Briana is 20, works as an online marketer, and has her mind on money so completely it dictates her every move. We talked about stealing change, how debt happens to savers, and her plan to get on track. I edited and condensed our recent talk.
How the heck did you become so aware of saving money so young? I had a piggy bank when I was younger and was obsessed with getting it really heavy. There was always change lying around so I took the liberty of picking it up myself.
Having to pay for college kick started your quest to save? I was a peer counselor my senior year in high school. One requirement of the class was to apply for three scholarships a month. I applied for over 150 on my own.
You commented on BargainBabe.com that you had a financial plan. What is your plan? [Growing up] we didn’t have a luxurious lifestyle, but we never went without anything we needed. I knew that I needed an emergency buffer, especially because of what happened with my mom. After my mom got sick, I was out of work for awhile so I had use my savings to keep me afloat. I got into credit card debt. I didn’t have the money for my textbooks so I used my credit card. It got really frustrating.
Wait a minute. You’re a saver. How did you get into credit card debt?
Putting every living expense on it. It’s really hard to say now exactly what everything went to. A lot of it went towards food. This was my first and second year of college. I should be in my third year, but so much stress, a family death, I just need to find something where I can work full time and pay off this debt. I worked really hard at getting a paid internship.
How much credit card debt did you have? Now its down to $2,000 where it was up to almost $5,000. I was living at home so I was able to put most of my money towards it, but I still paid for gas and things like that. I had it pretty much manageable so I decided to move in with my boyfriend. Can I still pay this debt down and pay utilities and rent if I’m living on my own? I made five different budgets about it.
What will you do in the 12 next months for your financial plan? My first plan is to pay off my debt. I don’t want to be in a situation like that again. Then I’m going to rebuild my savings. Right now I’m paying about $200 a month toward my debt but I’m working on a plan where I can double that.
Where did you cut back? Driving. I got laid off from Go Banking Rates in January. But I had such a strong network I bounced right back with freelancing. I was commuting an hour each way [to Go Banking Rates] so that helped cut down on gas. That was a blessing in disguise.
What budgeting tools, programs, and software do you use? I love . JMoney has a few simple tips for keeping a budget. I went with one of his and it was so much easier. I update it in Google Docs.
How long do you spend managing your money every week? I look at my account balance everyday. At the end of every week I look at what I spent, where I spent it, and make sure there’s no weird activity. That takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes.
How do you and your fiance differ in the way you handle money? He’s very wishy washy when it comes to money. I’m single-minded. I am planning even before I get the money. Once I make a decision on what I want to buy, then it’s made up.
How did you two compromise? We have a hybrid system. Our paychecks go to our individual accounts, but the first thing we do is put in money to pay our bills. We keep our money separate so we are free to buy whatever we want but we still consult each other about it. We don’t necessarily ask permission, but we bring it up.
When do you think you’ll be able to retire? My grandparents were able to retire in their 50s, but they have social security and pensions. If I save $100 a month I’m probably not going to be able to retire at 50. Hopefully between 50 and 60. I really don’t want to go over 60.
Do you have a plan to go back to school? Yes, definitely. My mom works for Los Angeles County and they have partnerships with a few different universities where you can continue to pursue your bachelors or even your masters. One of the partners is Trident University. They are completely online and I can get a discounted rate. So I can still graduate debt free while I’m saving up.
What advice would you give to other 20-somethings? Save what you can. There are so many misconceptions that you have to save a large amount of money every time. $10 here, $20 here. Save anything that you can. You will be amazed at how much it ads up.