Behind the Screen Interview with Kate from Kate Saves
I have a great interview for you today with Kate from Kate Saves. Kate is a newbie blogger like me in the blogging world and I absolutely love this interview.
It’s funny, it’s honest and if you haven’t had a chance to check out her site make sure you do after this interview.
Let’s talk a little bit about who you are and where you are coming from. Tell me about your money journey? What got you started in learning about personal finance?
Well, I’m Kate, I’m in my late 20s, and I started blogging this year as I was paying off student loan and credit card debt, and beefing up my savings strategy.
I’m kind of a contradiction because I was raised by frugal parents, worked 3 jobs in high school and accidentally saved lots of money early, read personal finance books through university, and then racked up $11,000 of debt anyway. I clearly had applied none of the financial lessons I had picked up over the years.
Then I randomly stumbled across Money After Graduation and basically had this awakening of “you can actually do something with money”. Which sounds insane, I know, but it was this lightbulb moment of like, “oh hey, I can actually control what my life looks like by paying better attention to my money”.
After that, I was obsessed and lurked around the personal finance blog-world for a long time before I decided I was still learning but not applying, so posting my financial-life on the internet would keep me honest.
Because everything on the internet is always true.
What would you say the biggest money obstacle has been for you to overcome?
I’d say there’s two big ones for me (and probably a million little ones). One is budgeting and/or tracking my spending, and the other is comparing my own financial situation to other people’s situations.
I was perfectly happy for a long time having no idea what I was spending. If I wanted something, I bought it, and as long as I had something left over at the end of the month for savings, I was good. I’m not naturally a big spender and I’ve always been a good bargain hunter, but beyond caring about the price I paid at the counter, I didn’t pay any attention to where my money actually was going. My “budget” was just an arbitrary sense of whether I felt I was spending too much, with no actual number attached to it.
Once I started actually tracking my spending, I realized I was spending money on things that didn’t have any real value to me, and it was painful seeing the numbers in front of me. It was a realization of how much money I could have had at that moment, if I hadn’t been throwing it away so easily.
The second one started out of an innocent desire to find out what was “normal” for finances at my age. I didn’t know how far behind I was, so I thought it would motivate me to know where my peers were with their money.
And of course, most people who post their financial stats online are people who have success to brag about so my data was skewed, but I was like “omg I’m a giant financial loser and I’ll have to work til I die at which point my descendants will be strapped with my debt for generations to come”.
It took me a while to figure out that there is no real “normal” and that since everyone’s lives and circumstances are different, their financial pictures would be very different too.
How has overcoming that obstacle changed you?
Have you seen the movie Face-Off? That’s me. I went from being the Nicholas Cage to the John Travolta of my own personal finance. (Because in the movie Nic Cage is the bad guy and becomes the good guy. And also because in real life Nic Cage apparently sucks at money.)
Point is, huge change. I spend far less money on things that I don’t value and I’m actually a lot happier with the things I do have.
Are there any obstacles you are still working on ?
Oh man, there’s always something new to learn or some better way I could be doing things. I think that’s kind of the nature of personal finance.
The biggest one for me right now though is that I’m a poster child for the scarcity mentality, 100%. When it comes to savings, I’m like Smeagol with the ring. Once a dollar gets deposited into my account, I never want to let it go. I get into feast-and-famine spending cycles where I spend nothing and then I’ll buy something I maybe didn’t need.
Investments are hard for me, because I have to send my little dollars out in the world to grow and that makes me nervous. I’m still working on learning as much as I can about investing so that I can be more comfortable with upping my risk factor.
It’s slow progress, but I’m trucking along with my man David Chilton. (And also Desirae at Half Banked has a free e-mail investment course that is amazing for investment wimps like me. I saved all the emails and literally read them now every time I make an investment decision. She didn’t pay me to say that, so now I’ve creeped her out with my swimfan moment, but it’s actually an awesome course.)
There’s a moment in the Godfather 3 when Michael Corleone is trying to get out of the “Family Business”, and he says: “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in.” What is one bad money habit you just can’t seem to shake?
Uuuugh take-out or going out to dinner. It’s terrible. It’s the only place in my spending where I have very little self-control.
I’m bad at coming up with meal ideas, and I don’t like to cook (and I’m also lazy, let’s be honest about it) so I regularly fall into the trap of getting home after work, deciding I don’t want to cook, and ordering something instead or convincing my husband to go out.
I went like 10 months where I was doing really well, and we were going out maybe once a month, but now that most of my debt has been paid off, I’ve gotten somewhat lax about it. I figure if that’s the only splurge for leisure I have, and my savings aren’t suffering, then it’s not the end of the world.
But really, I need to start asking restaurants to block my number.
If you were to start your money journey all over what would you do differently?
Start earlier! When I was in school, despite knowing that watching my money was a good idea, I lived in a blissful fantasy world of having no responsibilities and lots of disposable income and I never considered that there was a real world after university that I might want to save for.
Just think of how awesome my investments would be if I had started 10 years ago. Ohhh that beautiful, elusive compound interest.
What is your proudest money accomplishment?
Buying my house and paying off my line of credit debt. Buying the house was the first major goal that I saved for and achieved successfully, and paying off my line of credit debt gave me much better money habits. I still have some student loan debt left, so that will be my next big accomplishment.
Who is your money hero?
My Dad and his 1930s money mentality. David Chilton for teaching me about investments. Rob Carrick for making finance accessible to beginners like me. And J.K. Rowling for that time she fell off Forbes’ billionaire list because she gave so much to charity (and also because Harry Potter). I mean, she can still wipe her former-billionaire tears with her measly millions, but I like her as a role model for giving back.
What was your worst money mistake?
Can I say my whole general approach to money between the ages of 16 to 23?
Growing up, one of the “parent-sayings” around my house was always “if you pay for it in full, they can’t take it away from you”. My mom and dad always talked like they were paupers who lost everything in the Great Depression, even though they were (still are) just fiscally-responsible middle classers.
I have kiiind of a dramatic personality, so of course, I processed that concept as life or death, and pretty much hoarded money thinking I would end up penniless and alone like the sad puppies on the Sarah McLachlan commercials. I bought stuff on credit, without paying it all back, in the interest of “protecting” my savings. And I took out a student loan, even though I had enough saved up to pay for school. And then I didn’t pay back the entirety of my student loan when I could, because savings.
I look back on that period of my life like one would look back on a drunken bender. I have no idea what I was thinking then, but I like to think I am no longer as financially-impaired.
What was your first money lesson?
When I was a kid and I’d go shopping with my mom, she had a strict “you can have one thing only” policy. I have a particular vivid memory of being on vacation in another city when I was 5 or 6 and my mom took me with her to the mall. I found two items that I decided I had to have, and my mom made me pick one. She was in a hurry, so on a whim and in a rush, I ended up choosing a hand-puppet paint kit over Power Ranger gloves that talked when you made a fist.
It was a terrible decision because I ended up with a hand-puppet paint kit. And not like, a kit to make a fun craft that you can look back on later. I mean painting a face on your hand like this….
… and calling it a puppet.
After that tragic decision, I have a much better understanding of the value of taking the time to seriously consider a purchase rather than making impulse buys. I still feel deep regret when I consider the playground-cred I would have had with those sweet Power Rangers gloves.
What money habits do you see in yourself (or others if you are perfect) that make you cringe?
In myself, paying bank fees (I have one account left that is still robbing me with these fees because I’m afraid to call the bank to close it) and buying songs on iTunes. $1.29 seems like chump change but those mothers add up, let me tell you.
In others, frivolous spending when they have lots of debt, or signing up for insanely long financing deals on new cars. These 72 and 84 month financing terms blow my mind. Even if you put a lot down and have a small payment, and even if you have a low interest rate, I just don’t understand signing up for terms that long.
Would you classify yourself as a Spender or a Saver?
I’m a bit of both, I think, but heavier on the savings side. Maybe 70/30 split? I have a hard time spending, most of the time, but I have no interest in being a minimalist so I’m always going to be partly spender.
What’s the one personal finance book that had the biggest impact in your life?
The first one I ever read was “The Debt Free Graduate” by Murray Baker. I got it at a grade 12 book fair with intentions of being super money-savvy in university but promptly forgot all of the information the first day of frosh week. I still own it, and it holds a special place in my heart now, even though I didn’t appreciate it back when I needed it most. Sorry, Murray Baker, I wasn’t ready for what you had to offer.
The next one, pretty much everybody cites, but The Wealthy Barber Returns is probably my favourite personal finance book. I always thought that investments were untouchable to someone like me who had zero knowledge of stocks, bonds or anything in that world. David Chilton lays it out in a way that’s like having a conversation with a funny friend who just happens to know a lot about how to manage your money. It’s been the most eye-opening book for me so far in terms of lessons I can actually use in real life.
Ok now for some non-money questions.
Give me a list of your top 5 foods?
Pasta. All of it. Any of it.
Garden salad with oil and vinegar dressing
Pizza from my hometown
Greek lemon soup
What is your favorite drink (alcohol or non-alcohol)?
Water or tea are my go-to favourites, but if it’s a fancy occasion (such as Tuesday), gin and soda.
What kind of daily traditions or habits do you have?
I’m a news junkie so I can’t start my day without reading the headlines while drinking a cup of tea. And I can’t read the news without tea, so basically, if I don’t have tea, my day won’t start.
Which group do you fall into:
Apple of Samsung? Can I say both? I’ve had a Samsung phone since post-Blackberry but I’m thinking of switching to an iPhone. Is that blasphemy?
Coke or Pepsi? I drink pop maybe 5 times a year, tops, but if I do, it’s Diet Coke
Coffee or Tea? Tea, never coffee (but I love the smell)
Night owl or morning bird? Night owl. I’m a zombie pre-8am. It’s inconvenient.
I’m a huge music fan, what’s one (or more) of your favorite albums?
Ahhhh this is a hard question. I have very diverse tastes in music that seem to change daily.
- Taylor Swift’s “Red” album. Haters gonna hate. TSwift is my girl.
- Barenaked Ladies’ albums from “Gordon” to “Maroon”.
- Brand New’s “Your Favorite Weapon”.
- John Fogerty’s “Wrote a Song for Everyone”. (or just John Fogerty in general)
- Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” and “Babel”. They broke my heart with their most recent albums.
- Spotify’s Indie All Stars playlist (I’m cheating, this isn’t an album, but it’s been my go-to playlist for the last year so I feel like it counts)
What’s the one movie you could watch over and over again and never get tired of it?
I wish I had something cool or edgy or artsy to put here.
- Love Actually is my most-watched, most-loved movie.
- Super Troopers is my most-quoted, second-most-loved movie right meow.
What book are you reading right now?
Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices”
Finish this sentence with the first thing that comes to mind
I would rather live in a world without pizza, than live in one where all pizza has pineapple. It’s not natural.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t”. Bill Nye said that in a Reddit AMA a few years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. #billbillbillbillbill
Where can people find you online if they want to get ahold of you? (Think social media accounts)
I am a terrible 20-something because I am awful at social media and communicating via text in general (and yet I write a blog – yay!). I’m only on Twitter right now (@katesavesmoney), but I’ve already made it a 2017 New Years Resolution to get up and running on Facebook and Pinterest and all those apps the kids are talking about. In the meantime, hang out with me on Twitter or at katesaves.ca! : )