April is Financial Literacy Month, which means it's a great time to think about how we stay financially literate. This month, I'm highlighting some of my favorite people, companies, blogs, podcasts, or other resources that help me (and others!) to learn more about money. I'm kicking off our first post with some new friends I recently met, the Financial Gym.
Before I tell you about what they do, I want to tell you about who they are: a company dedicated to providing financial advice to those of us that are typically ignored because we don't have enough assets.
Intrigued? So was I. So I spoke with Shannon McLay, CEO and Founder of the Financial Gym, to get her take on financial literacy and important things we should know.
1) What do you think is the biggest myth people believe about personal finance?
Similar to how no one wants to be on a diet, nobody wants to be on a budget. Many people associate being on a budget with having to stay home and not having any fun. At the Financial Gym, we encourage clients to identify what's most important to them in life (we call them sacred cows), then help them ensure their money is flowing to those things. Many clients' have sacred cows like travel, health & fitness, and spending time with friends and family for unfortunately, the top spending categories we see are Amazon, Uber, and food delivery services like Seamless/GrubHub/Postmates. Financial health like other types of health is about being intentional about the choices you make on a day to day basis.
If you can align your spending with your values, then you're going to be on the right track to living a healthy balanced life.
2) What's something small that people can start doing today that will positively impact their future financially?
Trick yourself into saving money by setting up a separate savings account at a different bank than your checking account (preferably a high yield savings account that can earn over 2% in interest), then setting up an automatic transfer on the day you receive your paycheck. See if you notice the money leaving. If you don't, challenge yourself in a few months to increase the amount being sent out. If you do, then embrace the challenge of changing your spending habits to accommodate the new savings transfer. The worst thing that can happen is that you have to transfer the money from your savings back to your checking account, but when you do, you will start a dialogue with yourself on "why" you're having to transfer the money back.
3) What made you interested in personal finance?
While working as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, I saw a huge need for people who didn’t have $250,000 in assets to speak with a human being about how they could best financially plan for their lives. It felt unfair to me that all of the financial planning knowledge I gained at Merrill Lynch was reserved only for wealthy people. I wanted to create a place where people of all financial sizes could get trustworthy guidance that didn’t revolve around selling a product like a bank account, mutual fund or life insurance.
4) Parting piece of advice for readers?
Almost 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck because it's so easy to operate closely within the margins of what we make and what we spend. Make an effort to not spend everything you make. Once you get the hang of it, then challenge yourself to keep growing the gap between your income and expenses by increasing your income and resisting the urge to increase your expenses with every raise you receive or milestone of life.
Make an effort to not spend everything you make.
Want to learn more?
The Financial Gym is a personal financial services company on a mission to educate women about their finances and feel empowered to reach their financial goals. Taking a fitness-inspired approach, The Financial Gym members pay a monthly membership fee to work with a personal financial trainer, or “B.F.F.” (Best. Financial. Friend.), who helps them to set goals, create a plan for accomplishing them, and support them along the way. The Gym also has also a unique community of passionate members, and hosts weekly “Wine and Learn” events that cater to people at different stages of their financial journeys.