Simple Inspiration Interview with Stephen from How to Save

How to Save Money


Are you looking to save money?  I have the person for you.  Stephen from How to Save Money.  His blog shows people from all walks of life how to save money on everything they buy and does it without cutting back. It’s all about getting exactly what you want for as little money as possible.  Then, the leftover money you have can be spent however you choose: savings, investments, entertainment, travel, clothes, cars, jewelry … it’s up to you.  He does not try and tell people what to spend their money on, just how to spend less of it.

Let’s learn a little more from Stephen in this week’s Simple Inspiration Interview:

What event lead you to start How to Save Money?

Beginning to earn and spend my own money in my college years really got me thinking about how much things cost. I used to think the price on the shelf was the price you paid, but then I noticed that every store had a different price for the same product.
That realization led me to do a lot of research on saving money on the things I bought which in turn led me to be active on money saving forums. I found a goldmine of information there that was inaccessible to the general public so I decided to make it easier to read and more accessible through

What is the biggest financial challenge you see from readers of How to Save Money?

The site is more geared to teaching people to maximize the value of their dollars no matter their status in life so there is no one financial challenge that really sticks out.

How have you simplified your personal finances?

My finances are far from simplified because often the best money saving deals involve a little bit of extra work and complexity. You can earn thousands of dollars opening new accounts and trying new products and services.
Lately I have simplified some by cutting down on my accounts, always sticking with no fee banking from the start, and not worrying too much about budgeting. I find that being money conscious and trying to save on every purchase is enough to not over spend.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

It’s really the generous sign up offers and rewards available from having multiple accounts that makes it difficult.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

I try to balance the upfront reward with the extra time involved to make sure it is worth the effort because there is nothing I value more than my time.

How has simplifying changed your life?

The more I simplify, the more I’m able to focus on the things I enjoy in life. Again, it’s a balance, but I’m definitely open to more simplification in the future.

How long did it take you to simplify?

It’s a work in progress that will probably never be done =)

How much of your personal finances have you automated?

Most of my finances are automated at this point. The one thing I never automate is my credit card bills which I prefer to pay manually twice a month. That way I can review all the charges and ensure they are correct.

What do you automate?

All my bills really: internet, cell phone, water & sewer, home and auto insurance, ETF investing, etc. I do pay my life insurance bills to save money on their automation fees once a year.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Simplification is good but make sure you aren’t over simplifying. You could be missing out on some big rewards if you never try something new or re-evaluate your finances. If you put it on auto pilot, make sure you check it every now and then to ensure it isn’t steering you into an iceberg!

What’s your best savings tip?

My site is overflowing with tips on how to save money, but my best one single tip is to plan ahead when it comes to everything. A little planning will both save you and earn you a ton of money!

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

My favorite personal finance blogs other than my own are My Own Advisor, Boomer & Echo, and Million Dollar Journey.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

My favorite things to do are spend time with my family, travel, and play video games so I would probably do more of all than that!

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount needed to fund it?

I have lots of funds that can be accessed in case of an emergency, but none of them are designated as an emergency fund. I don’t believe an emergency fund is always necessary because there are lots of ways to get funds in an emergency.

Thanks Stephen for sharing your story.  As well as offering some great tips to help simplify your finances.

If you would like to read more from Stephen check out his site I am sure you will find at least one tip to help you save.  You can also  follow him on twitter via @howtosave

To read previous interviews in the series click below

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

Your Vacation Planning Can Help with Your Financial Planning in 10 Easy Steps

10 Steps Vacation Planning

Who does not dream of going on a great vacation with family or friends? At least I know I enjoy taking a vacation each year. Planning your vacation can take some time to plan.

However, we always seem to find a way to make it happen.  We find a way to save enough money, we shop around for the best deals, and we know where we are staying and what we will be doing while on vacation.

But when it comes to our personal finances we seem to forget how to plan. We can spend more time planning our vacation than planning our financial future. Why not apply the same excitement and get it done attitude to financial planning as you do to your vacation plans. Doing this can have just as much impact on your life as a vacation or even a greater impact.

I know planning can be a daunting task. You probably ask yourself: Where do I begin? What’s step one? How can I save more?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning, especially when you haven’t planned before.

Here are 10 steps to help you create a financial plan like you were planning your vacation:

Visualize the Perfect Situation

When planning your vacation you have to decide what’s the ideal place for you to visit, activities you want to do, how you plan to travel, and what time of the year you want to travel.

The same as planning your finances. Write down what you would like your financial life to look like.  What would it take to get there? What time frame do you have to get there?

Set a Budget

You usually set a budget when planning for your vacation at least I hope you do.  Same with your finances, set a budget to manage your monthly expenses. Having a budget is the key to a good financial plan.  A well prepared budget enables you to have a clearer picture of your spending.

Decide Where You Want to Go

You have a picture of the perfect place and have set your budget. Now you have to decide where you want to go. By deciding where you are going it sets a goal to work towards. A lot of people talk generally about what they want their finances to look like but never set a specific goal or put a plan in place.

Deciding where you want to go is important as it forces you to set a definite goal. Having goals in place makes it easier to commit to.

Determine Your Time Frame

When vacation planning you usually decide if you’re traveling by car or plane and how long you will be on vacation so you can plan appropriately.

The same can be applied to your financial plan by determining the time frame it will take to reach your financial destination you desire. To help achieve your goals establish long-term and short-term financial goals.

Start Saving Money

Time to start saving! When vacation planning I am sure you save over time to cover the cost of your trip. I try to allocate funds throughout the year to my vacation fund. It makes it easier to save that way.

Same with your personal finances. Establish a saving plan. Having a saving plan in place will provide you with a financial peace of mind. Here are three savings you should consider establishing if you do not have any savings in place:

Retirement Savings

Emergency Savings

Future Spending Savings

Automate Your Bills

While you are traveling you don’t want to forget about your bills so automate them. Same is true with your personal finances get rid of your mail, go paperless, and set up online bill payment for your recurring bills to ensure you won’t miss any.


When packing for your trip you try to consolidate as much as you can. The more suit cases you bring adds additional cost and hassle so you consolidate the number you bring with you.   You do this by reduce the amount of items you bring with you.

Consider doing the same with your financial accounts. Consolidate your bank accounts, investment, accounts as well as providers. Consolidating will help:

  • Reduce the number of statements you receive
  • Easier to keep track of your accounts
  • Possibly reduce fees

Buy Insurance

When planning your vacation, you may consider purchasing travel insurance. This will help protection you if something occurs and you have to cancel your vacation. Maybe some occurs while you are traveling travel insurance may help cover some of the cost of this unexpected situation.

Same is true with your personal finances. You want to make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage. You do not want to be left standing uninsured when a medical, natural disaster, or other financial situation occurs which can place a significant financial burden on you.

Hire professional help

When planning a vacation you may hire a travel agent to help you arrange your travel plans and accommodations.  So when preparing your financial plan consider hiring professional advisers to help you reach your financial destination.  The ride to your destination will be smoother and quicker if you hire good financial professionals to help you.

Stay Focused and Inspired

The planning process can be long and time consuming but stay focused at the goal at hand. Here are some inspiring stories how other have simplified their finances which will help you:

Simple Inspiration Interview – How Creating a Budget Helped Mr. CBB Simplify His Finances

Simple Inspiration Interview – Taking a day off helped Peter Anderson Simplify his Finances

Simple Inspiration Interview with Jeremy from Go Curry Cracker

Use these 10 steps as a guide to help better organize and simplify your personal finances.

But no matter what your financial goals are, these steps will help you stay organized as you begin to put your financial plan in place.

So take action now by applying these simple tips to design your financial future and begin to simplify your personal finances.

Simple Inspiration Interview with Kate from Cashville Skyline


Let’s welcome this week’s Simple Inspiration Kate from Cashville Skyline.

Kate created Cashville Skyline to promote financial literacy, especially among lower earning, creative professionals. To her, financial freedom means pursuing the amount of work you choose, when you want, from where you want, without ever feeling the need to sacrifice your quality of life for compensation.

Read how Kate has simplified her finances so she can pursue financial freedom:

What event lead you to decide to pursue financial freedom?

I worked as a concert promoter / talent buyer for most of my twenties. Producing concerts was fun, but the stress, long hours, and constant traveling started taking a toll on my body. I realized it wasn’t a long-term sustainable career path, but in order to make a career change, I needed to get my finances in order. This was my primary motivation for starting Cashville Skyline.

How long had you planned this? KateDorePress

I left my job last August, but I started my journey at the beginning on 2013. I took a free personal finance class at University of California Irvine via Coursera and discovered the world of personal finance blogs through their forums. I voraciously read everything I could find for several months before starting my blog at the end of 2013.

What steps are you taking to achieve financial freedom?

I work full-time in digital marketing, but I believe it’s important to diversify streams of revenue. In addition to my ongoing frugal lifestyle and aggressive saving, I’ve focused on increasing my income through various side hustles. I’m also committed to generating passive streams of income through my investments. I’m planning to invest in my East Nashville property later this year to add rental income.

What is your biggest challenge or roadblock to achieving financial freedom? 

Earning an average income can be a challenge. It’s only possible to cut expenses down so much. And my energy levels are finite. There’s always the temptation to devote more time to side hustles, but it’s possible to overdo it.

What are your current financial goals?

I recently left my part-time job working customer service for an online ticketing company. I’d like to replace that income (approximately $1,000 per month) through my blog and freelance writing gigs. Regarding financial milestones, I’d like to reach $100K equity in my home and $100K in my portfolio by the end of this year.

How will you feel once you’ve reached your financial goals?

I’m sure my sense of achievement will be brief, as I’ll be ready for my next set of goals :)

What one thing have you done to enable your current lifestyle?

Transitioning from entertainment to technology has been life-changing. Working 9-5 has substantially freed up time for Cashville Skyline and wellness.

What’s your best savings tip? 

It’s important to consistently pay yourself first. Treat it like any other bill, but with even higher priority. Also, save until it hurts.

Do you have an emergency fund established?

It’s unpopular, but I don’t have a dedicated emergency fund. I do, however, have $25K in a taxable Vanguard account. That could easily cover 10 months of living expenses following my bare bones budget.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simply or improve their finances?

My blogroll includes all of the blogs I read on a regular basis. Also, The Millionaire Next Door really changed my perspective on wealth and the importance of a frugal lifestyle.

What advice or thoughts would you like to share with others who are looking to achieve financial freedom or just improve their financial life?

Tracking expenses and calculating personal savings rate are important starting points. I try to envision my future self (even 9 years from now, at 40). How does future Kate want to be spending her time? Every penny saved is a penny less I have to earn later.

If money wasn’t a concern, what would you do for fun?

I have a degree in classical singing, so I would spend much more time practicing and improving my instrument. I would devote a lot more time to developing my visual artistic skills (weaving, painting, ceramics, etc.) I would travel more and work improving my fluency in Spanish. I would continue writing and continue try to help others.

Thanks for sharing your story Kate.  You offered some great advice on how to simplify your finances some ways to as well as your life.

If you would like to read more from Kate visit Cashville Skyline or follow her on social media





To read previous interviews in the series click below

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.


Simple Inspiration Interview with Will from First Quarter Finance

First Quarter Finance

Are you looking to build your wealth in your early twenties? If so, you will enjoy reading this week’s interview with Will.  Will blogs at First Quarter Finance which is about building wealth ASAP!  He started FQF because he wanted to create a resource for young people who want to make money early in life.  He uses his personal past and present experiences to give tested advice for building wealth early in life.  He does this by telling his story of how he began investing at age ten.

He states:

“Combining early investing with a healthy income and a frugal lifestyle and… magic happens. Haha. That sounds corny but it’s true.”

If you want to see exactly what he is doing or even emulate it, visit FQF.

Let’s learn how Will has managed his financial life so he will be able to retire at an early age:

What event lead you to realize you needed to simplify your finances?  Will Lipovsky Image

I watch this PBS documentary about the high cost of managed investments. I decided after watching to stop buying managed funds and go with the E/R index mutual funds offered at Vanguard.

What area of your financial life needed the most simplification?

My investments. Hollywood makes it seem like investors should take crazy risks and constantly be screaming and yelling. I decided to stop the buy and sell, scream and yell nonsense. Turns out I’m actually making more money with my simplified approach. Warren Buffett may be onto something…

When did you begin to simplify your financial life?

I was 23 years young when I decided things needed to be simpler.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

Having to bite the bullet and sell my American Funds!!! I already paid massive front-end load fees. I felt like I already paid to join the club and now I was foolishly giving away my membership by selling. I finally sold all those funds and lost the approximately $4,000 I paid in loads over the years. Ouch. Oh well, it needed to be done. Front-end loads aside, the expense ratios were so high I needed to get out.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

I did the math on how much more I would make if I switched to low cost investments. Over the long term, selling my American Funds made sense. It’s hard to argue with math.

How has simplifying changed your life?

My investments are now on auto-pilot. I couldn’t be happier with them. I’ve also simplified my life by riding a bike more often than I drive. I also stopped buying empty calories. When you think about it, those cookies won’t help you out one bit.

How long did it take you to simplify?

I’ve taken a pretty simple approach to my finances my entire life. I’ve never had to make any major corrections except with my investments. However, simplifying my food budget took years. I began with giving up soda. Then I stopped buying bread and made baked at home instead. Eventually I stopped buying heavily processed foods.

Today is May 28, 2015 and I’m proud to say I’ve only had one unhealthy item all year. It was a sucker my adorable 6-year-old cousin begged me to eat after telling me, ‘It’s the best food in the entire world!’ It was a green Blow Pop. It was not good.

How much of your personal finances have you automated?

I automate AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Life is too short to slave over paying bills. Heck, even Dave Ramsey promotes automating your finances.
Everything is automated except my invoicing to my freelance writing clients. Maybe I could get something going there… I do use Quickbooks…

What do you automate?

Bills, dollar-cost-averaging my investments, I even use Digit for my savings.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Use the rule of first principles. Elon Musk said it best:

“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.”

We should not live our lives based on what we witness around us. Just because your coworkers eat out for lunch doesn’t mean you have to as well. Just because your coworkers drive fancy cars to work doesn’t mean you have to as well. Just because most people are in debt, it doesn’t mean you have to be as well.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

Well, the site you’re reading this on is a pretty great resource! I’m partial to my own blog as well, First Quarter Finance. Other than those two obvious answers, I recommend people read A LOT of books. I’m always reading at least one personal finance/self-improvement/business book. Doing this is opening up my brain to even more than what I learned in college.

I hate to use this because it’s such a cliché but I recommend you read The Millionaire Next Door. It will cleanse you from the Hollywood millionaire BS you’ve already been exposed to in ample quantities.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

My life would not look much different. Heck, I still drive the same car I got when I was 16. I’m now 25 and have hundreds of thousands more dollars than I did back then. I’m a sucker for sports cars so I suppose I would have one or two more.

What’s your best savings tip?

Don’t do anything just for the sake of saving money. Life is too short for that. You need to have a greater reason for doing something other than saving money. I bike to work because it’s healthy (and saves money). I drive an older car because I love 90s sports cars (and it’s cheaper than a new Porsche 911). I cook at home because I don’t like the low quality ingredients and hidden calories served at most restaurants (and I can eat steak at home for what I could pay for a paper thin burger at a fancy restaurant).
It’s hard to be motivated by saving money alone. Think bigger.

Are there any areas of your finances that you still need to simplify?

I still have things to sell on eBay and Craigslist from my younger years. Most of the items are listed, they just need to sell. I hate owning things I don’t use. I can’t stand the waste.


Will appreciate you sharing your story with us today.  You offered some great advice on how to simplify your finances as well as your life.

If you would like to read more from Will visit First Quarter Finance or follow him on Twitter @firstqfinance

To read previous interviews in the series click Simple Inspiration Interviews.

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.