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She Picks Up Pennies – Know Your Blogger Series

Know Your Blogger Series

She Picks Up Pennies

Check out the blog, She Picks Up Pennies, and learn to live a more purposeful life, one cent at a time.
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, She Picks Up Pennies.
During these weekly features, we are hoping to provide a way for you to interact and learn more about different blogs in the personal finance space.
Below, you can read more about the story behind She Picks Up Pennies, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips from She Picks Up Pennies to help you improve your financial situation.
A big thanks for She Picks Up Pennies for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.

Tell us about She Picks Up Pennies

I started blogging five years ago as a way to work through losing my grandma. She was “my person,” if there is such a thing. She had so little, yet I can’t think of anyone who lived so vibrantly and touched so many lives.
While many people think my blog name – She Picks Up Pennies – is about me, it’s actually named in her honor. It’s not that I don’t pick up pennies. I do! It’s thrilling to me, and she’s the one that taught me to take the time to do it.
My tagline is to live a more purposeful life one cent at a time, and I think even after half a decade, that’s still my purpose. Though my blog is really about chronicling my own journey and holding myself accountable, I hope my message resonates with others, too. My husband and I are both teachers and we are new-ish parents, so I think our journey is pretty relatable.

What makes you and your blog unique?

Perhaps what makes me unique is that I’m not. I think most everyone can look at my blog and see a sliver of themselves. I’m not an expert, and I don’t play one on the Internet.
Whether you earn, invest, or spend more or less than me, I think everyone can relate to awkward money situations, learning from mistakes, and hammering away at goals.

What does “being good with your personal finances” mean to you?

Personal finance is, of course, personal. So I would say that being good with money or being good with personal finance means that we’ve found a way to make our money work for us.
When I first started out adulting, money just burned a hole in my pocket. I can’t count the number of shoes I owned and wore maybe once – but I can tell you it was easily over 100 pairs. The same thing was true with clothes. Shop, add to closet, forget about purchase. After I started to rein myself in, I definitely over-corrected. It was like I was paying some sort of penance. After I got past feeling like I needed to atone for my handbag collection, I moved toward a middle ground.
Fast forward to present day, I’m married and have a toddler. Our money works for us, but we also aren’t afraid to spend on things we need or things that make us happy. I even buy shoes on occasion. I just make sure I swap out a pair and then actually wear them. We are in a place where we are working toward big future goals and still very much enjoying the present.

What are some habits you practice to keep your personal finances in order?

For us, tracking expenses is a lot more significant than budgeting, though we do both. I’m probably the laziest budgeter in all of personal finance. To set up our monthly budget, I simply click the Duplicate option. We have our spending in check and our bills don’t deviate much from month to month, so it works. The most important part to us anyway is actually that we track our expenses and take a look at them at the end of the month.
Another habit that’s worked well for us is that we put extra money toward our Roths at the start of the year. Then, once they’re maxed out, we hammer away hard at our mortgage. The mortgage is more psychologically and emotionally charged for me. So forcing myself to invest in my future is a lot like eating dinner before diving into dessert. I know I would kick myself if we didn’t save while we are still relatively young, so this habit works for us.

What are your three articles people should read to get to know you and your message better on your site?

I’m going to cheat a bit here and say you should check out my blog manifesto and my updated manifesto. They both do a good job explaining the spirit behind my blog and the spirit of my grandma. The latter post is also the most heavily trafficked post I’ve ever written, and it’s full of really cute comments.
I also think I do a pretty good job of being honest, and sometimes that includes some contrarian takes. My post on my new car generates a ton of comments. I also recently wrote about spending your savings, and I think it’s a good reminder (at least for me!) about the purpose of money.

For someone looking to improve their financial situation, what’s your best advice?

Figure out where your money is going and if you really want it going there. But also don’t beat yourself up over it if you realize you haven’t been sending it to the right place. At one point in my money journey, I dumped all of my shoes out on the floor and tried to ballpark how much money I spent on them. Ditto for all my handbags and pieces from Tiffany. It’s all a sunk cost, so there’s no point in dwelling on it too much.
I also think it’s important to set yourself up with as many levers to pull as possible. My husband and I are both teachers, so for years, we had to rely mainly on cutting our expenses and side hustling. Finally, I’ve doubled my salary, and it makes a huge difference. It sounds dramatic, but it’s honestly life-changing to make more money. Just remember to save it!

In your opinion, what’s better? Renting a place or buying a house to live?

Buying a house made the most sense for us. Rent is shockingly high in the Chicago suburbs despite the fact that we live in the Midwest. Plus, we are huge fans of big outdoor space. We’ve never seen anything on the rental market that comes close to our home (or our backyard!), so we are usually quite happy to be homeowners.
I actually bought our house while we were engaged (I know, I know!), but my credit score was so much higher than my now-husband’s–he tanked our interest rate offer. Thanks to a really competitive interest rate and perfect timing, we ended up buying pretty much at the bottom in 2012. It’s not something I think we could necessarily ever recreate, but it’s worked out well for us.

In your opinion, what should you do first? Pay down debt, or invest?

Both! Of course, if you have high-interest debt, I would tackle that first. We are really determined to crush our mortgage ahead of schedule, but I don’t want to do it totally at the expense of time in the market.
One of the biggest points that I think is left out of the conversation regarding time in the market has to do with the fact that very few people invest perfectly from the start. In addition to wanting the most time possible for your money to compound, I think it’s important to work the kinks out as early as possible. That being said, we know that once our mortgage is gone, we will have a much bigger shovel to scoop with.
I think when people give an answer of “both” to things in personal finance, people think of that “Jack of all trades, master of none” saying. But they forget the last part– “but oftentimes better than a master of one.” We don’t want to master our mortgage payoff so well that we forget about retirement and vice versa.

In your opinion, what’s better? Focusing on increasing your income, or focusing on decreasing your expenses?

I’ll answer from my own perspective. Increasing your income can move the needle much faster as long as you’ve trained yourself to not fritter away money (gulp!). However, as a teacher, there’s only so much you can do at the start of your journey. It took me a decade to max out my salary schedule, and I’m probably part of only a small handful of people my age that I work with who are even close to being able to say that. It took A LOT of grad school.
To increase income, both my husband and I did a ton of side hustling. But you run the risk of monetizing all of your free time. So for us at the start, decreasing our expenses (and figuring out what the heck I was even buying!) was the better level to pull, especially at the start.

Do you have any financial mistakes you’d like to share, and how have you grown from these mistakes to improve your personal finances?

I am a financial work in progress, so if there’s a mistake to be made, I’ve probably made it – or I’m currently easing my way out of it! Something that I will likely always struggle with is the amount of gusto that I throw into things. I have an obsessive personality, and that means I have to do everything full throttle. When I was really getting into frugality, butter would melt at the kitchen table. I could give Scrooge a run for his money.
The same is true for side hustling. I tutored for years, and I absolutely adored it. But pretty soon, I was tutoring 5, 6, and 7 days a week, even while pregnant! It’s easy to get carried away with side hustles, or it is for me anyway. Before I knew it, I was tutoring while I was having contractions and sending lesson plans from my iPhone while I was being checked into Labor & Delivery. I wish I was kidding. That was definitely a wake-up call to dial it down and allow myself some free time and rest!

What’s a non-money related interest you have and what do you love about it?

Gardening, practicing my Spanish, baking, reading. After years and years of trying to monetize basically every moment of my free-time, I’m trying hard to cultivate true hobbies. This is, of course, infinitely more complicated now that I’m a mom, but I think it’s really important.
I really like to challenge myself, and I think by trying out different hobbies, I can continue to do that. I also see a lot of overlap between my hobbies and my personal finance journey, especially with gardening. There’s so much effort (and expense!) that happens up front, and once you really get good at it, it’s mostly just waiting. If only I could make my money compound like zucchini!

How You Can Contact She Picks Up Pennies for More Information

You can learn more about She Picks Up Pennies at https://shepicksuppennies.com/, like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shepicksuppennies, and follow them on Twitter at @picksuppennies.

Thank you for reading this interview, and thank you, She Picks Up Pennies, for providing us with some great personal finance tips!

About the Know Your Blogger Series

Each week, Personal Finance Blogs features a personal finance blogger for you to learn more about who is behind the different blogs in the personal finance space.

These interviews also provide different viewpoints and tips for improving your financial situation. Check out a couple other recent interviews below, or see them all of the past blogger features here.

It’s Not Your 9 to 5
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.
Have Your Dollars Make Sense
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.
Join the Personal Finance Blogs Newsletter
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August 26th Features

 

 

 

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August 25th Features

 

 

 

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Sport of Money – Know Your Blogger Series

Know Your Blogger Series

Sport of Money

See how to achieve a healthier financial life at the blog Sport of Money.
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, Sport of Money.
During these weekly features, we are hoping to provide a way for you to interact and learn more about different blogs in the personal finance space.
Below, you can read more about the story behind Sport of Money, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips from Sport of Money to help you improve your financial situation.
A big thanks for Sport of Money for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.

Tell us about Sport of Money

I started my blog in earnest back on January 1, 2019. I originally made an attempt back in 2016 to start a blog. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with the writing schedule. I published a few posts and then stopped writing for it. But now I am back with a focus of producing high quality content in the personal finance space.
Many Americans spend countless hours on their physique by watching what they eat and working out at the gym. They hope to achieve a healthier body. There are also many people who spend time practicing yoga and meditation to have a healthier mind. I don’t think Americans in general spend enough time working on their financial life.
I believe anyone can be wealthy. They might just not know it yet. The mission of the blog is to provide knowledge and guidance to help everyone achieve a healthier financial life.

What makes you and your blog unique?

My own personal experience makes the blog unique.
I grew up in a financially poor household in New York City. My parents worked blue collar jobs just to make ends meet. They worked really hard to provide for me and my siblings.
While we didn’t have money growing up, I had a happy and healthy childhood. This taught me that when it comes to happiness, money is not the end all be all. But I have observed and experienced how hard life can be without money. Ironically, growing up poor actually provided me with benefits which helped me do better later on in life.
I knew early on that I want a better financial life for myself. Through a decade and a half of hard work, dedication, focus, and sacrifices, I hit the 8 figure net worth marker.
I have a passion for personal finance, work in the financial services industry, and know what it is like being poor to accumulating over $10 million in less than 2 decades. This blog captures my mindset, thought process, lessons learned and reflection of my financial journal.

What does “being good with your personal finances” mean to you?

“Being good with your personal finances” means to me that you have control over your personal finances. There are a few things one must have in order to have control:
  1. Fundamental knowledge of key concepts in personal finance – you need to know the basics such as compounding, interest, bonds, stocks, financing options, budgets, assets, liabilities, income, expenses, etc.
  2. Understand your own financial situation – how do you spend money? how much assets do you have? What is your debt load and how much interest are you paying on the debt?
  3. Create a financial plan – where do you want to be net worth wise 5 years from now? How do you increase your income by 2 folds in 3 years? Use a budget to keep track of your expenses.
  4. Monitor and track how you are progressing – are you doing as well as your plan? What are things you can do better?
  5. Reward yourself on achieving financial goals – go splurge on an item or experience for hitting your financial target. Getting rewarded keeps the motivation up and provides excitement to continue along your financial path.

What are some habits you practice to keep your personal finances in order?

I used to maintain a budget religiously to see how much my family and I were spending and how much we were saving. After being in a range for a few years, we are basically dialed in to what our household expenses are. I stopped maintaining an expense budget. But I still keep track of household assets and liabilities to monitor our net worth. I can see if we are growing the net worth at the clip I would like.
I don’t impulse buy. For any major purchases of significant dollar amounts, I plan ahead in order to save up enough money to make the purchases. I think about the cost of the purchase and the timing of when I want to make the purchase. Then I can see how much I need to save each pay period.
Also, don’t panic sell when the equity market takes a dive. If you believe you still want equity exposure in the long run, hold onto your stocks and ride the downturn out. The goal is to buy low and sell high. Don’t do the reverse and sell low in a market downturn.

What are your three articles people should read to get to know you and your message better on your site?

For someone looking to improve their financial situation, what’s your best advice?

Personal finance is personal as the name implies. Everyone is in a different situation.
But if I have to provide some feedback to a broad audience, I think in the short-term – do two things:
  1. Put together a budget and start to track your expenses. Monitor your expenses to get a good handle over your expense items.
  2. Take a look at all your debt. Arrange them from the highest interest rate to lowest. Try to deal with the most expensive debt first. Try to consolidate and refinance to a lower rate when possible. Mortgage rate is a great example. It is so low right now. If you obtained your mortgage more than 2 years ago, you should really shop around for a new mortgage.
Middle-term: Once you have a good handle of your expenses, look to see what you can cut out. Start with a 10% decrease and try it for 2 months. If that works well, then decrease it by another 10% every two months until you find it too challenging. Now you know the limit of where you can be in spending and keep at that level.
Long-term: Increase your revenue by creating multiple revenue streams. Start an online business or build a portfolio of rental properties. Do not rely on one cash flow stream for your livelihood. Make sure to have at least three substantial ones to diversify cash flow source.

In your opinion, what’s better? Renting a place or buying a house to live?

Owning a house is a great wealth generator for many Americans. Because of this, I believe owning a house is the better route for most assuming a time of 7 years or longer.
The key here is not to buy too big of a house. At some point, the house can turn into a big negative if you overspend.
The average new American house has gotten a lot bigger over the past 100 years (over 1,000 square feet bigger) and the personal space has increased over 200%. Based on Zillow, the average personal space is over 900 square feet.
I would suggest capping your house to 600 square feet per person. That means for a family of 3, buy a 1,800 square foot house at most instead of the average size of 2,400 square feet.
This can save you money on the purchase price, maintenance, insurance, real estate tax, and utility costs.

What should you do first? Pay down debt, or invest?

The answer to this question really depends on a few factors. The first factor is the cost of your debt versus the return on your investment.
If I can get a 10% return on my investment with very little risk and I pay only 2% on my debt, then I say lever up. You are clipping an 8% spread on the money borrowed. I would try to borrow as much as possible to invest.
The other factor is risk. In order to obtain the return on investment, how much risk are you bearing? If you believe you are well compensated for the risk, then focus on investing.
For instance, I am a big fan of borrowing as much money as possible to buy real estate investments because of the current low interest rate environment.

What’s better? Focusing on increasing your income, or focusing on decreasing your expenses?

Once again, this isn’t a black and white question.
There is no limit to how much your income can increase but there is a limit to how much your expenses can decrease. That means if you want to be worth $10,000,000 in 10 years, you will never get there by decreasing your expenses from $70,000 to zero. You need to do it on the income side.
But increasing income is the harder route for most people than to decrease expenses. We can all cut down on our expenses. Housing cost is usually the number 1 expense for most Americans. I can just move into a smaller space or into a lower cost neighborhood to save on my housing expense. That’s doable for anyone.
But to create another income stream requires a lot more effort.

If you received a $5,000,000 windfall tomorrow, what would you do with the money?

I already talked about my propensity for real estate. If I receive a $5,000,000 windfall tomorrow, I would use the money to buy a residential building.
I would shoot to buy a $15,000,000 building by borrowing $10,000,000 from a lender given the low cost of financing in today’s low interest rate environment.
I hope to get at least 8% cash on cash return on my investment which amounts to $400,000 a year. With the tax benefits of real estate investment such as depreciation, I might not have to pay any income taxes.
Imagine getting an after-tax amount of $400,000 cash a year from that investment. It can surely pay for a very comfortable life.

Why do you believe learning about money and caring about personal finance is important?

Personal finance is important because it impacts all aspects of your life. One of the most common reasons for divorce is money issues. Think about the impact to a household when a couple gets a divorce. Not only does it impact the financial wellbeing of the couple involved, but divorce can exact a physical and mental toll. What if there are kids involved as well?
Even outside of divorce, constant worries about money can lead to mental stress and physical fatigue. Lack of money can also negatively impact health coverage. Money can also provide for more opportunities for your kids.
I also believe money is an accelerator for personal growth. How does one grow as a person of this world? By traveling the world and experiencing the different cultures, customs, and food. It is hard to travel without money. What about advancing in a hobby? Money is needed for that.
Don’t look at money as the root of evil. Look at money as a needed ingredient for personal growth.

How You Can Contact Sport of Money for More Information

You can learn more about Sport of Money at http://www.sportofmoney.com/.

Thank you for reading this interview, and thank you, Sport of Money, for providing us with some great personal finance tips!

About the Know Your Blogger Series

Each week, Personal Finance Blogs features a personal finance blogger for you to learn more about who is behind the different blogs in the personal finance space.

These interviews also provide different viewpoints and tips for improving your financial situation. Check out a couple other recent interviews below, or see them all of the past blogger features here.

It’s Not Your 9 to 5
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.
Have Your Dollars Make Sense
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.

August 24th Features

 

 

 

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August 21st Features

 

 

 

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August 20th Features

 

 

 

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