the I guess New York times version of history in motion represent people who were finding ways to survive in the pandemic was definitely an honor, but it definitely was telling to learn so much.

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: Yeah, absolutely. It really helped us be more accountable in the midst of crisis and to lean into that a whole lot more.

Elle Martinez: I can't even imagine. I've done some news piece but to feel comfortable enough to like share your numbers. Cause I know like finances and family, people are very private about that, but you were very open and something that stuck out to me was the, not just the resilience, but it came across, like you guys were team.

You were really leaning into that with your kids being there for them. Balancing let's see work, you have four kids and remote learning at that time, different ages. You had a new baby job changes, and then the toddler and buying a house.

That is amazing that you guys are coming out stronger. So if you don't mind, can you go through the timeline of like what came first? Because did your baby arrive right before COVID or around then? How did that work?

Pivoting Family, Finances, and Work During the Pandemic

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: Okay, well if we start the timeline right before COVID kind of began to creep across the us, we feel like we were just ahead of it. When things started shutting down, we were still, I was still very much pregnant due in June. And we were being we were in the Capitol having sent it to meetings, in March.

Right, right. They started breaking down. It was like, we have a poster, things were coming, you know, they were being a little bit more careful, a bit. But, but it hadn't hit very strong then. We were in DC shaking hands with senators in the midst of while a pandemic was like, so keeping up and breaking, closing things down alone.

Elle Martinez: Wow.

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: Essentially having a small business, building our consulting firm. I was recently laid off my job because of my department closed. So making the transition felt the momentum of the work supported by Shemekka's consulting firm. Then all of a sudden, the whole world falls apart and we are already looking for a house.

We were already preparing to, you know, family because we knew the new baby was coming in. Then the worst crisis that any of us have ever experienced and we're still experiencing, had started to happen, we had to, as unfortunate word, we, the people say pivot all the time. We had the balance, we had a balance with each other.

I think a lot of what our story reflects is that we saw the need to support one another should make us whole in our family in regards to me transitioned in my income and then being able to come in and support her to keep us supported, even though we're going through the roughest time.

My background is in sales and marketing, and Shemekka just one of the most amazing leaders and coaches. So us kind of building each other up and then analysing the kids. I was calling myself, daddy daycare sometimes had to do just to keep the things moving and we were just fortunate to have each other and the opportunity.

From the different organizations work with, we were just grateful that everyone was being nimble and flexible and we found our opportunities.

Juggling Remote Work with Kids at Home

Elle Martinez: Yeah. That's, that's amazing. You touched on a lot of things, but something I want to go back to and highlight is, the reality is running a business like working period.

That was a big transition for a lot of people. I know my husband works from an office switch to remote. I'm an entrepreneur myself. So I understand like it is a lot to juggle it because you're wearing a lot of different hats and you have four kids remote learning and they each have their own needs.

How did you balance that cause like I kind of shifted, I don't know if you guys did this, like a swing shift. So I do a lot of work early in the morning before they would wake up. And then in the evening, whatever had to get done that day got done. How did you guys handle that?

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: We found whatever corner we could because. The students at four different schools having to participate in those classes, they needed quiet space and I'm doing leadership coaching. I need a quiet space too. So we all gave each other grace, and we knew that in this case balance needed to be fluid.

We needed to be flexible so if it was having a meeting on the stairs in the corner, you get a moment of quiet.

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: We had a son there was work underneath the family table and that was his choice, but he wanted to have his own space on his siblings. So just funny things that we got to see, our kids have to develop new habits to get their work done, to work with their other siblings.

It's not like they're in the same classes of schools say, what was that assignment? We had two middle schoolers, two high schoolers and trying to manage all of their activities, having to tell our son, he could play football, you know, are avid for those types of sports. And it's just, you know, when we're looking at all the things we had to do, I mean, it is a beautiful thing to reflect.

And again, And we're still in the midst of really that first real year of the pandemic. So it, you know, we were even in shell shock to share our finances, to share our habits, but we also knew that we had an opportunity because we are in a space where a lot of times, statistically African Americans always get judged in regards to financing.

We wanted to set an example priority as a family overall. So the pandemic just allow for us to know at worst case scenario, our work together. Planning Shamekka is super scheduling cause I can't tell you, I must admit. We can just do things at the whims, but because she loves the schedule that changed my life and it really helped us in this pandemic is having really strict schedules that we disciplined ourselves to.

We had to create our own daycare kind of system for our son so he could still be educated. The he's four now, and he's still not even in kindergarten yet. We had to create all these unique ways of overcoming these obstacles. And not let our kids feel burdened by it. That was the other part of it as well, too.

We're going through changes. Don't want you all to, you know, feel it and, you know, cause they felt it with the friends, not seeing that, like they wanted to, so it was a lot, but because we have faith and we want another we bought it together. So

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: we encourage them to join him when they. Up to, especially if we were if it was a late day for us. Cause we tried to do it before everyone got up, but if it was a late day and it was in between their classes, they could come over and join us. So we were able to incorporate them in that, to give them their own outlet for their own wellbeing too.

Buying a House During the Pandemic

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I'd love that holistic approach. We were in the same boat too. We have two girls and that was kind of focus was what kind of routine. With everything changing outside, and all these transitions, we wanted to give them a space where they would feel calm, even though, there's all this stuff going on, and then let them express themselves.

You know, they see the news. They're not ignorant. Kids nowadays like they are on top of everything with current events.

But I want to talk about on top of everything, buying a house. I probably don't live too far from, beyond I'm in Raleigh. And I had to help my mom, she moved into the area in the middle of the pandemic and it was crazy house hunting.

For you guys, how did that process go? Since we were going through the pandemic and then we all realized, like we all need kind of our own space in a house. Did that change your house hunt, like what you were looking for?

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: Oh, pre pandemic. We were always looking for space because our family was growing and. We wanted our room at that point space was important for us to be able and then while we're going through the pandemic, having a yard, we now house in the midst of this.

There wasn't like a backyard to let the kids go out and just run that energy out. So in the midst of the pandemic, I think our, one of our first pivots was backing away from the competing and putting money down earnest money and it getting out by someone else and that emotional roller coaster.

Well, that was hard cause we were looking at houses, the kids knew, they were aware of the process. We wanted them to see the process and so we involved them as much as we could.

Then I just had my, this is it, no more denial getting our bids. We're falling in love with too many houses. I was like, let's get out of the competition and let's just build, and that'll remove this competitive nature out in this ugly market, but what was it like for you?

Buying a Home as Entrepreneur

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: Well, I mean, it was tough. We were planning it pre pandemic I had with gainfully employed, we had our businesses going and then the world falls out and you're still looking for a house. And like I said, we were going place to place bidding, really trying to look at options, even outside of the city to kind of see that greater Raleigh areas.

What I've now come to call it. You know, if you think about markets like Atlanta, you know, they'll Atlanta, they call it proper. It's the hub.

People that have kind of built up the outskirts and the growth around. I think for us, we saw that opportunity to say, Hey, we go a little bit further out the city, but enough that it's an easy drive.

We can get something with a greater value. We can really kind of hedge the market a little bit. Use some of these government subsidies possible. And that's just me giving game and information that anybody out there use.

Find out what's out there. There's rural subsidies. There's USDA, there's so many different products that are out there to help people who are looking for a home.

I'm saying that now, because we were fortunate, we got in right before the there was so much. Even our house and honestly our value has increased because the market changed, you know? So that's another thing. Well, home ownership,

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: positive equities. Yeah.

Putting In the Work to Buy an Affordable Home in a Hot Market

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: So it was just right. Because we were already looking and we pushed and we pushed you know, she Mackle may call it or I'll go double down on it.

It's called us, buying a home while black process you know exactly your own challenges from get past.

To talk about our big family. We were former divorce SES who bought our lives together and so we're living what we call our second chance.

We're living our second chance to be able to put our lives together, to love a person that loves you, do everything to make sure our kids have the right setups and that.

Having a house was so vital to us having that foundation as my wife made me realize, because I was hesitant at first.

As a man, you want that, that big dream house and all this stuff, keep working, but was, I know we need something now. It was more, we have a beautiful home, but it was a practical, like we have a lot of kids, things are changing.

I had adapt and really suck up my pride and really say, Hey, we need this and that. She made it really clear to me when she made a concept of, we need a place to address. You living in a townhome, we were even renting a storage unit just to put it in perspective to keep excess products.

Now having a home, we've been able to have all of our stuff in one place. And that feels whole again, after a lot of life changes over the years. Cause we talking about you go back to oh eight financial crisis to this pandemic. A lot of people that hit.

We don't want to go over anyone's head to say, if you even had the chance to rebuild from oh 8 0 9 and then you get in fast forward, less than, you know, 10 years later, you're in the midst of a pandemic. That's traumatic for a lot of people so we just count our blessings that we had each other, and we were able to really put together a solid plan.

I tell anyone out there, if you have a plan work, it don't give up on it. Don't let outsiders tell you it's impossible. Push your loan agents, push your realtors. Push. Push push push. Because if you let up at any point, they'll give up.

If you stay positive and let them know that there's no way you're taking yourself out of the game, there's no way you're going to let a bid stop. You. That's the tenacity. We had to get it done

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: and it feels like a blood through draw away.

I understand why they make it hard. It's not fake. But like Michael was saying that persistence is key. I mean, and we did this buying a home self-employed, which is a whole nother.

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: So this is what I'm saying, all these things and we still had to keep the process going to make sure that they would not try to limit us in what was possible for our family, because we had had to happen.

Elle Martinez: Yeah and you bring up some good points. I've also had friends cause for those that are not familiar with the triangle area, it.

I mean, it is a hot market. It's growing. We had bought our house now it's been six years and two going on three years ago. Like they have a whole new development across the street. If they find like a sliver of land, they put a development in there. Yeah. So the price has shift and jumped, but you do have to all your, you know, programs that are available.

I've had friends, like you mentioned the USDA rural. Cause people think, oh no, it's completely out in the middle of nowhere, but many times it's just over the line so like on the map it says rural, but you're still, within those city limits.

I know first time home buyers, like there's programs out there and like you said, lean into that, your loan officer, lean into your real estate agent whoever's on your team, make sure they're pitching in.

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: Make them your friends. We did everything. I mean, we had a phenomenal realtor.

I mean they would gift us a lot. Just really kept us, even when we weren't getting the bids we wanted, they would still stay with us. He was wonderful gentlemen.

We are very grateful to our friend, Bobby, you know, he knows what he is. But hopefully, like I said, whether it's him or any other great realtors out there, he was an asset to us to really kind of give us the information we needed guided the.

It took us to places where he was able to get other clients approved and really helped them through the process of again, yes, your team is very important. Most times you don't think about that when you're married or kind to buy a home that you still need a team to complete the process and even down to your closing, make sure you have a lawyer involved.

We did ourselves, we have our legal kind of mindsets, but at the same time after reviewing the paper for those who may not be financially savvy or you understand legal terms, Definitely have someone who, you know, that understands those things, you, the paperwork you're signing because they will, you know, closing people.

It was this like, wow, you're charging me fees. So this was the part where we, we hope there wasn't any, we want to call it discrimination more than we would say it was a new normal that people have to get used to that home ownership comes in new complexions and it comes with different ways of lifestyle choices in terms of how you employ yourself and how you pay us.

So I think we had a teach our mortgage professionals lesson in terms of the new world in the NSF, all the people out there, creators all of those people who are having incomes coming in and in conventional ways, no one tells you that that may give you trouble doing conventional things.

So we need to make sure that people are aware of that and through our trials and we were able to kind of capture that opportunity because we literally were doing the interview with the New York times in the middle of the paper. While the kids are in class.

Why would you have to keep and wild? Let me step over here. This lady was writing her first book now and all of that came out at the same time. New York gun. I bought that for you too.

Elle Martinez: I remember that when it came in. And it

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: focuses the winners. I like it so much cause it had the receip

t. It was about, it's funny and locally we'll talk, they'll say keep receipts on things. What I tell people in life, keep your receipts from the grocery store, from the mechanic, from anything you do.

So you can start to pattern yourself and pay attention to the habits that we all collectively have. I think that was the biggest thing about this process. And it's not actually permeated into our work now that we c a greater opportunity for what we learn with New York times and this money diary process.

A lot of the work we do with our organization, our consulting firm, I Am brilliant.

We're helping organizations as well as individuals, families to really figure out not only their financing, but their mental health and other things that are going to be that can be obstacles. So our journey, but we're helping people find a better narrative so that journey ends with them finding things.

Family Finances: Teaching Kids About Money

Elle Martinez: Yeah. We're definitely with the community. We've had these conversations where, there obviously there's the numbers part of it, but there's a lot of habits mindsets that we pick up, whether, , good or bad from our parents either were copying them or running away from that, you know, protecting ourselves.

But until we can at least have those honest conversations about what. We do what we do. It's really hard to, to hit those goals that a lot of families have for themselves.

I do want to talk about habits real quick. Cause I was looking at the numbers. This personal finance, we talk about your savings rate. You guys did really good job with that.

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: I'm saving in this case because we had so many dynamics going on with wanting to have a comfortable down payment. I'm wanting to make sure we had things covered and things didn't want included. We knew we had to come right in.

So for us fixing a yard and having a budget for that was important. You come with the house, but we had to be prepared for that. Also having contingency plans, because we didn't know what was coming down the pipeline. A lot of my speaking engagements and traveling was cut down. So there was a pivot, even in my business model because I wasn't doing on location things.

So readjusting how we were living, how we were saving. Prioritizing that was very important to create and build a stronger cushion with the big milestones we were hitting with the new baby and new home.

Elle Martinez: Yeah but that was amazing. I was looking at the numbers, like that's a great savings rate, but something else I noticed was you guys are giving focus like that is a part of your budget, charitable giving, giving to family.

I wanted to talk a little bit about that as a priority. You mentioned, including your kids with the house hunt, letting them know. What conversations have you had with them like family finances, things like this is why we give, and how much we give because it matters.

Financial Lessons Learned From Parents

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: For me my background is, you know, one, I saw it with my family, myself. My family were immigrants in America, so my mother's from Sierra Leone. My father's from Jamaica. Growing up my principles in terms of. Finance. It was different because everything was about finding that career, finding that great job.

For me, growing up in America, I took a different pivot trying to go after entrepreneurship, which is a no-no, but I started young. That modeling for me and starting young and entrepreneur. It's something. We start with our children. Financially we teach them the bare principles of how to make money.

So we also, we were very cognitive, let them be aware of the bills we pay, you know, as any event like how much it goes out. So we make sure that financially economically are aware.

We also then say, here is our bank account balance, but we do let them know that everything does cost money and the time we're spending to work is it a time we use it to create that income so we can spend money.

We make sure they understand the cause and effect of working creates income and an income gets spent whenever you're doing the normal things. And that in itself, can't be overseeing. To then lose money that you can't do more bigger things.

I think our work affords us the opportunity with our clients that we get to travel. Exposure is very important for our children. We growing up, we both didn't necessarily have that level of travel and exposure.

Our parents did the best they could for us so we took the foundation, our family gave us and we built from that. We're teaching our kids to build from the foundation we're creating that hopefully they can build.

I think that's what everyone ultimately wants as we call it generational legacy wealth to grow. So we learned lessons and the lessons we're learning instead of waiting for our kids to turn 23 or 25 before we teach, we teach them at 13. That way, by the time they're 23, they're able to make sound decisions. We have our kids do a DJ work. We have our kids t-shirts candy.

Teaching Kids About Giving Back to the Community

Shemekka Stewart-Isaacs: I have raised them as a norm in their own giving and how they engage community. My son started at a very early age with miles missions. Miles is their last name and they were writing grants at seven for backpack programs.

They've been doing dance, fundraisers for community centers. They've done men's marches for gender and sexual violence. They were involved with the Sandy hook. They did the animal drive.

We've kept that and made that normal as far as part of their giving and engagement, so that they understand that this is, for us, it's about our faith. Giving gives more room for us to receive.

We did that around their birthdays. Oh, you wants toys for your birthday was time to gift your other ones, someone else. So having that as a practice, Something that's been very important and raising our kids.

Now that they've gotten older, now they want to make their own money. They we've been talking to them about entrepreneurialship. So from DJ into, we have an artist, you know, her artwork.

We have these young kids that they let us know what they like, and we show them business opportunities around it so that they can work in their passion so that they're not working for someone else and not enjoying their life experience with.

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: Yes and we just show by example. So they see us out there. They see us having to hold up the book and say, Hey, buy a book.

Elle Martinez: But they also seen the behind the scenes, which is like the time that you had to put to craft that book and editing. I wrote a book, so I get. It's not an easy process. It really like it pulls from you.

They said they see both sides and I love that the work and the reward with that, I know we just scratched the surface. So if anyone listening or watching this interview wants to learn more about, the work you guys are doing, want to get involved and reach out to you. What's the best way they can.

Michael Stewart-Isaacs: Well, I would say the first beacon for both of our organizations is our website. I am brilliant.org. That will give you a lot of information about our joint effort, which is what we do a lot about mindset development, leadership, development, community development. That's what I am brilliant facilitates.

Support the Podcast!

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

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

In today’s bonus episode, we’re diving into hitting your money goals while still having fun! 

Ready to Stack Some Benjamins in 2022? 

Welcome to this end of year bonus episode! 

As we’re winding down and wrapping things up for 2021, one of the best things we can do is setting things up to make it easier to achieve our family and financial goals.

For us, it’s doing a review of the numbers to see what’s worked and what’s not. We’re also spending time now deciding on what we really want to do in 2022 while of course keeping some flexibility because COVID is still a thing.

A big challenge many families face is creating and sticking with a plan that allows them to pay down their debts, save for priorities, and invest more. 

Today’s episode has something that I think will be a huge help. 

I had the pleasure of chatting with Joe Saul-Sehy of the award winning Stacking Benjamins and personal finance author Emily Guy Birken about their new book, Stacked: Your Serious Guide to Modern Money Management

Which is a mouthful of a title, but I got to tell you, the thing that jumped out at me about the book was how fun it was to read!

Joe and Emily do an incredible job not just explaining key financial points, but they weave it in with game references (Oregon Trail, Tetris, and Monopoly are included in the first few chapters), but they have inside jokes, comics, and more. 

It’s all about making personal finance accessible and well, not boring. 

So if you’re looking for a reset, reboot, whatever you want to call it, I think you'll enjoy our conversation! 

Resources to Build Your Habits and Money

If you're ready to create new habits and systems to make your finances easier, here are some key ones to check out.

Stacked Giveaway

To celebrate having an incredible 2022 and the release of Joe and Emily's book, we're hosting a giveaway!

I'll be doing a random drawing to reimburse 5 listeners who pre-order Stacked as well as give them Amazon gift cards!

Just enter here!

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 members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Support the Podcast!

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

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

Music Credit

Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio.