Shang is the blogger behind Save My Cents. She was work optional by the age of 31 and now uses multiple platforms to share the knowledge she has gained on her journey to FIRE.
Q: What is your current position/role and when did you first develop an interest in finance?
A: My day job is in management consulting, which isn’t really related to personal finance per se, but it did give me a great income and teach me a lot of Excel skills. I’ve always had an interest in becoming rich. I was very lucky as a young adult to read the blog Get Rich Slowly and appreciate that personal finance is a lifetime journey and not an overnight success. With that blog, as well as my parents’ influence, I began to diligently track how I spent my money, how I saved my money, and learn about investing.
Q: What challenges have you faced with personal finance?
A: Mindset. My husband and I wanted to learn to live off of the lower of our two incomes when we got married and moved to the very expensive New York City. It was hard for me to pare back on all fronts – not just nice to haves, but also must haves such as housing, transportation, and even health! I don’t agree with all the frugal choices we made back then, but I did take a few years (aided with talk therapy) to develop a growth / abundance oriented mindset. It allowed me to focus on the good behaviors and outcomes needed to stick to our journey and not be influenced by the superficial wealth and excess that we saw in New York City.
Q: If you could give advice to your 18 year old self about managing your money, what would you tell yourself and why?
A: Three points.
1: Don’t get into credit card debt – it is so hard to get out of it because of the nasty interest rates and credit cards are so easy to obtain, it’s like candy. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
2: Focus on building an emergency fund before you invest. As a young adult, you’re more likely to experience unemployment or an emergency, and put it on a credit card, than needing investments right away. Having an emergency fund of 3 – 6 months of bills should be your first financial goal.
3: Don’t follow influencers, follow your values.
Influencers are paid to sell you things and experiences. I prefer following the values that I want to live out and spend according to my values. Know yourself really well and always ask if the financial decision you are making aligns with your values, then you don’t need anyone else telling you how to live your life.
Q: What is your top tip for budgeting?
A: Don’t worry about finding the perfect software, app, or notebook. Just commit.
Commit to writing down and recording every cent of where your money goes. It is from that data – you need at least 3 months of doing this – that you can then learn to budget.
Q: What do you think is the most critical step to ensuring financial independence?
Never make decisions that depend on others.
For example, depending on government assistance, depending on a life partner, or depending on an inheritance.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: Mental health translates to financial wealth.
If you feel like you need to get help (and you don’t HAVE to be diagnosed with depression), reach out for help!
A strong mind leads to better financial decisions.
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