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About The Guest
Fiona Smith (aka The Millennial Money Woman) holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning and has co-founded a local charitable non-profit community teaching financial literacy to young professionals.
Her brand has grown, showcasing the need for what she teaches, to the point where she was asked to be a regular contributor for Forbes, she’s also been featured in Forbes, Invezz, Oberlo, Budgets are Sexy, and a variety of other financial publications and outlets. Her website, themillennialmoneywoman.com was Listed as a Top 50 Personal Finance Blog and is currently one of the One of the fastest growing personal finance blogs, globally.
- 09:20 — How to start a side hustle.
- 11:22 — How to make money with affiliate marketing.
- 14:54 — Different revenue streams you can take advantage when making money online.
- 18:45 — How to build an enormous Twitter following (relatively quickly).
- 22:28 — Apps you can use to write better.
- 28:18 — Millennial money myths.
- 33:02 — How to leverage mindset to make money.
- 38:18 — The steps Fiona took to find a mentor (you can copy her).
- 41:56 — How anyone can become a millionaire.
- 48:21 — How to invest.
- 50:55 — Why education is broken.
- 56:24 — Advice for young entrepreneurs.
HubSpot Podcast Network — https://hubspot.com/podcastnetwork
HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.
Read The Transcript (Machine Generated)
Absolutely. Well, first of all, I wanted to say thank you so much for having me, Scott, on your podcast on your production, this is a true honor. So thank you. And I’ll go ahead and definitely share how I started. I think, honestly, I’m going to rewind here a couple of decades, almost back to when I was about 10 years old. And it actually started with my grandparents who were absolute heroes in my eyes. My grandparents, they work together to build a small family business, nothing fancy, but they work every single day. You know, they were mom and pop shop entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, when they were about 70 years old, you know, just about to head into retirement, they had some pretty poor financial planning issues. So you know, long story short, they lost everything they ever worked for, and more. And they ultimately had to work basically until they passed away. So I saw that, you know, hands on, and I think as a young child, especially when you see something like that happening, it will definitely have an impact on you. And some people, you know, they might shy away. Others, they might be curious and want to explore more like, why did this actually happen? And how can you prevent that? And I was that person I wanted to figure out number one, why did they end up not retiring? And why? Why did they lose their business, their money, everything. And I think that was kind of the seed that started my curiosity and my adventure into finance. And then ultimately entrepreneurship, which is what you know, caused me to build the millennial money woman in the first place.
Yes, so did you ever, you know, going back, you said you had a Master’s of Science in personal financial planning, which is a great degree first, I didn’t even know that existed. That’s incredible. That even is offered. But besides that, after your degree, did you have a quote unquote, job? Or did you go right into this?
Great question. So yes, I did have a job in corporate America, I worked there for I mean, gosh, probably 1215 hours a day, I worked on weekends, too. I mean, you guys probably know the story. It’s a lot of work. It’s cutthroat. And it wasn’t finance. So I obviously since I had my master’s degree, it’s not always, you know, fun. Like I think the media likes to portray, you know, when you work really hard, really long, you’re rewarded with a lot of money. And, you know, I don’t think that was really necessarily the case, always, especially for me, because you feel like your freedom is taken away. And I think, especially for young millennials, like myself, for instance, and like you to Scott, you know, freedom is definitely something that we want, or I think most of us want. And by freedom, I don’t just mean money, I also mean time being able to do the things we want to do something that fulfills us something that has purpose for our lives. And the ultimate, I guess, switch that what caused me to decide, Okay, I’m done serving my time in corporate America, and it’s time to really pursue what I want to do was the pandemic. And so in March, or actually may of 2020, that’s when I pulled the trigger. And I started the blog. And I mean, it’s been literally a whirlwind. It has been super difficult. I mean, like, I’m not kidding, when I say I work probably over 120 hours a week, it was ridiculous. But still is ridiculous. But it is absolutely my passion. I love every second and and I really see that it’s making a positive impact. And that’s, you know, that’s the beauty of it all.
And your first steps into entrepreneurship. So you started the millennial money woman.com blog. Did you quit and start? Or was this like building the blog while you’re still working?
Yeah, great question. So number one, I did my industry research first, while I was still working in corporate America, so something I definitely recommend, if anyone has, you know, the vision to start a company, it would probably be a good idea to first do your industry research, maybe shadow a couple of industry experts write on their day to day job, see if that’s something that you truly enjoy doing. Because the worst thing that can happen is you end up quitting your job and then you start your research and figure out oh my gosh, it’s actually not what you like to do. And the reason why I’m saying this is actually one of my mentees In my nonprofit, that’s what he did. He was I think, like 28 or 29 years old. He was in corporate America, I think he was earning like 130 $140,000 a year and a job he hated. And one day, he’s decided to pull the trigger, quit and then do the industry research, build a company. And unfortunately, he found out too late, he didn’t like it. And he had to start all over again in a job he didn’t like. And that’s very unfortunate, but it’s a lesson to be learned. And so to answer your question, long story short, I did my research first, and I decided, yes, this is what I want to do, then I quit. And then I pour it poured 110% effort into this blog,
and this blog, because if you’re quitting your job, and you’re putting 110% effort, and you’re working a lot, and that’s something else. So that’s a, that’s a point that I’ve heard a lot from different entrepreneurs, and I’ve also experienced it myself, like when you go into your own thing is better be something you love, because you are going to dedicate way more hours than you would for a job. Right? So So now you have a blog? What, what’s the what’s the actual business? Is it mentoring is a consulting is it? I think you will obviously, if you have enough traffic, you can make ad revenue there. You can sell courses you can teach. So what’s what is what is what you do now?
Definitely. So number one, it’s focusing on affiliate marketing. So like you said, a lot of it is actually through traffic. Now, I’ve been very fortunate that my blog, and I think my brand has taken a hold very fast. And it’s been able to drive, I think traffic faster to my website than perhaps other websites. And I think partly, that’s probably due to my brand. And the way I use social media platforms, which has been a huge incentive, I think for a lot of audience members to come to my blog. So social media, for me, in particular, Twitter has definitely helped drive a lot of number one revenue. And number two, just audience and feedback. And I use a lot of feedback from my audience. Like I emailed them, I talked to them over zoom, etc. to figure out what do they like? What do they not like? And how can I actually improve my blog and the products and services that I provide. So that being said, blog is number affiliate traffic, I guess, is the first thing that drives money. The second thing is I released a book actually how to get rich from nothing. And that has definitely gone well, so far knock on wood. And that has definitely been like another little, you know, cherry on top, I guess on top of the affiliate marketing. And then on top of that also, on Twitter, in general I provide, I’m affiliated with a couple of different services out there, and that they have done actually very well. And that has also helped drive traffic. But those are my three main sources. And I do plan to actually expand into further territory. Next year, my plan is to go into probably YouTube and try to expand in that sense. Yeah,
YouTube, you got a really healthy CPM on finance, YouTube. And if you’re teaching you have the stuff, right, you know, what you people need to learn. And that’s, I think that’s a lesson in and of itself. Of course, so So for people that are listening for for affiliate marketing, of course, you can always sell your own product. But this is another way that some people start to make money as a side hustle. If they have the exposure, they have the brand, they have the traffic, you can have other great products that you vetted in your mixture, that those products are good, and you can sell them to your audience. And you just get you know, you get, you get revenue off that you get a revenue share based on you know, if somebody purchases it or whatnot. So that’s a great way to easily make some you know, side money, especially have that brand, but also you’re not going to get that brand from nothing, you have to build that, you know, looking at your site. I you know, it’s funny, you have a background in finance, but you have a you have a really, really strong edge on how to market yourself, but also how to create content. That’s useful, right? That’s extremely useful for people. And that’s really what, that’s what marketing is at the end of the day. Walk me through, because I’m actually sorry, I don’t like doing double questions. But I’m going to do a double question because I there’s two things that aren’t top of mine. I don’t want to forget the second. So firstly, has your business completely replaced the money that you were making in corporate yet? Two years later? And secondly, after you answer that, because I’m curious for your content, what is your content strategy that you have used to build your Twitter, your blog, generate traffic? And how did you how did you think through your content strategy?
Yeah, great question. So to answer your first one has my revenue from the blog and the SIR etc, has that actually matched equalled or exceeded what I earned in corporate America? The answer is no, it has not. However, as an entrepreneur, I think we’re able to see very early on in terms of is there actually growth potential? And the answer, at least for my situation is absolutely 100%. Yes, I was able to see not only my email subscriber list, I think within the first four months, I grew my email list by over 1,000%. I mean, it’s just exploded with Twitter. Yeah, it was, it was mind blowing. I was not expecting that either. with Twitter, for example, which is my main social media platform, right now at least, I was able to grow it to 4000 followers within a couple of months, but it’s nothing impressive. And I was actually losing a lot of followers. So I figured, okay, I need to figure out how to reposition my strategy. And this probably flows into your second question content creation, how am I able to actually deliver the value that my audience is looking for? So I not only gain my audience engagement, but also increase my followership, right. And I was able to reposition myself by providing actionable advice. I think my audience really likes having key bullet points. And I didn’t have that before I had just kind of like platitude, you know, in general,
a lot of platitudes on Twitter, it’s,
I got so many Yeah, you got it. So buddy. And from there, I was able to create what’s known as a thread on Twitter, which are kind of like stories, but they actually provide it’s like a small blog post kind of condensed into a couple of tweets all together. That’s what a thread is. And I think that’s kind of helped me, number one, like gain the trust. And number two, increase my reach astronomically. So again, thinking from that entrepreneurial level, I was able to increase my impressions from I think, 80,000 to over 5 million within like two months. And I mean, it’s just gone up from there. And that was like last year in November, December, so and then money wise to it. I was definitely not earning at all what I was earning in my corporate job. But I would say it increased by 600%, within just one month, and it increased again by another 200%. So yes, I have an emergency savings Fund, which I’m certainly using here and there. And I certainly recommend that for viewers who are considering transitioning over into their own business. But the beauty of it is if you have an emergency savings fund, you don’t have to worry about, you know, oh my gosh, am I going to run out of money? And I know I won’t. Because my business it’s it’s just growing every single day. And that’s but that’s because I put in the work to
you. Of course. Yeah, that’s, that’s smart. And that’s, I think that I’ve seen, you know, it’s interesting that of all the social media platforms, there’s some that if you really, honestly can make or break a business. And I always just, I was just curious, like your strategy, maybe a little bit selfishly, because I also want to know, I’m looking through my Okay, after this show, I’m gonna start, I’m gonna start understanding how to break down a really good Twitter thread and, and start incorporating my own content strategy. But regardless, I think that’s something that people really have to, like, look at the people that are doing it well, like you figured it out, you obviously and then emulate that. And then you know, once you have that, that sort of core strategy down, then it doesn’t matter what the hell you’re selling, you sell whatever you want. You do whatever you want with it. I look at it like, Anthony, what’s his face? pompliano is somebody who also just absolutely killed it on Twitter. And now that’s grown his newsletter. That’s his subscription newsletter, his YouTube, podcast, all that stuff. So and then I see people do like on other socials as well, but I think that for business products, like it works well on Twitter. And then also you, I’m sure you have a content strategy for your site as well, because that’s also growing. So walk me through that.
Yeah, definitely. And actually, I do also want to say like in terms of content, I first started thinking that Pinterest was the best platform, you know, in terms of pushing out number one, obviously have it on my website, but then pushing out the content on Pinterest. And that was probably one of my biggest failures. It was I mean, it just did not work. For me the strategy itself, like trying to publish trying to get clicks, I still probably get between 400 to 600 clicks from Pinterest, but it’s it’s I mean, obviously nowhere near what Twitter is. So I had to go through quite a bit of failure to realize my strengths. But I think that’s part of every entrepreneurs journey. So regarding content strategy, on my website, I tried to figure out i, this goes back to the feedback that I get from my audience, I try to figure out what exactly is it that people who are number one millennials, and number two, trying to just, you know, get the basic ropes of finance, what are they trying to do, what are they trying to learn and what’s stopping them from learning it on other bigger websites. And so there are a couple of things that I found Out number one, most websites, they don’t really break down financial topics into layman’s terms like into plain English. And you know, coming from a financial background for me, it makes sense. But for others, it’s like a different language. I mean, there’s so many different abbreviations and finance, right? Like r&d 401k IRA BDA, like what does the whole lot mean? So my goal number one is to break down those pretty complex topics and terms into everyday English terms. And then the second thing that I found out from my audience is that a lot of, you know, bigger finance websites, they don’t necessarily use images as much. And a lot of my audience at least is very visual. Hence, also, you know, the, the colorful, you know, brand, I guess, if you will, and my pictures are designed, you know, it within each blog post, I tried to create incorporate pictures that try to break down those larger concepts into again, visually appealing creations to help my audience understand finance, even if there’s, you know, a big, big topic or a key lesson that I want them to know, I highlight that I outline it in my blog post, so their eyes get drawn directly to it. Instead of you know, taking 10 paragraphs to explain that one key topic. That’s like in terms of visual aspect, that’s kind of how I try to create my content, and an actual in terms of the actual content. That’s just literally going to my audience, asking them for feedback and advice, and figuring out like, okay, what’s new? Like, right now, obviously, cryptocurrency is kind of the hot thing. So I’ve been trying to fit, you know, figure out how can I write about cryptocurrency and basic English terms? So I wrote a blog article about cryptocurrency, I wrote a blog article about how to use Coinbase. And literally take screenshots from clicking to get started to like every single little button, I do screenshots up, so no one will get confused. Yeah.
Very No, very, very, very smart. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to cut you off. There is more to the contents, right? No, I was just I was just thinking through like, it’s just so simple. I’m scanning through your blog as we speak. And it’s just very, like it’s so it’s so it’s, it’s like a pleasant read. I know, it sounds stupid. But it’s, you know, it’s just easy to read through. I’m just reading one how to make money on Twitter. I’m going to read this later.
And yeah, no, I think that there’s actually a website called Hemingway, I want to say, I and I use that as a, you know, it helped me in the beginning, at least on my blogging journey, to literally try to write like a sixth grade level or less than a sixth grade level. So, you know, at first, I think, at least in school, and in college, we’re taught that if we, you know, throw in a bunch of jargon, very complex technical knowledge, we sound really smart, which we might definitely but for, you know, if we have a blog, and we try to market this to the everyday person, especially, you know, millennials, for example, who might not have a finance background, and this is totally foreign language. Throwing in jargon is only going to turn them off, it’s not going to keep them glued and stuck to that. So I use this resource to help me kind of, you know, figure out how I can, you know, again, make it a pleasant read, like you said, and I love hearing that that’s literally my goal to try to make it as smooth and readable as possible.
And not full of jargon, and not just a text wall and actually something that people like want to want to enjoy and read through. Okay, very good. So that’s, so that’s sort of that’s sort of how you’ve built your business. Like that’s, that’s, that’s pretty, like, I don’t, I don’t mean to diminish it. Okay, that’s pretty much it. But I didn’t mean a negative way. And like, that’s how you built your content strategy, your social your blog. And that’s what you’re going to so that’s, you know, this is just I love this is, I love that this is such an easy example of how entrepreneurship, this is entrepreneurship, and it’s not complicated. It’s not hiring a developer. It’s not being a developer. It’s not inventing the next Facebook Like it’s just, you’ve just done something that is in line with what you love, and you’re making money off it. And now it’s going to eventually replace a job in finance, which a lot of jobs in finance pay a lot of money.
So it was it was incredible. Like I think the first time I was ever introduced to blogging was not actually in college. It was when I was in my corporate job. And one of my colleagues brought up a personal finance blog, and this blogger had the number of how much money he was making. And this was, you know, just a few years ago, and when I saw the monthly income, which at that time, I think was I don’t know, probably 30,000, maybe something like that per month, I was thinking to myself, man, am I in the wrong job, I am so in the wrong job. And that actually started my entire journey. Like that was the first seed that I was like, Hmm, maybe I should reposition myself, you know, into the blogging world. It took a couple of years until a pandemic. But you know, when I saw that, like you said, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. To become a successful entrepreneur, you don’t need to spend hundreds of 1000s create an actual brick and mortar store, you don’t need that. You can do it right from home.
And the way you do and the way you do this, theoretically, somebody could still be doing this while they’re working for a company or this could be the first thing that they do, and they start making money. And then and then when you have steady income, and you have the time and we spoke of freedom, then you do whatever the hell you want, then you want to be more complicated. You want to do more things, you want to write a book, you want to do whatever you want. But just get started. But okay, so let’s go into let’s go into some of the things that you teach over and some of the things that you know, are core to to millennial money. You brought up some really good topics I’d love to dive into so millennial money, myths, what are some, and because you sort of you know, it’s funny, everything in your life has been you’re sort of like living you know, you eat your own dog food, so to speak, you’re living all the things that you teach over entrepreneurship. But now let’s go into the the millennial portion you have you’ve owned your own home since 23. These are all smart things. So okay, let’s start it off. millennial money myths. What are some?
All right, let’s go for it. So I actually say the number one millennial money myths I’ve heard over and over again, is that to be successful in America, you have to own a home. And I know it’s really funny coming from a home owner, but honestly, I’m going to be you know, totally honest about it. It is not all what it’s out to be it’s really not homeownership might not be right for you. And that’s totally fine. Like, you do not need to own a, you know, $300,000 whatever it is home, in order to be considered, you know, you’ve made it and honestly, it’s because of liquidity. You know, again, house isn’t necessarily liquid, like a bank account, you have super high initial costs, right? You talk about a preferably at least 20% down payment of your home, you got inspectors fees, not to mention all of the maintenance and the repair work that has to be done. Like I have an air conditioner that’s about to go. Yesterday, we had a pretty bad thunderstorm actually. So I was really worried I turned it off. I’m like, No, please don’t hit my air conditioner. The plumbing, I mean, I have plumbing issues too. So I went through probably a couple of hours on YouTube myself, you know, try to save money figure out plumbing issues, which is not a good sight. So no, it’s not always you know, amazing and you do not need a house apartment lifestyle or condo lifestyle or whatever it is that you want is definitely Okay, if that’s what works for your lifestyle. So that’s number one. You don’t need a house to be successful. Number two, an excuse I often hear is that I don’t earn enough money in order to invest today, and I’ll do it tomorrow. So that is, I think honestly, like I said it’s an excuse and the real reason The reason behind it is because thanks to modern technology, like investment platforms, such as m one finance, you got a quorum. So you got, I think Robin Hood, you got stash, you know, the list goes on, there’s something called fractional investing. And what fractional investing is, is that you don’t need $3,000 to buy one share in Amazon, you literally can have five bucks, and you can already be a fractional owner of Amazon, and also an apple, etc, etc. So, no, you don’t need hundreds or 1000s of dollars to start investing, you can literally start with five bucks. And I’m pretty sure everyone can do that. So no more excuses there. And the third one that I hear very often is honestly, it’s about life insurance, I hear that life insurance is a total waste of money. And I get it because I think that life insurance has gotten a pretty bad rap over the last couple of years because of, you know, sleazy life insurance salesmen, they try to push their products on you, in exchange for pretty nice commissions. And typically speaking, though, there are two types of life insurance products. There’s one called a term life insurance product, which is like the simplest, the cheapest form of life insurance. And it’s, it’s often recommended for millennials. And then there’s something called a cash value life insurance. And that’s kind of like an umbrella terminology, which covers whole life insurance, Universal Life, the list goes on and on. And what’s a cash value life insurance product, that’s typically what’s pushed onto millennials, those are expensive, those are permanent. And typically speaking, they don’t match a millennial lifestyle. So anyway, long story short life insurance isn’t always a waste of money. If you have a family, if you have people, depending on you for income, if you have a big liability, like a mortgage, and you have a spouse, for example, that might need your help in the road down the road, a term life insurance policy could actually help you can get, you know, half a million dollars a million dollars of death benefit for 30 bucks a month. You know, it’s not that bad. So that’s the last myth that I hear very often. Yeah, interesting.
So okay, so then there’s so there’s some myths that, obviously, that we’re trying to educate millennials on. There’s also some, I’m sure some mindset, mindset things that I would love for you to go into. Because I think that, you know, it’s funny, you you hang around with certain circles and people are speaking about while there’s, you know, millions of millionaires being created every single year, then then you go to the average person, and you’re like, you know, I can’t even I can’t even you know, pay rent this month. So how do we how do we bridge that gap? How do we how do we get people to see a different future for themselves? And I’m assuming mindset, mindset, but also like tips to get there, obviously, mindset is one thing, but then also also accepting some stuff will probably help as well.
Definitely. So yes, to answer your question, I think that is pretty much one of the biggest things. It’s the mindset that separates the successful from the unsuccessful. And I like to refer to a Stanford researcher, her name is Dr. Carol Dweck. And she, I mean, she has written and done so much incredible work when it comes to the mindset of successful people, that space. And in particular, she wrote a book about the growth mindset and what is known as the fixed mindset. And I’m sure you know, just hearing those two words, you can probably discern what they mean. So growth mindset is for someone who does not believe their talents are, you know, fix, they can’t improve. Personal the growth mindset is someone who loves seeing their colleagues and their peers succeed. They believe in the saying that a rising tide really does lift all boats, because, you know, if your friends succeed, they can help you succeed in turn. So it’s, it’s a completely mutual benefit. So that’s a growth mindset in very short, in a short defined way. a fixed mindset, on the other hand, is someone who, you know, is envious of successful people. It’s someone who believes that putting in hard work is actually a weakness, because it means you don’t have the natural talent to become successful. It’s someone who believes that wherever they are in life, they can succeed, period. That’s it. So it’s very common, actually, for people to have traits of both I myself was someone who had actually more traits of the fixed mindset than the growth mindset until I read Dr. duacs book. And when I read that book, I realized where I was on the scale and what I needed to do to change over into the growth mindset. So to change over into the growth mindset, if you’re one of those people that thinks you know you might be under the fixed mindset umbrella, the Number one is just knowing that you have an option of changing, I think just realizing that you have the choice of changing from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset, it’s such a huge step. So that’s the first step, the next step is actually trying to read and learn more about what it is that a growth mindset takes, you know, to unlock all of those areas and keys to success in your life. And the third step is actually start implementing and putting in little daily habits to enter into that growth mindset. So for example, here’s what I did, I put little sticky notes on my, on my bathroom mirror. So every morning, I’m reminded of some of the things I need to do and need to think physically, in order to enter into that growth mindset. And I think there’s a fantastic book out there, it’s called habits. And it kind of you know, teaches you about what you need to do in order to create a physical habit and make it automatic behavior. And I think research shows that roughly around 66 days ish, it takes you to actually implement have specific actions to create it into a habit. And that’s what I did. So every day reading my sticky notes, making sure that you know, number one, I’m motivated. Number two, I’m doing the things I need to do to become successful believe in myself. And after 66 days about, I actually started implementing all this into automatic behavior, and you will literally never look back again.
Very interesting. Yeah. I think it’s interesting coming. I think it’s interesting to hear you describe it only because I don’t know when that shift happened in my life, but I’ve always defaulted to a growth mindset mentality, I don’t really know like, I never, I personally never took like steps is just sort of manifested as I pushed myself to do more and whatnot. And it seems like now when you’re in it, it’s hard to unpack how somebody couldn’t see life. That way, it’s difficult to shape the change your lens back, but I appreciate that. That’s something that a lot of people struggle with. And even, you know, the the simple steps that you took to build your own business. I feel like that’s something that even taking those first steps, everyone’s like, well, what’s the point? It’s not gonna happen to me? Or? Or it seems like it’s like, you know, it seems like I can never get to the point where I can make enough money to support my own family, or too risky or whatnot. So I think that, you know, like I said, part of it is, I’m sorry, you said, rather, part of it is the mindset, but also like taking those small, little steps, once you have that mindset that almost like, gives you permission to do whatever, whatever it is you have to do. I think that I think that’s what you really have to focus on. And then once you have that permission, you’ve given yourself that permission with that growth mindset, then there’s really nothing that in my opinion, you could ever hold you back. What do you have? So after somebody actions on this and has an has sort of like a mindset shift towards how they, how they view their life, and how they view what they could potentially accomplish? What would you recommend for somebody who, let’s assume if somebody wants to start their own business to reinvest in themselves? You said, okay, you have you have frugal living tips. But is that the best ways to save money first? Or is it just to start investing start a side hustle, person has mindset locked in? What did they do next to build their own thing?
Perfect, great question, Scott. So I think before even thinking about money at all, it for me, at least, what worked well, was finding a mentor. For me, my mentor helped, he was probably I don’t know, probably like six decades older than me, very well seasoned, you know, executive, I was very fortunate to meet him. And he taught me some of the basic steps that I would need to work and focus on in order to build a successful business down the road. So you know, that includes looking at finances, but not just finances, figuring out how to interact with, you know, prospects, figuring out how to, you know, hold myself in conversations in the boardroom, whatever it is. So I think finding a mentor in your area, whatever it is, if it’s a blog, if it’s actually you know, building a brick and mortar business, find a mentor who’s willing to give you the time, and help you literally jump ahead of the rest of the game because I personally think that mentors are the the ultimate shortcut in life, they can give you so much advice and help you save time, energy and money. So that’s number one. And then number two when it comes to money, yes, so I would, I would probably recommend that starting off at paying off high interest debt, so like credit card debt, right. So I mean, definitely don’t Live with high interest debt. The second thing done is yes focusing on investing in the stock market for example, I’m so I’m a big believer in just investing in low cost index funds. So I’m very passive I, you know, yes, I do know a lot more stock market terminology, but for my own personal purposes, I just do $1 cost averaging strategy, which is automatic, it’s a, you know, a set amount of money over a very long period of time. For me, it’s going to be like four or five, six decades, you know, down the road investing and sticking to that strategy. That’s my ultimate plan. But I think it even boils down to simpler terms. It’s just quite simply spend less than you earn. And I think, you know, becoming a millionaire or 100,000, or whatever the goal is, in your personal life, it really just comes down to spend less than you earn. It’s that simple. And anything that go ahead, no, I
was gonna say, Where did where do people? Where do people spend and waste the most money?
Oh, yes. I think number one is cars, especially newer cars.
I just found like, just thinking, maybe she’s not wrong.
I mean, yes, cars are bad. I myself, actually, I love cars. I’m a big car geek. I love everything about cars, especially racing, all of that type of stuff. So I’m definitely into that. But I do know that if you want to focus on building your wealth, especially in the long term, it’s probably not a good idea to spend money on depreciating assets. Now, I know not all cars are depreciating assets. I know that there are some luxury cars out there that probably appreciate but it probably takes a couple of 100,000 to buy them.
not the average Toyota. That’s right. So definitely stay away from brand new cars, I think the they depreciate the second you drive them off the parking car lot, actually. So stay away from that. The second thing that I see a lot of people overspend money on is actually subscription services. You know, if you look through your budget, and take a look at how much recurring money that comes off of your credit card, for example, so we’re talking Spotify, Netflix, any other subscription service, it actually adds up over the long term. And what I like to do is add up your subscription services over one month. So let’s say it costs you 30 bucks for all of your subscription services. Okay? Multiply that over a year, right? So that’s 360, and then multiply that by 10 years, that’s 3600 bucks. Right? So like, if you look at it in the long term, what could you do with 3600 bucks, like, a lot of different things. So again, it’s all about looking in the long term and it will change your life.
Now, okay, so, one, so how did you how did you save? Okay, so there’s Yes, so you look at your subscriptions. But you went a step further. When you were, I guess this saving up this rainy day fund, before you started your business? You said you save 70% of your income, that’s more than just canceling Netflix.
That is definitely more than canceling Netflix. So I think number one, I was just very frugal when it came to, you know, eating, I did not treat restaurants as a source of food. I just totally quit eating out. I actually did take on a couple of side hustles to I worked every single day for probably five years straight including holidays, everything. Very long hours, it was a lot of sacrifice. had to say no to a lot of, you know, time out with my friends or whatever. No new clothes. For example, I had a roommate as well to pay half the bills. I think roommates especially for people who are struggling in terms of finding additional income. That’s such a great way to find an extra source of income literally cut your living expenses in half at least you know when it comes to utilities, electricity, etc. And, and then also cell phone bills, cable bills, Wi Fi bills, there are services out there like Bill shark. I know that’s a very effective one. They actually negotiate on your behalf for free, at least at first, to lower your Wi Fi bills, for example. And yeah, yeah, it’s really neat. They do it all for free. They typically have I think a 90% success rate, and then anything that they are able to lower for you. You pay like I think 40% of the savings which is still totally worth it right. You don’t have to do anything. They negotiate it for you. And then insurance like I think a lot of people like car insurance, health insurance, etc. A lot of people don’t actually shop the market. And that’s something I’ve learned to do very well shop the market, get quotes, maybe change a couple of things within your car insurance quote, like the liability coverage. For example, if you’re able to drop that down, or maybe change it around a little bit, depending on your situation, that can certainly help you save a lot of money. And in the long run to
very, very smart, very smart. And the last thing that I wanted to dive into because this was also a very interesting point, you touched on it briefly. Anybody can become a millionaire with the dollar cost averaging strategy. Yes. So what does that mean?
Yes, great question. I’m actually going to start it with a story. So
when I was let’s do it.
When I was working in my nonprofit, I started actually in a very small school, and it was under for underprivileged young girls. So these were like, you know, six to 10 year old girls, and their parents, they couldn’t even afford to, you know, an alarm clock, basically, to get them to go to school. It’s that type of environment. So definitely a place where I knew I had to give back as much as I could. So the first time it was a one hour long class that with maybe 16 girls or so, I first asked them, who here believes that they can become a millionaire, the very first minute I was in this classroom, and not one single hand shot up, not one. And during the class, during this one hour class, we discussed the dollar cost averaging strategy. And by the end of that one hour period, I asked the same question again, who here believes you can become a millionaire, and every single hand shot up? And it’s just it’s incredible, I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Because you’re able to see like helping these young kids. And not just young kids. Now, obviously talking to you and your audience as well. Everyone can become a millionaire, if they really put their mind to it. So this goes back to your question, what is the dollar cost averaging strategy, it’s also known as the DCA strategy. And what it is, it’s basically fancy talk for putting a certain amount of money, let’s call it 100 bucks every week, automatically into an investment account for a very long period of time. So let’s take a 401k. For example, a 401k is an employer sponsored retirement plan. And if you have a 401k, you typically elect a portion of your pay stub, like a 2%, for example of your paycheck. And every time you get your paycheck, a small portion goes into your 401k and is invested, you don’t think about it, you don’t do anything, you don’t touch a single button, it just happens automatically. And that’s literally what dollar cost averaging is all about. It’s automatic, it’s a small portion of your income, whatever that is. And it’s over a long period of time into the stock market. And if you do that for let’s say, 40 years, 50 years, even, you can literally become a millionaire. And I found out I think I forgot the exact number. But I think it’s between nine to $10 a day. If you invest that for 40 years or so, it can actually make you a millionaire. So $10 a day down the road, you can become a millionaire.
I think this is great. And thank you for for telling the story and for introducing this over, because pensions are not really a thing compared to what they used to be right. So you’re not getting paid out. You know, a lot of people in my family work for government government, you work your best years, and you’ll make 70% of your best salary until you die. That doesn’t exist in many companies, God forbid a startup right? Like it’s or any any, any company that hasn’t been around for like, I don’t even know, like maybe 30 4050 100 years, they don’t offer that stuff anymore. So what some companies do, I think they offer like a, so that’s a, I guess a defined benefit. And there’s like a defined contribution pension where you put like six to 8% of your paycheck in and like the company or maybe a little bit less than the company will match it. That’s at least better than nothing. But many companies don’t have pensions, many companies have nothing many companies, you just get your paycheck. So the concept of investing small, incremental amounts, leveraging that compound interest over time, even just like if you look at like, like traditionally like investing in the s&p 500. Like if you just invested nine every year with with this kind of strategy. Regardless of whether or not it’s employee sponsored or not, you could still easily become a millionaire after X amount of years because that it’s always net positive. The s&p is never like it’s gone down like for some years, but I mean, like over an aggregated period of time in history, like it’s always gone up. So and then that interest just keeps compound and compound and compounding. And that’s something that I remember one of my jobs one of the one of the owners of the company actually taught this over to people and it was like one of the most when I was my Younger in my career, and it was one of the most useful lessons that I’ve ever learned. Because, again, this stuff is not taught in school. Unfortunately, it’s not, like not even cool. I think like one class we had like, like, I’m just thinking like high school University, it was like, I was like a liberal arts degree. I was I was pretty lost. There was like, No, no math, no finance, nothing. But, you know, in high school, where everybody goes to high school, you know, much more people go to high school than then some people that go to college university, but still in high school, like, like nothing like maybe a class on taxes, maybe, but nothing on this. Then I learned like trigonometry like, like, since I was like, I don’t know how to become a millionaire after grade 12. And that’s an issue like, I rather have that. So this is very, very small. I think I think a lot of us broken with education, and what we teach, and I think it’s changing. I don’t know, I’m not in it anymore. But I think it’s changing.
I hope so. We need it for sure. I mean, like you even in my high school, I learned 00 about anything to do with finance. And it’s really unfortunate too, because if we go at least in America, you know, go to college, we need to know the difference between subsidized unsubsidized student loans, and that, you know, student loans are not there to just, you know, redecorate your dorm room, which is what happens
on unlimited meal plan, right?
Gosh, exactly, exactly. Like, it needs to be, you know, instilled and unfortunately, at least in my, in my time, it was not, it was not.
And, you know, like, some professions make up for it. Like, I have a Actually, I was talking with my brother this morning, and his girlfriend is going through med school, and she’s like, 500k in debt, but like, she’s expecting to make that back. Right? Like, she’s going to be a doctor. And she’s going to be drawing a pretty good salary. But not everybody makes like, 100 150 200k a year when they’re done University, like I think, you know, like, what, for many, it’s like, you know, what, 3040 5060, maybe in your first year graduate. So it’s, it’s tough. And then if you have that, like, I don’t know, like some colleges, it’s a little bit different. Some Canadians, it’s a little bit different. But still, it’s like, you know, like, it’s expensive. It gets pretty damn expensive. You get a couple $100,000 in debt after you graduate. And if you’re making 40k a year, you have, you know, maybe you’re getting married, maybe have kids, maybe you 40k, if you’re on your own, you’re probably not buying a house just yet, but like, eventually want to buy a house. You know, life happens. car breaks down, whatever. Like you’re not paying that off anytime soon. If I’m not mistaken, actually, Biden just did like some sort of debt or, or relief for a whole bunch of student loans. But still, like, I don’t think that’s everybody. Right. So,
yeah, it’s it’s really tough. And I think, you know, to your point, I think that a lot of these burdens, the debt burdens on millennials, especially right coming out of college, it’s definitely shifting the entire landscape as we know it when it comes to family formation, for example, that’s definitely put off later, we can certainly see that already in the population pyramid. Home ownership, that’s also put off, typically speaking later for millennials, a lot of those major life milestones. They’re no longer happening like they used to. And it’s definitely, I think it’s definitely concerning. You know, at some point, especially millennials now already coming out of college entering their careers with so much debt, it’s, it really shouldn’t be this way. And hopefully, there’s a way to change it. I mean, there are other countries out there that
you’re teaching is a way to change it. On Thank you. Yeah. Accessibility invest. Yeah, that’s a way to change it. I don’t I don’t think we can depend on on. Like, I don’t know, I don’t want to say we can’t depend. But I don’t want to have to depend on traditional institutions to fix this problem. I rather enable people to fit like fix it themselves. Yes, that’s, that’s the way I see it. You know how bad it is, like, you know, it’s obviously major urban areas. So New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver. And that to be middle class in Toronto, you have to be making about I think 150,000 and like don’t even look at like homeownership like detached homeownership unless you’re you know, combined income 200 to 300 that like it’s just insane. Like it’s just not normal. I could attach townhome is over a million. A detached home is like it’s like two and like Vancouver West Coast is even worse. I think Vancouver is now some of the worst homes in the has like the most unaffordable housing market in North America. So much to the point where in urban areas like restaurants and brick and mortar can’t even get a staff because the people that work those jobs cannot afford to live anywhere within commute distance. It’s just like not okay. And New York same San Francisco to say I see I saw homes in San Cisco My God, like, like a, like a $2 million bungalow. It’s like insane. It’s insane. And it’s not a nice home either. Like, you gotta you gotta find other ways to make money now. So this is this is some of them this is like the building blocks to be, you know, competitive in 21 and beyond. So I think that’s why I think that’s also why, you know, it’s so great that you’re doing this because I, it shows you that you started this, what, two years ago, and and you’re in a top, you know, a top 50 personal finance blog. Not enough people are teaching this obviously, there’s still like a huge need. Anyway, very interesting stuff. Okay. I wanted to ask some rapid fire like career questions from you just to pull out some lessons from your career and your life. Before I before I sort of, you know, pivot, we went through a lot of stuff. Was there anything that we didn’t go into that I, I forgot to ask about? Or that I didn’t ask about that you wanted to bring up? Now? I think we’ve covered everything we did a lot. I was good. Very good. Okay, let’s go into some, like rapid fire career questions. Okay, one thing. So what was the biggest misconception that you had about entrepreneurship? Or anybody would have about entrepreneurship? And how has that changed over the past two years?
That is glamorous. Honestly. When I first started in, you know, before I even quit, I thought entrepreneurship is just, you know, 100%, incredible and glamorous, because you have the freedom, and you get to be your own boss. And to some extent, I think it’s true, that you do get to become your own boss, but everyone, you know, I, my boss is technically my audience, right? So I mean, I always have to make sure to cater to my audience. So although I’m free, I’m not exactly free, I always need to make sure that in order to keep up, I also cater to my audience. So it’s not glamorous, there’s a lot of work many sleepless nights, and it’s like, you’re married. It’s like a relationship. Right, me and the blog, you know, there’s no way.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve had in your career? And how did you overcome it?
Okay, so I’ll start in my entrepreneurial career, it’s just believing in myself. I think in the beginning, I did. I didn’t know that I could do it. But I don’t think I actually because I didn’t see the results right away. I didn’t believe in myself. And I always doubted myself until I actually saw the results. And I think a lot of people, especially in today’s world of instant gratification, if you don’t see results within you know, week, one month one, whatever, whatever it is, a lot of people tend to give up. And I’m really thankful I didn’t, but I was definitely on the verge of feeling like, you know, this isn’t for me, I’m not seeing any results and stopping, but in the end winners are made because they don’t quit.
Good to be quote, I like that quote, that’s very good. Okay. Um, what, what, what would one lesson be that you would tell your younger self,
I would probably tell myself to think boldly and think more critically, I think when I was younger, especially in school, and even at university, I always believed what the teachers told me and the professors told me 100% without thinking, you know, trying to think critically at all. And I think as I grew older, and actually entered, you know, even corporate America, and especially as I started my own business, I really started to think boldly and critically, I was trying to figure out like, okay, is this this fact accurate? Or what’s wrong about it? And how can I make sure that I am actually doing the right thing? And I think, unfortunately, at least my school system instilled upon me to always respect authority, being the teachers, right, and the professors and to never question what was told. And thankfully, I did change out of that mold. And I think that was part of my fixed mindset to growth, mindset transformation. But it took a while and I think I could have probably achieved a lot more had I thought more critically and boldly, initially,
very good advice. One person that has been or has had a major impact on your life, who is that but also, how do they impact your life? What did they teach you?
That person is my millionaire mentor. He has an incredible story again, I was very fortunate to meet him at a young age in my early late teens. So he has his story. He grew up in a you know, immigrant First of all, so not English was not his first language. Had a mother no father in the household very poor, and probably one of the worst parts in the city. And he grew up at became an employee, hated being an employee never followed was fired on the spot started his own business that 26 failed two years later being dropped, everything had to move back to his mom’s place. And then I think it was, he was 29, he started a business again, and was able, I think three decades down the road, he sold it for several 10s of millions of dollars. And then he started, you know, startups, etc, etc, just a serial entrepreneur. So biggest lesson there is to never ever be afraid of failure. And I think, you know, goes back to my school system, at least, not not that I’m trying to blame them. But I was always taught that failure is something that’s very bad. And it always came with negative repercussions. And I think that we really need to switch our mindset to say that failure is something positive, you got to learn from it, it just changes your trajectory for the better. And I think that was the biggest piece of advice my mentor gave me.
Very good, very good. What’s one source that you would recommend people go check out could be a book, podcast, anything.
So there are several. The first one is a book called winning by jack welch. He is a former CEO of GE, incredible man incredible life history, I think he actually co authored it with his with Suzy Welch, I think it’s maybe his former wife. But anyway, a really incredible book talks about business. So if you’re an entrepreneur, and you really want to explore the business space and become a true leader, that’s one of the books that I would highly, highly recommend. Another book that I personally really liked was atomic habits. It’s an incredible book really talks about how every day you know, your daily habits really, truly, you know, compound over 10 2030 years, and they can truly determine whether or not you’ll be successful or unsuccessful. And I probably read through that book twice. I mean, probably within like a week, it was so good, so much information, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in improving their lifestyle.
Very good. Very good. Okay. And then last question, what does success mean to you?
I think Success to me, and that’s a really good question. I’m probably living life just on my own terms, and being able to improve even if it’s just half a step better than I was yesterday. I don’t need to be the world’s richest person, I don’t need to be the world’s most famous person, I don’t care about that. All I care is about looking at myself in the mirror the next morning, and making sure that I’m 1% better than I was yesterday. And if that’s in the business, if it’s if that has to do with money, whatever it is, I just want to be 1% better. And over the course of my lifetime, I will be a much better, much more successful person all round than I was when I first started this journey.