Momentum Series Interview – Method To Your Money: Financial Inspiration For Adults And Youth
This marks feature #23 in the Momentum Series – an interview series to share the stories of bloggers from across the personal finance community.
The goal is to showcase their story, the wins, the losses and the actionable advice that others can take value from and insights about their blogging journey. Whether that be conquering debt, maximizing career earnings, the road to financial independence or other strategies for financial and blogging success.
This week I’m excited to welcome Matt from the personal finance blog Method To Your Money to the Momentum Series.
Matt, a fellow Canadian, is a teacher and Assistant Principal with a passion for personal finance. Today, Matt shares his financial journey, top money resources, teaching kids about money, family finances, blogging experiences and more.
If you want to connect with Matt:
Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Matt! Here is the Momentum Series Interview – Method To Your Money: Financial Inspiration For Adults And Youth.
Hey all, my name is Matt Matheson. What can I tell you about myself that would be interesting…well, I’m married, and I have to say, I married up. My wife is amazing. We have two awesome kids, Gemma who’s 5 and Major who’s 2. They keep us hopping.
I’m a bit of a sports fanatic. I love hockey (I am Canadian after all), and my ideal evening consists of a cold drink, warm pizza, my wife and I cuddled up on a comfy couch, and my Oilers crushing whoever they’re playing.
When I’m not putting band-aids on cuts and scrapes, or training our little guy to use the potty (he’s doing well, but we’ve still got a few rough edges we’re working on) I love writing about money at methodtoyourmoney.com.
I write for people who want to be intentional with how they handle their money, and are tired of just drifting through life. I also strive to help parents strategically teach their kids to be money savvy, and to live life like a financial rockstar.
I went to school for a long time, but I have to say, it was all worth it! I have a Bachelors of Science and Bachelors of Education and a Masters of Education. Hey, what can I say? I love to learn!
I’m just starting my 13th year as a teacher and my 6th as an Assistant Principal. I’ve been in schools from K-9 and this year I even get to teach a bit of grade 1 in my role! It should be pretty exciting, although managing 25 of the little ones can be a bit like herding cats.
Has taking control of your money and mastering your personal finances always been your mindset as an adult? Can you share the coles notes version of your financial journey?
Ok, coles notes, here we go…
My parents have always been decent with money. We never had tons of it growing up, so they budgeted and used the envelope system. I would say they had some of the basics down, but they lacked in knowledge when it came to investing or growing their money.
I picked up a lot of their money habits, and since I’m not a huge spender, I kind of just cruised through my early adult years on financial cruise control.
I lived at home while I went to university so I didn’t have massive student loan debt. And I drove beater cars so I avoided car payments.
But avoiding these financial pitfalls was in part due to dumb luck. I spent less than I made because I was single and had a decent job, and because I wasn’t a spender, I was able to avoid credit card debt.
But I certainly didn’t do anything to grow my money, beside opening a cursory mutual fund (which I bought from an advisor and had no idea how much it was costing me).
When I got engaged, my wife asked me to learn more about personal finance since we’d be managing our money together. I dove in head first and found that I had a real passion for it.
As soon as we started acting intentionally in really taking our finances seriously, we started WINNING with money!! It was awesome! We paid off a couple of new cars that we had foolishly bought before we got married. We started socking money away judiciously for our retirment. We automated our finances to ensure that giving and saving always happened before we spent. And when we had kids we started saving for their college.
In short, we got control of our money, and it felt great!
What strategies and tactics have you implemented in your to life to best set you up for financial success?
Well, this is going to sound pretty simple, but then, personal finance really isn’t all that complicated.
First, we budget. We sit down every month and talk through how we want to spend our money. We decide what our priorities are, and how we’re going to pay for them. We use envelopes, both oldschool and digital ones, to make sure we don’t over spend.
In addition to budgeting, my wife and I talk openly about our hopes and dreams in the long term for our money, and about the shorter term goals we’d like to reach.
And finally, we automate our savings. I don’t even THINK about saving money.
Why? Because if I did, I probably wouldn’t do it! It’s hard losing a big chunk of your paycheck each month, which is why most people don’t do it.
By automating our savings, I’ve taken psychology completely out of the equation, so I don’t even get a chance to change my mind.
Have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
Uh, yup! I’ve made A LOT. Among my finer moments were buying a new car, investing in Iraqi Dinar, and purchasing a Caribbean cruise over the phone from a telemarketer.
Not my proudest moments.
I detailed what I learned in my in depth post 3 Dumb Things I’ve Done With Money (And One I Narrowly Avoided). Suffice it to say, I only buy used cars now (when you understand the math, it just makes sense), I’m now the world’s most boring investor (couch potato much??!!) and I don’t buy things from telemarketers anymore ;).
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
Yes, definitely. One area I’d really like to improve in and learn more about it is detailed financial planning. I feel like I’ve got the basics down. We spend less than we make, we give, and we invest. I’d like to learn more about how all of those things can work together most efficiently with insurance, taxes, estate planning, etc.
If you could send a memo to every 18-22 year old in North America about better managing their finances and understanding money but it could only be 3 sentences long, what would that memo be?
Give generously. Save automatically. Spend wisely.
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
Three books laid the foundation for where we’re at with our finances.
First, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Love him or hate him, Dave gives common sense financial advice that connects with real people. We’re huge fans.
Second would be The Millionaire Next Door. This book provided a seismic shift to my thinking about what it means to be “rich”. Where I used to look at a guy in a flashy suit and nice car and feel jealous, I now look and wonder how much debt he’s in. It’s chock full of data and research that will show you what it looks like to be truly rich.
And finally, Millionaire Teacher. Sure, as a teacher the title definitely sucked me in, but as I devoured this book I was most struck by the case it made for index investing. It kickstarted my research into the best way to invest and after TONS of hours of reading, I settled on indexing as my preferred choice.
The Dave Ramsey Show – Yes, it can get a bit repetitive, but what can I say? Not only is it entertaining, as a newbie to the world of personal finance, it was incredibly informative.
ChooseFI – The guys at Choose FI always have interesting guests and unique perspectives on all things personal finance. Love the hot seat questions and hearing what everyone else is reading and listening to!
This is going to sound horrible, but I wouldn’t say I’ve got any one or two blogs that have been more influential than others. I love reading other people’s perspectives on money and seeing how they approach things. I follow a TON of people on Twitter and love seeing their articles pop up into my feed. So many great writers and so little time!
Apps or Services
Probably my favorite money app is the EveryDollar budgeting app. It is so easy to use and has KILLER functionality. Whenever I need to enter a purchase, I no longer need to keep the receipt. I just enter it on the fly and I’m good to go. Sync’s beautifully with the online version and makes budget meetings much more efficient.
Are you able to share some of the experiences and successes you’ve had bringing personal finance education into the classroom?
I have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a personal finance class to my 5th and 6th graders. What started as an idea to bring some more money themed questions into math class ended up being a class of its own.
My classes dreamed about what it would look like to be a millionaire, how they could choose a career wisely, how to spend like a savvy consumer, and how to be extravagantly generous.
The class even spawned an entrepreneurial club where students started their own business, designed advertising, bought inventory and sold their products, and presented at a local showcase for other young entrepreneurs.
In short, it has been AMAZING!!
What’s the mindset around “saying yes” to your kids about buying things and financial lessons you’re looking to instill?
The basic mindset is that I want to teach my kids that when it comes to money, it’s all about making choices.
When they ask if we can buy them something, like a lollipop or a toy, I want them to know that we can, so I ALWAYS say YES!! More than likely, we HAVE the money to buy it so I never tell them we don’t or that we can’t afford it.
Rather, I want them to know that we CHOOSE not to spend our money on that particular item.
It’s not because we’re cruel or are trying to crush our kids. No, it’s because I want them to see us modelling what it means to spend wisely and to have to make choices when it comes to spending money. People who try to have it all, all at once, well they get themselves in lots of trouble.
With our guidance, and a healthy dose of grace, our kids will avoid getting into that hot water.
Can you explain the fun ratio as a scale for value evaluation?
The fun ratio is a way to determine if something is worth the money you’re paying for it. Whether it’s a toy, vacation, concert, or something else, it’s really pretty simple:
- Determine how many hours a particular item or experience provides fun.
- Divide that number by the amount you paid for it.
Here’s an example to so you can see it in action.
Let’s say your child has a video game they paid $50 for. Estimate how many hours they’ve had fun playing it, in this case let’s say 20 hours. Then do the following simple math:
10 hours/$50 = 0.2 hours of fun/$
On the other hand, maybe there’s $100 puppy robot that your child rarely plays with, maybe only 2 hours since you bought it for them for Christmas. In this case, here’s the math:
2 hours/$100 = 0.02 hours of fun/$
In this case, the money would be better spent on the video game.
But it also works for items that are very expensive, but provide A LOT of fun!!
In our house, we have a backyard playground we paid about $400 for. Our kids play on it a lot, let’s say for 100 hours.
100 hours/$400 = 0.25 hours of fun/$
Here, even though the playground costs a lot of money, it provides more value when it comes to having fun than the cheaper video game does.
At the end of the day, it’s all about getting kids (and adults) to think about how they spend their money and to do so more intentionally.
Are there some core principles you’re hoping to instill with your own children about money and personal finances?
Absolutely there are. And I can boil them down to the same points I’d pass on to an 18-22 year old.
First, I want our kids to be incredibly generous. When we’re generous, we control our money and it doesn’t control us. I can’t think of a better financial gift to give our kids.
Second, our kiddos are learning what it means to save before spending. If they make saving an automatic habit that takes place before they start spending up a storm, they’re going to be financial superheroes.
And finally, I want our children to be savvy spenders. Spending money is fun. It’s actually AWESOME when you spend on things that have true value. Our kids are learning that money can be used to do a lot of fun stuff, to bring joy into their lives and the lives of others, and to just plain enjoy life. I don’t want them to feel guilty spending. Rather, It’s my hope that they would be wise in how they spend and fully enjoy the things that money can buy.
When did you first start blogging? Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
I started blogging in October of 2017, even though I didn’t post until November. Before I was ready to hit the publish button on my first post, I did a lot of research on the nuts and bolts of how to start a blog.
I knew nothing. I literally googled “how to start a blog”.
After getting my site to the point of minimal embarrassment (I’ve since redone my site) I launched! It was all very exciting.
As a teacher, I’ve always had a passion for leading and guiding people as they learn. As I grew in my love of personal finance, it was pretty natural for me to want to start teaching others all I was learning.
I kicked around the idea of doing live seminars, which I have done, but in the end I thought a blog would be a great way to share what I was learning and to learn from others also on the journey to financial freedom.
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with Method To Your Money?
I don’t have anything written down, which I should. I know that you’re much more likely to accomplish your goals if they are in writing.
With that said, my mission with Method To Your Money is to teach adults the methods and mindset to win with money, and for them to pass those on to their kids using intentional, research backed techniques.
In fact, that mission is one of the reasons that I’m working on a course right now to help equip and support parents in teaching their kids about money.
As a parent and a teacher, It’s something that I’m intensely passionate about and want to see for all families.
Do you have any specific goals with your blog(s) over the next 12 months? What tactics are you planning to leverage to accomplish these?
One of my biggest goals is to complete designing my course and to launch it. I’m working super hard to build something that parents will love, kids will engage with and learn from, and that can pass on foundational money principles to the next generation.
I’ve also been working super hard on growing my traffic. To be honest, it’s been an uphill battle. I’m been developing SEO friendly content, growing my Pinterest game, and guest posting as much as I can!
I really want to get to 25,000 sessions/month to get on Mediavine. It seems so far away, but I’m sticking with it! Little increases in growth at the beginning will eventually explode as the power of compounding takes over!!
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Making Momentum readers to check out, what would those be?
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
Nope, I think I’ve probably already said way too much!!
Any special shoutouts?
Shoutout to Scott, for letting me be a part of the Momentum Series!! Thanks!!