This week, Maggie is joined by financial coach Ericka Young to talk about the action steps you can take to finish 2019 off financially strong and start 2020 on the right foot.
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Join Maggie and financial coach Ericka Young to learn about what you can do to get your finances right as 2019 comes to an end and how to set yourself up for success in 2020. They touch on holiday spending, goal setting, having money conversations, and more.
Planning for holiday spending
Ericka Young is the president and founder of Tailor-Made Budgets which she opened in 2005 after she and her husband Chris climbed their way out of nearly $100,000 in debt. She became a certified financial coach by Dave Ramsey’s Lampo Group in 2006 and combines her passion for helping people with creative debt reduction techniques so everyone can have a path to financial freedom. Ericka is a recognized financial expert who inspires people to significantly improve their finances, family and their future with a solid plan. Ericka’s Best-Selling book, “Naked and Unashamed: 10 Money Conversations Every Couple Must Have” was released online in February 2017 worldwide. She currently teaches her message of debt freedom through her e-newsletters, personal and group coaching, workshops and speaking engagements. Ericka, Chris and their two teenage daughters, Faith and Olivia reside in Fishers, IN.
To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit www.maggiegermano.com.
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The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.
Maggie Germano: 00:00 Hey there and welcome to the money circle podcast. My name is Maggie Germano and I am your host. Thank you for tuning in. Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe in your podcasting app so that more people will hear about this podcast and listen. This week’s episode is brought to you by Stitcher premium. Listen to some of your favorite shows. Ad-free was Stitcher premium like Conan O’Brien needs a friend. My favorite murder science rules with bill Nye and more. Plus, you can get access to Stitcher originals like the neighborhood listen and groceries, which are t2o silly and lovely podcasts that I personally listened to. Stitcher premium is only four 99 a month or 34 99 a year, but if you use the code money circle, you can get your first month free. Go to stitcher.com/premium to sign up today. This week on the money circle podcast. I’m interviewing Ericka Young who is the president and founder of Tailor-Made Budgets, which she started in 2005 after she and her husband climbed their way out of nearly a hundred thousand dollars in debt.
Maggie Germano: 01:08 Ericka is the author of the bestselling book naked and unashamed, 10 money conversations every couple must have. She currently teaches her message of debt freedom through her e-newsletters, personal and group coaching workshops and speaking engagements. I met Ericka this past year when we were on the same financial coaching panel at FinCon. We obviously have a ton of the same interests and passion since we’re basically doing the same work. So I was excited to have Ericka on the podcast. In this conversation we talk about how people can take action to finish 2019 off financially strong and how to start 2020 on the right foot. I enjoyed chatting with Ericka and I hope you enjoy listening.
Maggie Germano: 02:03 Welcome Ericka. Thanks so much for being here today.
Ericka Young: 02:07 Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.
Maggie Germano: 02:10 Um, so why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and the work that you do.
Ericka Young: 02:15 Yeah, so actually my journey started about 20 years ago. My husband and I got married and we had a lot of debt just like a lot of people do. And one of our goals, and when we sat down in our lofty fairy tale life, right, we were like, what do we want out of our marriage in our life? And one of those things was to change our family tree. And what does that mean? Like that’s kind of vague in general. And so for us, that meant trying to get out of debt. And so both of us had student loans, we had credit cards, we had car notes. I mean, honestly it was over $1,000 in payments every single month for us to just, you know, do the bare minimum.
Ericka Young: 02:58 And so, um, we wanted to make certain that that was a part of, you know, what it meant for us to change our family tree and to, uh, take money management to the next level. So that was our journey. We’d set five years to get out of debt. We basically created budgets every single month and all extra monies were going towards the debt repayment. And at the end of that journey I was like, well, wait a minute, I want to help other people do this, is this possible? And I started exploring and I took a business class and wrote a business plan. And then my pastor actually was aware of what it was that I wanted to do. And I said, okay, so hold on, help me understand if there’s people in the church that need this help. And so he did. He sent me a few people, I work with them and I was like, yes, this is what I want to do.
Ericka Young: 03:52 And so I started creating some plans for them and he said, you need to tailor make this. And then the name tailor made budgets was born. And so ever since then, I mean, honestly, I’ve been doing this work now for almost 15 years. I’m closer to 15 than I am to 14 now. And I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and I enjoy helping them see a path to that freedom. That doesn’t mean deprivation. My big thing is I love beans and rice, but I don’t want to eat it every day. And so I want people to understand that they can get out of debt and also enjoy the journey.
Maggie Germano: 04:32 I love that. That’s, that’s an important piece of it too, because I think that there are a lot of people out there, whether they are like a blogger or maybe they’re a coach or they’re just an individual who thinks that you have to suffer, you have to give up everything. Yeah. You have to just like literally, literally live bare bones in order to, you know, get out of debt and have a better situation. And I also don’t believe that that’s the case,
Ericka Young: 04:58 right? I think a lot of people have this view of budgeting that is very limited and one sided to where there’s just so much restriction and no fun. And one of the classes that I’ve taught since the very beginning, and I’ve never changed the name, it’s called budget. It’s not a dirty word because we’ve made it a dirty word. And really I think that the budget can be a path to freedom and you telling your money where to go, including putting fun stuff in there. I think people are hesitant, they’re worried, they’re embarrassed, they’re like, Oh, I should be able to do more with my money. And they also feel guilty if they do. And I’m like, no, no. Put the clothing in there. If you’re going to break the budget to go off and get it, you might as well be honest with yourself from the beginning.
Ericka Young: 05:47 And it really comes down to people just thinking about how much they’re spending in each category versus saying no all together. It’s completely that we’re going to have a month where there’s no dining out. So just put something in there and be realistic with it. And if it doesn’t fully fit to put all of those funds in there, at least you know you can go out once or twice and, and really start looking at how to maximize on the dollars that you have. So it’s not about deprivation, it’s just about how do you reduce and how do you still fit all of the things and, but it makes sure that your goals are most important.
Maggie Germano: 06:24 Yeah, I completely agree. And I say that with my clients all the time too. Like what is actually realistic. If you’re going to say that you’re going to be putting $2,000 a month towards your debt, but then that leaves you with nothing leftover for anything else, you’re going to have to use your credit card again anyway. So you might as well be as reasonable and realistic as possible so that you don’t end up kind of hurting yourself in a different kind of way. And it’s, yeah, it’s the same with, with like the spending with the debt, pay down with savings, all of that. Um, and I loved what you were saying with your own story, how you sat down with your husband to actually figure out what do we want out of this marriage? What do we want out of this life together? And really coming up with that together. Cause I think that’s something that, you know, we’re not always told to do. And it’s not always, um, a piece of advice of like sitting down and figuring out like, what do we actually want together and what does that look like? How do we do it?
Ericka Young: 07:18 Yeah, we did that because both of us came from single parent households and we didn’t know what a happy, healthy, longterm marriage looked like. So that was one of the first reasons why we did it. And then also we didn’t have great money examples. So I mean single parent households, our mothers did the best that they could. That’s the honest truth. And we don’t fault them for that at all. But at the same time we want it more. I mean, we didn’t want our kids to come out of college and struggled with that the way that we did. So how are we going to change that and, and are giddy young, innocent, naive perspectives. Like, Oh, we can do all these things. But I feel like the one thing that really stuck is our commitment to money management. I think that’s where he and I both have a really strong, we’re in agreement about most things around money.
Ericka Young: 08:11 We’re not in agreement on other stuff and that’s just how a marriage goes. But, um, we’re money, things are concerned. We are in alignment on a lot. And so I think that that’s what really took off for the two of us and that’s what made us be able to get out of debt. Now being able to help other people, I see that, I can see and understand and appreciate the push that a guide or a coach or a cheerleader can do for you. We didn’t have that. And I think that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do that on their own.
Maggie Germano: 08:41 Oh totally. Especially if they don’t feel like they’re necessarily on the same page immediately and right. And maybe neither of them kind of know how to go about it and it can feel like an area of conflict, some people, which makes it harder. Um, but it sounds like a huge point of, you know, success for you was that you both were on the same page with how you wanted to change your, your story and your way forward and that a lot of that centered around money, um, were either of you kind of coming from a different mindset about money even before you kind of got on the same page. That kind of made that a little bit harder at first.
Ericka Young: 09:23 Yes. And also I think things have changed too. I mean we also have different conversations where we differ today on how we want to do things. Um, most of the time it’s that our priorities are different. To be honest with you, our latest disagreement was do we need a new washer and dryer or not? I mean, sure the ones we have are 13 years old. Yes, it’s giving me a headache. But no, I do not want to spend the money. And so we’ve waited two months to finally say, okay, let’s do it because I can not wash my clothes. Um, but we disagreed and, but it hits about that early on. What’s interesting is my husband had to take away the credit card from me. I was an engineer going to work every day wanting to have lunch with my coworkers, but the budget didn’t support even a $12 lunch.
Ericka Young: 10:07 And so I charged it and then I didn’t have to have a conversation with him about it because the credit card was in my name only and he didn’t see that. And so I’m hiding things from him when we, when we first connected around the money and tried to figure things out and he found Dave Ramsey on the radio and he was like, you’ve got to hear this guy. And the very first thing that needed to happen was, let’s be honest about these credit cards and Oh my gosh, I mean it’s embarrassing actually to admit that, yeah, I’ve been hiding this from you. Yes, I make this amount of money, I should be able to do this and go to work every day and I’ve earned it and all this stuff. But none of that is as important as our bigger picture goal. And so I think that there are ebbs and flows on where we’re in alignment.
Ericka Young: 10:58 Um, it’s interesting because we both have different things that we’re willing to spend money on. I want to have, you know, a nice house. And so there’s a lot of little things around the house that I want to get or redo and you know, so there is money involved with that and he wants to have a nice yard. And so of course that’s a maintenance having paying someone or equipment or tools and supplies. And so we have to figure out, you know, what’s, when to do things, how much we spend and what’s most important in the moment. And that always, you know, we’ll bring up some things that make us butt heads. And so that’s the same with any, any cup fall. So, um, you’re never going to be the same person. And so I think it’s fine for people to realize that you just have to find effective ways to communicate.
Maggie Germano: 11:50 I think that’s such an important takeaway too because I think a lot of people tend to think that like if they’re not the exact same person as their partner, or if they don’t have the same history with money or they don’t have the same, like you said, priorities or the way of using money, then they’re gonna. There’s going to be conflict no matter what. And also that means that there won’t be success. But exactly like you were saying, like you and your husband have you got out of debt, you’ve obviously gotten to a point where like you’re teaching other people how to be good with their own money and so you’re, you’ve been together for 20 years and you’re still butting heads. But that’s okay cause you have to have those conversations to come to at least a compromise or an agreement. So I think making it just as clear as possible that like conflict doesn’t mean failure.
Ericka Young: 12:42 It doesn’t go away because life changes. I mean I’ve got teenagers, a young adult. I mean we’ve, we’re in a different space of life right now and sometimes we just don’t see eye to eye on how to make it happen because we’re facing different things than we were 15 years ago, you know, 20 years ago. And so we can’t expect us to always have smooth sailing. That is not reality.
Maggie Germano: 13:08 Oh exactly. But just for, for marriage in general, but also with money.
Ericka Young: 13:13 Yup. Yup. Exactly.
Maggie Germano: 13:16 And I liked it also what you said that like maybe you were not being very honest with your husband in the beginning, but there came a point where it was just completely necessary to be having those conversations to come clean and whether that led to him taking your credit card away for a period of time until things kind of got under control. I think the communication and the honesty and the transparency is also just so key, not even just necessarily with a romantic partner, but like with yourself, with, um, your, you know, anyone else who might be, um, in a relationship with you that like involves money in some way, whether it’s, you know, your roommate or someone that you go out with all the time and whether or not you can afford things. Um, it’s, it’s, I find the transparency to be more freeing it for yourself and also it’s gonna help improve relationships with others and your relationship with your money.
Ericka Young: 14:09 Yeah, absolutely. I think we make money matter. Talking about monies can be hard and a lot of people are afraid of doing it with anyone, even those closest to them. But I think if we find ways to make it easy and not intimidating and, and sometimes that just means not starting with the hard stuff. I mean, don’t go on a date and say, all right, I need to see your credit report before we can have date too. Right? Like you don’t want to run folks off, but watch, pay attention to how people, if they tip, are they using cash? Are they using credit card? Do they go to the bank? Um, you know, what does their refrigerator look like? You know, how do they dress? Are they altering their clothes? Do have pets? How do they treat their parents? Are they, you know what I mean?
Ericka Young: 14:54 Like just start paying attention. Um, and it’s interesting. My daughter just had a friend over yesterday and my daughter actually was supposed to give me change for some money that I gave to her and I forgot about it. And she said, mom, I still have that money. And her friend was like, you tell your mother that. And I’m like, she better tell that to me because I want her to learn how to be honest with that. And, um, and she said, well, my mother never asked. I’m like, that’s totally fine. Your mother may want you to keep the money, but just having the conversation, Hey mom, can I have this or do you want it back? That in and of itself, like just asking the question, my give her the opportunity to say, sure, keep that 20, it’s totally fine. And I think we have to just make it easy versus, you know, also don’t make it shameful. Don’t make it, you know, just difficult to, to talk to somebody about money. I think we have to just find ways to make that conversation an easy one.
Maggie Germano: 15:57 I completely agree because it’s the stuff that everyone’s dealing with. We’re all, it touches all of our lives. So the harder we make it to talk about the harder our lives they’re all going to be. So we might as well be doing it more and making it a little less shameful and less difficult. Um, but so I have you here today to talk about the end of the year and holidays and planning for goals for the next year. So, uh, to start kind of shifting into that, uh, what are some issues that you see, whether it’s with your clients or with other people, you know, um, some struggles that kind of come up around the end of the year?
Ericka Young: 16:37 Well, the holidays is a very first thing. I mean, people are willing to go to great lengths to make the holiday the best. And in their eyes, that means spending money. Like, I can’t do this and make it amazing for my guest or for the travel that I want to do without spending money. And so they throw caution to the wind. They’re just like, Oh, forget it. There’s just no sense in paying attention to all of this right now because it’s the holidays and I want to enjoy them. And so I think one of the biggest things that people have to overcome is just forgoing a plan altogether. That’s the biggest thing that people have to overcome. And so, um, what I like to do is see how people can finish the year strong. You’ve got two more months left, you got this somebody amount of days left.
Ericka Young: 17:30 What will make you feel good having accomplished by the end of the year? And it may be it’s something small, maybe it’s something big. Um, maybe it’s not charging anything during the holidays. Maybe it is giving some type of donation, whatever it is. What would make you feel good about having accomplished? And if we ask ourselves that question, then we can figure out what will it take for me to do that knowing that the holidays are upon us. And so, um, I think a lot of people by now have forgotten what their goals were at the beginning of the year. And as you approach the end of the year, people are not thinking about that. And so maybe what needs to happen is people need to really think about what it is that they want to see because they have forgotten their goals and they don’t know what that looks like anymore. And so at this point, at this phase in the game, what can you do to move the needle on some of that stuff so that you actually accomplish some goals that are important to you? So that’s, that’s how I would approach it. I think a lot of people, um, tend to just let a lot of stuff go and we’ve got to regroup a little bit and just say, all right, so, um, no, you don’t have to let it go. What can you do to actually finish the year strong?
Maggie Germano: 18:53 Yeah, I like that. And I like the question of like, what can you do before the end of the year that will make you feel good? Because I think you’re exactly right that like if people are setting either goals in the beginning of the year or new year’s resolutions by November, the likelihood is that they are not actually working towards those anymore. At least. Yeah. At least for, you know, the majority of us. Um, and that can be demoralizing. It can feel not very good. Um, but so instead of like revisiting the list of resolutions we made in January and then being like, Oh God, I didn’t do any of this. I might as well just do nothing now. I like the simpler question of like, what’s, what’s like one thing you can do that will make you feel better?
Ericka Young: 19:39 Yup. And I do that, I hate to admit this, but I did that a couple of years ago, like in December, like December 15th. And I was like, what do I really need to get done? Um, and that’s really to, it’s, I mean, I shouldn’t say it’s too late. It was stressful for one of the goals that we wanted to get done. Um, and, and by that I mean it, it affected our taxes. And so you have 15 days left to like, you know, do what you need to do. And that was stressful. We accomplished it. But the better question is to ask it a few months earlier so that you’re like, okay, so how can I do this better so that this isn’t a stressful thing? Even though you accomplish it and you feel good about it. It’s like, ah, you know, you’re pulling your hair out. So don’t wait till the last minute.
Maggie Germano: 20:29 Yeah. And I mean, it’s November 1st the day we’re recording this. So you know, there’s two months left in 2019, which I’ve seen a lot of people posting on Instagram recently. Like there’s two months left in this decade, which that’s actually kind of stressful to me. Like somebody, I’m like, I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to know that. Please don’t, let’s see, it’s two months to two, one in 2019, like next year. Next year is 2020. I don’t want to think about it in terms of decades. Um, and so that can be a little frightening thinking about it that way. But then also thinking about it as like, there’s two months left in the month to do, whether it’s one thing or three things or whatever it might be before the year ends, you can at least start to make progress. So it’s not like there’s only two months left. There’s literally nothing I can do.
Ericka Young: 21:18 So like, here’s a practical example. Um, every so often, a couple of times a year from myself personally, I do not impose this on anyone else, but I’ll have like a no spend month where I’m not gonna spend anything outside of for me. Like what are the necessities? And that would just be food and you know, that kind of thing. But I’m not doing shopping and I’m not buying stuff around the house or whatever. It’s just a simple normal needs. Um, and so people can, they still have two months to maybe make a decision like that where it’s not about me. If I do anything on black Friday, it’s for someone else or, um, and how would that actually change your budget or change the goals that you have? I mean, that really could amount to a few hundred dollars. I can go towards a goal or, you know, for one of my clients recently it was, you’ve got this money in your checking account.
Ericka Young: 22:10 My concern is that you’re going to spend it down and it’s not going to, you won’t even know where it is. But if you put this in the savings, you’ll reach one of your savings goals. Let’s do it immediately. And what that forces her to do was say, this is not available for dining out or clothing or some of these extra things that we tend to spend our money on. And it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, getting her to a goal that since we’ve worked together, she’s never had that much money in savings. And so being able to do that in the month of November and have it done, like that’s huge. So what can you do practically that will make you feel good about, you know, finishing this year and moving forward in a good way, come the new year.
Maggie Germano: 22:53 Yeah, I love that. And I like what you were saying about the no spend month as well, cause that isn’t something that I’ve historically done. I am not a huge spender in general, but like I’ve never really taken the time to not really spend money outside of necessities, but my husband and I are actually deciding, I mean like I mentioned, we’re going on vacation soon so that’s separate, but outside of the vacation, um, we’re going to do a low spend month for November and we’re thinking of doing it for December as well. Um, because like you were saying, we have these two months now where we can really prioritize whether it’s setting extra money aside to meet some retirement savings goals that I have or other savings goals or just having a little bit more money to spend on vacation because we’re not spending it on other things. That’s something I’m really excited to try out and see how hard it is for us to do together and actually see how much money is left over that we wouldn’t normally have. Um, I’m looking forward to that. It’ll be an interesting experiment.
Ericka Young: 23:57 Yeah, I think it’s fun. I think you can do lots of things in a 30 day window and, and so there’s nothing, no harm in trying. I have my clients do this all the time where I’m like, okay, so let’s just try it. Don’t feel like you have to marry this idea. We’re just dating the idea. And if that date doesn’t go well, fine, but most of the time, most of the time on a bad date, you learn something, right? So, so let’s figure out what there is to learn so that you can understand how to move forward in the best way because really this is about what you want. It’s about the bigger goal. Um, I, I say this in my talks a lot where I’m like, yes, food is a necessity, but dining out is not. And so how do we apply that to other parts of our lives so that we can actually accomplish more because we’re saving more money, putting more towards debt or looking at our goals as the high priority.
Maggie Germano: 24:57 Exactly. Yeah. It’s, that’s such a good way of looking at it too. Um, so you mentioned how the holidays can be a tough time for people. Um, can you say a little bit more about how the holiday pressure, holiday spending can, uh, be stressful and potentially harmful for people?
Ericka Young: 25:17 Yeah. Well, honestly, we’re, this is the season of people pleasing, plain and simple. We’re trying to please our kids. We’re trying to please our family members. We’re trying to accommodate. And there is a lot of pressure. And in that comes the desire and potential adult peer pressure to spend money so that everything looks great, feels great, um, that it all feels special and new and traditions, you know, are there. And so I think that’s a hard time. Um, because you have all of these quote unquote expectations, be it on yourself or from other people. Um, what are the ways that I say to combat that is to speak up for yourself before you have to, so here’s what I want this to look like and do it before. So for instance, we’re four weeks away from Thanksgiving. Don’t wait until the day before Thanksgiving and tell somebody, Oh, no, no, no.
Ericka Young: 26:18 I’m not about to do this. I’m not about to host the entire Thanksgiving dinner. Someone’s going to be very upset with you. Right? So, so you prep people ahead of time. Here’s what I’m up to, how about we do this, this and this. I love your dish here. I love your dish. How about we just divvy this up? And then people are kind of, they kind of get it, you know, beforehand. So you’re not spending 200 on the meal yourself. You are actually spending the money on the things that you have committed to, to pay for. Um, and so I think that setting the expectation of front on what people are looking for before they’re looking for it doesn’t give them a time to, to question it. They just say, Oh, okay, so this is what we’re doing. And that you don’t even owe them an explanation.
Ericka Young: 27:08 You really don’t. I think we, we tend to prayer ourselves and say, well, I’m trying to do all these things. You don’t have to do all of that. You just need to say, here’s what I’d like to do. And another way, like during the holidays, during the Christmas season and gift giving and all of that, I’m doing a gift exchange instead of everybody getting a gift. I mean, even the pressure of $5 for everybody in the family, you know, puts you in the store, is looking for some random thing nobody wants. Right? So why don’t you, instead of spending $100 on all these random gifts that meant don’t matter, spend $30 on one person that you picked for you drew from a hat and everybody gets to get something a little bit more special and you’re saving some money. And so I think just know, and the kids can do this, our family’s done this where, you know, you just get one special gift and then the kids get it as well. Um, and, and that is just fun because it’s actually something that they say they want it. So, um, I think we have to be intentional ahead of time in order to combat some of the stress and the pressure of spending money during the season.
Maggie Germano: 28:13 I completely agree with all of that. So setting expectations, I think that’s really important. Um, I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year and I’m just starting to think like, okay, what are we actually going to be serving? Are we going to be asking people to bring things or make things and, um, we need to start having those conversations. Cause like you said, it’s in a few weeks. Um, and then also with the gift exchange, that’s something that my family has always done as well. Uh, my mom has five siblings and each of them have two to five kids, so there’s lots of us plus uncles and all that. Um, so we’ve always, each person just pulls a name and that’s the person you get a gift for and it takes off so much of that stress out of there. I’m sure it started as a money saving thing, but now it’s just a tradition.
Maggie Germano: 29:05 Um, and I, it’s been going on literally as long as I’ve been alive. And, uh, that is something that I recommend to people too. Like, if there’s a lot of people, whether it’s in your family or your friend group and you don’t want to, like you said, just buy like junk gifts that costs nothing and it’s going to get tossed in a box somewhere and no one, you know, people are gonna wonder why they received this thing. Um, because does that actually achieve what you were hoping to achieve by giving that thing or would you rather it be, like you said, more intentional. So I think that those are really important things to keep in mind.
Maggie Germano: 29:41 Yeah. Um, so outside of those two really great pieces of advice, do you have other kind of approaches that you recommend to clients to take around the holidays? Maybe they do like to spend a lot of money and give a lot of gifts and it gives them joy. Is there a way that you help them kind of plan that out and prepare it?
Ericka Young: 30:02 I do. Um, so typically for my new clients, the ones that have been with me for a short amount of time, I just simply just don’t wait till the last minute. So we start looking at how much do you typically spend on the holidays? Um, it’s not uncommon for people to say five, $800 or even $1,000, depending on how big their family is and what they typically do. And then I just say, okay, so now that we know how much you spent last year, you, I want you to write a list, um, and not just have the person’s name but have the amount and a gift idea next to it. So the list itself, Hey, and they send it to me, they literally have to send it to me. So I need to know that they’ve actually done this work and have it totaled up. Um, most of the time it’s less than what they have spent the year before.
Ericka Young: 30:49 And so they’re being a little bit optimistic. I’m okay with them seeing that differentiation. Um, and we need to kind of give it a cushion, but then you divided by how many months you have left. And I don’t do this exercise in December. It has to happen prior to that. Um, for those who we are working with now, like I say, if your number is $600 that you typically spend come January, I need you to setting aside 50 bucks every month so that you’re ready for the following year. That doesn’t help them today, but it’s going to, they’re going to be so glad they did it a year from now. So, um, I think that we have to be forward thinking and not wait till the last minute. I love the Christmas savings accounts or the holiday savings accounts. Um, and they pay out typically in October or November and people are able to use those funds. Some people like to buy gifts all throughout the year. Um, and that’s fine, but again, it needs to still be a budgeted item. Um, I don’t want it to be where, Oh, I found this $50 thing for so and so, and then it, you know, bust the budget. So, you know, we have to be a little bit more forward thinking and how we’re preparing for the holidays. Cause you know, you know, it’s the same day every single year. So, um, I think it’s important that we are intentional again, that I think that’s a really good word around the holidays.
Maggie Germano: 32:18 I agree. And I’m a huge proponent of the gift savings account as well. That’s something I started for myself years ago for, I think it was when I was like finally making money after college and like could give people gifts that wasn’t just like a photo of me in a frame. Not that that’s not a valid gift. Um, but so I started, like you said, saving up every single month, whether it was a tiny amount, like $10, $20 so that I could get to the end of the year and have plenty of money to spend without it blowing my budget. That was really important to me too. Um, and like you said, you use the word $50. There’s the amount, $50 a month, that’s not a ton of money if you’re spreading it out throughout the year and then you have $600 at the end of the year. And that for a lot of people is more than enough for gift giving. So, um, like you said, planning that out and January is in a couple of months. So that’s perfect timing to start putting that into place and have it ready all year, every year.
Ericka Young: 33:22 Yup. Absolutely. I love those accounts. It just makes life so much easier.
Maggie Germano: 33:26 Yeah, absolutely. And you know, for those who maybe are not able to do that for this year or who maybe their budgets are super tight and they’re not able to do that most years because they’re working towards other goals. I think being really creative around how you think about the holidays and how you think about gift-giving and what showing your love actually can look like. Um, those are the kinds of things that I talk about with clients and at, you know, my money circle group and kind of talking about like what do people actually want to receive, what actually means something to them. Um, cause like you were saying about getting like a random $5 gift that nobody wants. I’m the kind of person who, if you give me something that there was clearly no thought around it and it’s not something that I would ever want, like that really annoys me. I’d rather not get a gift.
Ericka Young: 34:17 Right. Do you know what I love? I love it when people write a personal notes when they remember something like an event or something that we did together. Like when people are actually thoughtful. One of the best gifts that my mother-in-law gave the kids is the cartoons, the cartoon pages from newspapers. So she had to think about this every single Sunday and she set it aside and they probably have 30 weeks of cartoon, you know, pages to look at. And it was, it was for one unforgettable, I’m still remembering it now. And two, it didn’t cost her much. I mean it was just a part of her newspaper. She read all the time. It was the best because they were so into cartoons and it was a great, great gift. And so things like that when people are thoughtful is it goes so much farther than just some random thing that you pick up.
Maggie Germano: 35:18 I completely agree and I love that. What a good idea to to and that requires so much forward thinking. So she was obviously thinking about them for weeks and weeks and weeks with that. Um, last year my sisters and I realized that there was like nothing we could get my dad that he didn’t already cause he’s the kind of person who if he wants it, he’s going to get it for himself. And he often can’t really think of something else that he wants. And usually it’s like something he needs. Like he needed a new Gulf was a golf club like bag cause he hadn’t gotten a new one in like 20 years. So we got that for father’s day. But for Christmas last year we were like, let’s just take him out or like go out as like all three of his daughters and him going out and spending a nice meal together and have that need the gift. And you know, he even said like, I don’t need or want anything. I just want to like be around you guys. So I’m getting really clear on the people that are in your life. And what they actually will feel more excited about and what will make the most impact on them. Cause not everybody actually likes receiving gifts either. So that’s part of it.
Maggie Germano: 36:32 Yeah, that’s true. Knowing their love language, what’s gonna speak to them, it’s so different for each person, especially if it’s family. It’s so easy to have a conversation of what gets you to tick. And if you know them well you’ll, you’ll be able to find what that is.
Maggie Germano: 36:44 Yeah, exactly. So yeah, being creative and thoughtful and planning ahead and, and that sort of thing, like not nothing, it doesn’t always have to be that typical like go out and buy things on black Friday. Exactly. Exactly. So you kind of mentioned finishing the year off strong and thinking towards kind of next year and we talked a little bit about setting goals and how we tend to kind of forget about our resolutions as the year goes on. How do you kind of think about setting goals for the new year so that we can sort of start fresh and start working on the things that we prioritize?
Maggie Germano: 37:24 Yeah, well I think people know what they want. I really do. I think we have to sit back and take a moment and dream about what we really want. And somewhere along the line we stopped dreaming our kids dream. We stopped dreams were so realistic and practical or um, we’ve taken the bills. Honestly, utility bills, gas in the car, putting food on the table has taken our dreaming mechanism out. Like we have so many responsibilities. And so I just think that it’s so important to take a step back and dreamy and like, what is it that you really want? And it, a lot of the times is not things. Um, but what do you want to accomplish? Why do you wanna accomplish it? What does that going to get you? Um, and so I think just taking a moment to slow down and be able to dream is, is the first part of that, that conversation.
Ericka Young: 38:23 And then for most of the people that I work with, they’re trying, their dream is to be debt free. Their dream is to have money in savings. Their dream is to not be stressed about their finances. And so I like people too. I like smart goals. And this is something that, you know, lots of organizations have internally specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. And so I think people have to, did I say achievable anyway, smart goals. And so, um, those are, I take that format for a lot of people because I think it’s important for you to clearly define them. A dream without them being smart is not a goal. So you have to make it a goal. And so, um, the other practical thing that I have people do is put reminders in their phones. Um, so it, depending on what the goal is, I mean, if it’s a six month goal, check in on yourself monthly.
Ericka Young: 39:21 And so you get there, um, and put it, literally put it in your phone to remind you, um, or somewhere on their computer or what have you, what would, whatever would make the difference while those, where they will see it in a month or two months or even weekly if that, if that matters. Um, and that way and make certain that you give yourself a deadline. Oh my gosh. So, so important. Um, give yourself a deadline. But I think that if people don’t start the process with thinking about what they really want, um, they’re not going to get there. So one of my dreams, um, and I intend to have goals set around this by the new year myself, is that I want to dance again. I, I run sometimes, I used to be an a more avid runner. Now I’m not doing that as much and for exercise, um, you know, I’ve joined this, the barcode and we do bar exercises and I like it, but it’s not quite as effective I think as running.
Ericka Young: 40:20 And I, I spent 20 years of my life dancing. Um, and then I had kids and I want to get back to that. So my goal is to like figure out how I can incorporate that back into my life as a way of exercise, but also because it’s just fun. And so that’s gonna take money. It’s gonna take some time. I also have to do my research and, um, I’m actually not waiting until January to jump in, but I probably will wait till January to pay for something because of some things we have to do this year. And so I think the thing about it is, is that we have to know like what’s going to light us up and get us excited and start there before we just have these generic goals. Because it’s January 1st and as a matter of fact, this past January, I did not write my goals down to the end of the month.
Ericka Young: 41:10 Um, I let go of that, of the, that it had to be at the very beginning of the month. And so, um, I waited and I marinated on some things that needed to get done and I actually didn’t set my goals until the end of the month of January because I will also want it to bump up against the fact that, you know, a lot of people by January 31st or by February 15th, they forgotten their goals. And so I’m like, you know what, I’m going to start mine when everybody has forgotten there. So, um, I like to shake it up a little bit because I think it’s important that if you really want them to stick, it has to be something that is heartfelt, meaningful. And um, I had gone on a retreat mid month in January and so I D I didn’t want to set any goals until after I was done with that and it made a difference. It really did make a difference for me.
Maggie Germano: 42:05 I love that. I love your, your dream about incorporating dance again, that sounds really wonderful and it obviously is close to your heart and something meaningful to you. So it’s not something that you’re seeing out there that’s like one of the typical resolutions you need to be setting. It’s something that like was part of your life and you want it there again and now you’re taking the steps to actually make that happen and figure out what that’s gonna look like. I really love that.
Ericka Young: 42:32 Yeah, something different. I mean, I think that we have to have something that lights us up and gets us excited and, you know, um, I, I don’t think that we give our goals enough credit that it can be like, that. It doesn’t have to be these boring. Oh, I wanna, you know, I, and P, if people say I want to get out of debt shore, tell me why. Let’s talk about that part, you know? Or it’s totally fine to have a goal. If I want to finally take my, my family on a vacation to Hawaii, I get it. You don’t even have to tell me why I get that, you know? Um, and that serves both a practical, a fun and an, you know, something achievable within that time frame.
Maggie Germano: 43:13 Yeah, exactly. It can be boring. It can not be boring, but either way it has to matter to you for one reason or another. It can’t be somebody else’s goal. That’s right. Yeah. Yep. I love that. Um, well, is there anything else that you want to make sure that listeners take away today?
Ericka Young: 43:31 Wow, that’s really an open ended question. Um, I’ll say this, um, you know, I, I could have a whole bunch of different things to say. One is that, um, a budget is the heartbeat of everything that happens in your life. And so, um, anything that you’re doing your goals or tackling the holidays are rare, you know, raising your kids or relating with your spouse. Um, the budget in my opinion is a heartbeat. It’s the one thing that touches everything. It’s difficult to take care of your kids without money. It’s difficult to put clean clothes on your back or to give a gift or you know, to even have the freedom to think about what goal you want to have. Cause most of the times our goals are tied to some type of money that we have to put towards it. So it’s the heartbeat. And so I want people to really think outside the box on the fact that it doesn’t have to be drudgery.
Ericka Young: 44:28 Budget doesn’t have to be the bad guy. Um, how can you tie that to something positive so that it is simply as a plan, a game plan for you being able to accomplish everything that you want to see in your life and that, um, you have to approach it with some, some things that really matter as you put it and, and not allow the budget to control you. You control it and it doesn’t have to be the straight jacket and all of those things. And so, um, if we just shift our, our thought process and our words around the budget, I think it can be our best friend and help us to get where we need to go.
Maggie Germano: 45:03 Oh, well that’s a perfect takeaway. Thank you for that. That’s really great. So many good nuggets of wisdom in there. Um, so is there anything you would like to promote to listeners today, free of yourself or your business?
Ericka Young: 45:17 You know, the one thing that I do have on my website is a seven day money challenge. You can go to seven day money challenge.com and this is a free seven days of videos. All of them are very short. Our attention spans are no more than like four minutes. And so I’m not telling you anything for more than four minutes, but you can get a chance to get to know how I work and um, get some tips for every single day and you take one small, simple action everyday for seven days and at the end of that feel a sense of accomplishment. I think it’s a really great thing to do at the end of the year. Um, and it will help you refocus and figure out what needs to happen for the new year as well. And so the seven day money challenge.com is a great place to go. Um, and also my book for couples is make it an unashamed and many conversations every couple must have, you can find on Amazon. It’s a great thing to give people as a gift to help them kind of get unstuck with their money. And though it is for couples primarily, there’s a lot of good nuggets in there that single people can apply to their life as well.
Maggie Germano: 46:19 Awesome. Well I’ll definitely be picking that up too. So sounds great. And how can listeners get in touch with you?
Ericka Young: 46:26 So yeah, tailormadebudgets.com is my website and um, there’s always a 30 minute session that I offer it to people who want to have a conversation about getting unstuck and figuring out what their best next money step ought to be. Um, so that’s a good way to, to find me is on tailor made budget’s dot com.
Maggie Germano: 46:43 Wonderful. I will also include all of that in the show notes as well, so people have easy access to that. Um, but thank you so much Erica for being here today. I think this was a great conversation and I got a lot out of it, so I’m sure the listeners did as well.
Ericka Young: 46:58 Fantastic. I had fun.
Maggie Germano: 47:00 Great. Thanks so much.
Maggie Germano: 47:05 Thanks for tuning in to the money circle podcast this week. Make sure that you rate, review and subscribe so that you never miss an episode. It might not seem all that important, but subscribing and rating actually helps to get the money, circle podcasts in other people’s ears. If you’d like to get more connected with money, circle or with me. There are lots of ways you can do that. To join the free Facebook group, visit facebook.com/groups/money group to stay informed of any upcoming events. Subscribe to my weekly [email protected] slash subscribe if you’d like to join the virtual money circle membership group, visit Maggie germano.podia.com/inner-circle to learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings, or just to read my blog, visit Maggie germano.com you can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter at Maggie Germano. Thanks so much for listening. Bye.
This week, Maggie gives you tips on how to stick to your own values and needs this holiday season.
In today's episode, Maggie is joined by Jenny Albertini, the founder and CEO of Declutter DC and the first Marie Kondo certified consultant based in Washington, DC. They chat about decluttering and how it can improve all our lives and finances.
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