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FIREside chat with Melanie: "I paid off $81,000 in student loans"

Quirk Team
August 27, 2020
FIREside chat with Melanie: "I paid off $81,000 in student loans"

Hi! Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Melanie Lockert and I'm a self employed finance writer, host of The Mental Health and Wealth show and founder of Lola Retreat. I'm also the author of Deaar Debt and created a blog of the same name. I paid off $81,000 in student loans and work to inspire others to pay off their debt. I am focused on the intersection of money and mental health.

What personality type did you get? Did you find the results to be accurate? 

I'm Optimizer. Most of it does feel accurate. I am very on top of my finances and the details but I'm also emotional and anxious about money.

Melanie took the Quirk money personality test and received the Optimizer money type.

What inspired you to start? For completely new readers, what is the “tl;dr” of your brand?

I started a personal finance blog to chronicle my debt payoff and now write on the internet about money. In January 2013, I started as a way to keep myself accountable in paying off debt. I was so anxious and depressed about my debt. My blog was my attempt to stay positive and build momentum. It worked! I've been writing on the internet about money ever since.

What is your relationship with personal finance? - If applicable, how has that defined your current pursuits? What changes have you made that have helped? How has it changed over time?

My relationship with personal finance is tricky.

I have overcome money mindset issues like "student loans are good debt" or "rich people are greedy."

I know a great deal more now that I work as a personal finance writer. It gets tricky because I feel like personal finance advice is great, but we can't advice our way out so many of the systemic struggles people are facing that impact money. Health care, child care, etc. all affect your money. Wages haven't kept up with inflation. So while I believe personal finance can be powerful in helping others, I think it can only help so much and for a certain demographic.

What are some things that worked for you for maintaining balance and managing your spending?

Having targeted savings accounts and using one rewards credit card helped me find balance between spending and saving. Each savings account has a purpose, such as Emergency Fund, Travel, Cats, Health. I also check my finances every day so I'm mindful of my spending and can make changes in real-time.

Melanie conducting a workshop

What’s the worst money advice you’ve ever received?

Not so much advice, but when people say "money doesn't matter". Money definitely matters and I think it's important we discuss it with more transparency.

What do you most enjoy spending on? Or any guilty pleasure you can share. 

I love spending money on coffee, good food, concerts, and new experiences.

Is there a specific financial goal you are working towards right now? What steps are you taking to achieve that goal?

I am not. I am saving what I can, but right now I am trying to survive the pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, I spent a month in Mexico and 2 weeks in Europe. That was my last financial goal and it was so worth it, especially seeing what happened right after I got back.

How often do you check your finances?

Most of the time I check every day.

What’s your stack?

I have a personal checking and savings, business checking and savings and the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

For someone who is starting completely new to personal finance, how would they get started? What specific tips would you have for newbies?

I would suggest finding out your take-home pay. Track all of your expenses. Take a debt inventory. Create a budget. Write down your values and financial goals.

Follow Melanie on Instagram

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