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I first read Scott’s blog when I stumbled across his post Waking Up At 5 AM Changed My Life. Reading Scott’s post inspired me to give waking up earlier another try myself – although I’ve decided that 6 AM is early enough for me!
It should come as no surprise that Scott is one of the most consistent and productive bloggers I’ve met in the personal finance blogosphere. Excited to have him sharing his story today!
My name is Scott and I’m from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I work in Brand Marketing & Business Development for a major Canadian brand and also run the blog Making Momentum.
Making Momentum is focused on helping readers take control of their money and life. From the basics of personal finance and money management to traveling more for less and compounding small wins into something much bigger, the goal is to share resources, tips, and tools that help readers live the life they want.
Interview with Scott, Making Momentum
What prompted you to start focusing on your personal finances?
After graduating from university and working in my new career for a couple years, I realized I was barely making progress with my finances. That included paying off my student loans, saving for retirement, and the general concepts of money management.
I was just stuck in a cycle and was sold on the concept that this was just the financial landscape all millennials had to deal with.
I started to ask myself (and Google) some questions about saving money, making more money, expediting student loan repayment timelines and investing for retirement. Fast-forward 2 weeks, Your Money Or Your Life and I Will Teach You To Be Rich have both been read, I’d downloaded 100+ personal finance podcast episodes and was bouncing around blogs like Get Rich Slowly, Making Sense of Cents and Side Hustle Nation.
That was August 2015 and personal finances have been at the forefront of my priorities since. Making momentum with my money and life was now the focus.
I touched on the personal finance and resources that saved my financial life in a post on my site.
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What was the greatest financial obstacle you faced or mistake you made during the “early days” of your personal finances? How did you improve the situation?
Hands down the biggest obstacle in the earlier years of my experiences with money would be financial literacy (or illiteracy).
I understood the principles of the basic concepts of making money, living within your means and needing to save for retirement. The practical implementation and mastering of those concepts in my own life were where I came up short.
I’ve touched on some of my stupid money mistakes from my late teens and early 20’s. The consistent theme across those mistakes is clearly financial illiteracy and acting like a financial dullard with a consumer mindset.
The turnaround happened after I read those books, listened to those podcasts and consumed those blogs mentioned above. My mindset immediately shifted and taking control of my money and life became an obsession.
What is one area of personal finance that you still struggle with?
The short-term vs. long-term enjoyment is something I still struggle with. On both sides of the equation.
At times I’m very spontaneous and willing to spend which can end in one of two ways: happiness and appreciation for the money spent or stress and regret of not saving it.
From the opposite end, I can be frugal when I don’t need to be and look at everything as a potential compounding return lost.
I need to continue to approve that balance.
What does financial independence mean to you?
The freedom to make choices that allow me to live the life I want. The freedom to seek out and reap the most happiness and value I can in life. The freedom to help others and enjoy experiences alongside my family and friends.
Financial independence means the weight and stress that money can be has been lifted my shoulders.
Since making your personal finances a priority, how has your quality of life changed (happiness, relationships, career, hobbies)? What’s improved that you may not have expected, or what unexpected challenges may have surprised you?
Money used to be a stressful concept that weighed me down. It was seemingly a constant source of angst and stress.
Thanks to the combined powers of managing my spending and actively looking to grow my income, that stress slowly started to be lifted. I was able to get out of the weeds and stick my head up to see how many amazing opportunities this crazy thing called life can provide.
Rather than being worrisome about the future and where my financial standing might be, I was now optimistic and felt in control.
If you asked my girlfriend she’d say I’m more relaxed, happier and spontaneous.
What advice (money or career-related) would you give to a recent college graduate just starting their first full-time job?
In a recent post on Making Momentum, I wrote about the 3 financial focuses for new graduates. With those being your money, lifestyle and career.
The condensed version of that rather large post would boil down to:
- Build knowledge about personal finances and money management.
- Avoid lifestyle inflation and focus on the “big 3” expenses: accommodation, transportation, and food.
- Invest in your career and continued development from the beginning of your professional journey.
The compounding wins of learning about managing money, avoiding overspending, and taking an active approach to growing their career should ideally provide a new graduate with an amazing starting point to build wealth.
What is a common misconception or belief about money you’d like to warn beginners about?
Personal finances are personal.
Too often at the start of your financial journey, you can get caught up in the comparison game with money.
Comparing savings rates, net worths, incomes, etc.
There are no two situations the same and the little nuances of your own life, family, location, career and a dozen other factors create a unique financial situation.
You need to do what fits your life. There are endless opportunities to improve your financial situation but they won’t all be feasible for you. Avoid that negative comparison game. Use those that are seemingly in a better place financially as inspiration and a source of knowledge.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and you need to have patience when you’re beginning to better master your money.
In the last three years, what is one new behavior or decision that has most improved your financial situation?
As I began to take better control of my finances and set up a budgeting and cost-saving system (which was easy to improve upon given my former consumerism ways), my mindset started to shift.
That shift was adjusting my thinking about money and life from one of scarcity to one of abundance. This is a concept Stephen Covey talks about is his extremely popular book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.
Below is how I interpreted the scarcity vs abundance mindset for my own life and money. It might mean something entirely different to others.
In a personal finance sense, that might mean the pie isn’t big enough for all of us. There isn’t the ability for all of us to get raises, promotions, open income-generating businesses, diversify income streams, or achieve our greater goals.
We might build up a disdain or a lack of appreciation for the success of others. We might spend whatever money we do have with a justification of who knows what’s coming tomorrow and focus on the short-term gain.
This scarcity mindset was where I was living in my earlier years.
This new abundance mindset was centered around increasing my income, taking risks, a willingness to change my life, an understanding of the countless opportunities and the motivation to chase what I wanted.
Side hustles, starting a business, supporting and appreciating others, growing my professional income in order to unlock time and freedom in the future so I could live the life I wanted. I was now looking at the world as an endless opportunity as opposed to a troublesome financial environment with finite growth or scarce resources.
I can still sway back to thinking about things through a scarcity lense but I want to live in a world of abundant opportunity and freedom.
What is one item you like to splurge on?
In addition to travel and exploring new places, cultures, and experiences (who doesn’t love that), my more frequent splurge would be craft beer.
You featured this in your 31 Bloggers Share Their Favorite Financial Splurges post. So I will summarize part of that below.
Is it more costly than normal beer? Yes.
Is it an unhealthy and likely detrimental? Yes.
This splurge is a common thread across my family, friends and social circle. It’s a point of enjoyment and passion for us. I actively cut other items out of my budget and make health and fitness a priority to hopefully offset the negative drawbacks on this splurge.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? Time will tell.
If you could give a personal finance book to everyone just starting their financial journey, what book would you give them?
After reading close to two dozen personal finance and investing books, this is definitely a tough answer.
Given this is being handed to someone at the start of their financial journey, I’d have to lean towards to updated edition of Your Money or Your Life. The combination of the depth and breadth of the content provides a beginner everything they need to spark their interest in personal finances and the role money will play in their lives.
Personal finance is ingrained in your lifestyle and Your Money or Your Life does an amazing job setting you down a path of mastering your finances in every aspect.
(This post on making peace with your financial past is inspired by chapter one of the book!)
Ideally, that book springboards this beginner into deeper dives and further reading.
And because he is a boss of bosses, JL Collins book The Simple Path To Wealth is also a must read for those at the start of their financial journey.
What led to your decision to start a blog, and what has your experience been like so far?
In 2015, during my journey to improve my personal finances, I was consuming a collection of blogs. I guess that seed was planted then and grew bigger after listening to The Side Hustle Show and The Fizzle Show.
My interest in side hustles brought me to those two podcasts and they each featured guests waxing poetically about the benefits of blogging. Those shows snowballed into finding Do You Even Blog and ProBlogger.
I was always looking for a creative outlet outside of my professional career and I’ve always enjoyed writing. Plus had spent time in high-school toying around with HTML coding and building out fantasy hockey websites for my friends and I to collect stats on.
So long story short, I decided I could relate to the everyday person looking to take control of their money and life. I had something to say and wanted to explore this world of personal finance blogging to better take control of my own money and life…plus help others do the same.
In February 2018, Making Momentum was born…
It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
The benefits stretch across my personal, professional and financial life. The skills and experiences I’ve collected in this short-time are bringing me some serious enjoyment and also opening the doors to amazing opportunities.
Outside of connecting and learning from this supportive, insightful and awesome community, I’ve had some nice wins over the last month that have kept me engaged, motivated and excited about the future possibilities.
The first win was receiving a scholarship to FinCon 2018 in Orlando this September. The second win was being accepted into Mediavine, a premium ad network.
I’m extremely motivated to keep writing, learning, improving and growing.
If you had to delete all of your blog posts except for one, which post would you keep and why?
Financial literacy and the basic fundamentals of money management were something that eluded me and most of the people I knew growing up as we entered the “real world”.
Therefore, my post 15 Smart Money Moves You Can (Easily) Make This Month would be the one post I’d keep up.
Why? It’s a higher-level post that outlines some essential tips, tools, and resources that would help the broadest audience possible take control of their money and life from a foundational sense.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a big thank you to everyone in the personal finance community and anyone who has ever visited my blog.
And, thanks again to you, Aaron! You’ve got an amazing blog and I know you’re well on the way to achieving any and all goals you have for Personal Finance For Beginners.
Thanks for sharing your story, Scott! It’s been fun to watch your blog take off these past few months. Looking forward to reading more of your great content – keep up the early morning routine!