Can the way you live your life affect your finances? Yes it can!
Josh Elledge from Savings Angel joins us to talk about how your lifestyle habits and choices can impact your finances.
Don’t let your lifestyle drain your money resources
[00:00:02] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Money Mastermind Show. Let’s Talk Money.
[00:00:19] GC: Welcome to the Money Mastermind Show. Many of us treat our personal lives , personal finances rather, as this outside extra thing that’s not really part of the rest of our lives but our lifestyle habits have a real effect on our personal finances.
So tonight we’ve brought in Josh Elledge of Savingsangel.com to help us talk about how our lifestyle habits affect our personal finances. Welcome to our show Josh.
[00:00:49] JE: Hey, thanks so much Glen. Thank you everybody.
[00:00:50] GC: Thank you for coming. As most of you are familiar with, the rest of the Money Mastermind Show is Kyle Prevost of Youngandthrify.ca, Miranda Marquit of Planting Money Seeds, Peter Anderson of Bible Money Matters and Tom Drake of the Canadian Finance Blog. I’m Glen Craig of Free from Broke. If you are watching us live and you can stop by our event page, there is an app there where you can ask questions. If you have any questions about how your lifestyle affects your personal finances and maybe the other way around as well, drop that question and we’ll be happy to answer them.
As I said at the start, many of us treat our finances as this sort of thing that’s separate from our lifestyle right? And we have our finances over here and this is everything else that we do. But the two really do have an effect on each other don’t they? What’s that connection or how do our lifestyle habits or our life habits actually spill over into our finances?
[00:01:51] JE: Well, if you’re asking me, I’m going to assume that that question is addressed to me.
[00:01:56] GC: Yeah, we usually start with our guest.
[00:01:59] JE: Yeah, you know I’m still thrown off. Is it really Marquit? Is that how you pronounce Miranda’s last name?
[00:02:04] MM: Yeah.
[00:02:05] JE: I thought it was Marquee.
[00:02:07] GC: You know I tried to do that for the longest time and like from show one, I usually mess up people’s names and I think it’s all Miranda’s fault because I tried to give it this French kind of…
[00:02:17] MM: You have known me long enough that you know how to pronounce my name.
[00:02:24] KP: Marquee describes sort of her title in regards to our show like with me.
[00:02:30] PA: Marquee talent, yes.
[00:02:32] MM: I’ll be known like that. I hope I have my hair and my eye shadow right then.
[00:02:42] JE: Well ooh-la-la, so yes, in answer to your earlier question. You know everything is integrated and to think that we are that gifted or that talented that we could truly compartmentalize our life is just foolish thinking. If you really want to show up to the finish line of life, you have to look at all of these areas in our life. If it’s our finances, if it’s our health, if it’s our emotional health, our physical health, if it’s our relationships, ideally we want to bring those all in alignment. I think that that’s when we can truly live a life of integrity.
It’s kind of like the same thing like if you’re living a life that’s out of integrity, so for example, let’s say that we’ve got the Bible guy on, right? Let’s say you’re living the life of sin but yet you preach righteousness. You know that that’s not going to last very long. The two things are out of alignment and at some point, you’re going to break or at least you’re going to be miserable. You just can’t live like that.
For example, so let’s say that I have professionally, career wise I’m doing very, very well but yet I’ve got crippling debt and I’m living above my means. I’m emotionally abusive to people that I’m related to. Something is out of alignment, something’s got to give. So either you’re going to find the other areas of your life coming into alignment with the parts that are maybe, you know, need some help or you’re going to have to really focus and want to improve.
Now, here’s the good news, is that someone who is really in the personal development, like I don’t know a lot of people who are really into personal development that have messed up finance. Or if they’re into personal development, eventually at some point in their life, they’re going to get into fitness. They’ll see that, “Wait a minute, here I am and I’m talking about these principles, it just doesn’t sit right for me.”
I’ve seen so many people — I used to be, just kind long story short, I used to be 60 pounds heavier than I am right now. I felt like I was a good person, I got along with everyone but I knew that for me, I was kind of living a little out of alignment. So eventually something’s got to give and I finally said, “You know what? I’m going to apply the same principles,” because I consider myself pretty disciplined with my money, “I’m going to apply the same principles that I do to my health as I do my money,” and low and behold, wouldn’t you know it, the weight just naturally, really almost easily came off.
[00:05:50] MM: I want that secret pill because I tried so hard.
[00:05:58] GC: So do you eat money instead of actual food and the calories are less?
[00:06:02] MM: They just melt away.
[00:06:03] GC: That’s best to do in the long run.
[00:06:07] MM: I’ve been exercising, I’ve been eating things I hate to eat and low and behold, I’m still, well, this.
[00:06:15] GC: You know Josh, I think that a lot of people have made that connection. In personal finance in all realm where if you’re good with your finances, it really does mirror health in a lot of ways. With the calories use versus savings and the discipline, you’re coming from it on a personal finance side, which is why that sounds like that you applied it to the other way around. I think a lot of people have a problem when it’s the other way, right? They’re living this lifestyle and that’s what’s affecting their personal finances. So where do you make of that connection for most people?
[00:06:52] JE: Well, let me share with you exactly like if I were to really niche down and share with you what I would consider to be my expertise. At Savings Angel, what we do is for years and years and years, now getting on a decade, we focus on helping people cut their grocery bill in half and we’re really good at it. So we database everything that all the grocery stores are doing. We have a huge database of over five to 10,000 coupons.
And so what we end up doing is, remember that silly show Extreme Couponing? Well we just come up with all those extreme couponing deals and we just say, “Look, you can have anything you want and you could get it for 60, 70, 80, 90% off and even free stuff.” When I started working out these deals and we started coming up with this technology that would do it automatically, well it’s almost like being given the keys to a sports car that you’re really not quite ready to drive, because I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I can get Sarah Lee pies for 80 cents apiece, they’re normally $6”. Well, you’re never going to guess what Josh bought. Well, I bought this Sarah Lee pies for 80 cents apiece because I could!
And so we ended up filling our pantry full of food and a lot of them are not healthy for us. It’s like people who win the lottery, they usually go nuts and because they’re not used to that much power, that much influence, or that much material wealth, or that many resources. It’s like people who receive win falls really need to work hard to be disciplined and surround themselves by experts who could teach them prudence in being able to handle that amount of resources.
So getting back to my story, so we had this huge pantry and freezer just full of all these foods that we were literary getting for pennies on the dollar. But we had made the choice, we said, you know, our business, Savings Angel started doing very well. And so we thought, “Well maybe it’s time we buy a house and we move across the country. We move from Michigan to Florida,” and so we just gave away everything. We said, “You know what? We are going to start over”. We completely emptied the freezer, completely emptied the pantry, brought almost nothing with us food wise and we said, “You know what? We’re going to start from scratch.”
And sometimes you really do. If there’s something wrong in your life, if there’s something wrong with your computer particularly if you’re a PC user, you have to restart it every once in a while [Laughs] —sorry I had to get that little dig in there. But sometimes, it really helps to hit the reset button. When we hit the reset button, we just made the commitment. For example, things like soda. Well, I love drinking soda but I just made the conscious effort, “Look, as much as I want to drink it, if I don’t buy it, I’m not going to have it in the house and if I don’t have it in the house, I’m less likely to drink it.” And so it’s easier for me to not buy soda than it is for me to not drink soda, does that make sense?
So I limit my exposure to the things that I know are not leading me down the path that I wanted to head to.
[00:10:13] GC: It’s like knowing your weaknesses.
[00:10:16] JE: Yeah.
[00:10:17] GC: And knowing where your discipline has a crack in it. I mean I totally know what you’re saying, if I have a bag of chips in the house, if it’s not open it’s kind of just sitting there. But once it cracks open, it doesn’t last long.
[00:10:31] JE: “What is this half eaten bag of chips? I’ve got to clean this up.”
[00:10:35] GC: Yeah, they won’t last long, that one chip turns into a bag.
[00:10:39] JE: Yeah, and Glen, I don’t know if you mom made you clean your plate but there’s so much psychology that lives with us that we feel like there’s certain things we have to do that are not actually really healthy for us, that being one of them. You don’t need to clean your plate! We’re all adults here now and I almost consider thumbing my nose at my mom that like, “Ha, look at all these food I’m not eating. You know, I’m going to put it back”.
[00:11:07] MM: But-but…
[00:11:08] GC: You’re not mailing it out to people in other countries that might be starving?
[00:11:11] JE: Yeah. No, no because see, that would make mom happy so no. It is my passive-aggressiveness coming back.
[00:11:20] MM: So if you’re throwing out your food, how does that work with your financial philosophy?
[00:11:24] JE: No, I didn’t throw it out Miranda, I gave it away! And that’s what our whole mission at Savings Angel. Get out of here, throw it away. I’m stingy, I’m very frugal and I don’t throw anything away. So in our church, we actually had a new family that moved in and they had nothing. I’m like, “You know, this was just God putting us all together,” and so I’m like, “This is so perfect. We’re looking to clean house, you’re looking to fill your house,” and that was just that. I love how sometimes those things work out. No, I didn’t throw — I don’t things away. Those things are painful.
[00:12:04] MM: Look at how angry he is.
[00:12:07] JE: I will tell you that one of the biggest points of contention between my dear wife and I, well, we have been married — we will have been married now, in 20 days from the time we’re recording this, we’ll be married 20 years. And there’s very few things that I think that are still difficult for us to do. I think that the thing that is probably the most difficult is when she wants to go through the refrigerator or the pantry and start de-junking and getting rid of things that have expiration dates, that for me is so hard for me to do that.
She also has that mistaken thinking that if the date on the package has past that it’s no longer good. We know that that’s not true. As a matter of fact, a really good website, just while I’m touching on this subject this is a really good website it’s called Stilltasty.com. Expiration dates people, have absolutely no bearing on food safety whatsoever, so that’s the FDA. You see me like flailing my arms around? I’m really passionate about this subject. Stop throwing away your food.
[00:13:13] GC: I will make one exception though.
[00:13:15] JE: Yes.
[00:13:16] GC: Milk gets really close to that date.
[00:13:17] JE: Yes, so give it the old smell test and yeah, your nose will usually not steer you wrong.
[00:13:27] MM: I love that.
[00:13:28] PA: You know, you’ve touched on when something’s out of line in your life, if one thing is wrong in your life it will affect other areas in your life. And there are studies too showing that people that are doing well in their finances also do well with their health and fitness.
[00:13:44] JE: Yeah.
[00:13:45] PA: There’s a study out of Washington University in St. Louis on the future mind of people who contributed to a 401(k) were much more likely to take steps to improve their health as well. And then there’s another study out of the University of Michigan that found that people with low credit scores could be used to predict that increased risk of heart problems and cardiovascular disease. So it may come down to partly self-control, partly other things, but these things are related. And if you have the self-discipline to be able to do well with your finances, you may also have the self-discipline to do well in fitness and other areas as well.
[00:14:23] JE: Yeah.
[00:14:24] MM: Well, I do…
[00:14:25] GC: I don’t know who’s book it was or which study it was but it was a similar in what you were saying Peter where if you track your finances in daily spending in a journal every day, it also tends to spill over into your health as well. So you tend to be a little more conscious of what you were eating and what you were doing every day. That habit tended to invade your thinking for the rest of your lifestyle as well. So that’s interesting to see how that works.
[00:14:51] JE: And you know that app that I use to help me lose all my weight was My Fitness Pal. And My Fitness Pal is just logging everything that you eat. And so the very nature — you are so right because the very nature of giving myself permission to eat anything I want, this is how I lost the weight is that I just committed to track everything that I put in my mouth. There were so many times when I said, “I could totally eat that bowl of,” well, I just got some Star Wars cereal today. Come on, I’m a Star Wars fan. I cannot not get the Star Wars cereal.
[00:15:31] GC: I hope that’s new Star Wars cereal and not like original ’77 stuff.
[00:15:37] PA: Still tasty.
[00:15:40] JE: So I could totally eat the Star Wars cereal but I’ve had to log it. And there were sometimes I’m like, “You know,” and just being conscious about it and this will get into something I know we’ll touch in a little bit about living more consciously and living more mindfully. I apologize Glen, I believe I interrupted you.
[00:16:00] GC: No, no, go ahead with your point.
[00:16:04] PA: I think you guys made a great point though about tracking things and keeping on top of your finances it’s the same. I am doing the same thing right now. I’m losing weight, I’m doing weight watchers and I they have the app too where you’re tracking everything that you eat. And just by being aware of what you’re putting in your mouth every day is like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I ate that many calories before.”
And it’s the same token when you start tracking your finances you’re thinking, “I don’t spend that much money every month”. Then it’s like, “Oh my gosh, we spent $1,200 on eating out last month. How did that happen?” So just taking that daily habit of actually checking up on what you’re doing could be huge in terms of getting things under control and making positive changes.
[00:16:44] MM: Yeah and I think too though… Sorry.
[00:16:46] GC: Go ahead.
[00:16:47] MM: One of the things though that I noticed when you were talking about like health and finances and the connection is part of it, it can start to be spiral. Because they’ve also done studies where if you’re stressed out about your finances or if your finances are in bad shape and you’re stressed out about it, that in turn can affect your health. You have that stress and that anxiety, and stress and anxiety have physical and mental implications for your health. Then it starts to become this vortex of pain, I guess, I don’t know?
Where you feel terrible if you’re stressed out, it’s awful so a lot of the time people relieve that by spending. Either they spend, that shopping therapy or they spend on self-medication things like alcohol, which is extremely expensive and other things like that. So then you’re spending all this money, then you’re more stressed about your situation, so then your health goes down hill more, and so it becomes this cycle. They’ve done studies showing too that if you have poor finances, that affects your health and of course then your health can sometimes be a reflection of your finances. I think it goes both ways.
[00:17:55] GC: I think the key point there is not so much that if you’re not taking care of your finances, maybe you’re maybe just putting too many charges than you need to, then all of a sudden your health is going to go bad, but that it causes a real stress in your life. And when you’re stressed that’s what causes you to make those bad decisions.
[00:18:12] JE: You’d better believe it and I’ve done some work, some advocacy work on behalf of employers and done some financial wellness education in the work place. Right now, depending on which study you look at, one study showed 76% of Americans are currently money stressed and the impact on the workplace is huge. Absenteeism goes up, decreased productivity, you’ve got a greater turn over, garnishments, increased dependence on assistance programs, it impacts physical health so the healthcare costs go up, they’re not participating in their company’s 401(k) plan and they’re not retiring on time. I mean there are so many areas that are negatively impacted when we’re leading a money stressed life.
[00:19:02] GC: It’s so, so interesting in how stress has such an impact on everything we do but you know we’ve still been talking about it as a money side and how that affects our lifestyle. I want to see if we could get that other way going where how do you change your lifestyle and then affect your finances?
[00:19:24] JE: So Glen, I’m a consumer guy. If I were to talk to just like an audience full of just like a cross section of the population, I know that a certain percentage of those folks are stressed out about their finances. For me to start telling them, “Well, you need to be investing in your company’s 401(k) plan because that’s good for you,” they start tuning out. If you tell them that they need to start saving for their kids’ college, and they’re more concerned about paying for their kids’ doctor bill.
So I’ve always fascinated by what are the things the greatest percentage of us have in common? And I have a real heart for those who are truly living with that stress because I’ve been there, and I think most of us have experienced that financial stress at one point or another. If I can show them the life hacks that would cause them or if I said, “Look, you don’t have to be extreme in one area but if I could just show you a few things, and it would mean an extra three to $400 in your bank account every month, would that make a big difference? Like If I were to sit here and write a check for $400 every month to just give it to you, would that really take the edge off things?” Everybody says “yes” to that and $400 is easy, easy to recover in an average budget. I’d say and again, kind of one the reason that we’ve hammered on the grocery budget is because almost everybody is spending way too much at the grocery store, they’re spending way too much eating out and it’s so easy to fix.
Imagine if gas stations — you know how the price of gas fluctuates and when we see a good price on gas, we’re like, “Oh wow, gas is at 2.09, oh I’ve got to fill up even though I only need an eighth of a tank, I’ve gotta go and enjoy that cheap gas.” I feel like I’m the guys in Zoolander who are just spraying the gas all over just because you can, just because it’s so cheap. As wildly as we feel that the price of gas fluctuates, the price of consumables and groceries fluctuates by crazy amounts like 50% or more. It’s really easy to get your groceries at half off.
Now, what most people are doing when they go grocery shopping is that they try to buy what’s on sale, but largely what they are buying are the things that they need. And if the person listening to us remembers nothing else about that guy who talked way too fast and was just way too excited about groceries and that sort of thing, is if they remember nothing else, remember this, need based shopping is the worst, absolute worst way that you could feed your family. It’s way too expensive.
So what does that mean? It’s like going into a used car lot and you say, “Well used car dealer, this is what I need. I need a moon roof, I need bucket seats, I need heated,” or whatever. You just start listing all these demands and you say, “And I am not leaving your used car lot until you give it to me”. Well, how much negotiating power do you have? You have zero. Now, when you go into a grocery store and your sweet wife or your husband gave you a list of thing that you’re supposed to buy and you’re kids are counting on it and if you come home without it, and I’ve done this, you know you come home without something that my wife said I was supposed to buy, well I’m going to get in trouble.
But here’s the thing, again, if you’re stuck with a list then you have to buy those things and so scan up and down the aisles. You’re like, “Oh gosh, I guess I’m buying store brand,” or “I guess I’m going to Walmart because that’s how you save money.” Well, that’s how my family and I were shopping and we were still spending $800 plus every single month. That’s what everybody does. To cut a grocery bill in half and I’ve studied all the experts and I’ve been an expert in this field for eight-nine years now, here’s what you have to do. You’ve got two options, alright? And these are the only two options that are really going to make a big difference. Number one, you could grow all your own food. Good luck with that. I am just like, don’t ever give vegetable seeds to me because you may as well just throw them in the garbage.
[00:24:13] GC: You can’t grow Star Wars cereal either.
[00:24:15] JE: No, see that’s the biggest problem is you can’t grow Star Wars cereal, which by the way is not good cereal. I’m not recommending that cereal and it’s probably not healthy for you either. So yeah, so that’s out for people like Josh. “I am too busy and it’s not going to work with my lifestyle.” So your only other option is that you need to work with the grocery stores and here’s what you do. You need to use coupons but coupons by themselves, they’re only going to get you so far.
If you get a coupon, you’re like, “Okay, great. Now I’m going to buy this product and I’m going to get 50 cents off,’ but the product is full price and it’s cheaper to buy store brands. So sometimes coupons by themselves work out okay, sometimes they don’t. And you should also, however, you should buy thing that are on sale. I mean that’s just common sense! But the magic happens when you find the absolute best deal. A one dollar coupon comes out for Cheerios and your local grocery store has Cheerios for buy one get one free. Well now you’re getting Cheerios for 99 cents a box instead of $4 a box.
Well I want to make sure that when you find those deals that you stock up and you buy enough to last you through about at least 13 weeks because that’s going to be the difficult product cycle where we see where you can find these lowest prices on demo products. Now if you just do this, stop buying what you need and when you get a really great deal, you absolutely load up. Now you can use our free coupon database at Savings Angel or you can find this information out on your own. It’s not rocket science. But if you only did that and you just stock up, I mean that’s all you need to do and you can easily, easily pocket $200 a month and that’s just in groceries.
Now most people that are really good at this can pocket about $400 from their grocery bill alone and that’s if you get really good at it. And I don’t want somebody to think, “Oh, I’m going to feel like my mom on Sunday mornings when she was clipping all the coupons”. Today’s couponing is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s all digital, it’s all automated, it couldn’t be easier. Stores will let you just clip all the coupons and add them to your account so it’s automatic. You swipe the card at the counter and it couldn’t be easier. Here’s the deal, people who have figured this out are earning $40 to $50 an hour for their time. People who refuse to take this seriously are losing by default two to $300 every single month, by default just because you’re not willing to take a look at this.
[00:26:50] GC: I have a couple of contentions with what you’re saying. I get what you’re saying and I do agree, if you time things out right and you have the right coupons or maybe you’re going to the right stores and do a little price comparison, you can make a killing. Right? You could really do well. But here’s the thing, just because you have a coupon, just because you have a great deal stocking up on 13 weeks of Twinkie's isn’t necessarily the best thing for me.
[00:27:14] JE: Well that would be stupid and so no one should do that.
[00:27:17] GC: No, a lot of times…
[00:27:19] JE: Glen, I take exemption with your example because that’s moronic.
[00:27:25] GC: You know what? That’s a pretty extreme example because a lot of foods that fall into between that.
[00:27:29] JE: Yes.
[00:27:29] MM: Tell us how you really feel about that.
[00:27:30] GC: In between my Twinkie and what I might get in whole foods and a lot of foods that fall in between where you think it’s maybe healthy-ish, maybe eat a lot of it but really, it’s all full of salt, it’s all full of sugar, it’s all full of fat.
[00:27:43] JE: “With great power comes great responsibility,” and so kind of like my Sarah Lee example earlier, just because you have the power to buy junk food at 80% off and trust me, if you want coupons for junk food, oh I can show you coupons for junk food! But if you want coupons for healthy more whole minimally processed food, guess what? There are more coupons than ever for all of those types of products. So yeah, does it mean that it might pay a little bit more? Yes but you know what? Is it an investment in your health? Absolutely!
But here’s the deal, if you’re committed to spending say a $1,000 a month because you do feed your family on more exclusive products, then you more than anyone really need to take this seriously because you can save a significant portion of your money by looking for those healthy whole coupons. And like I said, we’ve got over 5,000 coupons in our coupon database. At the very least, why don’t you just take a look and see what you can find.
So think of the different product brands that you like and believe it or not, you can get coupons for tomatoes and you could get coupons for oranges and all of these produce items. Saving Star is one of the coupon providers that we work with every single week, they have a coupon for 20% off some produce item on top of whatever sale you might find.
[00:29:12] TD: I don’t think coupons are as common here on Canada but we do a lot of fire shopping and I think I’d probably do a mixture of what you’re talking about because we shop needs based but when something that we would buy regularly is on sale then yeah, we would back up the truck and load up. But we’re not buying Twinkies. We’re literary like, “Oh this is an item that we would buy anyway. We don’t need it today but I’ll buy a month’s supply.”
[00:29:39] JE: See Glen. Glen, see people could do this right. [Laughs]
[00:29:46] GC: You know I like to think that we’re exceptional and I’m not trying to be elitist but I think a lot of us have gone through a lot of the things that we talk about. We’ve gone through money problems maybe we’ve gone through some health problems so we’re coming from maybe from a different place. A lot of times, we’re preaching to the choir here. We agree with everything that we say but it’s not necessarily what our listeners that may not be in the same place that they are coming from, and that’s why I bring that up.
For me, it’s not so much about chasing after the coupons at the supermarket, it’s about just changing completely where I’m going to shop. I’ll go to maybe a Trader Joe’s or something like that, a more specialty supermarket where maybe the coupons aren’t even available for the food.
[00:30:33] JE: Yeah and then there are coupons available like Whole Foods, that’s one store that we database. Like I said, you can absolutely make this work in your lifestyle, but here is the thing too; I am not one of those consumer advocates or consumer experts that says, “You know you need to cut out the lattes and you need to cut your cable TV”. I mean you really have to look at the things that bring you joy and pleasure in life.
I pay a lot of money to Comcast every single month, but you know what? That’s what brings me joy. At night, I love to grab my iPad and I love to watch something that’s streamed off of the Comcast app. It’s worth it for me. It’s a premium and it’s an investment I make in something that I enjoy. I love having access to that much entertainment. Do I need it all? No. Could I cancel it and save a little bit of money? Sure, but you know what? It’s important enough to me that — now trust me, I call Comcast a few months to negotiate because that’s just smart.
But you know again, I think we just need to — you know for you, Glen you were talking about how much you value food and making those choices and you get a lot of pleasure out of that. So by no means that when I tell you that you need to start buying things that make you uncomfortable, but in learning all of the life hacks — so if we do a line item budget and we look at everything that we’re buying on a regular basis, I would hazard to guess that even the savviest of us could use a tune up from time to time, where we just want to make sure that we’re bringing everything in alignment.
And so if it’s resisting the urge to upgrade our car and instead maybe a good compromise is upgrading the car stereo. That was one thing that I recently did. There are lots of little tweaks that you can do and collectively, by not upgrading my car and still driving the car that’s in great shape but still has over 150,000 miles on it, that is saving me a ton of money.
[00:32:52] GC: Yeah, I like to look at it as it’s the options by not doing that with your car, now maybe you could spend a little bit more on your food or spend a little bit more on the cable but still not be over budget.
[00:33:05] JE: Or, this is not really in my wheelhouse, but investing in myself. This is where I would defer to you guys to talk about the power of that. I feel like if you can help someone go from someone go from money stressed to money confident, then it’s like their options have opened up and it’s like this whole world that they felt was elusive to them like saving more for retirement and maxing out your 401(k) and doing all these things that maybe you’ve heard of but you just shut down with.
The person who’s listening to this program, by the way, they’re the converted, sure. But they are also ambassadors for this mission and this mission is helping people live a more abundant life. And so I always acknowledge that the choir’s and the congregation, but the choir are my best disciples when I’m out on the street.
[00:34:04] MM: I think you made a good point though about figuring out what’s important to you in your lifestyle and then going around that with your money strategies. Because in my case I hate grocery shopping, I hate meal planning, I hate all of that. My solution was to sign up for Blue Apron and have them plan all my meals and send me all the ingredients to my doorstep and the recipes and everything that I need to just take care of it. I don’t have to do that.
[00:34:31] JE: Right, right and you’re self-employed Miranda, so that frees you up to earn more than the premium that you would pay with Blue Apron. That’s a return on investment in my opinion.
[00:34:43] MM: Yeah, for sure. Definitely, yeah.
[00:34:47] PA: Yeah, that’s huge, You know, we’ve talked about that on the show before like figuring out what value in life and working your money strategies around what you value. Maybe the food isn’t the thing but maybe you value travel or whatever it is. You can sit down and plan your daily habits and the habits that you’re doing every day and make them work towards your goals and what you want and value. Sit down and figure out a budget, save an emergency fund, make sure you’re all set for life’s little situations that are going to happen so you don’t have to worry about them as much. Then set about working towards those goals with your daily habits that you’re doing.
[00:35:34] JE: Yeah and you know and I know and everybody knows that if you have a little bit of a cushion, it’s going to save you money in the long run. I mean that’s obvious. And just one other thing, utilities, that would be another one. If you really study the use of electricity and just try out a lot of these different life hacks and you invest in different technology like smart thermostats, you really get geeky about this stuff. There’s a lot of savings in utility bill as well especially for those of us in Orlando, Florida. It is, by the way, it was like close to 90 degrees. I am looking at my temperature right now and its 81 degrees and its 10:38 at night, absurd.
[00:36:20] KP: It froze here last night so thanks for that Josh.
[00:36:24] GC: I was going to say it’s more absurd because I’m up in New York and it’s like the same thing.
[00:36:29] JE: Yes, I saw that, I saw that.
[00:36:31] MM: Great 70 degree weather here in Idaho so I’m not complaining.
[00:36:37] GC: You know mentioned something about a couple minutes back how having a cushion can save you money. Can we talk about that for a sec, like what do you mean by that?
[00:36:50] JE: Well, you know it gives you choices right? And choices are always good. And so if I am limited in my choices and I say, “Well, the water heater went out,” and of course these emergencies — I feel like I am going back to 101 stuff so if there’s someone who’s listening and he’s like, “Oh come on please, this is so elementary,” but still, it needs to be said. Because again, the choir needs to go out on the street and they need to do the work.
Again, having those choices means more freedom, more freedom means you have the ability to prepay a bill for a year and as a result, that service provider gives you 15% off and I love negotiating. And here’s something, and I want everybody to remember this and everybody should know this, nearly everything is negotiable. If you have extra money, any service provider, I don’t care who they are, if you have lawn care help or whatever it is, ask them how much they’d be willing to take off the bill if you were willing to pay them a full year’s in advance. You know you have to weigh them against what you would earn with that lost investment. What’s the term with that? You guys are the smarter personal finance type.
[00:38:17] MM: Opportunity.
[00:38:19] JE: Opportunity yes, it’s opportunity cost. But you know, we’ve saved all kinds of money by just cutting a check and say, “We’re done for the year”. Those are the kind of freedoms that people who have extra capital can enjoy and people who are living paycheck to paycheck, they pay 10 to 15% more every month because they are paying their bills month to month.
[00:38:42] MM: Really on a more basic level too though, one of the reasons that an emergency fund, or backup fund, or rainy day fund or whatever can help you is it prevents you in an emergency situation from having to turn to your high interest credit card.
[00:38:58] JE: Oh yes, yes.
[00:38:59] MM: So I think that’s one of the biggest benefits and then you also get that peace of mind, which goes back to what we were talking about with stress and with health and making good decisions. It’s really hard to sit down and do something a little more rationally or strategize when you’re really stressed out about, “How am I going to handle this emergency? And what am I going to do?” You’ve just got this stress response and it’s really hard to think straight. It’s hard to make those decisions and calmly say, “Okay, here’s what we do.” Having that backup fund gives you a way to say, “Okay, we’re going to be okay. Let’s take a step back and evaluate the situation.”
[00:39:39] JE: Can I share a concept that I think can pretty much anybody do as well? Is if they absolutely feel that they cannot get that savings and just always feels illusive to them month to month, I’d like to float the idea of a food savings account. And this is one thing that we relied on. By stocking up, Tom you’re talking about the fire sale, by stocking up and loading the truck, and now, you are set when it comes to soups this particular week. And next week, you are absolutely set for months when it comes to health and beauty items or whatever it maybe.
Now this is really good because let’s say you do have an unexpected expense and the average American or the average Canadian is spending north of $800 to $900 a month to feed your family and add on top of that, all the eating out money. And now, we’re talking about 13 to $1,400 a month and that is a huge ticket item. And so if now you have this food savings account — I remember at the beginning of Savings Angel, I actually started my website and it started taking off but I still had a full time job.
Now, that job went away, but thankfully we had a lot of food set aside and so we were able to go to that and I was able to feed my family, get this, on less than $100 a month. And so the $600-$700 that we had been spending previous to that, we could now use to make sure that we were paying our utility bill. So a food savings account is very easy for anybody to do. All you have to do is shop a little bit smarter, stock up and you’ll start building that food savings account and it’s always there for you.
[00:41:36] PA: I remember growing up with a friend whose mother went a little bit crazy with the food savings account. They had stacks of Ramen noodles on every shelf and soup cans in the closet and in the bathroom, they’ve got 24 packs sitting on the corner.
[00:41:53] JE: You know, here’s the thing, here’s the thing on that. Some people will say, “Well I don’t have the space to stock up on food”. If Ed McMahon, bless his heart, came back from the dead he’d look pretty creepy looking. But let’s say, I’m trying to think of someone who awards prizes. I’m not sure whose modern contemporary is but I just remember him from Publisher Clearing House. Imagine he shows up and he’s like, “I’m going to give you $5,000 worth of groceries but you have to buy it all today.” Would you take the money or would you say “No, get out of here. No thanks, you keep the money”?
No, we wouldn’t. We would take it and we would buy it and we would find places to put that product. It’s either that or we give it away and that is a huge part as well of why we do what we do at Savings Angel is because I believe, I firmly, firmly believe that the best way, the most effective way to end hunger, lack, and need with our communities is just empower good people to do what they want to do. But here’s the problem, it’s that scarcity that keeps us from giving what we want to give and doing what we want to do.
So we feel that our cups are not full enough to be givers. Well if I can help people make some changes in how they shop and feed their family, all of a sudden everybody has got an overflowing cup and now everybody can be a giver and I would estimate that Savings Angel, over the 9 years that we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing, has collectively assisted in the donation of over $10 million worth of products to charities, to churches, to church pantries, to those who are struggling is a core part of why we do what we do. It’s our mission.
[00:43:42] GC: Now would you say that being healthier in your shopping and in your eating, exercising more or doing things along those lines, that that could positively affect your finances?
[00:43:57] JE: Well yes.
[00:43:59] GC: You have because here’s what comes to mind here. You think fitness, right? and you think New Year’s and you go, “I’m going to join a gym, this is going to be the year,” and before you know it, you’ve got this credit card charge for like $50 a month for a gym that you’ve never used and it’s not really helping your finances at all, it’s not helping your health at all and it just ends up being something that you ignore and never try again.
[00:44:25] JE: You know and lot of people will keep paying that gym membership and treat them like a fat tax where they feel that that’s their penalty for not getting into the gym. And by the way, I think it’s always funny — I am getting a kick out of this because we’re doing this via video and sometimes when you ask me a question and I start doing all the sound effects, I see Miranda and I see like Peter laughing every time I do that.
But anyway, yeah and here’s the thing too, when you’re living more healthily again, you have more options. Because if you are, you know, let’s say you’re living, your health is messed up and as a result, your diabetes is up and cholesterol is up. Look, I used to have problems with all that stuff because I got my other stuff in alignment, now health wise I have more options. I can run up and down the steps without losing my breath, I can play with my kids without losing my breath. When we go on vacations now, our options for vacations are far better because I enjoy living an active healthy lifestyle.
And so that’s a part of it too and the fact that we’re a really healthy family now because we have placed a high priority on health and as a result, I don’t think anyone in our family has expensive prescription medicines. We just have a lot more freedoms as a result of living a life of healthful abundance.
[00:46:06] GC: So in what ways has that actually translated to your finances directly. You know what I mean? How was that become the one thing? Because I think a lot of people think that, “If I’m going to be healthier, it’s going to cost me money.” And I don’t necessarily say that that’s the case but I know that the argument is out there. A lot of people don’t want to shop for healthier food, they think it’s too expensive, they don’t want to take part in certain things because they think there’s too much of a cost to get into it. So sell to those people.
[00:46:37] JE: Being mindful about the food that you buy for your family is going to bring a return on investment without question. We know this! I mean everybody knows this and if they don’t admit to it, then they’re lying to themselves and they know they are lying to themselves. So again, can you still buy the healthy food and save money? Yes, you can and you can absolutely do it. I’m not saying that anybody has to spend more money to live a healthier lifestyle. You can absolutely do this but you’re going to either pay a little bit in sweat equity. I’m talking about maybe 20 to 30 minutes of just hitting up a coupon, hitting up our coupon database, seeing what is available, right? And taking advantage of some of those really great offers and on our blog, we try to include a good cross section of products of stuff that you can go, and you can go to your local store and you can get, and you can save a lot of money. So those opportunities for savings are out there.
Your other option — so you either invest a little bit of sweat equity, an extra 20 to 30 minutes to, heaven forbid, do a little research on the Internet before you hit the store. Or your other option is to pay for the luxury. But again, return on investment, I’ve heard the argument and I would tend to agree with the argument that if you invest in healthier foods for your family, in the long run, your kids are going to — I can speak for one of my children, if he eats a lot of junk food and sugar and Red 40 and a bunch of garbage, it’s going to affect him behaviorally big time. So we know that it’s important for us to make sure that he gets great quality food. And as a result, we don’t have to put him on ADD medicine. It’s that stark of a difference.
[00:48:27] GC: There’s that difference but I also think that it goes back to what we’re talking about earlier in the show too. If you’re a little bit healthier, you’re a little less stressed. Your head is kind of there to make better decisions.
[00:48:44] JE: Can we earn more money and can we move ahead better in all areas of our life including financially if we’re living with less stress, if we’re more focused, if we’re more open to thinking clearly and thinking of things that can make our life a lot easier? Well, all these things, if we’re feeding our body with the stuff that we know that our body craves. Right? Our body craves nutrients, our body craves protein, our body craves fruits and vegetables. You know that. That’s pretty obvious and I think everybody agrees with that sentiment. Those are the things that we will have.
And so, will you do better at work? Probably, I can almost guarantee that. One subject that we kind of chatted about before we began this program was meditation. And meditation — look, I’m as far from a new agey kind of guy as you could possibly get and I don’t particularly enjoy meditation like the practice of it and doing it. I think it bores me to tears quite frankly just like sitting in a quiet room silent for 20 minutes. It’s really hard for me. I have one of those minds that doesn’t shut up it’s like hearing my own voice and how I talk, that’s how my mind is so imagine that.
But that said, I don’t know why, but when I’m good and I develop the habit and the pattern of meditating — and I think anybody can do it in whatever way works for them. Like if it’s prayer, great. If it’s just shutting up and trying to calm your thoughts, that would be great. Guided — I have to do guided meditation. I’ve got to have somebody giving me some structure. Maybe I’ll get better at this in the future but here’s what happens; I’m a better father, I’m a better husband, I’m way more productive at work. Stuff that would normally rattle me just doesn’t rattle me. I’m just chill about everything when I’m much more mindful in my life. And I become more mindful in my life when I am very conscious about saying, “You know what? I just have to have that 15-20 minutes of silence where I can center myself.” And for some reason, when I do it life is easier, when I don’t do it life is harder.
So I have to invest that time each time and it’s made a huge difference in my life. And I would almost say, and I don’t know if there’s some metaphysical reasons for this through prayer and meditation. Again, I don’t mean to get all out and on the edge outer limits here, but I’ve just seemed to — again, maybe I’m just manifesting it and I believe it happens so it happens but I just feel like I’m luckier. [Laughs] Good stuff happens when I feel like I’m in alignment, and I’m more centred and I’m more peaceful.
[00:52:00] GC: You know, I think of it maybe as my fuse is longer. Right? I have a little more space before I explode and by having that, you see different opportunities that are always arising but you see them now because you have a little bit of that space so now, you can walk through that door if it opens. Whereas before when your fuse is short, you’re not really noticing it.
[00:52:28] JE: Yeah and I think that I see myself doing things as well on top of that. That’s such a great point, I love that. I love that analogy. I see myself doing that and I also see myself doing things that I think fear would limit me. I try not to let fear limit my actions but it does and so I find myself asking for more audacious things or reaching out to someone who is like, “Oh geez, who I am to send this person an e-mail and ask for something like that?” But I feel like, I just feel so much more confident in who I am. I feel less of just a person just running around with flesh and bones and this meat suit running around. I feel centred like, “Ah, maybe there is something inside of me like a spirit or whatever it is.” Again, I don’t mean to go too far out on the edges if there is someone who is getting really uncomfortable with this right now. But hey, I am totally — look, I totally empathize with the person whose like, “Man, I’m not into that stuff.” All I would ask me to do is find a way that works for you and just try it out. Just experiment with this and see what happens.
It’s the same thing with the eating right. Try cutting out sugar with one week or two weeks just as an experiment and you come back to me and tell me what you find out. If you like what the results of that experiment were, then you can keep doing it. If you didn’t, it made no difference or you don’t really care, go back to eating sugar but at least experiment and try this stuff out. I think our life is an experiment.
[00:54:11] GC: Yeah, yeah. And I think we can talk about this and do a whole other show on that subject but again, I don’t want to go off too much on that. I think we’ve had a great show. We’ve talked a lot about the things that you choose to do that will affect your finances. And what we like to do when we’re finishing up the show, we like to have a final thought about what we think about it.
So we’ll start with Tom, what are your final thoughts about how your lifestyle can affect your finances?
[00:54:41] TD: I think it all goes together because self-improvement in general can kind of be catchy. Once you start fixing one thing, you start wanting to fix something else. Like for me, it’s money, it’s eating, it’s sleep, everything. If I can improve things, just go from one to the other. I think that’s probably why they go hand in hand a lot too. It’s not just one causes the other but you just become that kind of person that wants to improve different aspects as you go.
[00:55:10] GC: And Peter, what’s your final word?
[00:55:13] PA: Alright, my final word is just to, you know, you don’t have to change all of your life habits and all of your negative habits all at once. Just start small, start with something that you can affect. For me, I have been losing weight here for the past couple of months and I just started small. All I did change a few of my eating habits and I’m down 30 pounds just by making daily different decisions about what I’m eating.
The same thing can happen with your finances. Make small savings amount every month and overtime, that’s going to add up quickly. Take a money minute every day or every morning and just look at your finances and see where you are and think about where you want to be. Start small and work your way up.
[00:55:55] GC: Miranda, what’s your final word?
[00:55:57] MM: I think it just goes back to taking a look at the whole and kind of taking a holistic approach to it and saying, “How does this all interconnect? How is the way I use my money and how is my money situation affecting the way I feel about myself, and I feel about my life and my satisfaction level?” And vice versa, how do all these things connect together? And then figuring out a strategy that works for you and helps you reach your goals. And once again, like Peter said, you got to take it a little bit at a time. You can’t do a complete overhaul all at once.
[00:56:31] GC: Josh, if you’d give us your final word?
[00:56:34] JE: Ha! My final word is that, the person who’s been listening to this conversation, I just want to reaffirm that you are in at the right place at the right time. I am such a believer in finding those little pearls every day and every day that you grow just a little bit more. That’s where true satisfaction comes from growing. And so the fact that you are listening to this program, I know that there’s something that you’ve heard that you said, “Oh yeah, maybe I can try that,” or, “Maybe I’ll experiment on that thing.”
That’s what I love podcasts because there’s just so much great stuff that we can access to right now. So I would encourage that person who’s listening to keep on listening, and to keep on tuning in and search for those things that are going to help you move forward in life.
[00:57:30] GC: Thanks a lot Josh and thanks for a great show and for sharing your knowledge. For people out there that are not familiar with you, if you can tell us a little bit about yourself and about Savings Angel.
[00:57:40] JE: Yeah, for consumers, I do so much work to help consumers save a lot of money at SavingsAngel.com. And we’ve got lots of free stuff, free videos, free coupons, all kinds of stuff. Now for business owners, I also do a lot of work helping business owners get tons and tons of publicity. Savings Angel grew into a multimillion dollar business because I know how to work with the media really well. I’m a syndicated newspaper columnist and I do a lot of syndicated TV work as well. And so I love and I am so passionate about working with business owners. If there happens to be that business owner who’s been listening to us and you want some free stuff, I got tons of free stuff at Millionsinfreemedia.com.
[00:58:29] GC: Sounds good Josh. Thank you again for joining us and everybody out there, thank you for listening and until next week, be good with your money.
[END OF MASTERMIND]
[00:58:39] ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on the Money Mastermind Show, get more information at Moneymastermindshow.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes and YouTube and follow us on Google Plus.
Important issues discussed in this episode:
- What life habits are most likely to impact your finances?
- How can you change your mindset to avoid seeing too many negative impacts on your financial situation?
- Strategies for saving money and living on less.
Panelists In This Episode:
- Special Guest: Josh Elledge | Savings Angel
- Glen Craig | Free From Broke
- Kyle Prevost | Young and Thrifty
- Miranda Marquit | Planting Money Seeds
- Peter Anderson | Bible Money Matters
- Tom Drake | Canadian Finance Blog
For a quick bio of each of our show participants, head on over to our panelists page.
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