Even after running a business for 9+ years, I feel like I have so much to learn where finances are concerned. Through my previous blog posts on money, you know by now that I was naive and didn’t think it was a priority to focus on how I handle money. The universe has ways of slapping you around till you learn your lessons. Some of these lessons have been super hard and truly made me struggle and wish I had a time machine to go back and change things. Unfortunately, I don’t have a time machine and can’t fix the mistakes I made. But, I’ve made it my mission to learn as much as I can to ensure I don’t repeat the mistakes. I think the hardest part is forgiving yourself and letting go of the anger of not being able to change a situation.
So in my quest of understanding the world of Finance better, I’ve been talking to some really cool people about their thoughts on money and what they would like us to know. Through my mentor and lead investor (read this post here) I found out about Shannon and her incredible blog, Financially blonde. I’ve been following her work for a while and luckily through instagram, we started talking. I’ve asked her my 7 questions and I hope the answers add as much value to you, as they did to me! Here’s a short bio of Shannon and then the questions.
Shannon McLay, Financial Gym CEO – Bio:
Shannon McLay is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm 5 years ago to start her own company, The Financial Gym because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources for this generation. After accomplishing her own successful weight loss journey, Shannon realized that while there are a number of resources available to people who want to become physically fit, there are far fewer for those looking to become financially fit. Most people don’t even know what financial fitness looks like, let alone how to achieve it, prompting McLay to ask, “How can you discuss retirement or investment options, when you don’t have any money to begin with?”
As with physical health and fitness, financial fitness is a goal that anyone can achieve, no matter your starting point. The journey is very similar: you need a plan, the right tools to accomplish your goals and a support system. Shannon realized that the key to financial success for most people is human contact and not a website or an app. People are more than algorithms and The Financial Gym is putting the personal back in personal finance to help the everyday Jack and Jill who are trying to build assets while also managing debt.
Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and her company, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.
- What key financial advice would you give a person just out of college?
The earlier you focus on your financial health, the more flexibility you will have in your personal decisions in the future. I frequently met with people in their 60s who thought they were near retirement; however, they hadn’t managed their finances well throughout their adult life, and I had to tell them they needed to work for multiple more years than they anticipated. I hated seeing the defeat in their eyes when I delivered this message. It was like telling someone who just ran a marathon that they have 5 more miles to run. Good financial habits take time to develop, but if you implement them early enough, they will add up over time. Now I love telling someone in their 40s they can retire because they practiced good financial habits in their 20s and 30s.
- In your experience, what mistakes do most people make where their finances are concerned?
Most people don’t pay attention to where there money is going. With credit cards, debit cards and apps, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to track your spending and it’s easy to overspend money on things you don’t value. We all work hard for the money we make; yet we don’t make it hard to spend the money. Mindfulness on your spending will lead you to spend less and save more for what truly matters to you, which is typically family, health and wellness and travel.
- What do you wish you had learned about money sooner?
I wish that I focused more on saving rather than buying stuff. I didn’t grow up with a lot and once I started making money, I wanted to have a nice car, nice clothes and a nice house. At the end of the day, none of those things brought me true happiness; they only distracted me from finding my happiness.
- What is the biggest myth about money that you would like to bust?
That it’s just a numbers game. Money is highly emotional and the sooner we address our emotional triggers where our money is concerned, whether it’s scarcity fears, shame about income or depression over financial setbacks, then we can take back the power we give money and replace it with empowerment and confidence.
- What 3 things would you like to teach your children about money?
I have a 13-year-old son, and since he was 5 I’ve been teaching him how to make, spend and save money. All children should understand the importance of work and how you need to earn an income at some point. Children should also know how to spend the money they make responsibly and finally they need to know the importance of saving and building a future for themselves and their family.
- Does gender play a role in the way people treat their money? Would women deal with money differently than men?
From my perspective, women are much more uncomfortable tackling their money challenges. Everyone has emotions around money, but the two common emotions women express around money are fear and shame. It’s scary to address fears and shame head on but once they do, women actually manage their money much better than their male counterparts.
- Could you give us 3 tips/changes one can make to save money?
- Automate – Setting up automatic transfers to savings accounts on a regular basis takes the thought process out of savings and makes sure that it happens regularly.
- Plan – Savings should always be a part of your regular budget. If you have fixed expenses that are too high that don’t allow for you to save, you need to rethink the way you spend your money.
- Expand – If you find it difficult to save because your budget is tight, then make more money whether through extra jobs or side hustles, asking for a raise in your current job or taking a job somewhere else.