08: Your Budget is your Baby | Tiffany Aliche

Tiffany Aliche (she/her), also known as the Budgetnista, is one of America’s favorite personal financial educators, and specializes in empowering women to create, implement, and automate their personalized financial freedom plan. Her LIVE RICHER Challenge movement has helped over 700,000 women from 100+ countries, by inspiring and empowering them to achieve their financial goals. Today, we’ll discuss why we have such a hard time talking about money, why your singular focus on getting debt-free isn’t serving you, the strategy she used to get out of debt, and why your partner needs you to be a “paper towel person” when it comes to talking about money.


Tiffany Aliche (she/her), also known as the Budgetnista, is one of America’s favorite personal financial educators, and specializes in empowering women to create, implement, and automate their personalized financial freedom plan. Her LIVE RICHER Challenge movement has helped over 700,000 women from 100+ countries, by inspiring and empowering them to achieve their financial goals. Today, we’ll discuss why we have such a hard time talking about money, why your singular focus on getting debt-free isn’t serving you, the strategy she used to get out of debt, and why your partner needs you to be a “paper towel person” when it comes to talking about money.

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Tiffany Aliche

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Show Notes

Join the Live Richer Academy: www.joinlra.com


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MU: 00:03
Hi, my name is Melissa Urban and you’re listening to Do the Thing, a podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change and make it stick. My guest is Tiffany Aliche, also known as the Budgetnista. Tiffany specializes in empowering women to create, implement, and automate their personalized financial freedom plan. Today we’ll discuss why we have such a hard time talking about money. Why your singular focus on getting debt free isn’t serving you the strategy she used to get out of debt and why your partner needs you to be a paper towel person when it comes to talking about money. The Budgetnista (pronouns, she/her) is one of America’s favorite personal financial educators. She’s the Amazon number one bestselling author of the one week budget and live richer challenge and a sought after speaker of financial empowerment since 2014 the Budgetnista’s live, richer challenge movement has helped more than 700,000 women by inspiring and empowering them to achieve their financial goals. One thing about Tiffany that I think is really cool is that she recently helped her write the Budgetnista law in her home state of New Jersey, making it mandatory for middle school children to learn financial literacy.

TA/MU: 01:27
Okay. Tiffany Aliche, the Budgetnista, welcome to Do the Thing. I am so excited to have you on the show today. (TA) I am too. Melissa, I wish you could see me. I’m doing like jazz hands like yes. (MU) When I asked my audience what they wanted me to talk about in this podcast, money was one of the most requested subjects. So I knew I had to have you on. At the beginning of every episode. I ask all of my guests, Tiffany, what’s your thing? (TA) My thing is education. There is something about teaching people something that they did not know before or a new perspective that just has always moved me. I used to teach my teddy bears when I was like three and four and then once I realized that they weren’t real, I started bossing around my sisters. I have four of them. And then, um, I’ve just always had been someone that was, I know something or figure it out.

TA/MU: 02:20
I literally cannot hold it to myself. So my thing is definitely teaching. (MU) In fact, you credit your financial literacy to your parents who talked to you about money from a very, very young age. What specifically did your parents talk to you about? (TA) So yeah, especially my dad. My Dad was more like, I would say like the educator, I guess the more traditional sense. I can remember my first financial lesson that I can really remember. I was wanting a bike for my birthday and my dad was doing the bills at the dining room table, which kids, it’s not the best time to ask for something while as well. He was like, sure, you want to buy great that you have to have the, pays some bills. And, but what he meant was he wanted me to add up the family’s bills and subtract it from what he and my mom took home.

TA: 03:09
And at the time I didn’t know if they made a lot or a little, because I think it was like nine. And so I didn’t really have the concept of that, but I did know less and more. And so I realized like, wow, there’s this big long number and now that I subtracted the bills, the number’s not big and long anymore. And so what does that mean for me and my, my bike, what I wanted. And so he told me some of that money could be for, for my bike and some had to be saved and invested in, spent all my sisters. So it was kind of like the first lesson that my dad taught me and he always taught lessons like that. And my mom was really practical in her application. She would literally go food shopping with us. Like we would go food shopping and it wasn’t necessarily that she would say, here’s how you food shop.

TA/MU: 03:53
(TA) We would just watch as she negotiated and made choices because we’re a family of seven, five girls in my parents. And so as I watched her negotiate in real life, those were real life lessons that were age appropriate, but also just stuck with me that were long lasting. Like I said, budgeting, savings, debt. What did that mean? Credit? What did that mean? So yeah, it was just I’m fortunate in the way I grew up. (MU) It could not be farther from the way I grew up, which is we didn’t talk about money at all. Like I knew that my dad worked two jobs so my mom could stay home with us. I kind of had this idea that they live relatively debt free because I knew that they paid off their credit card at the end of every month. And occasionally I would ask for things like a happy meal or the new like white Nike’s with the red swoosh.

TA/MU: 04:38
(MU) And my mom would say, you know, we can’t afford that this month. And, and I knew that she meant it. She wasn’t just saying it to say no, but they never talk to me about budgeting. They never talked to me about credit cards. They never talked to me about debt or credit score. So at 18 I found myself a freshman in college with like no job in three credit cards because that’s how it goes. Yeah. Like that is how it goes. Why are we historically or even now, why are we not talking to our family about money? (MU) I feel like the consensus is that it is somehow inappropriate to talk to children about money. Well, I think like it’s inappropriate not to. So the family folklore is, I don’t remember this, but apparently when I was four I used to love to turn on like water around the house.

Speaker 3: 05:24
(TA) So like, you know, Fung Shui is a thing. I was totally Fung Shui back in the 80s/ I would go from back in the bathroom, which we only had like two but we would, I would turn on the water because I love to hear the sound and my father was trying to figure out how do I get Tiffany to stop wasting water and doing this because I would have like a meltdown if you, I don’t know if you have kids or a toddler, but you know, they’re like unreasonable. And I would have a meltdown if they turned off the water. But I did know about ice cream and the summertime and that we would take turns on your ice cream day. So Tuesday was my day, I’m the second born. So Monday was Karen. Today was me and I knew that, you know, every morning my dad would say, you know Tiffany, today’s Tuesday.

TA/MU: 06:05
(TA) So today’s your ice cream. Then when the ice cream man comes, you can, you’re allowed to come back in the house and ask for your dollar. And so this is like I said, family folklore, cause I don’t remember, but apparently it was my ice cream day. Same day that I’m running the water as usual. I come in and my dad packs his pockets and say, ah, you just missed the water man. And I was like, okay, nobody cares because where’s my ice cream money? And he said, no, I had to give the water man your dollar because every time you turn on the water, that’s how much it costs. And of course I had a royal meltdown, but listen, he said I never ran the water. And so there are age appropriate ways to teach our children and I think that’s the reason why people don’t is because one, they think it’s not appropriate. They don’t want to worry their child. And two, they don’t know how. (MU) That’s so true and I love that you’re done. Turned it into a lesson that like really hit home. (TA) Even to this day I’m like, I’m not quite comfortable with the water running too long. (MU) That’s great. Sure. That’s two purses worth of water.

TA/MU: 07:08
(MU) I’ve also done a lot of reading on the disparity between the way we talk to our sons about money and the way we talk to our daughters about money. So boys are encouraged to invest and grow their money. Girls are encouraged to save and I know that you focus a lot of your financial advice on helping women attain financial freedom. Why have you chosen to focus specifically on that population? (TA) Well in the beginning I definitely was like budgeting stuff for everybody, you know, but I realized very quickly that it was women that were listening. I realized that there weren’t that many women talking about finances. And so when women found someone, they were like, oh my gosh. And then I had read this study and in the study, um, prudential found that women make up to 70% of the financial choices in a household; seven zero.

TA: 07:59
(TA) So for example, you said your mom stayed home, right? Yup. So even though your mom stayed home and maybe she didn’t bring an income and she was still making most of the financial choices, she decided where you were going to food shop, she likely picked out the car. She was the one who decided what clothes you guys were going to wear. So even if a woman is not necessarily bringing in income, she is still responsible for most of the financial choices. And when I read that study in the beginning, when I first started the budget needs to, I realized, wow, I really do need to lean into women. I want to help families, neighborhoods, community and shifts culture forward. You have to do it through their women as relates to finance.

TA/MU: 08:47
(MU) Yes. That is so true. I, I heard you mention that on another interview gave the 70% figure. I also just read a really interesting article on fast company about all of the ways that we are like mansplained how to budget our money and spend our money. Like women are far more likely to get the advice. Oh you should just cut back on lattes, which is not particularly practical. It’s not particularly useful. It’s a little bit sexist to be honest. And like why aren’t you telling me about very practical hands on solutions, not just to save money but to grow my wealth. And I know that something you focus on a lot. (MU) Yes. And even that, honestly it took a long time for me to come to that, that realization that you should focus on wealth. I can remember like following all the rules and doing everything in my parents said and at some point like I really started saving money at nausea and you know, it was when I really started reading those financial books geared toward women, you know, like that financial advice that you mentioned and it was, there’ll be your nails done, they’ll get your hair done, you know, safe, safe, safe. And so I did to the point where my parents asked me to come to the house and sit down with them and they were like, is everything okay? You look crazy.

TA: 09:52
They’re like, you are not taking care of yourself like your clothes are in tatters. Like they thought that I, because I’d moved out, my sister and I moved down and they thought that the rent and the bills, because I was a school teacher, they thought it was taking a toll and I couldn’t afford to keep myself up. Melissa, I had $40,000 saved and I remember my dad, who has never done this, gave me his credit card. It was like, I want you to go to the mall and buy some clothes. And he was like, you can use up to $500 which I was like, what? He never gave us money. I mean I took the $500 but I had $40,000 saved. And then the next, like the next year I bought a condo. Like I used the money for a down payment and to furnish a condo.

TA: 10:33
But the lesson that I learned from that was that I should not be over sacrificing because I wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t hanging out. I was looking crazy and to what end, and I really wish that we as women and girls were taught that if you focus on growing wealth, the other things are taken care of by default. If you grow wealth, you could take care of your debt. If you grow wealth, you could start that business. If you grow well, you’ll have enough to get the things that you want. Being debt free. If you focus on that, that’s all you get. You don’t get wealth, you don’t get the opportunity to try other things. You know that free is not the same as wealth and focusing on wealth means by default that you can achieve debt freedom and still have something leftover.

TA/MU: 11:21
(MU) That’s brilliant. I love that. Debt free doesn’t equal wealth. You understand what that is like? There was a point where you lost your job when you were a preschool teacher during the recession and I believe the figure you called it was you were $300,000 in debt. (TA) It wasn’t just the mortgage, you know, it’d be one thing about $300,000 in debt and it was all mortgage. No, it was credit card debt and it was also student loans and I remember at one point thinking I’m going to always be in debt, and during that time I forgot that lesson of that $500 buy yourself some clothes lesson and started to focus all my energy on being debt free. I was putting every last penny that I had toward getting rid of that debt and I just remember one day looking up, I was living, I was either living in the room at that time.

TA: 12:06
I had at one point rented a room so I couldn’t afford my mortgage anymore. So I lost my condo. I was driving a super old car that was breaking down all the time. I was throwing all everything I had into getting debt free and it just felt like a miserable existence. And so it’s almost like this light bulb went on and I thought, Tiffany, I literally remember saying, how’s it going Tiffany? Like you’re putting all of your money towards getting rid of this debt, but the budget needs to have this business that you want to start is not growing. Um, you know, you’re not able to go out was the last time you’ve seen your friends, you’re not doing anything else. But this. And I decided then that I was going to create a system to pay down my debt. I just, I use, I ended up finding the snowball method.

TA/MU: 12:51
(MU) Yeah, I want to talk to you about that. (TA) Yes. Yes. So I, Dave Ramsey, he did not invent the snowball method. I do like Dave Ramsey, so Dave Ramsey friends please. It’s fine. So he definitely popularized it. So I used the snowball method and I basically set it and forget it. And then I focused the rest of my energy into my business and growing wealth through my business. And it made all the difference. (MU) Do you remember how much debt you had paid off when you made this mindset flip? And I think what I’m asking is, I imagine it would be very, very hard to approach a level of debt that big with this idea of, okay, I’m going to set it and forget it and grow wealth. Like do you think that paying off part of it gave you enough breathing room to, to be able to engage this mindset flip or do you encourage everyone to go into paying down debt with this new mindset?

TA: 13:39
I encourage everyone. I wish I would’ve started sooner. I think maybe close to like one 90 why or one nine to 200,000 was the mortgage. So we could take that as the picture because there was a forgiveness program for anyone during that post recession time that, that lost their house. So really we were looking at about a little under maybe like a hundred thousand dollars worth of real debt that I have to like pay. And so that was student loan debt and that was credit card debt. The student loan debt. I had barely made a dent because honestly I put it in um, forbearance cause I was like, look Sally, I don’t have it. You don’t have it. You know, I did that during that time. The first, like before I made the switch, I really focused on the credit card debt and credit card debt. I owed about 35 to $40,000.

TA/MU: 14:24
And so I would say I probably paid five to 10,000 of it before I made the switch because I thought to myself, this is going to take a long time. And so that’s when I made the switch and I said, why are you focusing on this? Pay The minimum plus use the snowball method, set it automated and focus on something else. You’re not late, you’re not behind. Let it work itself out. And as you do better, you’re able to pay out. It’s just if you do that now you can alleviate this sense of burden and really fly toward living richer. (MU) I love that so much. Okay. You have to give us a really short kind of summary of the snowball method. You keep saying, you know, set it and forget it. What does that look like in practice? (TA) Yeah. So the snowball method, it looks like this.

MU: 15:09
So I want you to imagine cartoon, your favorite cartoon. Pretend like bugs bunny. Well, I don’t know if you have millennial audience. I’m like bugs bunny. Just pretend like he’s, he Paw Patrol or something at the top of the hill. And we’ve seen this scenario many times, the snowball at the top of the hill, it starts off small and they pushed the little snowball down as it rolls down the hill, it collects no, and it’s huge by the time it gets to the bottom. So just mentally think of that. So the snowball method is that you look at all your, all of your debt and you list it from lowest to highest, and then you tell yourself, I’m going to pay the minimum to all of the debt except for the lowest debt owed. We’re gonna put everything extra that we can towards the smallest debt.

TA: 15:55
So you’re going to pay the smallest that automate the minimums of the rest. And once you pay off that smallest debt, you’re going to roll over to the next smallest dept. Two, you’re going to give the next smallest debt, the first smallest debt’s minimum, and that extra money you’ve pulled from your budget, let’s just say it’s a hundred bucks. As you go from debt to debt, you’re literally increasing the snowball, meaning increasing the payment because you’re collecting minimums along the way. And so you don’t actually have to pull more money out of your budget. The beauty of it is, is that as you get to higher limits of of debt that you owe, you’ll have a bigger snowball. Yeah. Because you know, and so it’s just a great system that, you know, once you set it up and you could kind of literally like check on it every time you pay off the debt, you rolled it over, pay off a debt, roll it over.

TA/MU: 16:37
You can focus on other things. (MU) So are we not worrying about interest rate? I’ve had some people say, well, do we pay attention to the bill that has the smallest balance, or the bill that has the highest interest rate? You’re saying just look at the balance owed. (TA) Here’s the thing, technically it’s smarter to pay off the debt with the highest interest because that’s the most expensive debt. Emotionally, it’s more effective to pay off the debt with the lowest balance because you’re going to get a win very early on. (MU) Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask you next. There is an emotional component to it. A self confidence component. (TA) Yes. Because imagine you’re like, okay, I’m gonna finally start working out. We all do this. I’m going to finally start working out, so I’m going to run 10 miles tomorrow. Probably not going to happen.

TA/MU: 17:18
Right. That’s too long. So instead if you say, I’m actually going to walk around the block, that’s more realistic. It’s an, it’s an easier win. You should allow yourself, you can stack the chips in your favor. You should win right away. So that way you know, once you start getting wins under your belt, you feel motivated to go to the next one and the next one and then you could increase the difficulty as you go. Like making your goals super difficult from the very beginning. It’s a clear way of of not being able to stick with it. (MU) love that. I love that you are balancing the practical with the emotional and like it’s almost an act of self care to give yourself that small. When you talk about focusing on creating wealth and I can see how that would be like an easy go to for someone who has their own business or for someone who has a side hustle.

TA/MU: 18:07
(MU) If you are just you know live in your day to day, you have a nine to five job, you don’t have additional sources of income. What are some ways that people can focus on growing wealth? (TA) There are two key ways to focus on growing wealth. One, you have to make more and two you have to grow it. If you are working a nine to five it is more than possible so to make more but also to grow on the side. So let’s just say you don’t have the capacity to take on a side job or do any other thing on the side. Then you have to figure out for yourself, how do I squeeze money from the money I am making to set aside for savings, debt, pay down and investing. Now, if you do have some extra time, the best way to make the most amount of money most efficiently is to either do something that you have a degree in because they’ll pay you more or do something that you’re, that’s adjacent to what you’re already doing.

TA: 18:58
So when I was a preschool teacher, I tutored and I babysat because who doesn’t want a preschool teacher tutoring and babysitting your kids, you know, because you’re like, I’ve already got all of my, my shots, you know, and credentials and like, you’re not gonna Freak out if my kid has a tantra. I think we’ve been happily. And so it allowed me to, to charge more because when I posted like, hey, babysitting or tutoring. And I had my masters in education. So people were like, okay, I definitely am willing to pay you more Tiffany because you’re qualified. And so that allowed me, it didn’t take up a whole lot of extra time and it was very flexible, so allowed me to make additional income. So whether you make more or whether you save more, that part is, that’s up to you. The part that if you want to grow wealth that is not up to you, is that you have to grow because you cannot save your way typically to, well you have to multiply your wealth through investing.

TA: 19:50
And so I tell people like, so this is a preschool teacher and me visualize an acorn that is your principal. That is the seed that you are going to save, as many seeds as you can every single paycheck and then those seeds you’re going to put away. Most people take seeds and they eat all of them every single month, but if you’re smart, you will set aside ideally 20 to 10% of your, of your seeds and then you’re going to put them up. And at first the seed seem deceptive. Like, oh, I can’t possibly save a million seeds. I want to have $1 million. And you’re right, it is difficult to save a million seeds. But the magic of seeds are, is that after a while, if you take those seeds that you have and then you plant them, which is investing, and then you water them, you make sure they get enough sunlight.

TA: 20:36
So that is your due diligence. Water and sunlight is your due diligence. Are you taking classes? Do you have a financial planner? If you so need one, do you have financial advisor? Are you trying to learn how to grow your money? So the water and this sunlight. And then after awhile, acorn seeds yield acorn trees. And so that’s awesome. So now your, your initial seed, your principal is growing and then those acorn trees grow acorns. And so all of a sudden you realize that from one seed you can grow hundreds of acorns. And that’s truly what can happen with your money. That from $1 you can spend $1, you can invest $1 and yields $10. That’s the only way truly to grow wealth. Whether it’s you could invest in real estate, you might just stocks, you might invest in businesses, whatever that looks like. To grow wealth you have to invest.

TA/MU: 21:26
(MU) That makes complete sentence. I love the acorn analogy. How important in all of this process is having a really good budget and what are some common mistakes that you see people making with respect to their budget’s? (TA) Your budget is your baby! Just about your, honestly, it’s essential. Some think if you have a lot of money that you don’t have to adhere to it, but in some way, shape or form, you don’t have to necessarily be as strict, but there should be some sort of plan for your money, a budget. It’s just the physical plan for your money that you can literally see and track. And so once you have that, that’s, that’s important. And so here’s some misconceptions: that your budget is there to tell you no. No, no, no. Your budget is your say yes plan. I wish you could see me, I have like the clenched fist.

TA: 22:09
(TA) I’m like shaking them in the air. I’m such a visual person. Your budget is your say yes plan. It is there to say yes, Tiffany, you can go on vacation, you re-look over your cable. Do you really watch TV like that? I don’t. So if I cut cable at 200 bucks a month for six months, that’s $1,200 Hello Jamaica, let’s go. You know. And so your budget is there to say yes, it’s there to help you navigate to your yes, but you’re going to have to make decisions and choices and it doesn’t mean living less of a light because I never watched TV and yet I did have a $200 capable, but now I travel all the time and I used that money to do that. So I would say that’s the biggest misconception. Another misconception that it’s hard to maintain a budget.

TA: 23:01
You know? Because automation is the new discipline. I don’t have to maintain my budget. You know, I already have a bills account. I have two main checking accounts. One I call my deposit account. That’s where the money that’s earned in the household is the positive. And then we have a separate checking account that we call a bills account. And so every pay period, a certain amount of money based upon what bills are, we know that we’re going to, oh, so let’s just say our bills for the month or like $5,000. So we might say, well, okay, every pay period, 2,500 is transferred to the bills account and then the bills account has been instructed to pay the bills automatically. That’s it. And so same sticking to a budget doesn’t have to be difficult because the money lands automatically. If you have direct deposit and the transfer from deposit accounts, a bills account can also be an automated transfer.

TA/MU: 23:52
(TA) And then you know, you pay your bills automatically. So those two things that it tells you no, you know, and budgets are hard to stick to. That’s the lie.(MU) Yes. And that segues perfectly into the next kind of topic. So many people said to me, how do I get on the same page as my partner about finances? And I think it goes back to money is shameful and we don’t want to talk about things like how much money we owe or that we like spending x amount of money on shoes or that we spent, you know, our credit card bills are this, is a budget, a good place to start looking at these issues and getting on the same page? (TA) Not necessarily. So I am, this is two years, we’ll be married two years, my husband and I, and before that we were together for four years.

TA: 24:36
So all together, six years together. And I started to open the door to a budget like, okay, this is where we’re going to do. And he was like, ain’t no, I’m an adult. I haven’t always leave me alone when it comes to money. So I call my husband Superman. So it was like, oh my gosh, how do I get Superman on board? And so I was like, okay. So I tried bossing him around and he was like, yeah, no. And what I realized is I had to find something that he already believed, yes, this is true. And so Superman has a daughter, my bonus baby, she’s 12 now and Supergirl was just like her nickname. So super girl, it was the one thing that there’s never a no when it comes to her. So he would buy all these different things like all these different baby dolls whenever we would go out her Christmas tree look like, like he had seven children instead of just this one.

TA: 25:32
And um, and I remember thinking if I can get him on a page to agree to financial responsibility for Supergirl, we can work from there. And I did. So one Christmas he had spent a lot of money and I said, wow, what a lucky little girl. And I said, so the same amount of money we spend on presents, we’re also depositing that right into her savings account. He was looking at me like, wait, what? I was like, well, I’m going to deposit money into hersavings account. And I mean, you don’t have to, but I mean it would be… No, of course I want to deposit money into my daughter’s savings account. So that started to shift because it was like, wait, like what’s more important? My daughter’s everything, but am I really making the right choices in how I’m spending money on her? So that was the common denominator. We found a common ground that I can be responsible when it comes to supergirl. And then from there I started to edge in other things like, okay, I, I travel a lot, I love to go on vacation, I’m going to go on vacation. Do you want to go? I do. Do you have any money to go? I don’t. Well then I will see you next Friday.

TA: 26:36
That’s when we were dating… So when we were dating he was like, oh I to travel too. So I was like, well I can show you how to open up an online only savings account. So he opened up a savings account and he started putting money in automatically from his paycheck. He had it split, like you can go to your job typically and they’ll let you split into like three or four times your, your paycheck. So he started doing now. But do you see with Supergirl then vacations, then it became we need to save for the wedding and then it became let’s say for the house and then it’s like when we, when we bought the house, that’s what really triggered the on the totally on board. But he wasn’t fully onboard. I had to find a common denominator and just add things on that I knew would be good for the family but that he could agree to as well. And now, I mean sometimes he’s more frugal than I am now. I’m like, Babe, I think we can. I think we can get cheese on the burger. I think we could.

TA/MU: 27:33
(MU) Okay. So I love the idea of finding common ground and opening up a conversation around that. I talk to people a lot about that with the whole30 find like a common ground. Something where you can easily relate. Is it also helpful if one partner just decides to like go first and start talking about their finances? If you’re not married yet, you might not know how much debt you’re partner has, how much money they make in their job, where they spend their money. Would it be a good idea just to start talking about that? Like it seems kind of like a no brainer but I don’t think we’re there. (TA) For sure. I think that somehow, sometimes the best way to get someone to open up is to open up like you said first and I definitely was like, oh my credit score went down 10 points.

TA: 28:14
It was a, uh, seven 40 and now it’s a seven 30. Let me see why. So normalizing financial conversation is everything. I didn’t grow up having hangups about talking about money. My parents talked about it with us when we were four, so you know, so, but I realized with him that wasn’t so, so I remember the first time because I happen to mention my credit score because I think I was checking it on like one of those apps. And he always like, I looked at him and we were still dating and I was like, what’s your credit score? He looked at me like I, you know, I asked him what underwear he had on or something and I was like, he was like, ah, I don’t know. I was like, well, I have this free app, let’s check. And he was like, I’m sorry, I realize that now, not normal, that scene.

TA: 28:53
But we checked and honestly it wasn’t that great, but then it also wasn’t judgment. That’s the reason why people are afraid. I was like, well, at the time it was like a six 30 and I was like, oh, this is not that great, but guess what? Like, so I started asking him questions like, do you make ontime bill payments? And I could see there were from the APP that like, yes, he did. And I was like, well, what else do you know? Do you owe any debt? And um, he didn’t have, he didn’t have any debt except for he had a car. No, but he wasn’t late. And I said, um, he said, you know, I do have one credit card, it’s a secured card, the limit is $500 and my balance is like four 50. And I said, well, why is the balance so high? He was like, well, I ran it up on purpose so I could show that I can make monthly payments. And that’s a who, who told you to do that?

TA/MU: 29:36
That’s why, because you’re almost maxed out that if you utilize more than 30% of your credit card limit, you are dramatically affecting your score. So one third of your whole scores is how much of your limits is a balance basically. And so I say, well, do you have the four 50 to pay it off? He said, yes. So he did. And then in three months his credit score went from a six 30 to uh, seven 50 which is the beginning of perfect credit. Yeah. And then you put a ring on it. I was like, yeah, I think that’s a good idea. (MU) Heck yeah. I love that. Yeah. We have to normalize these conversations and I think a lot of, you know, Brene Brown talks about shame, kind of hiding in the dark. And I think opening up the door to this conversation, this is my credit score.

TA/MU: 30:17
It’s not awesome. Do you want to work on improving it together? Or this is how much debt I owe, these are the payments I’m making. What do you think about this strategy is a really great way, not only to get on the same page with your partner, but also to like relieve the burden on yourself. So you realize that it’s not this like deep, dark, ugly secret. It’s just finances. (TA) Yes, exactly. And so it’s really the reaction. It’s like telling your kids, right? You could tell me anything and they tell you something, you totally freak out. So now what? You’re really right. It’s like you’re saying, I could tell you anything but really an actuality. You’re proving to me that I cannot. And so are you providing a safe space for your partner to tell you like, oh, the credit card, I ran it up $10,000.

TA/MU: 30:54
Yeah. Are you like, oh my God. Or are you like, okay, well what happened? Yeah. Okay, so what do we do next? You know what I mean? So it’s the difference between what I call my dad and my mom. My Dad, he is the typical like, you know, something goes wrong when we were kids and I spilled milk. Oh my goodness, you spilled milk. We don’t, we don’t have milk money, do so many kids in this house. You guys have to be more responsible, you know, and you’re like, oh, I’m sorry. Right. And my mom doesn’t say anything. She gets a paper towel. And so I remember thinking, because I’m more like my dad intemperament, like Oh my God, but I work really hard to be a paper towel person. I get it. That’s a tongue twister, right? So, so like if you can be a paper towel person, like something is wrong, I go straight to solution.

TA/MU: 31:40
Okay, let’s get this paper towel because you’re going to get a paper towel anyway. So all of that, you spilled the milk and everything. Once my dad has done, guess what he ends up doing? Getting the paper towel. Let’s get straight to it. So ask yourself in your life, how can you be a paper towel person, especially as it relates to your spouse? (MU) Yes. I love it. I’m going to call it paper towel people from now on her yet. I love that. So at the end of every episode, what’s one piece of advice you can give to someone who’s ready to do this thing? (TA) One piece of advice I would give to someone is to start today. Start now. So whatever that is, whatever that looks like to start now that nothing breeds success faster than action. The problem is happening now. Take action now.

TA/MU: 32:23
So if you are listening now, do something now. Is it a youtube video, is it calling your girlfriend to say, let’s start a budget together. I have this, these things called my live richer challenges. They’re completely free. There’s five of them there. They’re basically a month long free step by step course on either networks. I’m growing it, I’m fixing your credit, saving more. The fundamentals, buying a house. Look, me and my coworkers are going to sign up for the credit edition of the live richer challenge. Like what action are you going to take today? Are you gonna write down your budget on a piece of paper? Are you going to open up the bills account? Are you going to go online and Google best online bank for savings and find the bank and open it? Like I use this bank called ally bank and it takes seven minutes to open up a savings account.

TA/MU: 33:09
That’s it. And so literally after listening to this, you can take action that can totally transform your life right now. So my best piece of advice, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be clean, doesn’t have to be neat, but it does have to be taken. And that is action. (MU) Yeah, I am like this pumping right now. I am ready to come on my financial advisor. We’re going to do the paperwork we talked about. Good. I am excited. Tiffany, the Budgetnista, where can people find you in here more? Because I know they’re going to want to. (MU) I am the Budgetnista on everything. So that’s Instagram, Facebook, youtube and I’m the budgetnista.com And also too, I actually have a online school that is really awesome and that’s really why I take personal finance to the next level. For Women who are looking to invest, purchase homes, our businesses, and that is the live richer academies. So you can find me there too. (MU) I can’t wait. Thank you so much for helping us all find financial freedom and do the thing.

Thanks for listening!

Continue the conversation with me @melissa_hartwig on Instagram. If you have a question for Dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at (321) 209-1480.

Do the Thing is part of ‘The Onward Project,’ a family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin—all about how to make your life better.  Check out the other Onward Project podcasts– Happier with Gretchen RubinSide Hustle School, and Happier in Hollywood.

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