I had the pleasure to do an interview with Whitney Hanson, founder of whitneyhansen.com and the Money Nerd podcast. Whitney is super driven which is one of the reasons she was able to pay off $30,000 in debt in 10 months. I hope you all enjoy it and head on over to her website, subscribe to her podcast and her emails. It’s well worth your time! 🙂 Enjoy!
What is the first purchase you remember saving up for?
I saved all my money for a Barbie when I was around 7 or 8. I remember being so close to having enough money, but wasn’t quite there, so I convinced my little brother to kick in the extra funds with a promise that I would share. I don’t recall that I shared, but I did get my Barbie earlier. 🙂 My family doesn’t let me live that one down to this day.
One of the most important things I saved up for was the home that I purchased in the downturn of 2008. Because I had money saved up for a down payment on a home, I was able to get a brand new home at 19 years old for a really good price. That was a powerful lesson on the importance of when money meets opportunity.
Do you have a “change jar?
I have 3 physical change jars. One is in my laundry room for random dollar bills and coins, one is a Culligan water jug that I’ve been adding to for over 5 years, and one is in my office for when I empty my pockets. I also have a couple virtual “change jars” that I add to every month for travel funds and other savings goals.
What’s your favorite way to “splurge?
My favorite way to splurge is by traveling. I am extremely adventurous and get cabin fever sitting around too long. I used to always believe that I would never have enough money or time to go explore the world. The weekend of July 4, 2015, I was fed up of using the “no money, no time” excuse and took a spontaneous 9.5-hour drive to Zion National Park and explored around.
That sparked the start of my weekend adventures and international trips. It’s not sexy. I will often drive 6-7 hours one way, in a single weekend to go on a cool hike. Some people think that sounds insane, but I love the time to catch up on podcasts, audiobooks, drink coffee and eat sunflower seeds. Traveling is by far my favorite way to splurge.
What is one habit you’ve acquired that has made the biggest difference on your pocketbook?
In 2010, I set out on a journey to pay off $30,000 of debt and lose 30 pounds. Through 70-80 hour workweeks, two jobs, no eating out or impulse buys, I was able to pay off the entire $30K in 10 months and lose 30 pounds.
Here’s the cool part- in order to lose weight, I had to meal prep every week and basically live on Tupperware meals. This habit of meal prepping every Sunday has still carried with me since then. I only spend $50-$60 a month on coffee and eating out because I prep my meals every Sunday. Plus, I have more money to put towards traveling and my business.
Many, if not all, of us, want to improve our current financial situation, why do you think people have such a hard time accomplishing their goals?
Or why do people give up?
Improving your financial situation is really, freaking hard. It requires telling yourself no, changing your habits, and sacrificing things that are important to you. That’s not necessarily the reason people give up though. People give up when they think they sacrifices and hard work is going to last forever instead of being a temporary phase in their life.
When they don’t believe they can change their situation they will not commit fully to their financial future. The second reason I believe people have a hard time accomplishing their financial goals is that they try to do too many things at one time. There is beauty in simplicity and more importantly, there are results in simplifying your focus.
I highly recommend people focus on ONE thing at a time instead of trying to do all the things with their money (save for a house, build up an emergency fund, pay off debt, start a travel fund, put money into your retirement accounts, etc.)
What are some of the best ways to stay motivated?
I’m a big fan of visual cues. Anything you can do to visually remind yourself of what you’re working towards. Maybe you need to put a post-it note on your fridge, door, in your car, and on your computer. Maybe you need to create a vision board to help you see the results you want.
The more you can remove the space between the goal and your everyday life, the better.
For example, if you are striving towards buying your dream home, go walk through open houses every weekend and imagine yourself living there. If you want to make a certain amount every year, create a fake budget with the money you want to earn. You can start motivated by visually reminding yourself of your goals until you actually achieve them.
What has been the biggest learning curve of building your brand / online business?
Building an online brand/business is really overwhelming in the beginning. No one is really taught about digital businesses, but there are a ton of free resources to help you on your journey. Sadly, I wish I could say you overcome one learning curve and you’re good, but the curves change as your business grows and changes too.
When I first started my business the technical aspects of learning how to set up a website and build an email list was my learning curve. Today it’s implementing scalable systems. The point of a curve is that it is never-ending and constantly growing.
One of the personal learning curves I experience is trying to show up as the person my business needs me to be. Sometimes I have to wear my CEO hat, sometimes I have to wear my social media marketing hat. It can be hard to adapt personal growth to business growth.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (easy to hard), how easy is it to “make money online?”
At least for a personal brand in the financial world. It takes a lot of time to trust with people online when people are really uncomfortable talking about money and investing in help to pay off debt and live on a budget.
The concepts aren’t hard, the work isn’t rocket science, but it’s really hard to stick it out and go through the years it takes to build up a brand. Every industry is different. If you are flipping items on eBay or Craigslist, it’s significantly easier to make money quickly and see results. With brands and blogs, it can take 1-2 years before you see a dime in profit.
In your Guide to How You Paid Off $30,000 in 10 months, you mention that there are 7 areas of life people need to be setting goals in, one of which being financial.
What non-financial goals are you most proud of achieving or most excited to tackle?
One of my most proud goals was being the first in my family to graduate college. The second non-financial goal I’m continuously proud of is competing in 4 bodybuilding competitions. They scared the heck out of me and pushed me out of my comfort zone big time. An upcoming non-financial goal that I’m working towards is reading 24 books during 2018.
What makes up the Nerd part of Money Nerd?
The nerdy part of the money nerds is representative of the people who obsess over financial topics, get really excited talking about money and have committed to constantly learning and improving their financial lives. If this describes you, you’re a money nerd in my book. 🙂
Let me know if you have any questions!