I have one of the good ones for you today. Britt from Britt and the Benjamins is up for a great interview. She’s been talking a lot lately about Net worth too, so you know she’s got the right things in mind. Take a read of this great interview and make sure you head on over to her site afterwards.
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?
Honestly, I can’t say there was a defining moment that got me interested in personal finance – I think I just grew up with it. My family wasn’t rich by any means – my dad was a carpenter and my mom a teacher – and thus, my parents were very responsible with how they handled their money, mainly because they had to be. I think I saw that growing up, and it somehow nested in my soul. When I was a teenager, Abercrombie was really popular (I hope that doesn’t age me), but unless it was Christmas, my parents wouldn’t pay $40 for a T-shirt from there. If I wanted that, I had to buy it myself, and let me tell you, that’s a great lesson in the value of a dollar.
My parents were also very good at pushing both my brother and I to be independent. We learned that if we wanted something, we shouldn’t depend on anyone else to get it for us. I knew that money played a big role in that independence factor, and that if I was going to have the life I wanted, I needed to get it for myself. Managing my money was always going to be a part of that, and so at the age of 14, I was already working and building my savings.
What would you say the biggest money obstacle has been for you to overcome?
To spend it? I know, horrible answer, but I do find it hard sometimes to find the balance in enjoying my money and hoarding it away. This sounds like a first world problem (and it is), but I think it is important for everyone to find that balance, no matter where they are at in their money journey. Even if you’re working on paying off a mountain of debt, you can’t deprive yourself. You have to find ways to have fun with your money and work towards your financial goals at the same time.
How has overcoming that obstacle changed you?
It’s been a journey, that’s for sure. However, I think I’ve learned what is worth spending my money on and what is not. That’s been a huge part of it. I just took a trip to Peru which cost a few thousand dollars, and I had no qualms about any of that money going out of my bank account. The $40 I spent on a dress I wasn’t absolutely crazy about though? That one caused me some pain (and yes, I took it back). If you spend your money where your values lie, it’s a lot easier to see it go. And make it seem worth it.
Are there any obstacles you are still working on ?
Um, see above. It’s a work in progress. I’m also trying to dip my feet more in the investing game. I have a 401(k) and Roth IRA, but I’m trying to learn more about stocks, ETFs, etc. along with more non-traditional investments, like real estate (or my blog business!).
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?
Other than the stereotypical online shopping binge? 😉
You know how everyone says if you get a big tax return you’re basically loaning the government money for free? And that you shouldn’t do it? Well, I’m one of those people, and I don’t care what you “should” do – I like getting a big chunk of money in the spring, and if that means giving the government an interest-free loan, so be it. Take that, haters.
I think it’s important to point out here that just because something works for one person, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. Nor should you just do something because it’s the rational choice. You have to find what rests well with you, and that is what is going to make you most successful in your money journey.
If you were to start your money journey all over what would you do differently?
Start diversifying my income sooner! The more streams, the better, and I think that’s something that isn’t taught early enough.
What is your proudest money accomplishment?
I’d say buying my home at the age of 26. At the time it didn’t seem like a huge deal, but I look back now and see that not many people are able to do that. Granted, I did graduate school debt free, so I had an enormous head start; however, I was still able to put down 20% on a 15-year mortgage and have the foresight to rent the extra bedrooms (which I still do). It set me up to build equity and create a second income stream all in one swoop, and I love win-win situations.
Who is your money hero?
My parents – like I said before, we didn’t grow up rich, but I never felt deprived. We took vacations, they paid for sports camps, we ate out every so often. It was a great childhood. On top of that, they sacrificed a lot to build something better for my brother and I. They paid for college for both of us when they could have used that money to buy better cars or retire early. That’s a love like no other, and there’s no way to repay them. I mean, no student debt? It’s a wonderful foot to start off on, and one I hope to provide for my future children.
What was your worst money mistake?
Can I also put buying my home here? Just kidding, it really hasn’t been that bad of a mistake (or a mistake at all), but I will say it cost more than I thought it would. Maintaining a home and trying to make it look presentable takes some dollars, and unfortunately, you are responsible for all of it.
What was your first money lesson?
I tried to steal a dollar from my brother when I was eight, and he punched me in the face for it. So I learned not to steal.
Ok, not a true story (my brother has never punched me although I can’t say the same for myself), but it would have been a good one, right? In all actuality, my parents had us on an allowance system based on our chores, so I learned that in order to make money, you had to put in some work. A little more boring, but a good lesson nonetheless.
What money habits do you see in yourself (or others if you are perfect) that make you cringe?
Constantly being pulled in by all the material stuff of the world. I follow all kinds of boutiques and stores on Instagram, and I’m constantly checking their site if something on one of their posts catches my eye. And then I’m like, “Why am I even looking at this? I don’t even look good in rompers.” When you’re trying to keep yourself in check, following stores on Instagram or scrolling through Pinterest is not the best move. And yet, I still do it. Oy vey.
Would you classify yourself as a Spender or a Saver?
Oh, big time saver. Almost to a fault. My mom always tells me to buy something if I really want it because I have the money (and I do). But it’s so hard to part with it sometimes. I think she gets exasperated by my frugality lol.
What’s the one personal finance book that had the biggest impact in your life?
I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Roberty Kiyosaki when I got out of college, and it really made me realize the difference behind the reality of someone’s situation and the one they present to the world. I saw that I could build wealth, but it may mean sacrificing the really nice cars and homes and clothes…and I’m ok with that.
Ok now for some non-money questions. Let’s give our readers a glimpse of what makes you who you really are. These are optional but I really, really, really want to know.
Give me a list of your top 5 foods?
Anything with sugar
What is your favorite drink (alcohol or non-alcohol)?
Red bull vodka. I know it’s not good for me, but I can’t help it.
What kind of daily traditions or habits do you have?
I try to work out as much as possible. I feel like it’s not only good for my body (I’ve got to offset all of that pasta consumption somehow) but it keeps me balanced mentally, too. When they say it’s a huge stress reliever, they mean it. I went for a week or two without hitting up the gym, and I can’t describe how low my mood was.
Which group do you fall into:
Apple of Samsung? Apple
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Coffee or Tea? Neither
Night owl or morning bird? Morning bird
I’m a huge music fan, what’s one (or more) of your favorite albums?
The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You (2009)
If you ever see them live, you will fall in love.
What’s the one movie you could watch over and over again and never get tired of it?
Bridesmaids – it’s such a classic girl comedy.
What book are you reading right now?
I just finished reading “Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly, and I loved learning about the history of that time without the religious veil. It was really interesting and a book I highly suggest!
Finish this sentence with the first thing that comes to mind
I would rather _be busy___________, than __twiddle my thumbs_________,
Do you have a favorite quote?
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”
Where can people find you online if they want to get ahold of you?
Twitter – @brittandtheb
Facebook – Brittney Knies
Pinterest – Britt & the Benjamins
Wasn’t that an awesome interview! Make sure to head on over and check out some of her tips on awesome site.
If you have any questions or comments for Britt leave them in the comment section below!