Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken

Pursuing Healthy Personal Finances with Skyler Fleming

September 06, 2023 Melissa Ebken Season 8 Episode 12
Pursuing Healthy Personal Finances with Skyler Fleming
Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken
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Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken
Pursuing Healthy Personal Finances with Skyler Fleming
Sep 06, 2023 Season 8 Episode 12
Melissa Ebken

Welcome to another episode of Pursuing Uncomfortable! In this episode, we have the incredible Skyler Fleming as our guest. Skyler is passionate about personal finance and believes that starting with the basics is the key to significant financial improvements. We'll be delving into various budgeting strategies and simpler alternatives to tracking every dollar, as well as discussing strategies for paying off credit card debt that many people are unaware of. Skyler will also be sharing insights from a resource called Seven Money Talking Points, designed to help individuals and couples have conversations about money and navigate common financial steps like saving, investing, and paying off debt. Get ready for a conversation that will empower you to take control of your finances and pursue financial stability. Let's dive in!

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Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to another episode of Pursuing Uncomfortable! In this episode, we have the incredible Skyler Fleming as our guest. Skyler is passionate about personal finance and believes that starting with the basics is the key to significant financial improvements. We'll be delving into various budgeting strategies and simpler alternatives to tracking every dollar, as well as discussing strategies for paying off credit card debt that many people are unaware of. Skyler will also be sharing insights from a resource called Seven Money Talking Points, designed to help individuals and couples have conversations about money and navigate common financial steps like saving, investing, and paying off debt. Get ready for a conversation that will empower you to take control of your finances and pursue financial stability. Let's dive in!

Follow Skyler

Support the Show.

More From Melissa and Pursuing Uncomfortable:
fiLLLed Life Newsletter
Leave a review
Pursuing Uncomfortable Book

🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶

🎶 Episode Intro:  Skyler Fleming is the host of the highly engaging and informative personal finance podcast, Money Talk. Recognizing the lack of open discussions about money, Skyler felt compelled to create a platform dedicated to breaking the silence and initiating a much needed conversation about personal finance. Through his podcast, he encourages listeners to explore and discuss various aspects of money, aiming to enhance their understanding and optimize their financial wellbeing. With an unwavering belief in the power of open dialogue, Skyler emphasizes the importance of sharing knowledge and insights to facilitate personal growth and financial success.  Join us as Skyler pushes for a transformative change in our approach to money one conversation at a time. 🎶

Melissa Ebken  0:25  
Skyler, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are you today?

Skyler Fleming  0:29  
I'm doing fantastic. How are you, Melissa? 

Melissa Ebken  0:32  
I'm doing fantastic as well. I just got back from vacation. So I am all refreshed relaxed and set to go.

Skyler Fleming  0:40  
Nice. So that's pursuing the comfortable if I have to say, 

Melissa Ebken  0:42  
Yes, and I do recommend that. So, Skyler, where are you joining us from?

Skyler Fleming  0:49  
I'm in northern Utah near Ogden. So right next to the mountains, which is awesome. 

Melissa Ebken  0:54  
Yeah, I hear it's pretty beautiful out there.

Skyler Fleming  0:56  
Yeah, it can't be. We've had a couple of hot weeks. But today, it's been quite a bit cooler than the last couple. So we'll take it. 

Melissa Ebken  1:02  
I bet. I bet. So Skyler tell us a little bit about what you do. 

Skyler Fleming  1:08  
Yeah, so I host a personal finance podcast. It's called money talk with Skyler Fleming. The whole premise behind it is that we just don't talk about money enough. So I came to say that we need to talk about it more. It's a topic, if we talk about it, that's the only way that we're going to learn more about it. There's so many different little nuances and little different ways to optimize your money and do this, that and the other that we're never going to learn on our own. So we just need to like start the conversation.

Melissa Ebken  1:34  
Absolutely. And I know people love talking about money, right?

Skyler Fleming  1:39  
At least I do, most people don't. That's why one of the jokes about why I started my podcast is that my wife was tired of me always telling her the same stories over and over again, and all the different optimizing that we needed to do. So I started the podcast so that there's other people to listen to me.

Melissa Ebken  1:54  
Go tell somebody else. 

Skyler Fleming  1:57  
Yeah, she loves to listen. And she loves to loves to hear me out on the ideas, but I was just droning on and on. So that's what my audience gets to hear me do now.

Melissa Ebken  2:04  
Well, it is awesome. I have to say you give the impression that maybe it's just boring money talk, but it is a great podcast, the link is in the show notes. So I encourage you all to check it out. 

Skyler Fleming  2:15  
Yeah, thank you. 

Melissa Ebken  2:16  
How did you Oh, you're welcome. How did you get into this?

Skyler Fleming  2:20  
Yeah, getting into it really, it was almost three or four years ago, I think I was working at a credit union. And I was a call center agent then I went to a supervisor and a tier two supervisor, which meant I took like the really angry calls like the people that were very upset that the credit union wronged them and stole the million dollars out of their account. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. But I just found most of the time these issues weren't because the credit union did anything or because the person specifically did anything wrong, it's because they just didn't know any better. They didn't know how to avoid overdraft fees they didn't know about, maybe they were in a hard financial situation, but they didn't know how a line of credit might be able to help them or things like that, like they just didn't know, the strategies that were out there for simple things like budgeting, money management, paying yourself first, they just everything was monthly payments, and that often led to overdraft fees, late payments, things like that. And just once you started to have a conversation with them over the phone, people would calm down once they got out of that aggressive state of just being upset at the world. But once you just started to have the conversation, then I was able to find a lot of the times that you could teach people a way to maybe adjust what they're doing, or help them just understand the issue in a bigger picture. So that led me to think, wow, we just don't talk about it enough. So then combined with me always researching it and wanting to tell my wife about it and tell other people about money. I was like, wow, people need to hear about this topic. So then I started my podcast.

Melissa Ebken  3:45  
Well, that sounds great. What an interesting story. What was it like working at the call center?

Skyler Fleming  3:51  
It was busy. It was definitely busy. There were seasons where it wouldn't be busy. But then Christmas would come around. And really it was really the school year was when it was busy summertime, it wouldn't be as busy. But working at the call center always busy. I loved being a supervisor there because even though most people would probably say I don't want to take any of those angry calls. Those ones were the most fun. Those are the challenging situations where you had to really stretch your mind about how you're going to make the system work both for the business and for the person who you're helping over the phone. But those escalated and angry or bigger situation calls were the most fun to handle.

Melissa Ebken  4:26  
And it sounds like you have a real knack for that.

Skyler Fleming  4:29  
Yeah, I love problem solving. That's That's my go to. Problem solving and building systems to help people out so it was fun.

Melissa Ebken  4:36  
Well, let's talk about a little what if scenario, if you don't mind? Yeah. Okay, what if a family has a little bit of credit card debt, a little bit of student loan debt, and a mortgage. Everything else is okay. They're paying their bills on time. How would you encourage them to what kind of financial plan would you encourage them to have? Do pay off the credit card debt first, the student loans. And let's put a pin in anything happening through the laws and forgiveness and anything of that nature.

Skyler Fleming  5:11  
Yeah, there's always unknowns there. But I guess I would just start with, I always start with the basics, because I think that's where there's always a lot of room to be made up. There's always a lot of places where people just like I've said, don't talk about it, they don't know that there's a different budgeting strategy other than figuring out where every single dollar is going in that overwhelming fashion of sitting down for a month for multiple hours. They don't know that there's faster, simpler strategies, they don't know that there's strategies to build on paying off your credit cards, they don't know like those simple strategies. So I would start and say, hey, let's look at your goals. Do you want to be out of credit card debt? Or is there something maybe more super near term that you're focusing on? Because maybe you don't want to change your whole financial life because you're going on a vacation in two weeks? And you don't want to cancel that. So let's maybe like, let's be realistic about it, I think that's the best way to start with looking at situations like that, and then set those expectations as a group and work through that. 

Melissa Ebken  6:01  
So what are a few different strategies? Is that something you talk about? Or is that something reserved for when you work with clients individually?

Skyler Fleming  6:09  
Yeah, we definitely get into the strategies on my podcast, we get into those debt payoff strategies, like the Snowball, or Avalanche Method, and things like that. But a couple of the strategies as far as some of the basic things, it's making sure that you have direct deposit setup, and that it's set up in a way that helps you which means usually setting it up so some of it goes to a savings account, it's very easy for your HR department to do that. And then you're immediately knocking out that first step of saving some money, you can always get the money later, if worst comes to worst. But one of my favorite books is the Automatic Millionaire, which talks about how once you start making that money go to places automatically, you're going to figure out how to live on the rest of it. Your lifestyle is going to be fine, it's gonna adjust, and you're not even gonna miss it. So honestly, aim for those higher savings targets right when your paycheck comes to you. That way, it's getting directed to a savings account immediately. And then you start looking at things like budgeting the 50-30-20 one is one of my favorite things to tell people about. It's where I can't remember the specifics specifics, but 50% goes to one bucket 30% to another 20% to another, I want to say it's like 50% to, I don't know, its needs, wants and bills, or something like that, I can't remember it off the top of my head. Sorry about that. But there's like specific strategies like that, that are a whole lot simpler. And you can even tell your HR department do 50% of this account 30% of this account, 20% of this count. And then your budgets done for you automatically. So I'd say like, look at those steps between your paycheck getting from your employer to you.

Melissa Ebken  7:37  
I didn't know that was I don't have an HR department, I'm self employed, but wow, what a bonus. And HR departments are generally willing to do that?

Skyler Fleming  7:48  
Yeah, I would, I would say every every company I've ever worked for in the past 10-15 years or whatever, has always had some sort of payroll form that you can fill out where it says, Write in your direct deposit account and routing number and then you write how much wants to go there. And if you only list one, they're going to put 100% there. But if you were to list multiple accounts, you could list a specific amount, like $200 per paycheck, or a percentage. So it's the same way, it was like a 401k form where you put it in a percentage of your income that you want to go to that account. 

Melissa Ebken  8:18  
Well, that's fantastic. What a great strategy. And like you said, you adjust. If you have a little less, you just adjust you cut a little bit here a little bit there. And generally you don't notice that so much.

Skyler Fleming  8:33  
Yeah, and it happens in the same way, when you get raises, like the whole premise behind lifestyle inflation is that you just keep growing your lifestyle to fit your income. So if you're shrinking your income a little bit, then you're just going to naturally adjust your lifestyle to shrink to fit that. And then you're going to be fine once you realize and get into the process of talking to your employer about their 401 K plan and talking to your co workers on how they're investing in the 401k. When you have that money automatically going there, and your lifestyle is adjusted down and then suddenly, years down the road, you're finding your 401k has a ton of money in it, because you just kind of forgot about it. And then you maybe you can vamp up your lifestyle a little bit. It's just, it's really fun when you start looking at ways to I guess, make your paycheck automatic and optimize from that aspect.

Melissa Ebken  9:18  
And you don't have to have the willpower or the discipline with that method. It's already taken care of. And like you said, if a rainy day comes or something, the money's there and it's yours, you can get it. But you don't have to do the willpower game or the discipline game. It's just already done.

Skyler Fleming  9:35  
Yeah. How much harder is it for you? Like, I'll give you a hypothetical here. Let's say you get $1,000 bonus. And if that money isn't automatically being diverted places, what's the first thing you want to do with that? $1,000?

Melissa Ebken  9:47  
Well, I want to pay off any debt first. That's always my go to I don't know if that's the best thing or not, but I don't know if I should invest it first. But generally if there's any kind of debt, then that's my first priority.

Skyler Fleming  10:01  
Yeah, so that's a priority in your mind. Oftentimes, people, they'll everyone will have different priorities. So for me, I'm so focused on money, it's going to be some sort of investment or debt payments. Give it to someone else or put it in account. I don't know, there can be a lot of variations on that. But like you said, you remove that mental bandwidth that that takes out of the picture. If things are automatically set up to happen, automation is one of my favorite topics to talk about because so many people don't know the simple steps that you can take that really helps us reduce your mental strain when it comes to money.

Melissa Ebken  10:32  
Well, when you have small children, that you're in charge of bandwidth is a real thing. When you have one less decision, even if it seems so minor, it can be major when you are just overwhelmed with decisions all day long. And not only for people that take care of children, but there are a lot of people out there with professions that demand a lot of decision making. Having less of those and capitalizing see how I use that word there boy, capitalizing on the best strategies, that sounds like a win.

Skyler Fleming  11:07  
Yeah, keep it simple, I think. I think that's really a lot of what I like to talk about is keep the strategy simple. Don't overwhelm yourself with which stocks do I have to pick today. Don't overwhelm yourself with trying to optimize every little detail, just start simple, start small, get that ball rolling. And then eventually, if you want to, you can take those steps to further optimize. Or maybe then you're good. Like, once you set up those simple steps and just have conversations with some friends about I'm drowning in credit card debt, how how do you guys manage your credit cards, and then maybe you realize four or five other friends also have a ton of credit card debt. And that makes you feel less stressed about it, or maybe less judged, because you realize more people are dealing with it. But talking about that sort of stuff can be a little tricky, right out the gate, because it is kind of the conversation that carries a lot of weight. But there might be the one friend in there that says, Yeah, I spend credit cards, but or I spend with credit cards, but I use all my points for all my free travel. And that flips a switch in your head that says I want to learn how to do that. So that begins your journey of getting out of debt and understanding how to use that better just from a simple conversation about credit cards. So I would say just start with little conversations around like some of those financial pain points or curiosities in your life.

Melissa Ebken  12:17  
Now back to automations, we can automate how the money comes to us from our employer, we can automate you know, bills that we pay monthly, what other automations are out there and available? 

Skyler Fleming  12:29  
Yeah, those are the main ones I think that are so important is automating where your paychecks going, and then automating your bills like it, especially if you're to a point where you're not living paycheck to paycheck. Like don't worry about if you paid your credit card bill or something like that, like if you know, you can pay it set up that automatic payment. Other automations, this is one that I did an episode a couple of months ago about with someone who's really, really focused in on this more than I am. A couple other ways you can automate, there's a couple of awesome tools out there for automatic investing, like M1 finance is a popular one where you just put the money in the account, it buys everything for you, you just set it up once and kind of forget it. Other things to automate. I don't know I'm a huge spreadsheet nerd. So I like having that sort of stuff automated. But that's maybe a little more detailed than I usually go into unless someone really specifically asked. But I'd say there's really countless ways. Think of a task that you do often, which most of the time for people with money with managing bills and managing where their money is like going, like budgeting and things like that. So if you can figure out ways to automate that, that I think really, you're going to be fine. 

Melissa Ebken  13:36  
Now, I've seen products like acorns, that takes 10 bucks a week or a month or whatever amount of time you set up and just invest that. And it happens automatic, you don't have to think about it. What's your take on those types of services?

Skyler Fleming  13:50  
Yeah, I'd say give them a shot. Like, if you're not investing anything, then it's probably a good place to start. Absolutely like, look at those services that make your life a little bit simpler and watch two or three YouTube videos. Reach out to maybe one of them and say, Hey, what's your thoughts on this? And then just give it a shot. I would say, if you're testing tools like that, test it with limited mindset, like only for the short term kind of thing, don't plan to move your entire financial life over there because of this one little feature they have. But I always say like give those kinds of tools a shot, because you might find out wow, this is exactly what I needed. This kind of round up my dollar round up my transaction to the nearest dollar and invest that is just enough to get me started. But now I'm more interested in the rest of the investing landscape. So I think those tools are great for starting money talks and for starting conversations around how are you investing because yeah, you take what you just said, of what your guys's thoughts about these tools where it's rounding up my purchase and you ask your friends that and then you guys have a real good conversation about investing and maybe you learned something new there.

Melissa Ebken  14:53  
That's fantastic. I hear a pattern here of talking to friends.

Skyler Fleming  14:57  
Yes, talk to friends, talk to spouses, talk to family members, I would say the easiest one to talk to is going to be friends because money can be a really tricky topic in families. So I would say start with friends that you're closer to with your money conversations.

Melissa Ebken  15:12  
So what other general advice would you offer for folks that say, you're just getting to a point where you're out of school. You're starting out and you don't have a lot of responsibility yet. How do you begin a responsible relationship with your money? 

Skyler Fleming  15:32  
Yeah, I would say my first like foundational advice is make sure you have at least like one month's worth of pay in your bank account. Because what that allows you to do, is one of my favorite strategies to teach, like, all my family and friends is budget based on last month's income. So to explain specifically, how it works is my wife and I will get our paychecks, and we do nothing with them, they just go into like our general savings account. And then at the end of the current month that we receive those paychecks, we'll say, okay, what are we looking to spend over the next month, but we'll limit ourselves to only be able to budget, that amount we got paid. So that way, your paychecks are sitting in your account for two to four weeks at a max, but you're not even touching them. So you're almost living kind of like a month behind your paychecks. But that allows you so much flexibility in the fact that we're receiving our utility bills and things like that. And we're like, Okay, this is how much it is great. Like, you just subtract that out of the amount that you got paid last month, and you don't even worry about it as much, because you have that little bit of flexibility. And then from there, look at ways you can cut down on spending, start tracking things as essentially, you don't necessarily have to budget every dollar. But I would say start at least with tracking your expenses, so you can understand where your money is actually going.

Melissa Ebken  16:45  
Now, my husband and I were gifted a CD many years ago when we first got married. And it wasn't a huge amount, but it was a substantial amount. And so we just left that CD with a local bank. Because we can get a loan anytime we need it with that CD. And it's, I think two percentage points above the CD. And that's been a really useful tool for us knowing that, okay, if we don't like to take out loans, we prefer to save and then buy. But you know, sometimes life gets random, and you got to do what you got to do. And knowing that that's there has been a real boon for us. But also say, well, you're silly for having that in a CD, you should invest it somewhere else.

Skyler Fleming  17:32  
I think that's the fun thing, though. For like personal finance, it starts with the word personal for a reason. Because for my wife and I, we the last couple of years, or the last year, she's been in PA school. So that's a big expense that's coming up; student loans and things like that, that we're dealing with. And for me, it's not as closely tied to who I am for her the student loan debt is her education. It's her career like it is who kind of who she is right now, because of the student loan debt. So for me, I'm saying, wow the student loan payments are coming around, lets make sure we only have enough to pay the minimum payments, because we'll be fine. Your salary is going to be fine. But for her, she expressed to me no, we need to get out of this debt. Because that to me, that feels like I have to work as long as we have that debt, because we've talked about maybe taking turns working and staying home with kids and things like that. So like the personal part is, for us, it's going to be paying off this debt earlier. For some people, it's going to be investing your maximum amount of money and paying minimum payments on things. For you guys, it's keeping that CD as that emergency fund, so to speak for a loan on it. 

Melissa Ebken  17:37  
Yeah, and I like how there's not just a right answer, there's a right answer for you. Or maybe even a better answer is way of saying it instead of the way.

Skyler Fleming  18:46  
Yeah, an optimal for yourself kind of thing.

Melissa Ebken  18:48  
Yeah. Now, on your website, you have some fantastic freebies. I liked and people can go there, they can give you their email address and sign up for these things. The seven money talking points guide. So it's you're not good about talking about things. This looks really promising. And the other the six behavioral finance tips. Those are actionable steps that one can take to be in a healthier place financially. Can you tell us a little bit about those and how they are others?

Skyler Fleming  19:26  
Yeah, thank you for bringing those up. And you don't have to give me your email to sign up for it. So if you're tired of like giving email or giving your email away, you can just click the little X on the pop up and then still access the document. But I think the whole point behind the seven money talking points is that it's so essential for us to get talking about money. I wanted to maybe I think every personal finance podcast has their seven to 10 steps for a better financial life kind of thing. There's the baby steps. There's the financial order of operations and all those sorts of things. And I wanted to maybe shift that through a lens of how do you actually start talking about those whether you're single or in a relationship like, what are the some of the main questions that you can ask about how to invest? I have a couple things on there. What will you do in emergencies? That's the really everyone's first step in their steps to a better financial life is build your emergency fund. So this having a conversation around it, for my wife, and I, it's, well, we can keep a leaner emergency fund, because we have savings in other places. For someone, it's, we need to make sure we have a healthy emergency fund, because we have six kids, and there's always an emergency going on. So it's just these topics and questions that are gonna help you maybe find that optimal strategy for yourself. So there's ones of how am I making money? How am I spending money? How am I saving money? Do I want to pay off all my debt? What do I want my retirement to look like? And what are my big money goals? So it kind of walks people through just a different perspective of those common seven to 10 steps that everyone shares of ways to optimize your finances.

Melissa Ebken  20:56  
Well, and I know within five minutes of us concluding this conversation today, I'm going to have a printed out copy of that for myself. Well, thank you. Thank you for putting that together. I know that it's a critical time to have these conversations when people are dating. People that have never been married, that are young and are dating need to have money conversations. People that are divorced, and dating, it's hard having money conversation, but it is so important. Because if you're going to have a long term relationship with someone whether you're married or not, their relationship to money is going to have a huge impact on your life.

Skyler Fleming  21:36  
Absolutely, yeah, it's so important to talk about it. It's one of those things that impacts every aspect of our lives. Like money is going to touch everything you do in some way or another whether you think it will or won't, unless you're like completely off the grid, or something like that. Money is going to impact what you're doing, whether it's having to stay at work, because you need a paycheck to provide, or whether it's getting to travel because you were optimal about your savings and things like that. It's going to touch everything.

Melissa Ebken  22:02  
Skyler, it's clear that this is one of your core values the responsible stewardship of resources, particularly of money, but I'm guessing that that spills out over other areas of your life. So how else does this tie into your core values?

Skyler Fleming  22:20  
Yeah, I mean, that one specifically, I think I've found myself wanting to do the best I can with money so it bleeds over to things like I don't know, recycling and being like a good member of the community and things like that, which is just fun to get involved in. Because when you start having conversations with people around those sorts of things, then things get fun. When you're doing projects together, you're helping people locally and things. Really one of the main things I've learned is just start talking about things with people. It's the best way to like, get something done, obviously, like just have a conversation, ask people questions to say, oh, how do you how do you like this part of your job? And then you really get to understand them a little bit more. So I would say it bleeds over into just being more open and willing to have like interesting conversations with people, which turns out to just be really fun for me.

Melissa Ebken  23:03  
Oh, yeah. And you never know what you might learn about another person that way. So Skyler, what else would you like to leave with our listeners today? 

Skyler Fleming  23:12  
Yeah, well, this has been super fun. So I'm glad I got to come on here. This has been super awesome to sit here and talk about money for a little bit. So I would say go check out my website. It's just Skylerfleming.com you can also find it at moneytalk.Skylerfleming.com My podcast is Money Talk with Skyler Fleming. All my links are always in the show notes to be able to contact me. And on the website, there's a Contact Us page. So social media, same thing, Money Talk with Skyler Fleming wherever you'd like to find me. 

Melissa Ebken  23:39  
And those links are also in the show notes of this episode. And Skyler, I do know that you take individual clients in a coaching type relationship. So if someone is really stuck, and wanting some guidance, there's an opportunity there to reach out to you as well.

Skyler Fleming  23:54  
Yeah, and I always have, my door is open for a free consultation. So I'm always happy to take some questions and answer those. Plus I love to talk to people on my podcast. So if someone has some interesting, interesting money stories, I'd love to interview them on those sorts of things.

Melissa Ebken  24:07  
Cool. All right. Thank you for joining us today Skyler and talking about this uncomfortable topic very comfortably. 

Skyler Fleming  24:16  
Yeah. Thank you.

🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶