Got a short, fun little episode for you this week–we discuss my favorite Money Hacks from all six of the Young Scrappy Money Academy courses!
Click here to learn more
Resources from this episode:
- firstname.lastname@example.org, my email address where you should send me your side hustle ideas and experiences for a future episode!
- Jesse G, my editor, and Caitlin Z., my typesetter, who did amazing work on the new Investing course. If you ever need audio/video editing or typesetting/design work, give them all your love and money
- Assessing Your Financial Situation and Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals, our course on net worth, goal setting, and more
- Mastering Your Money Mindset, our course on getting right with the emotional aspects of your finances
- Budgeting for People Who Hate Budgeting, our course on building a budget you’ll actually stick to–without all that pesky tracking!
- Crushing Your Credit Score, our course on knowing and growing your personal credit
- Michelle’s favorite debt calculator, the Vertex42 debt spreadsheet, in case you have some financial “cleanup” work to do
- Demolishing Your Debt, our course on how to get organized and pay down debt
- Unlocking the Power of Investing, our newest course on how to make informed investment decisions
- The Young Scrappy Money Academy Digital Subscription Service
- Young + Scrappy, home to Michelle’s work as a financial advisor and financial coach
INTRO: [00:00:00] Hello. And welcome to the Young Scrappy Money podcast. I’m your host, Michelle Waymire. And each week, I’ll be bringing you tips and tricks to help you take control of your finances as well as interviews with people who made big financial changes in their own lives. So join us. And we’ll help you get your financial s**t together.
MICHELLE: Hello, everybody. Welcome, welcome to a new episode of the Young Scrappy Money podcast. I am pumped, as per usual, as is my way. I do get so very excited talking about personal finance with y’all. This is the way of the world and why I do this podcast.
I’m particularly excited about this episode because today we’re talking all about hacks. So I think when we think of personal finance progress, when we think of our relationship to our finances, we tend to see it as this all-or-nothing approach. We think that in order to really knock it out of the park, we have to take every single aspect of our finances and really turn it on its head— that we need to give ourselves a total overhaul in order to feel like we’ve really accomplished something. Today, I wanna make the argument that that should not be the case— that, in fact, if you’re making small, incremental changes, little bitty baby steps, that that progress is super useful to you in the long run.
Before we get into some of the content, I also wanna give you a couple of life updates that I think are really exciting. The weird thing about posting podcast episodes is that oftentimes I do record a lot of these in advance. So I will say that I’m recording this episode on Wednesday, July 17. It probably won’t go live until August. But if everything is correct, if all the stars align, I will be a homeowner by the time you are listening to this. That’s right, folks.
The homeowning dream is chugging along in progress. We close a week from today, which means hopefully by the time this is posted, if everything went according to plan, if everything went smoothly, the homeowning has happened— the homeownening, as it were. So pretty excited about that. It means that I’ll be shifting around some of my savings goals, shifting around my budget. I’ll definitely keep y’all posted on that.
The other thing that I wanna make a callout for real quick now, I want to do an episode on side hustles. I think that this is a great topic. I don’t know of a ton that I personally can try. So I’ll ask you if you have a good side hustle that you wanna hear about in my future episode, please, please, please send us an email at email@example.com. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
And I might feature your side hustle idea in my podcast. I’m gonna try a couple myself. And I’ll give you those reviews. But the more I can get, the better. So thanks for that. Super appreciate your help in advance.
Let’s get back to the topic of hacks. Because like I said, the idea behind a hack is that you’re sort of taking one little bitty piece of your financial situation and making a little bit of a change. You’re not trying to knock it all out at once.
I think this is a little bit hard for me personally to wrap my head around. We all know that I’m a little bit neurotic, a little bit type A. So for me, hacks are a little bit foreign. But I’m trying to get myself to a better mindset place to know that I don’t have to tackle everything at once. And I’ve found that leaning into a couple of financial hacks is gonna let me do this.
In order to structure this podcast episode, I also want to give you my favorite hack from each of the Young Scrappy Money Academy courses. Another super exciting thing that’s happened, the investing course is now live online. It was a labor of love. Seriously, 90 pages of workbooks, three dozen videos, I mean, this thing took forever to film.
Bless his heart. The guy who also does my podcast editing— shoutout to Jesse right now— he had to schlep his way through hours and hours of my investing videos in order to make that course happen. Had a lot of help on the typesetting side from Caitlin, who is a rock star. Of course, this was backed by Kickstarter. So if you’re listening, and you donated, if you— if you helped back that project, I’m so exceptionally grateful to you.
But you’ll notice that, as we’re talking about the Young Scrappy Money Academy, I’ve actually shifted slightly the way that I’m offering these courses. It used to be that the only way you could get them was to pay the membership fee, and you’d get access to everything. I’ve now started having each course be separately purchasable.
[00:04:57] So if you buy the course, you get it for your entire lifetime. Any updates that get made to the course get included. And so, as a sort of simultaneous two birds, one stone situation, I wanna both share with you some of my favorite money hacks and give you just the most absolute shameless plug for the Young Scrappy Money Academy courses.
So let’s dive in. Course number one is all about setting smart financial goals and understanding your net worth. So this is perfect for anybody who isn’t really sure what they’re trying to accomplish financially or if you’re looking for a really good litmus test to figure out whether your goals are actually happening over time.
And my favorite hack from this course is to give your savings goals separate savings accounts. Give your savings goals separate savings accounts. We often like to have just one savings account. We think this is a simple way to do things. You log on. Your bank app is so streamlined and so organized, only one savings block to look at.
The problem with this approach is that I don’t know about you, but if I open my savings account, and I see a bunch of money in there, and it’s not labeled, and I don’t know technically what it’s for, boy howdy, my brain can justify anything as an emergency. I get a sweet email from Scott’s Cheap Flights about roundtrip tickets to Berlin. And I am thinking, you know what? It’s kind of an emergency that I’m not in Berlin right now. Better dip into my savings account.
Putting all of my goals into separate accounts, however, really helps me stay laser-focused on what it is that I wanna accomplish, how I wanna get there, and what my progress looks like. So now I have separate savings accounts for multiple things in my life— for that trip to Berlin, for holiday presents coming up, for taxes for the upcoming tax season, for emergency stuff that happens to my car. You name it; I’ve got a savings account for it.
And it’s so useful. Because, again, when I get that email or I get a sweet, uh, online coupon for something that I wanna shop for, I can’t justify that as an emergency anymore. When I look at my buckets of spending, if there’s no clear place where it comes from, then I don’t really get to buy it. Or at the very least, if I ultimately decide, hey, heads up, that trip to Berlin is an emergency, and I gots to go, I gots to get my buns on a plane, at least I’m making a really informed decision to say, I am shifting money away from this other goal that I care about towards some other thing.
It just gives you a lot of control over where your money goes and how you spend it. So that’s hack number one for you. Give your goals a separate savings account. If you’re interested in checking out the Young Scrappy Money Academy course on goals and assessing your net worth, you can do so by going to goals.youngscrappymoney.com. Again, that’s goals.youngscrappymoney.com to read more about that course.
The second course we offer is all about money mindset work, so really getting right with the things that have happened in your past, understanding your money story, figuring out what thoughts and feelings aren’t serving you anymore, and helping you get to a better place. My favorite hack from this particular course is really digging in and figuring out your why when it comes to your finances. Let’s say you’ve decided you wanna make a financial change. Let’s say you’ve decided you wanna make more money. Let’s say you’ve decided to pay down your debt faster.
Why is it that you really wanna do those things? Why is that goal so very important to you? When it comes down to it, we as humans have a limited amount of emotional energy. We get tired easily. We run out of time. Our schedules are very busy. This is who we are.
But if you can really understand why it is that something is so important to you, why it is that you’re looking to make a change or take action, being really, really connected to that why actually can help you motivate yourself over a longer period of time. There’s gonna be times when it gets hard. There’s gonna be times when you wanna take your extra payment towards debt and go down to your favorite restaurant and eat charcuterie instead.
Not talking from personal experience here. I’m just saying, hypothetically, that might be a thing that you’re tempted to do. Just kidding. It’s me. I’m always tempted to go eat charcuterie. So if you figure out your why, and you’re really, really connected to it, and you kind of keep your eye on it, it’s gonna make so much of that other behavior change activity easier.
You’ll have such a connection to why you wanna achieve what you wanna achieve. It’ll be easier to stick to things when times get tough. If you are struggling with your money mindset, and you want to check out that course, you can do so at moneymindset.youngscrappymoney.com. So that’s moneymindset.youngscrappymoney.com.
[00:10:03] The third course that I wanna offer to you is our course on budgeting. And I’ve talked a lot about budgeting on this podcast in various dribs and drabs. But this is really the course where I get in and teach you everything that I do with my own money in order to keep myself accountable, stick to my goals, stick to my spending accounts, and do it all in such a way that I don’t even have to track receipts or put everything in a big ol’ spreadsheet.
So my favorite hack from budgeting that I will share with you is to give yourself a spending allowance. I think this has also come up in a couple of other episodes. But I wanna reiterate it. Because, y’all, this s**t is good. Give yourself a spending allowance.
I like to have my spending allowance so that it’s not just focused on purely discretionary things. It’s not just for coffee dates and bar tabs. It’s actually also for some of the things that I tend to overspend on and that I justify them as needs. So for example, grocery shopping, that’s my biggest vice. I do love the good food.
And so when I go to Kroger, I can really, really do some damage to my debit card. I treat that as a spending item. All of my groceries come out of my weekly allowance. Because if I decide to overspend on groceries, that’s actually less money that’s going back into all of my shopping and fun stuff.
I also put things like gas in my car in that bucket as well. I drive to and from work. And that’s great. But I can actually work from home, and that saves me gas. I can choose not to drive across town to see people. I can choose to not go on many road trips. I actually have quite a bit of control over how much gas I spend my money on.
So for me, wrapping groceries, gas, shopping, dining out, fun stuff all into one weekly budget really helps me manage my day-to-day spending in a way that I never thought was possible. And my bonus hack for you, get yourself a separate checking account for all of that spending, for that allowance. And that way, you know if you’ve given yourself 200 bucks a week, it’s a lot easier to track because you can open up that separate checking account. You see you’ve got $37 left to get you through the next two days. That certainly changes your decisionmaking calculus for important life questions like, should I order pizza?
So that’s our budgeting course. You can find out more at budgeting.youngscrappymoney.com. Again, that’s budgeting.youngscrappymoney.com.
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MICHELLE: Hopefully, by this point, you’re sort of realizing that a hack is a small little tidbit, just a juicy little nugget for you to take home and implement in your finances. But we got three more. The next hack, the fourth one, comes from our credit scores course.
So if you’re in a situation where you’re either looking to build credit for the very first time, or you’re looking to potentially repair credits— maybe you’ve made some mistakes, done some things in the past with your credit cards that you’re not proud of. Our credit scores class is gonna help you kind of address those issues, raise your credit score. And hopefully, you’ll be eligible for much better interest rates on things like large purchases.
My favorite credit hack is to get your utilization under 30%. This one’s gonna take a little bit of unpacking, so bear with me. One of the biggest components of your credit score is what’s called credit utilization. This largely applies to things like credit cards, where you have a credit limit, and then you spend money on that card such that it shows up against that credit limit.
For example, if you had a credit limit of $10,000, and you had $3,000 on that card, your credit utilization would be 30%. My hack for you— and this is not so much maybe a hack as a long-term goal for some of us who have a little bit more credit card debt than we would like. Getting your utilization under 30% is a great way to improve your credit score. And this goes across all cards.
So your score will generally take into account your average utilization, which is super good. But it will also take into account the utilization on all those individual cards. This is useful because if you have a card, for example, that has a $100 limit, and you have $90 on it, that’s gonna show up as a major tick mark— even if it’s only 90 bucks, and you could in theory maybe just pay it off today.
[00:15:02] So be very careful with your credit utilization. This is a useful litmus test, a useful metric to look at as you’re sort of evaluating what sort of credit card debt you’re carrying. One thing that I’ll show you, again kind of a bonus hack here, a little bit of a— of a corollary, so to speak, if you wanna get nerdy on it, to the utilization hack, if you think about utilization, it’s a fraction. It’s a ratio. It’s actually looking at not just how much money you’ve spent, but also what your limit is.
In a world where it’s not necessarily easy for you to spend down the card or to pay down the card quickly, know that asking for a higher credit limit can sometimes also improve your credit score. So you can call the credit card companies, and you can ask them for an increase in your credit limit. They might say no. But they might not. Usually, this does not require a separate background check or another hard inquiry because the account is already open.
So this is a quick little way that you can improve your utilization without having to do a ton of work if you’re in decent standing. So that’s hack number four. Get your utilization under 30% either by paying down your cards or by asking for a higher credit limit. If you wanna check out our credit scores course, you can do so at credit.youngscrappymoney.com. That’s credit.youngscrappymoney.com.
Our fifth course is about debt, the dreaded D word, that four-letter word that we do not super love talking about. If you are finding yourself in a place where paying down debt is a huge priority for you, but you have a no idea where to start or how to get your information organized, trust me. We can help you.
The debt portion of our course and the hack that goes along with it is to use the right debt calculator. Many of us are trying to make decisions about what to do with our debt without fully considering all of the information involved. In fact, even when I do budgeting work, I have a separate place on my budget for minimum payments on debt because I’ve found that so few people have any idea the money that leaves their wallet or their bank account every single month to go towards debt.
I’m talking of course about mortgages, car loans, student loans, credit cards, personal loans, consolidation loans, all of the usual suspects that suck our money away. The debt course is really gonna help you analyze that debt. But I’ll give you the pro tip. When it comes to finding a good debt calculator, my very favorite resource is the Vertex42 debt calculator. I’ll definitely make sure to link to this in the show notes. I wish that I had a sponsorship by them because this is like one of my very favorite tools to show to people.
But the Vertex42 debt spreadsheet is an awesome tool for taking your debt and really getting all of the information in one place. There is a place to put who the lender is, what the minimum payment is, what interest you’re paying, all of the usual information that you need to make an informed decision about where your debt’s going, how much is left on each debt. And the debt calculator will actually show you, based on the strategy you choose, how much money you’ll pay on each debt in interest over time, the total combined interest for that particular strategy, and, if you choose a strategy, how is that going to play out? So what payments would you be making for which debts every single month over the life of your entire debt paydown journey?
So getting the right calculator is a hack that I cannot recommend enough when it comes to debt. That’s gonna make your analysis, your decisionmaking process, infinitely easier to have that tool in your tool belt. If you want the full debt course, you can find out more at debt.youngscrappymoney.com.
This brings us to our sixth and final hack. This one is all about investing. Investing is our newest course on the Young Scrappy Money platform. It’s designed to help you make informed investment decisions. Whether you are just trying to understand a little bit better what’s going on in your 401(k), or you’ve got multiple portfolios that you’re really looking to manage more proactively, this course is gonna give you the tools and resources that you need in order to kind of navigate that investment process. I’m really proud of it. That’s why I talk about it a lot.
But my favorite hack when it comes to investing— and again, this is maybe not so much a hack as like a total important for you to know, vital for you to know pro tip— is that investing doesn’t just happen automatically. You actually have to choose investments in order for it to be effective. For example, if you open up a bank account, you choose your bank, you figure out what account type you need, you go in there, and you actually deposit money, that’s all you have to do. That’s how a bank account works. Your process ends there.
[00:20:14] What most people don’t realize is that with investing there are steps beyond that. It’s not enough to choose an investment provider and an account type, and get it open, and put money in there. You actually have to decide what investments you wanna choose. I have seen folks who open up 401(k)s through work, and there’s no default option. Sometimes they have a default option based on your age. And that’s pretty sweet.
But sometimes people don’t know that they have to make investment selections in their 401(k). And so they’re putting all of this money in. They’re putting all this work towards retirement. And they have no idea that it’s basically just sitting in cash.
I’ve also seen the same thing happen with IRAs or individual retirement accounts. People might take an old 401(k) from an old job, put it into an IRA, and then stop there. They’re like, I’ve navigated the paperwork process. The money’s clearly in place. It’s in the account, already deposited.
They don’t know that they have to go in then and actually say, what do I wanna do with this cash in the account? So I have seen on multiple occasions people who have come to me asking, why aren’t my investments growing? And my response is, because you’re not technically invested. You just have cash.
So make sure that as you are looking at your retirement accounts, if you’ve got them through your work, or if you’re handling that stuff on your own, that you go back and look periodically and make sure that everything is still working as it should. Make sure that you’ve selected investments for your 401(k). If you’ve got an IRA or a rollover IRA or an inherited IRA, whatever your situation is, go back there to take a look and make sure that you are choosing things to put in that account.
If you have questions on how to choose those things, that is a whole nother episode. That is quite a— quite a dense topic to get through. But our Young Scrappy Money investing course can help you with that. And you can find out more about that at investing.youngscrappymoney.com.
So that’s it, folks. Those are the hacks. Um, those are the shameless plugs to the Young Scrappy Money courses. I super appreciate your time. I hope that you found this useful. I hope that you get to at least try one or two of these.
Whatever area in your finances that you’re looking to focus on the most, maybe start there. Implement a couple of little bitty changes. And if it’s something you’re really looking to take to the next level, consider investing in your own financial literacy education with one of our courses.
Beyond that, I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’m wishing you all of the abundance. I’m wishing you all of the good money vibes. And I’m wishing you well.
END CREDITS: I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Young Scrappy Money podcast. If you want to read about my work as a financial advisor and financial coach, you can do so at www.youngandscrappy.com. That’s www.youngandscrappy.com. Thanks again for listening.