"Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don't want..to impress people that they don't like." - Will Rogers
"Frugality includes all the other virtues". - Cicero
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin
Overview: Recessions can be absolutely terrifying when they happen. And, they can seem to be a bit of a blindside,, too. I know that the 2020 "situation" took a ton of our subscribers by surprise and it caused a lot of anxiety and stress. As a result of that, I wanted to create a rock solid guide for you to follow so that you can be working toward recession-proofing your life and finances. Use these 30 moves as a framework and you WILL recession-proof your life!
Believe me, I know what financial suffering is all about and the mission of this platform is to help reduce as much of that suffering as possible.
How do I know what it’s like? Well, I successfully paid off $43,000 in debt in just 2.5 years and went on to recession-proof my own life using the exact tips I’m listing here.
Is it actually possible to be recession-proof? Yes! What does it feel like to be recession-proof? Well, after 10+ years of debt freedom and being recession-proof, I can tell you it’s about the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. After dragging my own debt-boulder for so long, to be free of it is something I’m still thankful for every day, even after over a decade.
So, I wanted to share this list with you to help you start to build your own mental map or ladder out of whatever pit you might be in. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And so it is with your money situation. You have to start and just resolve to keep on chewin’.
The important thing is that you get started. Hopefully, you’re freaked out enough about what happened in 2020 that this list is a much-needed point of refreshment for you and a list that infuses some serious hope into your situation.
After having coached thousands of students out of debt over the past decade, I can tell you that hope is one of the most important things you can foster right now.
So let’s jump in.
Why? Because it’s inefficient. You can’t do two things at once here. You must do an analysis of what your debt is costing you vis a vis what your investments are earning you. Odds are the gains are either cancelled out OR worse yet, you’re losing ground even faster than you thought.
I cover this in this post: Should I Invest Or Pay Off Debt?
The bigger point here is that, if you want to start to win with money, you have to be willing to question and then skewer your current thought patterns and habits around money.
Would you agree with that? Is what you’re doing now really working?
I know this is a little challenging and it may feel like I’m poking you in the eye a little bit, but I can promise you this is a super important point.
In this process, you’ll only get momentum if you can focus intently on each of these micro steps as you go through them.
So, if you’re serious about this, go ahead and call your 401k, 403b, advisor and/or brokerage and stop contributing to retirement for now. We’ll get back into that after we’ve eliminated all of your debt (except for the mortgage).
It is super important to avoid any sense of overwhelm in this entire process of solidifying your money moves. Overwhelm is the enemy. The way to defeat the enemy is to divide these “pieces of the elephant” into smaller and smaller chunks.
By the way, if you want a downloadable PDF of this blog post, you can get that by clicking here: The Forgotten Budgeting Step (aka "Budget Insurance") Downloadable PDF
OR by clicking the image below:
Also, please keep in mind that this is going to take about 3 months of consistent work in order for you to “feel” like you’re successful at it.
So, just be mentally prepared to “fail forward”. Your first budget will probably feel like complete chaos. It’s normal. Just try and push through it and celebrate the fact that you actually did it, imperfect as it may be.
Another SUPER important point here is to make sure that you’re doing it on paper for at least these first 90 days. Why? Because learning the budgeting process is hard enough without the added complexity of having to learn a program, app or spreadsheet.Keep it simple. Do it on paper. I promise, you’ll thank me. You can learn more about how to actually budget at this (budgeting 101) blogpost.
Once you've been able to get on and stay on a written paper budget for 90 days, that's when I say it's okay to start looking at programs and apps to aid you in automating some of your processes and enabling you to do some deeper analysis.
I've been using YNAB (You Need A Budget) for the past 6 years and it's taken Angelica and me from $43,000 in consumer debt to over $700,000 in net worth. They offer a free 34-day trial and I highly recommend their platform. I'm not sure what I'd do without it, actually.
I used to follow Dave Ramsey’s advice here and get my students to save $1000 in cash. That’s a great starting point if you need that “bite-sized” chunk.
As a matter of fact, this is a great resource to help you with that first $1000: $1k In 30 Days Challenge & Resource Pack
BUT, with this global shutdown due to the pandemic, I’ve come under the conviction that, even if you’re in the debt-elimination process, $1000 is just not enough to weather a storm.
So, as challenging as it might be, go for at least $2000-$5000 as your “starter” emergency fund.
So, you may be wondering why am I encouraging you to hate debt? It’s because I’ve seen so many students over the years claw their way out of deep debt holes only to find themselves back in the same or worse situation 3-5 years later. It’s such a sad thing, too.
But, why does that happen? Because they didn’t learn how to hate debt. They made a sort of peace with it and it eventually eroded everything that they had worked so hard for.
I desperately don’t want that to happen to you. This process is going to be hard enough. I only want for you to have to go through it once.
So, repeat after me, “I HATE DEBT”. Here’s another post that can help you to map out that internal change in conversation.
You then wage war on the smallest one and throw every extra penny at it until you’ve vaporized it.
Then, you repeat the same process with the next smallest one.
You destroy them in that order. This is as opposed to the “debt avalanche” method, where you work your debts in order of interest rate.
I fundamentally don’t like this (debt avalanche) method because it’s more “math” oriented rather than “momentum” oriented.
If money problems were a sheer problem of mathematics, we’d all be out of them by sometime this coming Sunday afternoon. But it’s not a math problem, it’s a behavior problem and the only way out of it is to build small waves of momentum and continue to strengthen our positions.
The debt snowball provides you with those little shots of instant gratification that will help you to cross the finish line.Again, here’s the post that will help you “nail” the debt snowball: Pay Off Debt Using The Debt Snowball.
Hopefully, by this point you’ve decided that you hate debt, that you’re at war with it and that you’ll NEVER use it again for ANY reason whatsoever.
I know it’s a little strong, but trust me here this is totally in your best interest.One GREAT way to help you to use cash only is “the cash envelope system”. I cover exactly how to do that in this video.
If you ever want to win with money, you MUST start tracking your expenses.
If you’re using the envelope system, this may be a little easier, as parting with your cash, saving your receipt and even writing the expense on the outside of the envelope is a strong physical representation of how much money you have or don’t have.
Our financial system is brilliant at helping us be ever more disconnected from the amount of money we ACTUALLY have. Think about it next time you go to “swipe” your card and maybe don’t get a receipt. How soon do you forget how much you spent? My guess is… almost immediately.
So, expense tracking MUST become a daily habit. There’s an expense tracking printable in our Free Products & Printables Library.
At any rate, try it for at least a month and see just how much you become more aware of your spending.
We recommend this for all of our students at least for the first few months of budgeting. This is part of the “reconnecting you to your spending” theme. Auto pays are one of those brilliant ways I mentioned earlier that the financial system “automatically” parts you with your hard-earned cash.
Force yourself to start paying everything manually. It’s really a must if you want to win in this process.
If you really want to get out of debt, you’ve got to go “scorched earth” on your budget, at least for a while.
Look at your budget and ask yourself, “can I afford this?” If you’ve followed me to this point, your budget will likely say “nope”.
Part of expenses cutting is also looking at things that you “need” to keep your household going. Perhaps those vendors can be contacted and negotiated with. Perhaps, for example, you can lower your cell phone plan to reduce that expense or move to a lower cable TV package (or just CUT IT altogether).
A great way to get into this process is just to do a “practice run”. Call one of your providers and tell them that you’ve fallen on hard times and may need to cancel (I mean, it’s actually true in a sense). Ask them about their unlisted programs, packages or rates. Chances are they’ll be flexible with you. It’s always cheaper for them to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. Plus, you’ll be working on your negotiation skills. :) After all, the absolute worst thing they can say is, “no”.
One of the benefits of the next step, rewriting your budget (at least) weekly, is that it forces you to get more intimate with your numbers, more intimate with all the things you’re spending money on.
Any new skill requires the repetition of the correct skills in order to ultimately master it. Budgeting is absolutely no exception to that rule.
I recommend that my students rewrite at least once a week. The more you rewrite, the more your brain keeps working on it subconsciously and the more quickly you’ll be able to master it.
In my opinion, you can’t rewrite your budget too often. 🙂
Side-hustles are all the rage. When I was getting out of debt, I turned my music career into a side-hustle as I went back into the corporate sales world in order to generate some cash.
Can you Uber, Lyft, deliver food/pizzas, walk dogs, be someone's grocery shopper, do online surveys? Just get creative and don’t be afraid to try. After all, just like with negotiating your current bills, you may need to do some “trial and error” to find a couple of good ones.
Nothing is more frustrating than setting lofty goals that are unachievable. I’m perpetually guilty of this myself.
Once you’ve gotten your arms around your budget and your spending (no small task, I realize), then you’ll have an idea of what’s “achievable”. Don’t hear me wrong here, I do want you to stretch yourself, but I don’t want you to set such high expectations that the stress of failure causes you to consider quitting..
This one is a little more elusive. It may even sound a little “psychobabble” at first, but it's unbelievably important.
Part of this process will necessarily require you to investigate your “why” for wanting to get out of debt as well as some of your beliefs about money.
More often than not, our students see that the root of a lot of their irresponsible behaviors with money are rooted in a lack of contentment, which manifests itself in:
There is no way I can overemphasize how important this is. It goes right along side with #21, “Increase Your Financial Literacy”..
In our experience, the more invested a student is in their financial education, the more they will lean into it. This is true of our digital courses, online memberships and of course individual financial coaching.
There’s something to be said about having “skin in the game”. Think about that for a second. When you’re willing to pay for something, you’re much more willing to give it your full attention.
This process is no different.Learn more about our "8 Steps To Erase Debt Workbook & Digital Course".
As you may have experienced up to this point, a list of “tips and tricks” are great. I know that you can get A LOT of mileage from them. It’s important to “jump in” and see how far you can get.
But inevitably there will come a time or a situation, where the tips and tricks need the context of a community or of a coach. As I mentioned above, a community and a coach can also shorten the distance between you and the end of your debt.
Only you will know when and where that need comes, I just want you to have some options when it arrives.
I wanted to offer you our free “8 Steps To Erase Debt” resource to give you the framework that can serve as your system or “framework” as you move through this process.
There will always be micro steps between whichever tips and tricks or system you’re using, so always reach out to a community or a coach as needed.
Here are two great options for community:
Another great option for encouraging material is our YouTube channel, so head on over there and subscribe.If you have questions or feel stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out and put 30 minutes on my calendar for a Zoom video call.
Why do I think you need a money coach? The immediate example that always comes to my mind is Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was one of the best golfers in the world. A true top performer. AND, he ALWAYS had a coach.
Why? Why would the top performing golf pro “need” a coach?
Because mastering any skill requires that you:
If you are willing to hire a coach (i.e. buy a gym membership) to help you get into shape or for weight loss (i.e. buy a diet book or hire a weight loss coach),, why wouldn’t you do the same for your money?
Your money is something that literally affects EVERY area of your life. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you’re utilizing best practices and mastering it?
I offer a free 30 minute call to all of our subscribers (while I still can) to talk through your situation and see what might work best:If you have questions or feel stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out and put 30 minutes on my calendar for a Zoom video call.
High yield savings accounts are kind of a joke these days, but we’ve been using Wealthfront for a couple of years now and have been getting higher returns than we have in years.
Remember, these kinds of accounts are great for your emergency fund savings because they’re just close enough to access them for an emergency and just far enough away that you won’t be tempted to use them to buy some Chipotle burritos or that "discounted" handbag. :)
What's the point of doing all this hard work to get your finances in order and on your way to extreme solvency only to be blindsided by a data breach or identity theft.
I was the victim of identity theft back in 2013 and it turned my world completely upside down. I’ll talk more about that in the last “money move” but suffice it to say, it changed everything about how I conduct myself online.
By the way, these are all companies that I use myself and the links are affiliate links meaning, if you decide to use them you’re helping to support our platform at no additional cost to you. Also, many of them are free to use with paid “upgrade” versions if you so choose.
Here are some easy solutions I recommend you implement immediately:
1. Check your credit file for any anomalies or possible ID theft for free with Credit Sesame.
Even though I’m not a huge fan of the “credit score” idea overall, I do recognize that it’s an important thing to keep track of, especially inside the realm of making sure your personal identity is as safe as possible.
2. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). I recommend NordVPN.
A VPN basically hides your computer’s IP address (Internet Protocol address) from would-be hackers and other malicious actors and sets up a proxy IP address. This is not only important for your home but especially important if you’re using any type of public wifi networks, like at coffee shops or other more exposed networks.
3. Use a password manager like Dashlane to randomize and create highly secure your passwords.
I recommend Dashlane and have been using it for over 5 years. It will keep you from reusing that totally "hackable" password you're using for (likely) many of your accounts.
In fact, one of the first things identity thieves do when they breach a company's database and steal your email address and password is to utilize a program to "run it" through thousands of the most popular websites on the internet. If you're still reusing passwords, I'm urging you to STOP doing that and the easiest way to do it is by using a password manager like Dashlane.
4. Use “2-factor authentication” or “multi-factor authentication” (2FA/MFA) for all your sensitive online accounts.
Keep in mind, there are 3 kinds of 2FA:
This is particularly a good idea if you have a family and financial obligations that would remain after your… departure. Term life insurance is the absolute best value for the dollars spent. I won’t go into great detail about it here, but I do not recommend other life insurance products like whole life or universal life policies. When you sit down and do the math, they just never add up, no matter what your insurance agent may say.
Policygenius is a great resource to get some quotes on term life policies. We typically recommend a “death benefit” of 10x your annual income. So for example, if your annual income is $100,000, you would want to get a $1M (million) policy in place.
The purpose of this would be that the lump sum ($1M) to be paid out upon your debt would be invested in a long term interest bearing investment that would enable your survivors to realize an income. Not a whole lot of fun to think about but definitely a smart money move on your part.
Please understand that I’m NOT telling you that you should invest in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies (not just yet that is). I’ve personally been “in the space” since about 2011 and an investor since about 2013. So, I’ve seen the ups, the downs and ALL the opinions and attitudes about both Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency space in general.
As such, I’ve been reticent to “throw my hat” into the “crypto ring” until the past couple years when it became clear that financial institutions and multinational corporations (like Fidelity, Mass Mutual, Tesla, Microstrategy and many others) decided to put some of their corporate treasuries into the asset class.
It wasn’t really until then that I was comfortable risking my own reputation and guiding my often-times incredibly vulnerable financial coaching students into this often-times vomit-inducing roller coaster ride that is the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency valuation realm. But alas, I’m confident that the asset class has “arrived” and should be a consideration for you as a smart money move for your financial future.
But caveat emptor, it can be a straight up roller coaster ride. For example, I’ve seen my own portfolio trend upward or downward 30%+ in a single day! Vomit-inducing for sure! But I can honestly say that at this point, I believe the asset class is here to stay. When you have major multinational corporations, financial institutions, governments and central banks now piling into the space as a store of value, you know it’s now safe to recommend.
So my recommendation is to start here and read the original Bitcoin Whitepaper (aka The Satoshi Whitepaper) so that you can begin to understand the purpose and function of the technology.
Once you’ve reached a certain comfortable level, I would recommend dipping your toes into the space by purchasing a small bit of Bitcoin, Ethereum or XRP using the Coinbase exchange.
There’s much more to say about this subject, but I just wanted to scratch the surface and give you a little primer into what I believe is an emerging and major asset class and technology that will revolutionize how we all think about money over the next decade.
That said, be very careful and reach out to me below with comments or questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’re learning!
So, in this post, we’ve established a money mindset framework that, if closely followed, will bulletproof your personal finances and will allow you to view any future recessions as an opportunity to better your financial posture rather than forcing you into a completely defensive posture, like it surely will most people.
So again, here’s the list of what we’ve covered and we’ll talk through a reasonable call to action next.
If you’ve hung around this platform for even just two minutes, you’ll know that I’m all about taking action. So now that you’ve internalized the concepts, what should you do next?
My suggestion would be to not delay, but instead to take immediate action in order to capitalize on the psychological momentum you already have.
Do this next.
Now that you have that as a basic framework for mastering your money moves, the next step is to get as granular as possible with the rest of your financial life. I want to offer you another completely free resource that will help you map out your money with even more confidence.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!
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