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Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut with your finances? Learn how you can break through and start making progress to dump your debt and start saving together!
Dumping Debt with Popcorn Finance
Do you guys feel frustrated with your finances?
Maybe you’re trying to pay down the debt (especially those credit cards) but it seems like they’re barely inching down.
Or you’re struggling to save some sort of financial cushion but you’re not making any real headway.
One of the first things I ask when you join the community is to share what goal you’re tackling.
By far, the two biggest goals are dumping debt and having some savings for emergencies.
And that makes sense, seeing as the average household that has credit card debt, has a balance of just under $16,000.
That can be a real burden on a marriage. But you two can get out of your financial rut and start making real progress.
My buddy Chris, creator and host of Popcorn Finance is on the show to share his story.
We get into:
- how Chris and his wife ‘K’ got into debt
- the system they use to budget and knock out their debts
- what’s his favorite money app
Hope you enjoy!
Resources to Dump Debt and Save Together
Want to make talking about money less stressful? Here are some fantastic resources to motivate and nudge you to debt freedom faster!
- Best Budget and Money Apps: Personal Capital, Tiller, Mint, Zeta
- Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money
- Total Money Makeover
- Free Debt Snowball Template
- Trim: With Trim, you can cancel subscriptions and negotiate your bills.
- Billshark: They contact your service providers and negotiate the best price on your behalf.
- Paribus: Bought something and a week later the price drops? Paribus can get you back the difference.
- What’s Your One Page Financial Plan?
- Our $27,000 Debt Story
- How to Successfully Budget as a Couple
- 2018 Listener Goals on Popcorn Finance
Connect with Chris and Popcorn Finances
Chris Browning is the creator and host of the award-winning Popcorn Finance Podcast.
His goal is to break down and discuss finances in the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn.
If you haven’t already, give his podcast a listen and subscribe!
Discovering Personal Finance
Elle Martinez: Do you mind sharing your story? I think a lot of people that he had interpersonal finance if they’re not advisors or coaches or whatever they start off from a personal space that they had to fix something with their finances. Was that the case with you?
Chris Browning: Yeah. You know for me it was kind of a combination of things because I did go to school for personal finance.
I originally was planning on being a financial advisor and found that I didn’t really care for the job that I was interviewing for a lot of sales jobs. So I have a little background in finance but for me, it really was getting into a ton of debt that really made me kind of focus and change things around for myself because I mean once we got married we kind of had to cover everything ourselves. And at that point we didn’t have any debt but because we didn’t really have much in savings. And even though we tried to make the waiting as like you know I guess inexpensive as possible we set it up. I think paying around fourteen thousand dollars for the wedding and ended up all going on credit cards because we didn’t have any cash. That’s kind of where the debt spiral kind of started and you know you getting a cycle of OK. Why did I make my payments? But then we didn’t have anything saved so I kind of just kept perpetuating the growth of our debt. Every year. Things with them like school expenses doctor’s visits emergency room stuff. And next thing we know it was like twenty-seven thousand dollars in debt. And that was kind of like the turning point for me for sure where I was like I got to do something about this I’ve got to get serious.
Elle: Yeah. I think a lot of people can relate to getting into debt and especially with weddings.
I mean at least it’s cheaper than the average. I heard that’s like $35,000.
Well I’m kind of curious like with your wedding I know there are so many things that are special about it but was there one expense you’re like, ‘We knew that we had to have this in our wedding because that was important to us’?
Chris: I’m probably the wrong person to ask. I know I wasn’t one of like. Do we have to buy this is this part?
But I would say for sure it was, I think it was the venue we ended up going with. That was a really nice church. And Dana Point California it’s kind of like a coastal like southern coastal part of California. OK. And it was up it wasn’t extremely expensive. I mean I don’t know what expensive it is for your church. I think we ended up paying like twelve hundred dollars. That’s a lot of money. I did but I don’t know if that’s expensive or not. But it was a really beautiful location that was like up on a hill you could see the ocean from there. So that was really nice.
Elle: With weddings, there are so many different ways you can go I know my husband was concerned about food like that was his thing like make sure we have like good food options. I think we ended up having like three on our menu. So nice. Yeah. So you said you realize like at a certain point something had to change. Was that something maybe you started your wife or were you both kind of feeling that at the same time I would say because we’ve even talked about it before.
Chris: I think I was the most stressed out about it I think because because I did have a background in finance I knew what I should be doing and it was things like you know you shouldn’t be doing these things but you’re doing them anyways. Yeah. It just it’s you can’t beat yourself up about it. It was just getting really stressful. I just think about it all the time the fact that you know where these debt payments and they weren’t shrinking because we weren’t making any progress we were still using credit cards and so forth to pay it off at the same time which isn’t an effective strategy at all.
Elle: So did you decide to do like either a debt no more or an avalanche. How did that go for you guys.
Chris: So we had our debt spread out over I think was about three credit cards and I went with the snowball method. I was paying off. I think I would think the right one as you about the lower balances. Yeah yeah. I guess I started with that method to pay off the smaller ones in that way. The minimum payment from that could move over to the bigger cards. And I was actually doing this is this thing where I don’t know where and where I heard about this but because we had some higher interest cards I would kind of look around for the longest like zero interest promos credit cards that I would sign up for those and then do a balance transfer and I would say well you know a three or five percent fee to transfer it is better than the 20 percent interest I would pay if I didn’t do this. It’s got a boy that I like when I used to try to avoid some of the interest charges and kind of keep keep things afloat as we get the debt down to a smaller more manageable amount.
Their System for Handing Money
Elle: That makes sense. That makes it so are you. I’m assuming but I don’t want to. Like when you handle your finances are you the one that comes out with the how-to part of the plan when you guys talk about it or do you and your wife go back and forth like she handles some of the bills and you handle others? How do you guys manage your money together?
Chris: I think maybe because I just came into the relationship with more of a budget background. I kind of the I’m the one who takes charge with it at least so I have an excel spreadsheet where I like you know put our budget together and then I’m the one that puts all the data into the apps that we use and then we got a meetup and discuss it that way.
She’s more hands-off on the planning side but you know get her input. So you know I’m thinking about doing this. What do you think and it should say yes it’s a good idea or no. Or maybe she has some other ideas she has in mind so I make more hands on. But then she provides some of the ideas and the feedback I’m talking about.
Elle: Every couple kind of has their own method to the madness I call it. Do you guys do monthly check-ins or how do you handle monthly budget or do you do it like maybe paycheck or weekly?
Chris: We both get paid bi-weekly so we budgeted a two-week basis so we can lay everything out for the two weeks. It’s relatively I guess it’s a consistent speech paycheck. We kind of have similar bills. I think for one paycheck of the month we have certain set items we pay in the next paycheck. It’s another set or bigger items like our rent or I split it between the two. So we try to keep it fairly consistent but I’ve been working on looking at it I guess a month to month basis to kind of see it as anything coming up because I’ve talked to a few people that’s kind of what they do they’ll look at their month they’ll say okay we have a birthday coming up this month or we have this event we’re going to go to and they plan it that way which I’m like that’s a good idea instead of having like a static budget which is what I kind of do right now.
Elle: We kind of do that with our budget because it seems like I’d say eighty-five percent of our bills are the same. But then there is like next month my cousin’s getting married so we have some trip expenses. You know we’re gonna be eating out while we’re there in Denver seeing some family and so forth. So we’re cutting back this month to make sure you know there’s a little buffer in there and adjusting as it goes.
I’m always curious about how other people to it. You mentioned apps, do you have any favorite apps?
Chris: we talked a little while ago and you told me you tried to like a ton of apps and I think I’m the same way I like I’m searching for the perfect app and everyone is a little bit different. So it’s kind of hard but I think I’ve always go back to Mint.
That’s the one I’ve been using for probably I don’t know eight years but once I started out with what I needed what I was looking for something to put my budget together and track my expenses I found them that they’ve been good so far. You know there are times where those features I want. But it’s a solid platform and it works every time.
So I’m like I don’t want to mess with it too much and I haven’t found anything that’s really been able to replace it for me yet. But that’s so far as my favorite one.
Elle: So you’ve paid off your debt right. And what goals are you working on together as a couple?
Chris: our next biggest goal was establishing an emergency fund because that was always like one of the things I worried about the most was that we didn’t really have a ton in savings because so focused on paying down the debt.
And I was always worried like somebody would come up and throw us back into debt. So for sure, that was one of the biggest things for me was putting together we were going with six months of our expenses for our emergency fund.
And so that’s the next big thing that we’re working on and hoping to have finished up this year.
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This episode was originally released in June 2018. The show notes have been updated in April 2019.