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We Want Guac – Know Your Blogger

Know Your Blogger Series

We Want Guac

Whether you’re a newbie or a little advanced at personal finance, the blog We Want Guac has something for you.
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, We Want Guac.
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 We Want Guac, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips from We Want Guac to help you improve your financial situation.
A big thanks for We Want Guac for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.

Tell Us About We Want Guac

I started We Want Guac in January this year, after years of itching to share my own experiences. The name itself comes from getting the “extra” in life without feeling guilty about it or like you can’t afford it – the guac at Chipotle being the premier example.
I focus on showing people in their early 20s how to get started on the climb to wealth; whether you’re debt-free or have loads of loans, whether you’re a newbie or a little advanced, it doesn’t matter. We’re out to get you to understand everything related to finance: budgeting, investing, income growth, adjusted mindsets, and overarching societal impacts are all discussed at length.

What makes you and your blog unique?

There are countless blogs out there that discuss frugality and side hustles, which I do cover as well. But there are very few that discuss the other side of the coin at length: how to tap into high-paying jobs as a young professional. Tons of financial independence writers and early retirees have also had lucrative careers, yet are almost silent on how they got those. It frustrated me at first when I was looking around and yelling “How can I reach those salaries when no one is replying to my applications?” – a frustration most other Millennials know well.
Fast-forward to 2020 and I’ve tripled my pay from my first job out of college; I’ve switched jobs twice and recently got a raise to $93,000+. My financial success is obviously helped by my high income, and I in turn show others how to reach it in the ways I did. Whether that’s temping to get your foot in the door, LinkedIn walkthroughs, or a personal resume makeover, I give specific and actionable advice to actually make a difference in your career. Couple that high income with low expenses (mine hover around $30k a year) and you’ll find yourself set for independence or retirement at a way earlier age.

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

If you want a qualitative answer on whether you’re good with finance, there’s a three-question test you can take created by Dr. Annamaria Lusardi at George Washington University. If you can answer all three questions correctly, you’re already ahead of 70% of the United States.
But being good with personal finance is beyond answering questions on a test. It encompasses having the discipline to stick to a budget and feeling satisfied with your money management. If there’s any part of it that you dislike or want to see improved, you should be able to set up how you’ll reach those goals.
I can also say that having a high income alone doesn’t make you good with finance; if you’re earning a lot yet still can’t manage to save anything or know where all that money went, then you’ve still got quite a bit of work to do. As long as you care enough to get the basics down, you’re golden.

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

Right now much of my habits are on autopilot; human brains love habits, so once you set up the right financial habits – and stick to them! – it becomes second nature to continue benefiting from them. A lot of good financial habits revolve around using psychology to your advantage. One of my more specific habits included using fear around money as a motivator to learn all about finance, which was loads better than avoiding the topic entirely.
My own habits include maintaining a budget and investment portfolio I’m happy with. I check both out via the Mint app, which works well to see where I am on my day-to-day spending. I also stay on top of my credit card payments by getting alerts and reminders when it’s time to pay them off each month.

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

I have over a hundred posts on my site so it’s hard to narrow down! Here are some of my favorites:

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

You need to know what you want to happen or else you’ll never have the motivation to see it through. Ramit Sethi puts it best by saying: spend lavishly on what you love, and cut costs mercilessly on what you don’t. Unless you take joy out of whatever it is you’re spending on, it’s actively pushing your goals and dreams farther away from you; to avoid that, take the time to decide what it is you really want. Home ownership and being involved in your family’s lives are more common ones that money plays the deciding role in. It doesn’t even have to be money specific, because money will help make it happen anyway.
Once you’ve aligned your money with your goals and dreams, it’s important to stay on the path to wealth and, if possible, shorten it. Life may throw curveballs at you that change your situation, but that doesn’t change your goals and dreams. It only changes your path.
Money is a tool; it’s not there to hurt you, but to help you. Any tool can hurt you if you use it incorrectly, which happens with money as well; it’s your job to get comfortable with using that tool to build what it is you want.

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

That’s like asking if choosing heads or tails is better – they’re equally necessary to reaching wealth. When you’re starting out, however, it’s more important to first decrease your expenses. That teaches you the value of a dollar right out of the gate, and makes it much easier to curb lifestyle inflation and frivolous spending. That can be purchasing more secondhand items or lowering some of your biggest expenses, like groceries or transport. These skills then help you when it’s time to grow your income; it’s equally necessary, but harder to do.
Unlike frugality you’re bringing someone else into the equation, with either a customer or an employer signing your paychecks. That means you have a little less control than you did before – the market rate of your job title is what decides what your fair pay would be, and it’s tricky to convince an employer otherwise. But the upside to income is that there’s no cap or ceiling. There’s only so much budget you can slash, but there’s nothing that says you can only make a certain amount.

What is your favorite investment class and why? (stocks, private business, bonds, real estate, crypto, precious metals, etc.)

INDEX FUNDS!!!! Almost every other asset class requires frequent rebalancing, price-checking, and work in general to reach a good investment return. Index funds break that mold: they historically earn a 10% average historical return – per year – without extra work beyond checking in every three/four months. They also give you the best returns while being (comparatively) less risky than, say, picking stocks or buying houses. The cost barriers are also some of the lowest I’ve seen, making them more accessible to beginner or would-be investors.
Best of all, an index fund investment will never reach $0 in value. Investing can be scary, and we’ve all heard the horror stories of someone losing it all on a bad investment gamble. Index funds mitigate fears like that as you’re hedging on the best performing companies in the country; it’s a hard sell to find as high of a return from such a passive investment.

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

Yep – throughout college I was terrified of running out of money and being forced back into a bad family situation. My financial mistakes were never about overspending – instead, mine went in the opposite direction, where I became the most miserable cheapskate ever. It came to a head my senior year of college and in 2016, which I call my Year of Fear. I dealt with subpar living conditions, a bunch of terrible part-time gigs, and ate mostly unhealthy foods all in the name of Not Going Broke. In exchange it affected my health and my relationships with those around me; it was no fun to be the miserable kid in the corner.
It took two changes to stop the stream of money mistakes: deciding I wanted better for myself, and learning how to deal with money efficiently. It has really shown me how fear needs to be used efficiently, just like personal finance. Since then I’ve grown my net worth from $1,000 at college graduation to over $150,000 at 26 years old. Where you started in life doesn’t have to dictate where you’ll end up.

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

That is LIFE CHANGING money!! Assuming this is the post-tax amount, I’d immediately dump $3.5 million into VTSAX index funds, with $2.5 mil in one account and $1 mil in the other. A 10% yearly return on that $2.5 is $250,000, which I can then use to make a world of difference for charitable causes I care about. I’m delighted at the thought of dropping six figures EACH YEAR on advancing racial and social justice, the environment, eradicating poverty, and improving the lives of at-risk children.
The $1 million is to take care of my own yearly expenses, which makes me financially independent automatically. In non-pandemic times I’d take a sabbatical and go on an amazing trip around the world, using the 4% rule to fund the travel. In pandemic times I’d likely just let it grow until I CAN go travel. I’d also try and negotiate going part-time at work as it’d be a win-win: they’d still get the biggest projects of mine done at a lower cost, and I’d still have access to a 401k.
That leaves another 1.5 million to put to use. I’d use one million to build my outrageous dream house in the New Hampshire mountains. Another $50k for two cars, a new bike, and for building a food forest. Another $50k I’d set aside for my brother’s college. $30k for a beefy emergency fund. And the remaining $370,000 would be put into alternative investments as I see fit: paying for another’s college education, technological innovations, environmental improvements, and programming for the poorest communities are all possibilities.

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

I’ve seen firsthand how much better my life became once I understood finance. It touches every part of your life whether you like it or not; mastering it means mastering the life you want to live. Money is the #1 cause of anxiety in the United States, and it would be so much less stressful (and healthy) if more folks knew how to best manage it.
Plus, the more folks gain financial literacy, the bigger positive ramifications on our society. The middle class would be larger and the lower class would be smaller. There would be less folks in a desperate situation and less at risk; it’s not enough to battle the other systemic issues that cause these situations, but it is a massively helpful step up. Even the upper class would benefit, as they’re seriously disconnected from the world at large and largely don’t understand the diminishing returns of obscene wealth. Personal finance is personal, and it also can have a bigger impact than you could imagine. I strongly believe in giving people that knowledge – and power – to bring about that betterment for all.

How You Can Contact We Want Guac for More Information

You can learn more about We Want Guac at https://www.wewantguac.com/ and follow them on Twitter at @WeWantGuac.

Thank you for reading this interview, and thank you, We Want Guac, 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.

Have Your Dollars Make Sense
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.
Financial Freedom Countdown
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Financial Freedom Countdown.
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