From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series – Making Momentum
Today, I am excited to share with you the seventh interview in the From Broke to Financially Woke series! The purpose of this series it to give hope to those struggling to escape from the not so secret group Broke Phi Broke. A group whose chant is, “We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke! We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke!”
To help me accomplish this goal, I have invited the best and brightest of the financial independence community here to share their stories. As you read their interviews, pay close attention to the mistakes they made. Take mental note of the success principles they used to turn things around.
When trying to apply these principles to your own life, realize that success in life is rarely linear. You will encounter some struggles. But stay persistent. Keep moving forward.
Our special guest today is one of my favorite bloggers, Scott from Making Momentum. He writes articles that are jam-packed with actionable tips on a consistent basis, so definitely check out some of his blog after reading this interview.
At his lowest point, Scott had $38,000 in debt, and it really stressed him out.
Let’s see what he did to turn things around…
Introduce yourself. Where do you blog? What are some of your interests outside of financial independence?
First off thanks to Jerry for letting me stop by and hello to all the Peerless Money Mentor readers.
My name is Scott and I’m the blogger behind Making Momentum. I’m a 30-year-old Canadian millennial based out of Ontario, Canada. Currently, the family situation involves living with my amazing girlfriend and ideally, in the near future, we’re bringing marriage and children into that equation.
In terms of interests, the big ones would be: getting outdoors around Ontario with my girlfriend, enjoying a craft beer or two, watching or participating in sports and also travelling whenever I can to explore this awesome world we live in.
Tell us about a time where you were a member of Broke Phi Broke. How did living paycheck to paycheck make you feel as a person? At your lowest point, how much debt did you have?
After graduating university the debt total I had, made up of student loans and credit cards, was $38,000. While not crippling in comparison to some of the headlines you see in the news or personal finance blogging space, it was a big and burdensome number for my reality.
The debt load I was carrying and lack of financial literacy was a weight that brought stress, self-doubt and general frustration. I hated logging into my bank account or checking my credit card statements because it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. There was feelings of embarrassment, jealousy and overall uncertainty about the road ahead.
I was living paycheck to paycheck and not moving forward at all.
Until having an ah ha moment, my personal finances were never a priority or area of focus. A simple Google Search of “how to pay off student loan debt faster” put me on a deep (deep, deep, deep) dive into all things personal finance and money management.
That one search changed my financial trajectory and got me a ticket onto the train moving from Broke Phi Broke to Financially Woke.
What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?
Oh man…where do I start? I’ve written about some of the student money mistakes I made in my late teens and early/mid 20’s but will provide a couple of those headlines here.
- Misdirected pride and shame stopped me from asking my parents, extended family, professors or coworkers for advice on personal finances.
- I used my credit card for tuition in my final semester of university to avoid taking out more student loans despite the interest rate being 4x higher and already having an outstanding balance.
- Eventually I stopped checking my credit card balance due to that anxiety and self-doubt it brought, only to discover I had gone over the limit of the card.
- General consumerism had me overspending on all the things I couldn’t afford and was a serious FOMO/keeping up with the Joneses participant.
Thankfully none of these money mistakes truly crippled my financial future. They served as ankle weights that slowed my journey to getting financially woke.
Describe your upbringing. Where did you grow up? What did your parents or teachers teach you about money?
I grew up in Canada with a great, supportive family and parents who both worked middle class jobs. Money definitely wasn’t plentiful and they worked hard to provide our family of 5 an enjoyable childhood.
There were no luxuries or signs of wealth in our household but I feel blessed for everything my parents did. The summer camping trips, youth sports and general mindset around working hard and enjoying life helped provide me a great upbringing.
Both my parents discussed money openly with us as we got older. It didn’t get into the nitty gritty of personal finance but more so focused on a few overarching concepts. Some of those pillars we talked about included getting a job in my teens, saving as much as I could for post-secondary education, buying a used car in cash, being careful with credit cards (ignored that one) and working hard to set myself up for success in a career I would enjoy.
Could they have taught me more? Sure, that’s easy to say. Maybe if they handed me The Millionaire Next Door I would have had a totally different lifestyle and money mindset. However, I don’t place any blame for my lack of financial literacy on them as the onus falls more on me for not being more engaged and taking in the lessons they shared.
In terms of school, unless I totally blacked it out, I don’t ever recall any discussions around personal finance. The basic concepts of budgeting, credit cards, student loans, mortgages or retirement weren’t taught. I took business courses in both high school and university that included topics like accounting, amortization, compound interest, cost-benefit analysis and other financial matters connected to corporations (not personal finances).
How important is becoming financially woke to you? What steps have you take to increase your financial knowledge?
The idea of becoming financially woke has changed my entire mindset around money and life in general. For most of my late teens and early-to-mid 20’s I’d ignored the core strategies around effective money management so I needed to fast-track my education. That initial Google Search of “how to pay off student loan debt faster” sent me on a mission.
The initial steps I took to improve financial literacy in my own life included diving headfirst into content across a variety of mediums. From the best financial podcasts, highly recommended personal finance books and amazingly informative blogs, a total 180 was spawned and being financially woke was the goal.
That shift in mindset snowballed into a series of changes that helped put taking control of my money and life at the forefront of my priorities. It started with a student loan repayment strategy that included a focused effort to improve both sides of the equation: expenses and revenue.
I cut back on spending as best I could by being more mindful of where my money was going plus really leaned into growing my income through both my professional career and by starting to do side hustle work outside my 9-5 (I discuss that side hustle in an interview on Vital Dollar with Marc).
What are some of the key principles you have used to improve your financial life?
When it comes to the principles or ideologies that helped improve my financial life, let’s try to capture those with some headlines:
- Shifted my mindset to one of abundance in terms of the opportunities available in my life to find success, make money and improve my financial standing
- Performed a spending audit and began evaluating all purchases on how much value and happiness they brought to my life
- Applied myself as best I could in my career to grow my income and also accrue new skills, experiences and connections
- Formed a productive schedule that allowed me to earn more money outside my career by waking up at 5AM everyday
- Focused on having fun, enjoying life and never depriving myself to an end of the spectrum that would be negatively impacting my life
I still make mistakes with money, go through periods of self doubt and stress about the future but now have the tools and confidence to know I’m on the right path.
How often do you consume personal finance information? Name 3-5 of your favorites sources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc.).
Whether it’s through the Rockstar Finance Newsletter, podcast app on my phone, social media or a book, I consume personal finance content every day in some form or fashion.
If I had to suggest three of my favorite sources of content that I frequent most, they would be:
- Reviewing the blog posts from the Rockstar Finance Newsletter every morning
- Listening to my ‘core’ five personal finance podcasts (Choose FI, BiggerPockets Money Show, The Side Hustle Show, FIRE Drill Podcast and The MapleMoney Show)
- Browsing the best Reddit personal finance subs for new content on general money discussion, investing and travel hacking
If I had to recommend three personal finance books to someone looking to get on the road to being financially woke, they would be:
- Financial Freedom by Grant Sabatier
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Where are you on the path to financial freedom now?
Right now I would title the part of the path I’m at as the accumulation stage. I’m debt free outside of a very manageable mortgage and looking to maximize the gap as best possible between my income and spending.
The goal right now is to continue to grow both my career salary and side hustle income streams while also better spending and managing my money to spike that savings rate.
I’m pursuing a life towards financial freedom. What does that mean to me? The ability to make decisions based on what I want to do and value most. I want full control over how I spend my time and the peace of mind to know I’m living this very short time I have on this planet as best as I possibly can.
Is there any advice/encouraging words you can give those who are struggling to escape Broke Phi Broke?
Keep building your foundation of financial knowledge no matter what stage of the journey you’re at. Don’t compare yourself to others with a negative mindset, use it as an opportunity for inspiration and to learn from them. Always remember personal finances are personal and what works for one person might not be applicable to your life. So focus on compounding small wins by making manageable adjustments with your finances and keep pushing forward.
I will end with the favorite quote I have in regards to life that also applies to money:
Learn from yesterday.
Live for today.
Hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is not to stop questioning.
That’s from the one and only Albert Einstein.
How can the readers contact you?
Thanks again to Jerry and the Peerless Money Mentor readers for having me! The best places to connect with me are Twitter (@making_momentum) or via Making Momentum by dropping a comment on a post or sending an email.
Questions to Ponder
- Was there ever a time in your life when you hated logging into your bank accounts?
- What are some limiting beliefs that may be holding you back from living the life you want? How can you adopt an abundance mindset like Scott?
- How much student loan debt do you have? What does your repayment strategy look like?
- When does Einstein suggest you stop asking questions?
- Would you like to share your story of how you escaped Broke Phi Broke? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more interviews in the From Broke to Financially Woke Series.
Please share this From Broke to Financially Woke interview on social media! Include the hashtag #becomefinanciallywoke.
Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.
If you are having trouble saving, he recommends that you join the SaverLife Savings program where you can get a $60 reward after six months (no income requirement). All you have to do is put a minimum of $20 a month into a savings account. Easy, right?
For a fun read, check out his article 10 Signs You’re a Personal Finance Addict to see if you are a personal finance nerd.
Before you go, check out the new From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series.
Also, please subscribe below if you found his content valuable and want to continue following him as he documents his own journey from Broke to Financially Woke!