Mostly Money

91: Alyssa Davies from MixedUpMoney.com

February 28, 2021 Alyssa Davies
Mostly Money
91: Alyssa Davies from MixedUpMoney.com
Chapters
0:00
Intro
2:05
MixedUpMoney.com
3:30
Uncomfortable money questions
9:13
Money and dating
11:40
Are we ready to talk about money e-course
18:07
The Breadwinner Mentality
26:47
Alyssa's story
35:40
When to have the first "money talk"
37:12
The 100 Day Financial Goal Journal
39:51
Household Emergency Kits
44:03
Subscription Auditing
47:35
Alyssa wins a 50/50 draw
Mostly Money
91: Alyssa Davies from MixedUpMoney.com
Feb 28, 2021
Alyssa Davies

Alyssa Davies joins the show to talk about how couples can talk about money. Our wide ranging conversation covers the "breadwinner mentality" and how that can cause problems in the dynamics of a relationship, how and when to start talking seriously about money with a significant other, and much more. 

Alyssa is one of the most popular personal finance personalities in Canada. She is the creator behind the Mixed Up Money community which has a huge Instagram following on top of a blog, YouTube channel, and TikTok account. She is a content specialist for Zolo and a published author living in Calgary, Alberta. Two-time award-winning Canadian Personal Finance Blog of the Year Mixed Up Money has over 30,000 followers across social media. Her first book, The 100 Day Financial Goal Journal, was published in 2020.

Links:

100-Day Financial Goal Journal:
https://mixedupmoney.com/book

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mixedupmoney/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MixedUpMoney

Website: https://mixedupmoney.com/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mixedupmoney

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnqAoFeB_QAklk2yAMyVx0w

Column: https://www.zolo.ca/blog/author/alyssa-davies 

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Alyssa Davies joins the show to talk about how couples can talk about money. Our wide ranging conversation covers the "breadwinner mentality" and how that can cause problems in the dynamics of a relationship, how and when to start talking seriously about money with a significant other, and much more. 

Alyssa is one of the most popular personal finance personalities in Canada. She is the creator behind the Mixed Up Money community which has a huge Instagram following on top of a blog, YouTube channel, and TikTok account. She is a content specialist for Zolo and a published author living in Calgary, Alberta. Two-time award-winning Canadian Personal Finance Blog of the Year Mixed Up Money has over 30,000 followers across social media. Her first book, The 100 Day Financial Goal Journal, was published in 2020.

Links:

100-Day Financial Goal Journal:
https://mixedupmoney.com/book

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mixedupmoney/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MixedUpMoney

Website: https://mixedupmoney.com/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mixedupmoney

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnqAoFeB_QAklk2yAMyVx0w

Column: https://www.zolo.ca/blog/author/alyssa-davies 

Alyssa Davies:

So they brought me up on stage. They're like, this is Alyssa she won the 5050 everyone's cheering Alyssa, what are you gonna do with the money? And I'm like, I'm gonna put it in my RSP. The entire crowd booed me off the stage. Hi, this is Alyssa Davies from mixed up money and you're listening to mostly money with Preet Banerjee.

Preet Banerjee:

This is mostly money and I'm your host Preet Banerjee, and on the show today I'll be speaking with one of the most popular personal finance personalities in Canada, the star behind the mixed up money community we're gonna talk about, among other things, how to effectively communicate with a partner about money. Alyssa Davies is a content specialist for zolo and a published author living in Calgary, Alberta. She's the founder of the two time award winning Canadian personal finance blog of the year, mixed up money that has over 30,000 followers across social media. Through her work. She's been featured in many notable publications including the Globe and Mail, flare, global news and many more. Her first book, The 100 day financial goal journal was published in 2020. I am a proud owner of a copy. Alyssa has been a freelance writer for six years and enjoys writing about personal finance, homeownership, and more. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying some downtime with her daughter playing soccer or daydreaming about home decor. Alyssa, welcome to the show.

Alyssa Davies:

Thanks for having me. That intro. I'm blushing over here.

Preet Banerjee:

Don't worry, we don't record video, just audio. Thank God. Okay. So there are a number of things I want to talk about today with you. But the first thing I want to talk about is you in the bio it says here to time award winning Canadian personal finance blog of the year. I you know, have seen your content over the years, but I haven't actually gone to the website and look at the website as a whole it is I think maybe the most beautiful blog in Canada like it is really well done. Did you do that all yourself?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, I did. Actually, I spent like a full month just locked up in my room playing around and it was actually really fun.

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah, no, it's amazing. And if I'm not mistaken, you also do all the art yourself. Like all the photos that the pictures of the drawing of different people, you do that as well. So do you have like some like artistic background or something? Or is this just a skill that you developed?

Alyssa Davies:

This is a quarantine skill. I had never touched a pen or pencil other than my daughter's crayons. And then and then I picked up my iPad,

Preet Banerjee:

that young that you've never actually touched a pen or pencil and grew up in the digital world. Are you trying to make me feel like an old geezer?

Alyssa Davies:

Well, yeah, that was the goal. But I meant to draw with.

Preet Banerjee:

Okay, okay, so you have you have touch pens and pencils? Yeah,

Alyssa Davies:

I did use an h2 pencil for all of my multiple choice exams.

Preet Banerjee:

Well, it's great. And you know, of course, I'm gonna put in the shownotes, the website, people can go visit it. But some of the content that you've been putting out lately, I know you have a course that talks about this as well is about communication with a partner, and for couples, and I think this is something that is super, super important. So So let's talk about that communication within a couple specifically about money. But we can talk about some other topics as well. I want to ask you, because I see your Instagram followers super engage your community? What are some of the questions that people find are uncomfortable to ask to a partner?

Alyssa Davies:

That's a good one. Um, definitely the most common questions that I get from readers is asking someone how much they make without coming across a little bit too aggressive, especially if you're early on in your relationship. And then another one is, do you have any debt? But further than that, how much how much debt do you have? If they If the answer is yes. And then how to split the bills. Most of my following is female and a lot of them are higher earners in their relationship. And they don't know how to ask, what is reasonable with 5050. Like how can we make it more equal?

Preet Banerjee:

I know that, you know, when I was early in my career, not making a lot of money, still having a lot of debt. This was something that would cause anxiety, you know, like before you would go out you would like log in to see how much Money is on this, this checking account that I'm hoping to pay with. And, and you know, when you're when you're going out, maybe you want to impress someone, sometimes you go to a fancy place and cost a lot of money. And for me, you know, it was always I just assumed that I was gonna pay, you know, sort of the full amount. That's because it's just kind of the way I was raised, the world that I grew up in is a little bit different, I think back then. But now I think it's much more likely that people will talk about this, but there's still some anxiety about it. So what do you what do you say to people, in terms of what what how do you overcome these hurdles? So we know what some of these hurdles are. But how do you actually overcome those hurdles?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, it's it's not a comfortable conversation, no matter how long you've known someone, like if you just meet someone, it actually might be a little easier. like it'd be easier to walk up to a stranger and ask a really uncomfortable question, because

Preet Banerjee:

what's your FICO score? Yeah, right. What's your zodiac sign? And what's your FICO score?

Alyssa Davies:

Those are really important questions. If you're gonna date them, well,

Preet Banerjee:

one of them is not the sign I listen. Are you into signs? Are you one of those people?

Alyssa Davies:

I'm one of those people?

Preet Banerjee:

What's your sign?

Alyssa Davies:

I'm a cancer.

Preet Banerjee:

Yes, he totally. That's why No, I'm kidding. I have no idea what cancer is like, I'm a Libra. What does that tell you about me?

Alyssa Davies:

actually don't know much about Libras. I think you guys are pretty chill. Easy to talk to?

Preet Banerjee:

podcast.

Alyssa Davies:

I've had no issues with any Libras. So you're good. And

Preet Banerjee:

we're very milk toast. Boring, mild. Okay. Anyway, so. So you were saying sorry to cut you off. So you're saying that there's some some questions that are somewhat uncomfortable to ask. But sometimes it can be easier when you don't know someone? Why is that?

Alyssa Davies:

I think it's just, it's almost like if you have an issue that you want to bring forward to a best friend, you're almost embarrassed because you know, they're actually going to hold you accountable to it, they're going to be concerned for you. Whereas if it's a stranger, they're like, Okay, cool. You have debt, like, that doesn't impact me. And I don't, I'm never gonna see you again. So it's easier because you know, you can just brush it off and get it off your chest, whereas with your friends or family or a loved one, it's more like, Okay, well, now I told them, so now I need to do something about it.

Preet Banerjee:

You know that that's really interesting, because one of the things that I've noticed that people have been in serious relationships, you know, sometimes they don't always work out. And when they start sort of re entering the dating pool, they triangulate faster, right? So they sort of say, Well, I know there's a whole bunch of things that I don't want in a partner. So I'm just gonna like, make sure that I weed out those those things early on as fast as possible. Because as time goes on, time runs out, right, you have different sort of like goals for your family, and whether or not you want to have kids if you want to. And so weeding out what you don't want becomes, I think, easier for people who are older, because they know they really know what they don't like. But when you're younger, it can be tough. So give me an example of when would be a good time to start bringing up these things. I know, it's easy to joke about, you know, on a first date, you know, you can maybe talk about the stresses in life, like student debt or whatever. But when do you really have that first conversation about money when when things are maybe getting serious?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, well, I think hopefully, I like to encourage people to have the conversation before they hit any traditional milestones. Like before you move in with someone before you get married before you have a kid. you kind of need to talk about money. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen. For a lot of people, it's actually really common for married people to be together and still not talk about money regularly. Like it's shocking how often that happens. But you need to have those conversations when you're about to enter into something that is going to revolve around money. Like almost every part of our life includes something that has to do with money. But if you're living with someone, your money becomes one in a sense, because you're going to buy groceries together, you're going to be paying rent together, you're going to be paying your utilities together. So it's a lot of things that suddenly you're gonna have to face as a team. Whereas you're probably used to just like being living with roommates or living on your own. And it's easy to split bills with those people because there's no extra tension. There's no extra chemistry, it's just, it's easy. They're your friends, they're or they're a stranger.

Preet Banerjee:

And when it comes to the dating scene, is this something now that people screen for on their profiles, like I joked about people are actually looking for debt loads in and credit scores before they decide to have that first date? Is that is that something that actually happens?

Alyssa Davies:

I don't think so. I know a lot of my friends. They never really talked about money with anyone even still like until they're actually in the relationship with someone. It's more like, once you know you you see a future with someone, then I think you'd start considering it a little bit more. There are some people that are that front, of course, like you're never gonna not find one person like that. Right? But I don't think it's the common or standard kind of relationship that you'll you'll enter. Well, that's good. That's good. They're

Preet Banerjee:

not jaded, yet. You Same time, and maybe it's just a function of everyone is screwed financially, you know, in this generation that is graduating from school with crushing student debt loads, high house prices, so I guess maybe you can co commiserate on, you know, just the the trials of this generation because man, you know, people graduating in the last 10 years, I really feel like they've just given a joke.

Alyssa Davies:

That's the joke now, like people are like, I just need someone to partner with so I can buy a house. Is anybody out there looking for a partner?

Preet Banerjee:

Well, you know, the flip side of that is, there are many people who stayed together, way longer than they would like to because of financial reasons as well. So I I'm interested in learning about, as I mentioned, before, you have such great engagement with your community, I see you ask, you know, like poll questions on Instagram, and you're flooded with like, hundreds of responses. What are the common questions that people come to you with? Like, when they come to the mixed up money community? What are some of the common trials and tribulations that they approached you with?

Alyssa Davies:

Just generally, everyone's interested in investing. Everyone's interested in, you know, that kind of finding that balance in your relationship and talking with your partner. So that it's not awkward, just kind of kicking that awkwardness to the side and, and making it more of a common common conversation in your relationship. Definitely how to repay debt like the fastest way they can do that, because that is just such a burden for people. And that is a big thing that I've dealt with in my past. So I think it's easy to talk to someone if you know that they've already experienced that. But those are definitely the top three,

Preet Banerjee:

for sure. And you have like a bunch of downloadable worksheets, you have a course you've got a book. And your course is geared towards couples who want to take their financial communication or communication in general, I guess, to the next level. So So what is the what is like the pedagogy of the course? Like what what do you go through? What can someone who's looking to sign up for this course expect out of it?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, I think the first thing that, that I really drive home in the course, is actually sitting down with someone, but in a comfortable way, like make it a date night, make it fun, make your favorite meal, open a bottle of wine, like it shouldn't be

Preet Banerjee:

those parts. Also fun, right? Money talk doesn't sound as much fun.

Alyssa Davies:

But if you set the scene for it being a fun, a fun night, then it might not be so bad. But the first thing I really think people need to talk about when they first jump into their money conversation is actually their personal history with money, rather than like what's your income and and what are your expenses first. Just because we don't really realize how much our upbringing drastically impacts how we use and view our money as adults. And that I think really does seep into a relationship. So it's good to talk about that. It's good to talk about what stresses each other out about money. So that you know what conversations might be more difficult before you get into them. And then, like, lighten the mood a little bit with some more simple questions that aren't directly about money. You know, where do you want to buy a house one day, if you want to? Do you want to live in the suburbs or inner city? Those questions will actually help you get to know someone and their financial goals more than you think. Like my personal favorite, and one that my husband and I just did a couple months ago was how does future you dress 10 years from now. And I thought it was so interesting, because I was like, Yeah, I want to be in blazers, I'm just gonna start building my collection of blazers. Which it worked out with whatever he said, But imagine if he was like, I'm looking to really dial down my swimwear collection and be living on a beach. Right now, you'd be like, Okay, well, maybe we're on a different page. But I think that's more like, look for those fun questions that would tell you something about their financial goals, rather than directly saying, what do you want to do with your money over the next 10 years? Because that's a tough question to answer.

Preet Banerjee:

That's very interesting. And I want to ask you about retirement planning, because you said, you know, a lot of people come to community with questions about investing. Are they interested in investing so that, you know, they can provide for a certain type of retirement lifestyle? Or is their goals shorter term in in nature? And the reason I asked about that is retirement is such a it's such an interesting concept for so many people, there's no I don't think there's any one definition of what it's going to be you you stop working at 65. And all of a sudden, you just sort of, you know, you know, live on a beach or you travel the world or whatever. But it's so far away that I don't feel that people are really in tune with that future self. So when people come to you and they're thinking about investing, what are their investing goals that they come to you with? Like how far in the future are they looking?

Alyssa Davies:

To be honest, most most people haven't even started investing yet. Which is, is just crazy because you don't actually get that information right away. So I'm one of those people that was late to start investing later than I'd like anyways, like, I didn't start investing until I was 25. It's pretty good. Yeah, it's it's good, but like it could be better. Sure.

Preet Banerjee:

I mean, yeah, I mean, someone born today like your, your daughter needs to save for a down payment, like yesterday. Yeah, exactly.

Alyssa Davies:

So I don't know, I think it's just, they aren't thinking about that. They aren't thinking about what am I going to do in retirement? They're thinking about, Okay, I need to start planning for retirement. So how can I just get started? And then once they're actually in it a little bit more than it's more about? Okay, am I am I saving enough? How much do I actually need? And those are questions that are so hard to answer, because like you said, it's what are your goals in the future? Like, I don't know, a lot of people, a lot of people these days are really interested in seeking financial independence. They don't want to wait until 65. Right? So they're a little bit more eager to invest more of their money early on, which I think is a good thing.

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, having some kind of goal, even if it is sort of like a diffuse, not well defined goal. But if it's, you know, having financial independence, whatever that means to people, is better than just sort of not having any goals and not saving for the future. Now, when it comes to couples, certainly we've seen trends where, you know, people they meet, they get serious with one another, maybe they move in together sooner than previous generations would have for a variety of different reasons. One of those reasons being financial, because the cost of living is just so high. And if you have two people sharing one place, you know, that can reduce a little bit of stress. But at the same time, that means that more people are getting into, you know, these more firm commitments, and they may not necessarily end up having a lifetime with these people. And they might break up and go their separate ways. Do you find that people are asking about property division or income support requirements that they may be on the hook for in case things go south? Or is that something that people don't tend to think about?

Alyssa Davies:

I don't know if people think about that. I don't actually think people really realize what their requirements would be if you do move into a someone like I don't know if they realize that common law is only a year in some provinces. So it's, it's a good question. I really wish that more people did consider that I have friends that are going through divorces. Now we're at that age where it just unfortunately happens. And they are dealing with that right now. It's like the smallest things seem like the biggest deals, like who's getting the air miles, you know, those conversations that you probably should have before you enter your marriage or a serious relationship. But that's really awkward to have those conversations with someone. So I think that just educating yourself on that stuff before you actually actually get into the marriage is important. But it's so hard for people to find that information. Like it's not a you're not gonna pop on a reality TV show, and they're gonna be talking about prenups. So

Preet Banerjee:

on my reality show we did just for the record, however, nobody watched it. Maybe that's why. Okay, so one of the posts that was on your site Recently, there was a list of five big financial mistakes you can make if you don't talk about money in a relationship. And one of those points talked about the breadwinner mentality, and then linked to another point, which kind of delve more deeply into this breadwinner, quote unquote, mentality. Can you explain what that mentality is? And why that can be a trap for couples?

Alyssa Davies:

Yes, this one is one of my favorite things to talk about. I love just telling people this information because maybe they don't really realize that it's, it's kind of problematic term. Like it's historically used to describe a higher earner in a relationship or a sole income provider. But the reason that I don't think it's the best way to describe someone in a relationship is because it just comes with so many assumptions. Like, you'd automatically assume that that person is in control of financial decisions because they earn more money, you'd assume that maybe their only job in the relationship is to pry provide for their family financially. And you'd almost always assume that if it's a hetero relationship, that the male is the higher earner. I'll go back to that initial point that I made, how I get a lot of women that are contacting me asking how they can actually make the relationship more equal, because they're the higher earner, but they're uncomfortable actually having that conversation. When I first rolled out my course, I gave it to a lot of my friends that were in relationships. And I just wanted to see what would be the more difficult parts of the conversation so that I knew kind of how to, I guess, manage those tougher parts. And yeah, that was always a trigger point was talking about how much they made if the woman was actually the higher earner in there. relationship. It's like you said to about the traditional way that we were raised, I know that my dad was the provider. So that's just how I kind of grew up as a seeing that as what it was supposed to be and how it how it typically goes. And so it makes men feel like they need to be the higher earner in their family. But I've read so many studies now that, you know, the life satisfaction of a partner who's a man that is earning less, it doesn't actually impact impact them at all. They live the same life, they're still happy, obviously, they're still doing well financially. So it's, it's a different kind of perspective and conversation that we don't really have. But I think it's super important.

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah, it, I know that it is, there is this stigma surrounding it. And, you know, not everyone is on the same page with, you know, social progressiveness and whatnot. My partner and I, we've talked about, you know, our future, and, you know, she is now sort of on the job market, and she's in a field where she could end up working, you know, either in Canada, maybe back in Europe. And we've agreed that her career is now the more important focus for us as a couple going forward. Because the decisions she makes is gonna have such a big impact on her career, and us as as a unit. And so the goal is that, you know, I'm later in my career, so I'm going to be the stay at home dad, and I'm nervous about it. But at the same time, I'm kind of looking forward to it as well. But I feel like, you know, when you talk about that, to some people, they're like, Oh, that's so forward thinking of you, or whatever I'm like, Is it really? Or is it just like, that's the way it should be? So I feel like, you know, some people are kind of coming around to this, and we're breaking down those things. But there still is there, this tension that can arise with couples. And I know, there's a lot of guys out there who would feel that tension and sort of like, I don't know what it is maybe embarrassment, or something like that, because of these old tropes that have been around for hundreds 1000s of years, that are just finally getting sort of dismantled. So when you do have a big income differential in a relationship, how do you recommend to people as to how they should think about money in that, in that in that household? Is it a matter of, you know, whoever, let's say someone earns, you know, three to one, like the ratio is three to one? Do they feel like they have like three times the weight in the decision making? And? And if so, what do you say that they should be doing instead?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, I think I always, always think that, if you can do your best to make things equal, it just makes makes everyone feel like they do have a say in what happens with the money and how and how you plan for your kind of expenses. So you can make anything 5050, you just have to do the math. Like it's, it might actually be 7030 like, but essentially, it evens out your income together so that you're working as a team. I think you just have to sit down and have that conversation so that you can actually share the burden, because it is a burden of choosing how you spend your money. It's not an easy thing to do. So why would we put that pressure on one person? And what is an even split to you? Because your lifestyle might be 5050 without one person sacrificing more of their income? I guess,

Preet Banerjee:

let me give you a hypothetical situation. So let's say that you've got someone they're earning significantly more than their partner, and that partner has significantly more student debt. What What do you counsel to people like do they do people come in and say, Well, my, my student debt is my problem. And I'm going to pay for that out of my income. Or you say, Well, listen, you should use this, you should look at it in the context of listening, you're together. And if you decide you're gonna be together forever, your debts are now you know, communal. What do you recommend? And what do you find, like in conversations with people ask these questions? What are the hurdles that they face?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, it's a tough question. Because a lot of people don't want to feel like a burden on their partner, if they come into the relationship with debt. But at the same time, you're only going to get further as a team. If you work together in those things. It's like it's the same as being on a sports team, like you're not one person doesn't carry the weight for everyone. You all kind of have to pull your pull your own parts. And I think that debt is one of those things where Yeah, you do, you do need to work as a team. Like when I was paying off my student loans, my husband was paying a little bit more in our bills. He was earning a little bit more, so it made sense anyways, but the fact that he was willing to take on that extra little bit of money was a big deal because it gave me an opportunity to pay off my debt in under a year, which I never would have been able to do. Had I been single, or had I had a partner that wasn't willing to put that extra burden on their own back.

Preet Banerjee:

This won't make it into the podcast. I'm just gonna say I almost busted out laughing when you said poorly. Your own parts I know you made pull your own weight. Yeah. I don't know what happens to these locker rooms that you hang out when Alyssa. You know, maybe that maybe I will put that in the podcast. That's hilarious. I'm fine with it. Okay, cool done. It's in the podcast. Conversation with Alyssa Davies from mixed up money continues in just a minute. But I just wanted to let you know that taking just 30 seconds out of your day and leaving a rating and or a review on Apple podcasts helps with getting high quality guests like Alyssa want to give a shout out to a reviewer who filled in their name as quote why frugal is so important, unquote. They really liked the episode on the ins and outs of bankruptcy with Scott terrio. And if you want to check that out, it is episode number 61. Quite a wide ranging conversation. They also mentioned that they would like to conversely, hear from someone in the big spending industries like car sales and mortgages, well ask and you shall receive. I actually have an upcoming episode with Chris faff, who's the CEO of faff automotive partners, who was also kind enough to let me test drive a McLaren gt for an afternoon. That actually happened before COVID-19. But I am still smiling from that. Thank you to everyone who has already left ratings and reviews. I do appreciate it. And now back to the conversation with Alyssa Davies from mixed up. Let's talk about your story. As I mentioned in the bio, you do a lot of things. You work for a company called xolo. You do some freelance writing, you've got your own community as well. How did you fall into this space? Like What Did you What did you study in school? And what was your journey that led you to starting this community in the first please like that starting that first blog?

Alyssa Davies:

This is surprisingly the hardest question I ever get asked because when someone asks me what I do for a living, I never know what to say.

Preet Banerjee:

Oh, I know. I know that feeling. You're just singing to the choir. Right?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah. So yeah, I guess I started I went to school for journalism. So I have a degree in communications, a diploma in journalism. And I still do that full time. That's what I do is write and edit and all that good stuff. But I actually fell into this in the weirdest way. I, I ended up landing a job in a not for profit organization that did debt consolidation. I got into the marketing department. So I was going to be doing a lot of the stuff I studied in school there. But a part of the training was sitting in and getting to know what the company did. So I sat in on an appointment with one of their clients. And she was describing her financial situation, her debt that she had. And I was just sitting there and I'm like, starting to sweat because I'm like, Oh my gosh, this sounds really familiar. Like, this is my life. This is just, and I'm listening to the counselor and she's like, Listen, you're not in a good spot. So that night, I went home and I was like, I really, I really need to do something about this, or I'm gonna have to be a client at my own work. Like I can't be having that happen. So I sat down and I did what any millennial did, and I just started Googling, you know, what do I do? How do I pay off my debt, and actually found Bridget Casey blog Money After Graduation. That's the first personal finance resource I ever found. And I realized she was living in the same city as me, we had so much in common. And I was like, wait a minute, I could do this. Why couldn't I do this? This seems like a great way to hold myself accountable. Get more knowledge in this in this world, because I had no idea that it even existed, like I didn't know people actually thought personal finance was fun. So because I was the complete opposite person of our demographic, so yeah, so I just started a really general WordPress blog for free. And I just started like an open diary was as I was repaying my debt, and I, like went cold turkey and just stopped shopping for an entire year. So I could repay my debt. And then I just I haven't stopped since. Okay, so

Preet Banerjee:

I know that there. There are a number of people who kind of started their blog as a kind of like an accountability sort of measure to say, you know, here are my goals. I'm going to pay off my debt come along on my journey, and maybe you can learn something too. And, you know, with my own blog, I learned so much for my readers. Sometimes I feel like you know, I was the student, not the teacher, like for I still feel like that sometimes. And it is a real, there is a real community out there of people who are going through a lot of the same things. And at the same time, yours became one of the more popular communities. So how long did it take you to pay off your debt, and once you paid off your debt, what happened with the block is it it would have transformed I imagine from follow along on this journey with me Together, we can learn some things, pay off our debts. And then once you did that, what did you do next?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, it took me only 10 months to pay off my debt I had thanks around $15,000 of consumer debt.

Preet Banerjee:

Wow, amazing. pay that off in 10 months. That's pretty awesome. Yeah, I

Alyssa Davies:

lived a really frugal and boring life for a year, but it was only a year. So it was definitely worth it. Yeah. And yeah, it just kind of transitioned into. I wouldn't say it was like, here's all this amazing advice. It was more just like I'm learning. Like, why don't you come learn with me? And I'm still making mistakes, and I will never stop making financial mistakes. Like that is probably one thing. I'm the worst personal finance blogger because I just love to spend money. And I'm, I'm still working on controlling those.

Preet Banerjee:

Hold on, hold on. What's the biggest financial mistake you've made in the last year?

Alyssa Davies:

Oh, my gosh, buying a house.

Preet Banerjee:

Really? You feel that was a mistake? No, no,

Alyssa Davies:

it's one of the best decisions I make. But I know.

Preet Banerjee:

Wait a second. Probably.

Alyssa Davies:

No, it wasn't a mistake. It was just like, a huge decision. And I know that if I didn't have a kid, I probably never would have bought a house. So it was more a personal decision rather than a financial decisions. Right. Okay.

Preet Banerjee:

Okay. Okay, so I got you off track there. So you paid off the debt? And then what happened to the blog, like say, Okay, well, now what do I write about? Because now I've, I've tackled like that one big thing. Oh, and by the way, that organization, that's where we first met, right? Yes, it is. I gave a talk. I remember, I flew to I guess it would have been Calgary. Yeah. And gave a talk. And I remember meeting you there. And yeah, so in any case, so you pay off the debt. And then what did you do? You're like, Alright, what do I talk about? No,

Alyssa Davies:

yeah, I just, I just kept talking about everything I was doing with money. It was literally just an online diary. Like it stayed like that. Now it's gotten a little bit more like, Okay, I know a little bit more, and I have a little bit more information. So when people do reach out and ask questions, it's more geared towards what they want to learn. And I learned with them, because I wouldn't call myself like a financial expert by any means. I'm just a writer who is really, really passionate about money. And that wants to learn with people. And like you said to with the readers, it's so crazy, because my Instagram has grown so much over the past year, I have a lot of really cool relationships with people that I've never met in person, which is one of the best parts about personal finances, you meet all these awesome people from all over the world. But my husband was like, What is like, you get so many messages, and they're so long, like they're just like, full? It's like, you're getting a message from an angry axe, right? Like, they're just so long. But he's like, what are these about? And and I'm like, actually, like, most of the time, it's just people wanting to talk about their money wins, or their money failures. And he's like, well, don't they have other people to talk about that with him? Like, honestly, no, like, no one has anyone to talk about with money, because no one wants to talk about money. Like, that's not a common thing. You'd go to your friends and be like, guess what, I, I just put $1,000 towards my debt this month, like is a huge accomplishment for me, your friends are gonna be like, Okay, do you want to go for drinks tonight? Right? So it's like, it's just they have find that they have someone they can relate to in a different way. And they won't feel any judgment, right? Because that's no matter what you're doing or who you're talking with? You can always feel like that little sense of, do they really want to hear about this?

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah, it is tough to find people who are in the same who have the same desire to learn about these things. Like when it comes to your personal friend group? Do they like say, Oh, that's, that's Alyssa. She's the money blogger, but and they're like, let's go on the towel. It's like, Let's drink. Let's spend money. Like, do you find that your friends are not your readers?

Alyssa Davies:

Oh my gosh, yeah. 100%. I have one friend now who she loves talking about it. Seriously, though, most of my girlfriends are all nurses. So they're just happy in their ways. They make a great salary, they get their whole pension. So it's not top of mind for them, even though it should be like I try try try. But it's just not their thing. And I'm not gonna force it. I have a great community already. So I don't feel like it's necessary to kind of convert our friendship into into that financial zone. But yeah, do

Preet Banerjee:

they know that you're an online celebrity?

Alyssa Davies:

Never ever call me a celebrity? Okay, do

Preet Banerjee:

they know that you're an online entity?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, they all follow me. Whether they actually watch or look at my content is another story.

Preet Banerjee:

But they do pretend. What are I'm gonna put you on the spot. Now? I don't know if they'll listen. But your friends, what are the biggest mistakes that you see your friends make?

Alyssa Davies:

Oh, man, probably that they don't diversify their investments enough because they have that pension. It's like, I'm good. And I'm like, Well, what if something happens? And a lot of them are just so comfortable. But I think the interesting part is one of my one friend that's willing to talk about it with me. It's we started at non for profits, or we started making like a really low income when we were right out of college. And our friends that are nurses just jumped into this amazing salaried position. And they're slowly growing. But my friend and I are able to grow more, because we just have more room for growth, nurses don't have the same amount of room for growth as we do. And, and that's something that's interesting now is because they're kind of hitting their peak, and it's, and we're just starting to grow. And so there's differences there that we never would have really talked about, and that and make it a little bit more difficult. Like we tried to plan a group trip to Mexico, and oh, my gosh, so hard.

Preet Banerjee:

Well, you know, this is I think this is a very interesting topic. Because, for me, planning a getaway for someone is generally where I say if you haven't, if you're dating someone, and you haven't had the talk, like you haven't gotten financially naked, yet, one of the great sort of times where you can start to talk about and try and get into their head in terms of how they think about money, and what they think about money is a vacation, you know, and are they the type of person that just gonna put everything on a credit card? And they'll figure it out after the fact? Did you do any type of planning? Is there in your mind like a particular milestone, like a small milestone for people who are, you know, just starting to get serious about someone where they can start to have that conversation about money? Or is it just a matter of you counsel people, and you say, Listen, you need to have the talk. And here's a script for how to sit down and have that talk, what is a good, you know, mini sort of milestone to to get people talking about money.

Alyssa Davies:

A vacation is a great example. Like, I have a friend that went on a vacation early on in a relationship and they broke up as soon as they got back. So really owed her a bunch of money, and she never got it back. Hmm. So yeah, definitely talk about it before you go on a vacation. Especially if they're like, Yeah, you got it, and I'll hit you back later. It's not really a good plan, right? You know that in your gut, but you're like, well, I kind of like him. So

Preet Banerjee:

you have a you have a book and I and I, I would say I had a copy because it has been absconded from me. I my partner, she took it and she loves it. So I haven't had actually had time to sort of like go through the exercises. So can you walk me through the 100 day financial goal journal, like what it's not like a book where you you read and every chapter you learn something about money? It's actually kind of like a an exercise, right? So we can explain what this book is.

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah. So this book is, is something that I personally use before I wrote it, I always track my spending, not like religiously or anything. But when I'm going to try and tackle a really big money goal, I have to do it, or I don't stay kind of on point with that goal. So it's just that it's a daily tracker, you write down all of your expenses. It's really, really keyed in on your emotions and your behaviors with your spending. Because it's more about Okay, this is how much I spent today. But how was I feeling? Why did I spend that money? Am I still on track, maybe this put me back a little bit. It's just a check in every single day. It's like those five minute journals almost, but it's for your money. And it's it just makes it a little bit more simple. It's less judgmental, and it's not full of any financial jargon. It's just a basic lesson each week, something that you can really easily tackle without if you're a busy person, like as a mom, I know that I don't have a lot of time to do any crazy journal entries or anything like that. So it's just simple. And it really keeps you on track and keeps you accountable.

Preet Banerjee:

Right. So it's not like, Hey, here's a discount cash flow models and how to value a stock. This is like actual stuff that people use in everyday life to hit their financial goals. Right?

Alyssa Davies:

Yes. So

Preet Banerjee:

for the people who have bought the books, what do they What did they tell you are the goals that they're using to achieve and using this book to do that?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, one of them. She's on her third book now. And she just keeps buying it because it's been working, she's paying off her student loans. And so every 100 days, she just kind of takes point of how much she can pay off. And she's actually exceeded it every single time, which is amazing. But she said, she's been looking for a tool for so long, and nothing really stuck until the journal because it was just more connected to her emotions. And she felt a lot more attachment to the goal, rather than just saying, Yeah, I should do it by this date. And I'm just going to set up my automatic contributions. It's more like, okay, like, this is really important to me, and I need to stay on top of it. And I want to see what's happening with my money.

Preet Banerjee:

Amazing. So how much does it cost them? Where can people get this book?

Alyssa Davies:

Yes, it's 2450 Canadian, and you can get at any major retailers. So like indigo, Amazon, all those good places.

Preet Banerjee:

Perfect. And that's the 100 day financial goal journal. I'll put that in the show notes and I'll put a link so if people want to buy the book, you can do that. And then the last thing, there's two things I want to talk to you about that I thought were really interesting posts that you had on your blog, one of them was your household emergency kit. And this is one of those things that I think a lot of people say, yeah, that's such a great idea. But they don't actually have these plans in place. So can you talk about what is in your household emergency kit?

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, I am that crazy anxious person that is always looking for a way to be over prepared. So I had a nightmare about our house catching on fire. And the next day, I started putting up putting together my kit. But essentially, I just have the basics for if you'd need to run out of your house really quick to evacuate, say, so I have like a blanket. Some cash, I always keep like $40, or enough to cover a tank of gas, like War of the Worlds when you just you're trying you're the only person with a vehicle with gas. I have just a small emergency kit in there. And so in the emergency kit, like you talk about, like physical emergencies, like band aids, and oh, yeah, first aid kit.

Preet Banerjee:

First Aid Kit, my emergency kit, one of the things is an emergency kit,

Alyssa Davies:

I always do that a first aid kit with band aids.

Preet Banerjee:

No, I get it.

Alyssa Davies:

And then it just like a spare change of clothes for everyone. And then obviously now some personal protective equipment like masks and gloves and right, and all that I

Preet Banerjee:

just added in there. And what would be the cost of putting together a household emergency kit.

Alyssa Davies:

Honestly, it didn't cost me very much because I already had a lot of the items around my house. The only thing I bought was a first aid kit was $25. I just picked one up at like shoppers I think it was and yeah, I just tossed it in there like it's it doesn't have to be crazy expensive. You You have a blanket I'm sure that you don't really use regularly just shove it in an old backpack. I picked up some water for like $2 like one of those big four liter jugs. Yeah, it wasn't it wasn't expensive at all.

Preet Banerjee:

So you're not like one of those like survivalists who have like a bunker and you'd like paid someone to like pour concrete. And it's like under the foundation of your house. And you could live there for like two years with non perishable food stocked in like this dungeon or anything. This is like a typical average person's emergency kit, right?

Alyssa Davies:

Yes, it's not a doomsday prepper. But I do have those irrational fears.

Preet Banerjee:

Do you know anyone like that? No, actually, I

Alyssa Davies:

don't. But actually, Bridget talked about how her parents always had like three months of food in their basement.

Preet Banerjee:

Oh, wow.

Alyssa Davies:

So there's still a lot of people like that. Yeah,

Preet Banerjee:

yeah. And you know, we make fun of them now. But if something ever happened, we're like, yeah, you know, they were smart. After all. Yeah, exactly. Okay, so that's good. Because I think that is something that, you know, a lot of people say, Oh, yeah, that makes total common sense. But they don't have it put in place. Now, in your car, do you have something like that as well? Like if you get stranded because, like, I'm not saying that, you know, all of Alberta is like the wilderness. But for a city boy in Toronto. You know, even Calgary is like, you know, great. Now you can drive somewhere. You drive somewhere. And you know, you could be far away from civilization in like, 30 minutes, right? Oh, yeah.

Alyssa Davies:

I grew up in the country. So yeah, yeah, I always have like, my trunk is full of stuff that I'll never need. But it's there. Like I have a full snow suit.

Preet Banerjee:

Extra boots.

Alyssa Davies:

I'm like, What if I get stuck, and I need to layer up? Yeah, all that kind of stuff. Everything that like for to jump your car? I have all that stuff. I don't know how to use it, but it's there.

Preet Banerjee:

But what if you run out of power on your phone tune? You can't Google like, Well, how do I actually use this? This charged battery to jump my car? like you'd be kind of screwed. But yeah, I guess you're more prepared than the average person. So

Alyssa Davies:

yeah, I've got that going for me.

Preet Banerjee:

Excellent. All right. And so there's that post on your website. So I recommend to people. If you don't have your household emergency kit, it's probably a good idea. So check out Alyssa site, check out that post and get your household emergency kit put together.

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah. And I have a free printable, too, that you can download. It's like your vacuum, a vacuum checklist and all that good stuff.

Preet Banerjee:

Of course you do that is super prepared. That's awesome. The last one I want to talk to you about because I think this is something that everyone could benefit from right away. Is you talked about and I think you went into detail on this on your Instagram stories. But it was about how you, you know, spent a day or two and negotiated some of your monthly bills. And I think I think also you found like, your husband was able to get work to pay for certain things. So can you just talk about, you know how spending a little bit of time even just like once a year to like to audit your subscriptions. Take a look at your monthly bills, how it can have a really big impact on your cash flow.

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, we actually ended up we're saving $1,000 a year. Holy smokes. Yeah, it was crazy. Like we were definitely overpaying. So that's that might be an inflated number. But yeah, it was like two hours that my husband's been on the phone and I was not willing to do it. But thank God one of us does. Yeah, we Paying almost $300 for our cell phone bill, which was so excessive. And then we were also paying $130 for cable and internet, our internet was terrible. And we watched cable maybe once a week, so it wasn't really worth it. So yeah, we called in. And we just didn't waste any time. We were like, yeah, we're gonna cancel our services today, because we looked online, and we found a better deal elsewhere. So that was for cable and internet. And they were willing to like try and do anything to keep us but we were already ready to, to cut ties there. So we just were more concerned about cancellation fees, because we'd already done the research. So that saved us a lot of time. And now we just pay $90 a month for internet like way better internet, but it's still less and we just dropped cable because we don't use it. But the cell phone was the one that was the real good negotiation. One we we just asked what we could do. We'd been clients with our provider for seven years. So we had that in our back pocket loyalty is still a big thing. It might not seem like it is. We were very nice, which also gets you ahead. Don't be mean to customer service agents, please.

Preet Banerjee:

Very good. Very good tip.

Alyssa Davies:

Yes. And we just asked, you know, what can you What can we do? This seems like a bit high. We we've been looking around and this, this doesn't seem really accurate. So yeah, we we ended up getting our cell phone bill down from 300 to $125 a month, they gave us unlimited data, which was a huge reason for our bill being so high. We probably lucked out because we got a really awesome agent. But it's sometimes just that the luck of the draw. I never say you have to stay on the phone like callback, maybe you'll get someone better next time. Because everyone's different. And everyone's in a different mood every day. But yeah, and then my husband actually was able to negotiate an $80 credit each month from his work to pay for his phone bill. So we're paying like very, very, very little for our cell phone bill compared to what we were paying before. And then it was just an ask.

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah. And so this was just a couple hours of your time. And you were able to find an extra $1,000 in cash flow for the year.

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, exactly.

Preet Banerjee:

So now here's the follow up question. What do you do with it freed up $1,000 per year? Oh, man, we

Alyssa Davies:

invest it either in our daughter's RSP or investment. I'm the most boring person. And I will always have that. For me. That's

Preet Banerjee:

an exciting answer. I'm like a horse. That's like the default. Do you know us? At least part of it towards something productive? But are you saying that not a single penny of that $1,000 freed up was put towards anything frivolous?

Alyssa Davies:

No, none of it?

Preet Banerjee:

Wow.

Alyssa Davies:

My favorite story is this is probably the last story I'll tell because it's the kicker.

Preet Banerjee:

Okay, well, that's a good setup. But

Alyssa Davies:

I was living in Fort McMurray for two years. It was an interesting place to live very, very money focused city. And so I went to a gala event there. It's one of the biggest events they have there at the college. And I, I was not making very much money at the time. But because I was working remotely for a company. So I wasn't really working for anyone in Fort McMurray. And I went to the event, and I just spur the moment bought 150 50, ticket one. It was $50. I was like, I'm not spending any more than that. And I'm standing in the audience, and they're about to announce the numbers. And they read it off. And it's my ticket. And I'm like, there's no way I don't win anything. Like this can't be possible. I bought one ticket, like people are gonna be mad. And so, so I go off, and sure enough, it is it's real. It's my ticket. So I ended up winning the 5050 at this Gala. And it was it was $5,000 which is Whoa, it was amazing, right? Like, I've never won this much money in my life. Amazing. And unfortunately, they asked me to come up on stage not my favorite thing to do. Definitely not with no notice. I didn't want to be that person. So I was like, of course, I would love to come up. So they brought me up on stage. And they're like, this is Alyssa. She won the 5050 everyone's cheering Alyssa What are you gonna do with the money? And I'm like, I'm gonna put it in my RSP booed me off the stage.

Preet Banerjee:

Oh, what's with these responsibilities and common sense? We don't want that up here.

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, so I got booed off stage once because

Preet Banerjee:

that's pretty good story. I like that story. That's good story and done. Okay, so as you know, at the end of every episode, every interview, the guest has the floor to basically have a commercial for anything that they want to promote. So the floor is yours. Take it away.

Alyssa Davies:

Yeah, sure. Um, the thing I want to promote the most is my book. I think it's a great tool. I think it's affordable compared to a lot of money resources you can get, and you can get it anywhere you want. You don't even have to come to my website if you don't want because I never want to force people to do stuff like that. I'm not very good at self promotion at all. Yeah, yeah, get over it. Come on, this is a commercial you blown it. Don't go to my website, don't ever talk to me again. Please buy my book, I would love that I would love your support, I think it's, I really do think it's a great tool. And it's an easy way to jump into money. If you're kind of afraid of it. If you're not sure where to start. Or if you have like a friend or a family member who's not not ready to start, this is a great place for anyone to to get going on that. And yeah, you can follow me at mix that money on any social media platform, and my website is mixed up. money.com. Amazing. And we should probably talk about the cost of your course, for couples who want to talk about money. So talk to me about that. For sure. It's $130. So it's, it's a pretty good deal for couples to split that cost equally because we are all about equal finances in a relationship. Yeah, and it's just you get 15 exercises is a 24 page workbook. There's seven videos, I believe as well, where you can kind of walk through those conversations, so it's less awkward. I'm kind of that middleman that makes it a little bit more fun, I hope. But yeah, it's it's a great course just to get started and and make that conversation a little bit less awkward. And people can find that course on your website as well. Yes, absolutely. Perfect. All right. Well, that's it. Thank you so much for having this conversation with me. I really appreciate it. It's been a blast having you on the show. Thanks for having me on. I hardly made fun of you. So it was a good day. I know you wasted opportunity.

Preet Banerjee:

That's on you. If you want more personal finance content or you have questions for me or topic suggestions for the podcast, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram, same handle in both cases at Preet Banerjee, I also have two YouTube channels, you can subscribe to my main channel which covers personal finance and investing topics that are global in scope and a Canadian specific channel as well. That's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening.

Intro
Uncomfortable money questions
Money and dating
The Breadwinner Mentality
Alyssa's story
When to have the first "money talk"
Subscription Auditing
Alyssa wins a 50/50 draw