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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thoughts on a Money Management Podcast with Amanda Steinberg

I've been working regularly doing cleaning jobs, and at first, I was listening to music while I was cleaning. But then I decided I wanted to start being doing more, and decided to listen to various self growth related podcasts while cleaning, and I've been loving it.

Today I was listening to a podcast on Marie Forleo's channel (I discovered her through talks she did with Brene Brown, an author, speaker, and researcher I highly admire) and it was with a woman named Amanda Steinberg, who has been named one of the top people on finances, and I was curious to hear what she had to say. The topic of her talk was "Manage Your Money in a Way That Feels Good", and as I've heard and read a lot that many different money experts say, I was interested in seeing whether their advice and and perspective would be similar to what I've previously heard.





Amanda started off by talking about how one should figure out their net worth, seeing their total assets, subtract all their debt, and see if they are more in the positive or negative. She mentioned that many people who you'd think would be "rich" because of all their income and things they own actually have a negative net worth. I'm not sure, honestly, how important it is to figure out your net worth, but OK, that's her perspective.

Another thing she mentioned is that for some people, paying off their debt is the most important thing, and they'll keep throwing money at it. but that wasn't a good idea. I thought this would be where she disagreed with Dave Ramsey, but turns out that she was suggesting somewhat similar. That if you threw all your spare cash at debt, you wouldn't have any money available if an emergency came up, and you'd end up back in debt. She recommends starting off by having an emergency fund, of one month's living expenses. Dave, on the other hand, recommends first having a baby emergency fund of $1000 dollars, or $500 if you make under $20,000 a year, and then only after you have your debt paid off, making a fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of living expenses. Listening to this reminded me that I should probably get on track and replenish my emergency fund which kind of got depleted because of some stuff that happened. I set aside $300 from my monthly budget this month to start funding this emergency fund, and set my goal with my budgeting software and hopefully within 3 to 4 months it'll be fully funded, provided nothing terrible happens to need the emergency fund in the meantime.

Amanda and Marie brought up what they call "curve balls" or "life tax", those things that we aren't expecting to happen but cost us money anyhow (house repairs, cell phones breaking, vet bills, etc..) and that if we just set aside money each month into this "curve ball" budget, separate from our emergency fund, when these things happen, you'll have the money to pay for it, and it'll be easier to handle it emotionally (not to mention financially) because you'll have planned for it in advance.

Since deciding to divorce, and separating my finances from my husband, I've been religiously using the You Need a Budget app to keep track of the money coming in and out, and making and following a strict budget, and one of their budgeting categories is "Stuff I Forgot to Budget For" which reminds me of those "curve ball" budgets that Amanda was talking about in the podcast.

From what I've read in other places, yes, its good to have a budget for "curve balls" and things you forgot to budget for, but its also inevitable that you will have regular expenses for things like your home, your pets, your car, etc... and instead of just having that "OMG what now?" place in your budget, you should plan ahead for these inevitable expenses with what is call a "sink fund" where every month you put aside money for these inevitable things, so that you build up more and more over time in these various funds, so when your car needs repairs, you'll have money set aside for car repairs in this sink fund, and it doesn't even need to come from your "curve ball" account. Keep that for things that really are unexpected! Not things that you should have planned for in advance!

The various sink funds I currently have are things like holidays, things for the home, things for my dog, education, clothes, etc.... I don't necessarily spend money on those things every month, or if I do it isn't nearly as much as I've budgeted, but that way it can build up over time and therefore when I need it, I'll have it available.

Amanda Steinberg talks about how when she first started off her money journey, she thought it was OK to just live slightly below her means, but her currently goal is far more drastic than that: she tries to only live on half of her income, and saves the rest! That's tremendous, and I don't even know if that's a goal I want, but I think its amazing what she does to achieve those goals! She downsized, going from living in a full house with a yard, to a small apartment with her 2 kids, and is very happy with it!
As someone who lived in a larger home (but still small, comparatively) then downsized to something really tiny because we were too broke and we were trying to cut back however we could, and then moved to a bigger place when we bought, and it made me so much happier, it makes me wonder just how small her "small" apartment is, and how big her first home was. I definitely would not willingly move to anything smaller than my current home now; my mental health needs me to be able to have some space, but if smaller works for her and her family and they're happy there, kudos to them! It's quite possible, though, that their small apartment is as large as my "larger" one now, because my 925 square foot apartment is still considered small, so it could be her choice wasn't as extreme as it seems to me. (And she only has 2 kids and I have 4, which also makes a difference.)

Another thing that resonated with me was the discussion about how as entrepreneurs we want to be able to really succeed at our business, but sometimes we need more money than our entrepreneurship can bring in on a month to month basis, because we still need to pay our bills. For this reason, people often need to take what they refer to as "bridge jobs", jobs to bridge the financial gap between our business that we're building, and our expenses. A job that will still give us enough time to be able to work on and improve our own business, but will pay the bills in the meantime.
To be honest, this was something that really made me afraid when I decided to divorce. I have been an entrepreneur for a while, but I always relied on my husband's regular income, and didn't want to have to give up my business that I've been building for years, but still needed to be able to support my family.
Fortunately, because cleaning jobs pay so well locally, I've been able to schedule my days so that I have regular income coming in from my cleaning jobs, while still leaving enough free time over with which I can work on my business, my blog, my foraging and my cooking classes, etc. Yes, these are all jobs that I'm self employed for, but for me, cleaning is still my bridge job, and my goal is that I'll be able to build my other things up enough that I can do them full time and not do a bridge job anymore, but in the meantime, I am happy for those jobs, and I have job satisfaction, and the fact that I can listen to podcasts like this while I'm earning money makes the job even more fun, even if it is just a bridge job.

Those are my takeaways from that episode. Go have a listen and let me know what you think of it.

And if you have any great podcast suggestions for me, I'm all ears!

Do you have an emergency fund? How did you decide how much to put in it? Do you have a "curve ball" section of your budget? Do you differentiate that from sinking funds? What do you have sinking funds to cover? 
Any entrepreneurs here? Do you have bridge jobs to help with finances or are you able to fully rely on your income from your business?

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