Get ready to explore the joys and challenges of financial freedom with special guest Todd Christensen. Todd is an author, speaker, blogger, podcaster, financial counselor, and housing counselor who has created award-winning courses for a nonprofit credit counseling agency. He's delivered over 1800 presentations to more than 34,000 participants and 15,000+ 24/7 online course students. Join us as we learn about how Todd approaches personal finance and get his top tips on reaching financial freedom with grace and ease.
Looking to Share Your Story? Be a Guest on the Show
Unlocking Lasting Financial Freedom: A Conversation with Todd Christensen
[00:00:00] Ryan: Hey guys, Ryan Dement from Chasing Financial Freedom Podcast. I hope you guys are having a great day Today on the podcast, we have Todd Christensen. He's a financial educator, counselor, podcaster, author, and blogger. Now, wait for these last two guys. These are where we have a little fun with it. A shampoo enthusiast and a recovering chocoholic.
Todd, welcome to the show.
[00:00:25] Todd: It's great to be with you, Ryan. Appreciate the chance to be here. And, sorry, I don't actually have my shampoos here at my feet right at the moment. ,
[00:00:34] Ryan: so I'm guessing it's Ahi, tsu and a poodle.
[00:00:38] Todd: Yep. Yeah, they are just fantastical lap dogs sweet and fun and just total chill all day long.
[00:00:46] Ryan: That's awesome. My parents have always had poodles, so I've, I'm pretty familiar with it. I'm a little bit larger of a dog. I like retrievers. I had a black one that passed away recently and then his name was Bob and then I have a chocolate named Moose. Nice.
[00:00:59] Todd: Yeah. So no more energy in those dogs.
Very, that very loving love. Great. High
[00:01:05] Ryan: strung. High eagerness to please. Yeah. But also can be rambunctious, so you have to, really train them that way. But then both of 'em think they're lap dogs. Both. Were pushing a hundred pounds. Moose is probably gonna be about 92 to 95 pounds.
And he uh, , , he thinks he's a lap dog. So we're working
[00:01:23] Todd: on that. We're working on, he's a very big lap for those dogs.
[00:01:26] Ryan: Yeah. . So before we get into everything, a little bit about you and and we'll get into your journey. Yeah,
[00:01:33] Todd: so I've been for the last 20 years, I've been a financial educator at a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency based in Boise, Idaho.
Became an author in 2014 after doing about thousand classes in the communities. And I thought there's some great information out there. I might, somebody needs to put all this good information and stories in a book and. I guess they tell stories to me. I better put it in there. . But I am originally from Northern California, but I've lived in probably about eight different states or so.
And currently in, in southeast Idaho
[00:02:06] Ryan: where it's nice in
[00:02:07] Todd: Chile, a nice and chilly, the nice and snowy at the moment. .
[00:02:12] Ryan: So how does the snow in Idaho, I'm digressing compared to Salt Lake? To Salt Lake City, Utah, or just Utah in general? Cause I lived in Utah for almost 15 years and it is the best snow on earth.
[00:02:23] Todd: Yes. That's what the license plates say, right? Yeah. I went to school in Utah. Did My fair share of skiing there. Great. Some good snow. I'm actually fairly new to this side of the state. Idaho has some good snow. I just know from shoveling it, it's extraordinarily dry. Oh.
Oh, that's good. And it's super powder. And there's a I think it's Pebble Creek, just about 10 minutes, 15 minutes from my home that this is our first winter here. So I'm I want to take my boys, two teenage boys and go check it. Cool.
[00:02:52] Ryan: That's awesome. So before we get into your journey, tell us a little bit about yourself personally.
What do you like to do outside of what you're doing, in the financial space?
[00:03:02] Todd: I, I grew up very much into sports. That's all I, that's all I knew growing up. Football and track, and. When I was off at at school intramural sports, including volleyball. There's an or excuse me, volleyball.
I don't know if you've ever heard of volleyball. There's another really weird thing that I got into, but it's volleyball and a racquetball court. Intramural champs for with our our group of short, vertically challenged people, teammates. But now it's I love hanging with the family.
We, we we got our two youngest are still at home and you mentioned the sheeps. I do blogging on the side for that and for I blog for 50 plus. It's called 50 Plus on Fire. It's for people who are maybe in their forties or fifties and still trying to figure out how to retire early, some opp opportunities on how to do.
And just I love movies and chocolate. You mentioned chocolate. There's the darker the better almost. But that's what my, our life is, since COVID it was, it became very much we. We're very much now at home, but we love traveling, going to, we're going to Europe this spring.
Cool. And like going back to Europe, my wife got covid. We went last year. And uh, oh boy. Going back, try to do it without the covid this time.
[00:04:12] Ryan: Yeah, that's always a positive, right?
[00:04:14] Todd: I believe it's been proven to be beneficial not to have covid when you're traveling .
[00:04:20] Ryan: So when you're not doing all these great things with your family, what's your day job?
[00:04:24] Todd: So as a education manager for a, a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency, I develop classes write blogs on. The basics of personal finance from building like building your credit, getting outta debt, budgeting developing effective spending behaviors, learning how to save for goals and emergencies and that sort of thing.
And so I do it online. I used to do, I used to do about a hundred, 150 classes a year in the community. Back in 2019, we pivoted to an. Model. And so I've developed several online award-winning classes on budgeting and activities and some videos. And it's actually it's just something that I've always wanted to teach when I was growing up.
I love teaching, but I also liked earning money . I get to teach now and not have to deal with angry parents and do home correct homework. So it's been just an ideal opportunity for me. .
[00:05:18] Ryan: So let's get into the nuts and bolts. So it's a nonprofit, so is it similar? And I remember our conversation that we had pre-call, yeah.
Similar to consumer credit counseling. I know they're not around. It's they're called, what are they called now? It
[00:05:31] Todd: it, they used to, so there's. It's a very decentralized industry. A lot of 'em used to go by consumer credit counseling of, and then you name your town or your your area.
And a lot of them had just changed the names. And then back in the nineties independent organizations started and that's when, and that's when our company started. A more. , technology based online phone counseling rather than just the traditional in-person.
And yeah a lot of consumer credit counseling agencies have changed their name to be a little more marketable, a little less of a mouthful.
[00:06:08] Ryan: So what are they called now? I've lost track.
[00:06:10] Todd: There's, when I started in 2004, there was 850 different credit counseling agencies.
Now there's probably about 70 or 80 of them. Wow. And there there's still though. You just, there's different names out there. Our even we changed our name from Debt Reductions, not changed their name, but we added a new DBA from Debt Reduction Services to Money Fit. Just because a lot of people, you hear the word debt or consumer credit counseling, and a lot of people start moving to the other side of the street to, walk on the other sidewalks so they don't, aren't associated with I don't want anybody knowing that I'm talking to a debt counseling agency. So
[00:06:45] Ryan: It does have shame. But I as one in the past when I had failure with my first two businesses, I went to consumer credit.
I needed help. I had a hundred thousand dollars worth of debt I had to take care of. I couldn't file bankruptcy, nor did I want to. Yeah, but I was in, corporate America. I was in the financial space and that you filing bankruptcy was not allowed. So you had to find a way to make it happen.
Yeah. And I could not, even if I used Dave Ramsey's snowball, effect and everything like that, I still couldn't, I still couldn't manage it. I needed some relief on the interest rates. Yeah. And
[00:07:17] Todd: those interest rates, that's the big, that's the big concession you can get through credit counseling agencies, they can get those down to 0 2, 4, 6, 8% rather than, 15, 20%.
That's pretty typical, .
[00:07:28] Ryan: So question, and this is something I went through when, and this is me sharing, is I had a personal line of credit, at that time, and the consumer credit counseling couldn't work with me. They just basically said, sorry, only credit cards. And I'm like, it's I, at the time I didn't understand why.
Yeah, I do understand now, but it's still the concept and maybe we can walk through that because. Yeah, on, on the side we have a nonprofit that we started that is gonna be working, it's not quite approved yet through the irs, but it will be. And we'll be doing some financial literacy courses for home buyers, perspective home buyers that need to work on that aspect.
And one of the things they come to me is how do I get rid of this line of credit? It's a personal line of credit. It's causing him a huge financial. Yeah.
[00:08:15] Todd: Yeah, that's, that is one of the struggles that challenges just by, by regulation, there's certain debts that we can work with.
Not unsecured debts. Credit counts so credit cards, store cards, even medical debts, hold collection accounts, old utility bills, cell phone bills, that sort of thing. Can't work with mortgage. Or car loans cuz they're secured against property. And a lot of business debt even cannot be put on one of these programs.
So it's unfortunately, it's just a regulatory issue that it's not that we don't want to work with. That, that type of a debt. , we just we're got our hands tied sometimes on, there's, how many different regulatory agencies are there working in the finance industry?
You've got the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you've got FTC to an extent. You've got the The controller of the US currency, that they're big regulators with the credit cards and each of 'em have their own limitation or set their own, limitations on what, what can be done.
[00:09:12] Ryan: So again, so what I'm trying to do is try to walk down the path of how can somebody, let's just get right into it, is Yeah we're probably, if I read a statistics right, it was either last week or the week before. In the month of December, Americans unfortunately racked up additional 20% of their balances on credit card.
Yeah. So that means it, it's leading us to even more, challenges in our savings rate are at the lowest p at the lowest point. Yeah. H how do we unwind this mess? ,
[00:09:43] Todd: How do you deal with generations of trends that that this. Happening. One, holiday debt is pretty common every year, December.
So we're gonna struggle with, we're gonna see the the debts skyrocket. I've seen several studies over the years. We don't pay off our holiday Christmas debt until at least July. And then what do we do if we pay off our in July instead of, Hey, I'm. Prepare for the holidays the next year or the next December, because we know they're coming again.
No what the human nature is. Oh, good. I now, I don't have to send this off to credit card. I'm just gonna start spending on something else. And and heading into what a lot of people think is a recession with the low savings rates, which are pretty typical, right before recession we saw.
Unfathomable savings rates during the be at the beginning of the pandemic because of those checks, government checks that we all were receiving, our savings rates went from 2%, 3% personal savings rate up to 25, 30% overnight. But just in the last two years, three years, we've seen those come back down.
to what they were pre pandemic in the 2%, 3% range. But when recessions hit, and typically, I've gone back to, the 1960s and you look at recessions and at the beginning of every recession, virtually every, she's almost every recession our savings. Jumps, which is just the opposite of what a lot of people think.
The recession hits, oh, we have to spend all of our money all of our money's going to, we're, we have to cut back because we don't have anything. But what happens is we start we come back to reality and we're like, you know what? I don't need to be spending a third of my income on all this frivolous stuff.
and if we're going and people's fear kicks in, like I gotta start saving for the future at that point. Sometimes it's a little late for a lot of people, a lot of households, but our savings rates, typically Ty typically will jump at the beginning of any kind of economic downturn. ,
[00:11:53] Ryan: it's it's disheartening because you, you said you said that a recession's coming.
All the technical factors are in place already. Tomato, I whatever the case is. I'm not trying, I'm not trying to argue. It's just there's so many other things going on in nuances. We're in the real estate space. My day job is, affordable housing slash workforce housing development, and you would be amazed how many people are reaching out to us saying, I can't buy a house cuz it's too expensive.
I wanna rent a house. And it's like, why do you wanna rent a house when you can buy one? You still, there are still options, especially with first time home buyers. A lot of state and federal programs are still viable to where you buy down rates, you get down payment assistance, you get closing costs to where buying a home is still more affordable than renting.
Yeah. But. They don't want to hear that. They want the path of least resistance. And it really sucks because it's not the way you should go and you're setting yourself up for failure. And with debt, we just tend to let it go on and on until it gets so bad. Yeah. To where we have very few options.
And someone's saying there's gonna be an uptick of anywhere between 60 to 80% in bankruptcies filed, which doesn't surprise me, but it's sad because it can be avoided through education. Yeah. And being able to work through these things. I know that's where you come in. So my question to you is how do we get ahead of this?
How do we start preparing and what do we do to get ourselves in a better financial. . Yeah.
[00:13:23] Todd: I think a lot of what you said has is driven by, two things. Consumer fear and not the negative sense of the term, but the consumer ignorance of what their options are because there's just, there are some states that require personal finance classes but in our surveys, more than half of parents are not talking to their kids about money because they feel they don't, aren't the best.
Maybe the best role models. And so if they're not talking about money and the schools aren't talking about personal finance how are we learning about money grown up? It's just by trial and error and usually by error. And you know that idea of the fear, you talked about people wanting to rent.
Versus buying a home because they're hearing, oh, there's all this negative stuff going on. And yeah, there are buy in everywhere every I'm looking, I'm getting my realtor's license here in, in about a month, and people are saying wow, that's not a really good time to get into real estate.
People are still buying, people are still selling it all the time, right? . and sellers. Yeah. Market is a little tight. There's not as many buyers and so there are concessions. There's buying, like you say, buying down interest rates. Cuz people just hear, oh, the interest is so high, there's nothing I can do.
And so they give up and and that fear kicks in. The same thing is for personal finance. They don't, we don't know what to do, so we just don't do. We just continue with what we're comfortable with until we are kicked so hard that we have to make it a change. And that's where we try and get the education going.
In our communities, in schools and in businesses and nonprofits, wherever we can do classes. We work with housing authorities for people who are getting ready to buy a home in the. Year or two or three, helping them build their credit, helping them budget for a down payment. And just understanding how to run household finances so that when the time comes, they are ready for it and they can make a better choices financially.
But unfortunately we do, we're so afraid of what can happen with finances. Cause we hear terrible stories about. Bankruptcy and how bad that is. And that it paralyzes us. And we either make no choices to get outta debt or we make bad choice and turn to these online companies that will say, Hey, we can get you outta, did you know you can get outta 50% of what you owe?
Or, Hey the president recently signed some new legislation that you don't have to pay your credit card. All these really sketchy options that. Dramatic short and long-term consequences, real negative stuff. But when we're afraid of, and we, because we haven't educated ourselves, we think maybe that is the best option, and we go with it and it ends up not doing so not leaving us in a better situation, but making things.
[00:16:22] Ryan: the debt settlement companies are probably the worst. People don't understand about the ramifications downstream for the 10 99 in tax ramifications Yeah. That come along with that. But then it's just they don't realize that. You stop making payments, the debt settlement company starts taking your payments till you where you before.
So they start taking 'em on a monthly basis till you start adding up a balance that's large enough that they can start re-negotiating the settlement. During that time you're still being bombarded with phone calls and going through that whole process cuz they can't stop the collection process cuz there's nothing on the table for them to do that.
, but then they don't realize that it's, it becomes income and they're like, there's a surprise at the end of the year that I just got, $27,000 forgiven. Oh, wait, why am I getting a 10 99? Yeah.
[00:17:05] Todd: $27,000 is now considered taxable income. Yeah. Yeah. I've looked at worked out some figures on a lot of those things and where they'll say, Hey, we can get you out of 50% of what you owe, but after fees and after taxes, you're still paying 85.
Almost 90% of the original balance and and your credit is shot for seven years.
[00:17:24] Ryan: Yeah, I I looked at those when I went through that. And by far anybody that would listen to me, I always told them, we said it earlier, consumer credit counseling or debt counseling is a negative connotation.
But you know what? When you, when your back is against the wall and you need some relief on those payments, , it's a good place to go. I, there's no question and doubt. I believe me, when I got to that point, I knew I needed to do it. I wasn't embarrassed. I knew that there was gonna be some relief coming and that allowed me to sleep better at night.
But then there was another thing is, , I effectively had to change the way I did business and how I, I did business in the past for myself, and that forced me into a whole nother, avenue of life of looking at. I think I'm pretty well off when it comes to finances, but when it came to business and being an entrepreneur, I sucked
I really did, and that's why I failed twice. But yeah, those failures, I would not give, I wouldn't give back for the world. And I've learned a lot in, in, we're going through some ups and downs now in business as we expand and go through a different market. Uhhuh, , I got, I have those experiences to lay to fall back on and say, okay, we don't need to do this again.
Yeah. And we'll find a way around it. And that's just, that's life in general. And it's sad that. We don't approach life with the thought of, we only live once. We only get one shot at this. And I know this is going a little off topic, but we only get one shot at life. So why not make it the happiest life you can live or the passionate life that you wanna live and manage your finances or say I need help with it and be able to go through it.
And it sounds like you guys have tools. That people can use that is not in person. Because when I did it back in the day, mostly in person on the phone, there was no online stuff that needed to be done. I had to literally get in front of a counselor and go through a process. And that was daunting at first.
[00:19:19] Todd: Yeah, it is. And we offer the services where the consumer is at. We actually used to have 14, 15 offices around, mostly around the Pacific Northwest. But back in the late two thousands, people just stopped. They stopped wanting face-to-face counseling.
And so demand dropped and we just consolidated. And now we just, we have two offices a call center that handles virtually all of. All of our counseling now, but and studies show that it's just as, as effective. Whatever people are most comfortable with online telephone in person, whatever they're most comfortable with, that's the most effective approach.
Yeah. It experience, life experience is a, is a great teacher. You you talked about the two failures you had. I. , I maxed out my first credit card in 36 hours when I was 20, 21, 22 years old. Would I do that differently if I could? I would, but I didn't know. I hadn't been taught anything, any better.
But I am very, different. I handle credit cards very differently now because of the experiences I had in my younger years. But the tools, you're talking about asking about the tools that a credit counseling agency brings. We have a debt management program. We meet with a client.
We go over their budget. What is it that you can afford to pay? What are your current debts? What other current interest rates and. We already have a program with virtually all credit card companies, and then even most collection agencies and me and medical offices and even payday loans we work with and we're able to say, okay this creditor works with us at this at this, with these terms will lower your interest rate here and your monthly payment will probably be this.
And so this free credit counseling session that doesn't, that a lot of people are like, oh, I don't want it to affect my credit. We're not checking, we. , it's not a new loan, it's not a refinance. You're not gonna, it's not gonna affect your credit rating by coming to talk to us. It just gives our clients an idea of, Hey, through this program, your monthly payment's going to be.
20% or 30% lower than it is now, and you're gonna be out of debt in five years or less. That's one of those regulatory stipulations. It can't go beyond five years. But if you're looking for, a reputable consumer credit counseling agency, there's two there's two. industry trade groups that they need to belong to.
One is, we belong to F C A Financial Counseling Association of America, and the other one is the N F ccc, which is the more traditional been around for 50 years. F C A is the independence that I talked about, the more tech driven online or telephone. But they're, they.
Any member is going to be abiding by best practices and doing what they're supposed to. As I mentioned, we went from 850 back in 2004, down to 80 70. Now, I don't know, I keep track a lot of every single nonprofit credit counseling agency back in the two thousands went through a an IRS audit.
and either ended up being put out of business or merging with another agency because there were some bad apples. Not too, not very many, but there were enough to give us our industry a black eye for quite a while.
[00:22:28] Ryan: It's amazing and I don't know anything about the bad apples, but it's a great industry as a whole because you guys are helping.
One, two, you're educating and. You changed people's lives. Yeah, I know you changed mine. And it helped out dramatically, but I'm back to it again. A lot of people see it as the industry as, oh my God, I'm talking to consumer credit counseling or debt counseling. The funny thing is bankruptcy doesn't have the, that stigma eh, whatever.
It's bankruptcy. Yeah, it just bankruptcy, it only ruins you for a very substantial part of your time, but then it doesn't correct the behaviors because the courts, I don't, I've seen enough of these in my time. The financial action plans that they put together for some of these people and the counseling is, Doesn't even hold a candle to what you guys are doing.
Yeah, it's basic and there's, and it's basically, okay, I get to file bankruptcy and then after about six months or nine months, all the subprime credit card companies are back knocking on your door. Yeah, you're gonna go sign back up again.
[00:23:31] Todd: Yeah. To file bankruptcy in 2005, you have to meet with an approved consumer credit counseling agency.
And we've been doing that since about 2005. And it's a budget briefing where you review the person's finances. And what we've really found is that at that point, 99.99% of people, they don't have, most people who file for bankruptcy. don't wanna be there. But we, I, I also did some research and found that about one in five are going to file again, or ha they're already on their second filing and about 3% are gonna do it three times.
It's it's not some, it's not a, it's not an answer to. Lifelong bad habits. It it's a shock and it gets a lot of people's attention, but, through a debt management program, for example, like when you talk about that we offer for five years, you're forced to live within that, in that, , here's your monthly payment and it's coming out automatically.
, that's a five years is planning long to develop some much better discipline and much better financial habits and spending behaviors that will fit your income?
[00:24:43] Ryan: Yes, and I don't know. For me, I, if I can't pay cash, I just, I don't buy it. That's, I've learned through that.
You don't have the
[00:24:52] Todd: cash in the bank. can't afford it. Yeah. , yeah.
[00:24:55] Ryan: Through this process I learned, going through this and restructuring how I live is roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table, bills paid, winner, chicken dinner, anything above and beyond. is bonus. Yeah.
And people think it's crazy and it's not because I've learned to live without so many other things in creature comforts. I don't have to go out and chase the Jo Jones's cuz they're broke. I'm here in, I'm here in Phoenix in one of the hottest housing markets and you have people that have come in and bought at the top of the market and now they're woes me because they're losing their equity.
They're trying to pay for all the toys that they have. . And it's a challenge and. . I was lucky enough in the house that I'm in today we got in, so we actually bought during the pandemic when they couldn't sell a house. Yeah. When the pandemic first started, I locked down a contract. I, that was dumb luck, but it was an offer that was sent to us and I'm like, this is stupid to pass up.
They had closing costs, they had all types of things that were being incentivized. And I'm thinking, wow, I'm on the other side of this table for once. I'm not the guy giving it away. Someone's giving it to me. And we. And we closed on the house and the phases behind Usma, each phase went up anywhere between 45 and $75,000.
So by the time they closed out our development, they were selling houses closer to $600,000. Mine was. Mine was $250,000 .
[00:26:22] Todd: Where did you find a $250,000 house now? This is just going
[00:26:25] Ryan: three years later. Yeah, and you can't find a house with a two handle anywhere out here unless it's a dump.
And the dumps don't even require 200. It's should be like a one or a 50. But anyhow, now there's people selling, trying to sell their properties that's been on the market forever in a day. Yeah. And one of 'em, are you familiar with Open?
[00:26:47] Todd: Yes. Yeah. Actually we sold a house that actually threw open door once.
[00:26:50] Ryan: Yeah, it's a great experience. The problem is they overpaid, so they're literally on my block. There are four houses within about 50 yards of each other. all owned by Open Door and they can't sell them. They've been sitting on the market since April May of last year, and they're one of them. They're already $150,000 in the hole from the Yeah, the top of the sales price.
[00:27:14] Todd: It was a great, it was really easy for us to sell it, but you're exactly right. They overpaid and they, it took them seven months, eight months to sell, and they lost about 10% in the. .
[00:27:25] Ryan: Yeah, so I that's the other problem is the, we were afraid of missing out during the pandemic, and everyone went out and said, oh, okay.
I need to get a home office. I need to get a bigger house. I need to do this. I need to do that. or had a housing shortage, we already knew that drove prices through the roof. Money was still cheap. So people are out buying houses two and three times more than what they could truly afford. Yeah. And now unfortunately, this is gonna come to Roos here where people are gonna be, I don't know if we're gonna lose 15, 20% here in Phoenix.
I think we're gonna lose at least 10, maybe a little bit. But everybody that's bought at the top of the market is really starting to struggle now because you've lost all that equity and a lot of these people went out and got seconds so they could go out and buy. More toys.
[00:28:10] Todd: Yep. And if they've got an, a variable interest rate on that, it's, they're really hurting.
Or if they're, I, I can't believe, I can't believe that that arms there are people that are promoting adjustable rate mortgages again. Over the last year, and it's almost as if we forgot completely, just blinded. Oh the great recession never happened. People didn't get into homes that they couldn't afford because the interest rates of the arms started so low and because the lenders told them, oh, you can refinance.
Equity will always go. And we've totally forgot that
[00:28:46] Ryan: and we've it's gonna be a problem. It's gonna be a problem. And no one I know. They're talking about it. They're saying that new home sales really hit a bottom in June of last year, which I think it hit in May by what I saw. But you have builders now walking away from developments because they can't sell the, they can't sell the properties or they're selling them to hedge funds.
and hedge funds are turning neighborhoods into neighborhoods of rentals. Yeah. Only if they can buy 'em on the cheap, but again, we're forcing people into a box of becoming a renter. We're not giving them the skills to be financially literate and to manage their money effectively. And how bad is this going to affect us down the.
[00:29:33] Todd: Yeah. I think when we couple economic influences, external economic influences with the lack of internal financial capabilities or just knowledge, know, knowledge is p is power only when you use it properly. And I think that's one of the challenges is we think, oh, somebody can take a class, take a personal finance class and everything's gonna be great, but.
We, we don't give people experiential learning. In many cases it's just book learning and which is one of the reasons why some of the several of the classes that I've developed are interactive scenario based, so that people see the direct effect of the choices they make, the priorities that they use.
And it gives 'em, it it makes, it forces them to, to analyze, not just, oh, , this is a good choice over here, but why is this a good choice? Or why is this a bad choice? How did that affect me? Why did my priority over here have this negative consequence over there? I, if I wanted a brand new car and I'm a college student, I want to go to college with a car payment, it's instead of all my friends have cars, it's okay.
How is that gonna affect me personally and directly? Yeah.
[00:30:45] Ryan: I like that. So we'll definitely have to get your web address and we'll share it in the show notes for people to go check that out because I, I think this is just me again, there's gonna be a lot of people that are gonna need help and they need to have some resources to go and get that help.
The one thing is they've gotta step up and say, Hey, it's me. I need help. It's time to go type of a thing. And that's a daunting task, but with what you're doing. And what you, how long you've been in the industry, what are three things that we can share on this podcast in a short period of time that people can use to improve their financial literacy, financial lives?
Things that you've seen or you've done that you think work very well.
[00:31:28] Todd: Okay. Three things. Okay. So one, sit down and take stock of where you're at. That it's more than just budgeting. A lot of people here, oh, I gotta budget. And so they just add numbers and subtract numbers and think that's what a budget is. You've gotta understand wh where am I at and where I want to go?
A budget, if it's not driven by. personal priorities. There's no motivation to stick with it. So what do you want outta life? Put your goals, write 'em down, and then tie your day-to-day, month to month activities to those goals. As you say, life is about, is about being in about enjoying it.
You. A lot of people think, oh, budgets are about restrictions and I can't ever do anything I want. If that's what your thought of a budget is, then yeah, it's gonna fail. It's really a spending plan. And a spending plan means you've established priorities, what's most important to you, and that's how it'll work.
Get your budget to directly tied to what's important to you. Two, again, taking stock. What are your obligations? It's not just debt because a lot of people will think all my b i, all my money goes to bills. I don't have any money to pay off debt because everything's already going to bills.
As if one bill is the exact same value as another bill in our to our importance to as far as importance in our lives. , just because you have a bill doesn't mean that it's a need. You gotta pay for it. You're obligated to it, but you can get rid of bills. And we have s we are subscribing ourselves to financial death right now.
Every service out there now is becoming a subscription service. . and it's $5 a month here and $10 a month there. And it's so affordable. You can just get this at a easy monthly affordable payment. And we've got to get out of the mindset that convenience is better for us.
Taking control of our finances means we sometimes have to think for ourselves rather than just go with the easiest option. getting rid of subscription services that are unnecessary just because everybody has 'em, right? So taking stock of debt and subscription our pay, our spending behaviors.
That's the second part that goes with the budget. The plan. You've gotta adjust your spending behaviors to your spending plan. And then look long term, make sure that you're saving not just for emergencies. , but you're saving for goals because every appliance around your house, it's depressing if you think about it, walk around your house, everything that's plugged in is eventually gonna need to be replaced.
Yeah. And when it does need to be replaced, those appliances are gonna be a thousand, $2,000. How are you gonna replace, how you gonna pay for that? And if you're not thinking short to long term. , you end up putting it on a credit card and going right back into credit card debt, or worse, putting it on store credit at 30% interest or worse yet, going into pay, going to a payday loan, getting, 300% interest.
Convenience tends to I'm not a fan. Anytime it says this is so much more convenient than that, or that, that means that you're gonna pay for it. You're gonna pay out the nose for it. The new things coming out right now, are these cash advance apps? Yeah. I don't know if you're familiar with any new, I just did some research on 'em for an article last week.
Again, subscriber based, subscription based, it's only $3 a month, $5 a month, $10 a month. It's, they are designed and no. We don't charge you interest. That doesn't mean it's free. Those fees are equivalent to a hundred to 150% interest on the loans that you get. Wow. Those are some of the things that I say.
Look, you want a financial, you want financial stability and security in your life. Plan for it. Adjust your behavior and start taking care of your future. I don't know, Ryan, if you've ever heard this. This is one of the most fascinating studies I've ever heard. A simple thing. It, there was a study that showed that if you look at a picture yourself that's been made to, it's been aged, so you can see yourself 20 years down the road.
You can just picture what you're gonna look like 20 years down the road. You're gonna make better financial decisions. You're gonna save more, invest more because your future self becomes real. . And so I tell people in some, a lot of my classes, I just get one of those aging apps, add 20 years and take care of that person.
You will never regret that. Your future self will never regret the things that you do today to take
[00:36:09] Ryan: care of that person. I love that. That's awesome. Those are some great tips, but also for or forecasting how your life is going to be in the future. Is a great way to look at that. I might steal that with some people that I talk to because it's like, it's not mine for you to steal.
Go ahead and use it . I know. But I just thought I would put it out there. Put it out there. Sir, I thank you. It's been a awesome conversation in sharing some great insights. How can everyone get ahold of you?
[00:36:37] Todd: It's been my pleasure here to be with you, Ryan. I appreciate the chance. We, I am at money fit.org is the website, my email, anybody wants to reach out to me with questions.
I, I don't charge for my counseling one-on-one counseling just to help somebody through a budget or something like that. It's todd money fit.org and they can get ahold of us at 804 3 2 0 3 1 0.
[00:37:02] Ryan: Awesome. Thank you for your time today. I hope you guys get to enjoy your first winter and some snow with the family enjoying us so far.
Yeah, that's awesome. And we'll be chatting. All right.
[00:37:13] Todd: Thanks a lot, Ryan. I appreciate you. Thank you, sir. Okay.