She was making next to nothing as a writer for a small newspaper, and that was before she was abruptly laid off.
“I was on unemployment for five months and I decided once I got a new job, no matter how much money I was making that I was going to figure this money thing out,” said Sarah Wilson, aka “The Budget Girl,” on the How to Money Podcast. “I knew I could support myself, but I couldn’t then tackle my debt, and that was a huge weight on my shoulders.”
Hosts Matt and Joel recalled their own experiences with low paying jobs and how they were forced to quickly adapt to a thriftier lifestyle in order to make ends meet. Wilson’s approach was to not only make small lifestyle adjustments, but to restructure her entire life around saving money.
“At the time there were three personal finance YouTube channels other than Dave Ramsey, he was just getting started,” said Wilson. “These were all higher income people, all multi-income families, and they all had kids. I couldn’t relate to them.”
“The Budget Girl” saw an opportunity to be that more relatable voice and began to create a platform around budgeting on a low income. Her approach was to master what you manage, know what money is coming in and how much is going out at all times.
“If you don’t know how much money you are making and how much is coming out you are absolutely losing opportunities to do things intentionally with that money,” she said. “I use a zero-base budget (making a new budget every month), I recommend that to everyone, and I don’t care if people use an app, pen and paper, or a spreadsheet. It’s whatever works for you.”
Her philosophy is that once consumers see how much money they are spending and what it is being spent on, they will make changes to their spending habits. Or at least get closer to it. The start of the budgeting process may take some time, but once consumers get the hang of creating a new budget every month the process becomes faster.
“It’s going to take a while to get all of that down on paper,” said Wilson. “But once you get that first budget most of the work, I think, is mostly over.”
Check out “Building Wealth on a Tiny Income with Sarah the Budget Girl” to hear all of her tips and tricks for saving money. Wilson also gives some examples on how to make a little extra money on the side like investing in real estate or charging your partner rent.
Get more How to Money content in between episodes by checking out their website at howtomoney.com. Matt and Joel keep the site updated with extra information on each episode, a blog, and a newsletter.
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