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How many of you still hang out with the friends you had in Kindergarten? Probably not many of you. But for those that still do, those friendships are incredibly valuable. There’s something very special about starting something new together and walking shoulder to shoulder as you both navigate the ups and downs of your exciting endeavor.
This week’s guest and I went to Kindergarten together…sort of. Blogging Kindergarten.
When I started my blog over a year ago, I knew no one in the online world. My journey began by Googling “how to start a blog” and then progressed to following different personal finance writers on social media. From there, I began chatting with different people and have amassed over the last year a MASSIVE network of great mentors and friends.
One of the people I really connected with early on was Scott from Making Momentum.
Having started his blog a few months after mine, we were both newbies to the blogosphere. In addition to being an insanely hard worker (you’ll hear about how he wakes up at 5 am to get ahead in just a bit), Scott is one of the most generous and down to earth people you’ll ever meet. He and I have been supporting each other’s work for a long time, although I must say, I feel like I’ve gotten more out of the relationship than he has.
Even though he’s been at this less than a year, Scott is a blogging rockstar.
He’s already exceeded the 25,000 sessions needed to get Mediavine acceptance, and he’s crushing it on Pinterest with almost a million monthly views (I know that number can be deceiving, but let’s be real…a million viewers is a BIG DEAL). And to boot, he’s practicing the financial wisdom he’s preaching, using his side hustle income to destroy his student loan debt.
In short, he’s crushing it. And it’s so AWESOME for me to welcome him to Band of Bloggers not just as a killer blogger with tons of amazing insights to share, but as my friend!
What’s the one book (or books) that you have given to your friends? Or What are one to three books that have greatly impacted your life (money related or not)?
The number one book I’ve either gifted or lent to my friends and family is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.
I read it very early in university and it really hit home with me. Whether it was the perfect time in my life due to age, relationships, moving away from home, etc., I don’t know, but the overall message and emotion it evoked made me want to share it across my network.
(My thoughts, in red, as always) So I’ve read the Last Lecture and I have to say that it was a pretty great book. The Cliff’s Notes (or Cole’s Notes for my brothers and sisters from the Great White North) is that a college professor sets out to pass on notes about what is REALLY important in life to his students when he finds out that he has incurable cancer and only a short time to live.
It’s full of poignant observations and sage wisdom. And, in parts, it tugs on the heartstrings and things can get a bit emotional. If you’re reading it in public, I suggest a quiet place where openly weeping won’t be frowned upon.
The fact that this is the book Scott chose reveals a lot about him as a person and a blogger.
He’s not just interested in making money, retiring early, and sailing off into the sunset, although those things are nice. No, he really wants to help people. This shines through in all of the conversations that we’ve had and in his writing. And I must say, in the personal finance space, I’ve found no shortage of people with this mindset.
There’s something about having control of your finances that gives people a perspective on life that those living in the rat race, clawing for every dollar, don’t have. There’s a peace and freedom that is more common amongst those who have mastered their money than those who are slaves to it. They know what really counts in life and that money and stuff are not the best way to keep score.
They live out the lessons taught in The Last Lecture. And so does Scott.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last year (or in recent memory)? The more specific details the better!
Hands down the best $100 or less I’ve spent in the last year was the $60 it cost me to rent bikes for my girlfriend and I on a recent weekend vacation.
It sounds simple and maybe that not unique or special, but it has been a busy and stressful summer for both of us professionally and personally. We hadn’t enjoyed too much freedom in recent memory.
The holiday overall cost well over $100 but the 4-5 hours we spent riding bikes through vineyards, coasting along the riverfront, stopping in orchards and eating lunch on top of a hill overlooking the Niagara region was priceless.
All the stress was lifted and we were able to just breathe and relax.
Amen to renting bikes.
My wife and I got away in the summer to Vancouver for a long weekend and we rented bikes to ride around Stanley Park (for those not familiar with Van-city, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s version, a much nicer, ocean-view version I might add, of Central Park).
As we cruised for a few hours past towering 150 foot Douglas Firs and centuries-old Cedars, we felt the stress and tension melt away. We also were in desperate need of a refresh with my wife doing her Masters and me supporting her while hustling to grow my blog, and us both working!
Like Scott, I have to say getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors was wonderful! It was money well spent!
What is a quote(s) that you live your life by or that you find yourself repeating to yourself?
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning” – Albert Einstein.
I first saw this quote when I was backpacking through Europe for 3 months as a 19 year-old when we were taking a tour of Humboldt University in Berlin. The quote is pretty self-explanatory, but it stuck with me from the first time I read it.
It’s framed in my office and the lock screen on my phone.
Wow, I’ve never read this quote from Einstein, and I’m a pretty big Einstein fan. But it doesn’t surprise me. Einstein was a remarkable person.
I LOVE these words. They encapsulate much of what I value and hold dear, especially the first part. Without learning from the mistakes of yesterday, you’ll never grow. Without growth, living for today will be futile. And if life is futile, well then hope is absent. And without hope, a person’s heart grows sick.
This quote perfectly captures much of what life is about. It may soon find its way onto the lock screen of my phone!
What’s one of the best or more worthwhile investments you’ve made (money, time, energy, etc.)
The best investment I’ve made in recent years is more so a time, energy and lifestyle investment. What is it?
Shifting my sleeping habits and making the morning hours available to me as productive as possible.
The freelance work I’ve accomplished by waking up at 5 AM helped me crush my student loan debt. The workouts and physical activity in these morning hours have changed my health, mindset and general wellness. It’s also helped me launch Making Momentum and become better prepared for the workday ahead.
It’s not the traditional investment, but it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Oh man, I feel like pretty much every single Band of Bloggers guest over the last few months has had some sort of theme related to taking care of your health and making the most of your time. And the last two guests, J$ from Budgets Are Sexy and now Scott, have both talked about how amazing waking up at 5 AM has been, not only for their physical and mental health but also for growing their blogs.
I need to just SUCK IT UP and GET THIS DONE!! There is NO downside.
Changes need to be made. Enough talk.
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?
The biggest change in my life over the last 5 years has hands down been making personal finances a top priority.
In my early adult years, I made a variety of money mistakes that eventually compounded into a aha moment when I finally decided enough was enough.
I discovered the personal finance resources and content that saved my life and thankfully helped put me on the right path. Those blogs, books, and podcasts cured my case of financial illiteracy.
This new mindset of money management truly changed my life.
Not only has my future financial trajectory shifted, but the stress and weight of the debt I was in were lifted. Constantly worrying about money and the issues that created with various relationships in my life disappeared.
I was able to concentrate on what really mattered and created value and happiness in my life.
As I was mentioning earlier, it’s crazy how big an impact mastering your money can have not just on your bank account, but on your whole life. You hear this over and over. The fact that mastering your money has a direct impact on your happiness and fulfillment isn’t a surprise. What is is that the discipline required to tame your money spills over into EVERY area of your life.
So when you decide to get your finances under control it’s not just your wallet that benefits. No, it’s your wallet, relationships, health, and ultimately every area of your life.
What advice would you give to a smart, industrious, newbie blogger as they start out?
The advice I would give to a new blogger that is keen and ready to dedicate themselves would be:
- Find your “why” first or at least an initial “why”. It might change as you move forward in blogging but deciding from the start what you want this to be will help guide your decisions.
- Connect with the community of your niche, including the creators and audiences engaging with their content on their websites and social media channels. Develop those relationships and start networking from the beginning.
- Study the best practices of the blogs in your niche, from the leaders at the top to those just a few months ahead of you. This isn’t to copy content, but more so to see how they promote their blog, what types of posts perform best in your niche, how they integrate email opt-ins, what social media channels work with your intended audience, and so on.
- Test different types of content to see what you enjoy producing most and what fits for you. You need to enjoy the process or you’re going to get disheartened and burn out quickly. Whether it’s long-form stories, big list posts, product reviews, interviews, or highly researched quantitative articles, keep testing and learning.
There are countless blog posts, podcasts, and e-books aimed at helping beginning bloggers. But I would just boil it down to connect, learn, test, enjoy and have patience.
Scott CRUSHED this response. Every single thing he said is spot on.
But of all the things he said, the most important piece he hit on is connecting with your community. For me, it’s the community that has made starting a blog so incredible. The advice, encouragement, and support I’ve received from bloggers have been unreal.
If you’re new to blogging, follow Scott’s advice to a T and you’ll be well on your way to building your site, growing your audience, making money, and having fun doing it!
What common advice should they ignore?
That it’s easy to do and in 15 minutes you can have a new (insert affiliate hosting program) website up and ready to drive enough traffic to create your passive income empire.
To connect, grow and improve it’s going to take a serious amount of time and hustle. Blogging isn’t a get rich quick scheme if you’re intending to turn it into a business or revenue stream.
It’s a fast-track into a Digital MBA as you quickly find out. Producing content, promoting it, networking, managing the upkeep of a website, researching, learning, studying analytics, etc. It’s a rewarding and amazing process but it’s not easy.
Love it. As I’ve stated before, I’ve worked harder on my blog in the last year than on any part-time gig I’ve ever undertaken.
And I’ve made less than $1000.
I’m sure I sound like a broken record when I say that I’m in it for the long haul. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme. Nope, it’s a get rich slowly activity (incidentally, the name of one of the most popular money blogs out there run by J.D. Roth). And the learning is INCREDIBLE. I’ve gone from Googling “how to start a blog” to running my own site, managing and automating my social media accounts, developing my own online course, filming and editing video, and so much more. The skills I’ve developed over the last year transfer into all sorts of different areas.
And even though I’ve made less than $1000, this first year has been all about investing in me as a blogger, a writer, and a person.
It’s been a fun year and I wouldn’t change a thing (Ok, that’s a lie. I’d change how much traffic I’ve had and it would’ve been nice to generate some more income, but other than that… 🙂
What are 1-3 apps/programs/plugins that have allowed you to maximize your time/energy?
The 3 apps that have been a major benefit to my time management productivity are Todoist, Trello, and Mint.
In both my personal and professional life Todoist is where I log everything I need to accomplish, key reminders for upcoming tasks or deadlines, priority checklists and so much more.
Trello is the collaboration tool of choice we use at my workplace for tracking projects, sharing updates and working together on all our priorities. We have dozens of team members so transparency and ease of access to information are essential.
Finally, Mint is the budgeting and tracking service I use as part of my personal finance toolkit. Why? It’s free, gives me insight into everything in one place and saves me time when I review my spending, budgeting, and transactions across my different accounts.
Hmmm, interesting. I haven’t heard of Todoist. I’m going to have to check it out. Getting more organized with my to-do list and deadlines is always a good thing.
I’ve obviously heard good things about Mint but have never used it. I’m nervous about linking my personal banking info to a third party app.
I use EveryDollar and have been VERY happy with it. It has a KILLER app, is easy to use, and makes my life very simple. It’s not linked to my bank so rather than keeping my receipts and entering them into a spreadsheet every week, I input them into the app as soon as I buy something.
Really, it has everything I could ask for in an app and it’s free. What’s not to like?
What one thing has been most effective for increasing traffic on your blog?
The most straightforward answer would honestly be hustle sprinkled with consistency, patience, and some luck. There are specific social media channels, networks and blog posts that have driven the most traffic to my blog, but the commitment would have to take top billing in terms of effectiveness.
From day one (Feb. 2018) it’s been pedal to the metal. Creating content, promoting it, networking, learning the different skills necessary and sometimes staring at a blank screen.
I publish four articles a week, participate in a mastermind, research keywords, promote across two main social accounts and interact with the community.
I’m sure most bloggers that have tasted a little success or had some wins would say that hustle (with the sprinkle of consistency, patience, and some luck) would be a key part of their traffic equation too.
Ok, I have to say that Scott is a BEAST!! Four posts a week is INSANE!! I’m posting once a week and it feels like a lot some days.
He’s all over Pinterest and Twitter, and his audience is EXPLODING!!
A lot of the work he puts in is behind the scenes, masterminding and researching keywords. It’s not flashy, but he’s put his nose to the grindstone and he’s getting the results he deserves.
No tricks, tips, or simple solutions. Just good, old-fashioned, hard work.
Which is better? A goal that is smaller and you achieve it, or one that is too big and you don’t? Why?
I’m a big fan of small wins and compounding those into something much bigger. Hence the name Making Momentum.
Mind you, there’s the saying “shooting for the stars and missing will still land you on the moon” so there’s something to be said for aiming big and failing but still making gains in your life.
However, I’d still lean toward smaller goals. As you progress up the ladder of goals, in any facet personally or professionally, those goals naturally become bigger and you’re now reaching for higher, better and faster.
Love how Scott lets us inside his head as he thinks his way through this question. It’s a toughie, which is why it’s so awesome (Thanks Tim Ferriss).
I think the bottom line is, there’s merit to both methods. The common feature is that regardless of whether you set big or small goals, you’re setting goals. And the power is in that.
Set goals, big or small, and you’ll see results!
What are the top 3 most common money problems you’ve seen people consistently fighting to overcome?
1) Financial Literacy
The generation I grew up with definitely seemed to lack an overall grasp on the foundational skills and principles of money management. Based on the statistics out there around the average family or individual in terms of savings, debt and retirement planning, I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t the only one.
Thankfully, there are some amazing personal finance podcasts, books, YouTube channels, conferences, and blogs breaking through into the mainstream to help deliver a solution to that illiteracy.
2) Student Loans
The cost of education is a major discussion point across both the personal finance community and mainstream media. The crippling student debt that so many people have to deal with is a ball and chain anchoring the financial future of millions of people in North America.
I graduated with about $38,000 in debt but thankfully through dedication to a student loan repayment plan, I was able to expedite that repayment. So many of my friends, colleagues and family members are navigating the same issue.
3) “I’ll Start Tomorrow” Attitude
This might just be the circle of friends and network I grew up with or became associated with in post-secondary and my career, so take it with a grain of salt, but this mindset of “I’ll start tomorrow” was a constant attitude towards their personal finances or planning for the future.
This is likely tied to problems 1 and 2 above as when you’re $50,000 in debt and lacking the financial knowledge, why put an extra $100 against your debt when the sum is so high and you can just enjoy this meal or pair of shoes instead? Tomorrow often snowballs into a week, then a month and a year.
Start big or start small, just start making your personal finances a priority as no matter what happens in life, money will always be a part of it.
There’s just so much I could talk about here, but I’m going to focus on the lack of financial literacy that Scott touched on. It’s scary just how much trouble people have translating common money knowledge into practice. As Scott alluded to, the statistics about debt and a lack of savings are staggering.
But I have to tell you, I’m pretty sure I’ve got the solution (WOW!! That’s a brazen comment!!). Whenever large-scale social changes are required, you don’t start with adults. You start with those impressionable members of society whose minds are still incredibly pliable.
If we want to solve the debt, savings, and overall financial literacy crisis (yes, it’s a crisis), we need to focus on kids.
Yes, teaching kids the foundations of solid money management in school is important. But schools can’t be the only force working to give kids the skills they need to win with money. In fact, research has demonstrated that the foundations of many financial behaviors are already set by the age of 7.
So what’s the solution? Parents need to STEP UP.
Parents are, without question, the biggest factor in whether or not kids develop into money geniuses. If parents take responsibility for teaching their kids about money, and schools partner with them to reinforce these concepts, there’s no doubt that the crisis can be stemmed.
It’s why I believe SO strongly in equipping parents to teach their kids about money, and why I’m launching an online course in the coming months to do just that.
But if you want to get a jump start on teaching your kids about money right now, check out my free course that will get the process rolling!! Just sign up at the bottom of this page.
Band of Bloggers – Bring It All Together With Scott From Making Momentum
I’d like to thank Scott for joining us this week. He truly brought the good stuff for this interview. His honesty and insights should give a lot of encouragement to both new and seasoned bloggers alike. Not only that, but he laid out a clear checklist of things people need to do to build their blog.
Scott is living proof that if you work hard and smart, you can build a successful online presence in a relatively short time. And he’s done so while supporting and encouraging all sorts of people in the blogosphere, making him not only a professional success but a friend to many as well.
It was awesome having him join us on Band of Bloggers and I look forward to seeing all that he’ll accomplish in the next year!
Hello, readers of Method To Your Money! First off, thanks to Matt for letting me swing by and join the Band of Bloggers. I’m a HUGE fan of Band of Brothers having recently rewatched the series, so I’m a big supporter of the name and what Matt has going on here.
My name is Scott and I run the blog over at Making Momentum. I’m shacked up here in Toronto where I enjoy craft beer, reading books by the waterfront, spending time adventuring in the great outdoors with my amazing girlfriend and working in marketing and business development for a big Canadian brand.
Making Momentum is focused on taking control of your money and life. From the basics of personal finance and money management to traveling more for less and compounding small wins into something much bigger, the goal is to share resources, tips, and tools that help readers live the life they want.