Skip the New Year’s Resolutions & Set Goals Instead

New Year’s resolutions don’t work, it’s a proven fact. So why would you waste time or energy making resolutions? I’ve got a better plan I’m going to share with you in today’s episode.

According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.  And, in a poll that was taken in 2017, 53% of people said their resolution was to save money and 45% was to lose weight and get in shape while 25% of people said they just wanted to have more sex. Ok, well those aren’t bad resolutions, right. But they don’t stick.

So what can you do – you’ve got to have a different plan for success – and it’s not about resolutions it’s about action.

new year's resolutions, goal setting

What You’ll Learn

  • How to relax into the new year without a laundry list of resolutions
  • Why resolutions don’t work
  • How to set goals and make an action plan that will work
  • How to embrace you in the new year
  • Why you should be thankful for the past and move on


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Investing Trends to Follow for 2020 (with Michele Schneider)

I’m so excited to have back on the show our resident investing guru Michele Schneider. She’s sharing 9 investing megatrends that you need to know for 2020 and a whole lot of investing info to help you know where to put your money next year.

You might remember Michele who wrote the book Plant your Money Tree and was on an earlier episode this year. I’m so in love with her book – I keep it as one of my staples on my nightstand and come back to when I need a good investing refresher. What I love about Michele and her advice is that she talks to us like we’re human and really explains the complex terms.

Well, she’s back on this episode to talk about investing megatrends like cannabis, bitcoin, the international markets, streaming services, gold, sugar, and so much more. Basically, if you plan to invest either directly in the stock market or through a 401(k), IRA, or Roth, I’ll give you a gentle nudge to pay attention to Michele’s thoughts on some of these megatrends.


What You’ll Learn

  • The 9 investing megatrends Michele says you need to pay attention to
  • How to spot a megatrend
  • How to research a megatrend
  • How to think about investing past your 401(k) and IRA
  • Michele scoops her upcoming book



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Why You Should Bank with a Credit Union (with Tamar Atamian)

If you’ve never taken a look at a credit union, now is the time. A credit union a cooperative banking system meaning they exist literally to give back to their members. Get this, there are over 9,000 credit unions in the U.S. One of the things that makes me so excited is that credit unions are non-profits. They pass profits back to members in terms of lower fees and better rates.

You may remember Tamar Atamian, VP of Marketing and Advertising from Wescom Credit Union, from an episode in October, and we’re back for part 2 to help you fall in love with credit unions and uncover why credit unions might just be better than banks.

credit union

What You’ll Learn

  • What is a credit union
  • What makes credit unions different from traditional banks
  • How credit unions pass profits back to members
  • How  you can join Wescom credit union
  • Why credit unions like Wescom give back to the community
  • How to find and join a credit union



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Episode Transcript

Shannah Game 0:00
Hey, Friends Shannah here and today we’re talking about the magical wonderful world of credit unions with our friend Tamar who’s the VP of Marketing from Wescom credit union. I admit I didn’t know a lot about credit unions before we spoke, but I think I’ve turned into one of the biggest champions. In fact, tomorrow things credit unions are indeed better than banks. So stay tuned for all the scoops.

Unknown Speaker 0:32
millennial money with Shannah Game

Unknown Speaker 0:37
it will expand your brain.

Shannah Game 0:45
So get this credit unions are a cooperative banking system that means that they exist literally to give back to their members or customers if you will. And there are over 9000 credit unions in the US I actually had no idea

about that. But I think one of the things that makes me so excited like giddy child excitement when you open up a president on your birthday, you know that feeling is that credit unions are nonprofits. So what that means is they pass profits back to members in terms of lower fees, better rates, like all the things that you actually care about. And I can’t tell you how many times someone emails me saying that their bank, either charge them some crazy fee they weren’t supposed to pay or how they feel like they’re just a number of their bank. And they really want to find someplace where they can put their money where they feel like a human and feel like people care about them. So you may remember Tamar from an episode we did in October, and we’re back for part two, to help you really fall in love with credit unions because I actually really want to love my bank. I know that sounds crazy, so not in a weird way but in a really good way. I want to feel really comfortable with where I put my

Money and learning about credit unions have really opened my eyes. So I can’t wait for you to hear the power of credit unions and maybe even to get you thinking about your own relationship with your bank. And really what kind of relationship you do actually want to have.

So Tamar, I feel like we’re old friends now. Welcome back to the second podcast episode.

Tamar 2:25
Thank you for having me.

Shannah Game 2:27
And we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into into credit unions. You know,  we talked a little bit on the first episode that we did together. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it. But up until even just a few years ago, I myself didn’t really know the benefit of credit unions. I thought, well, you’re just a bank like any other bank, how in the world can you possibly be that special? But credit unions are very different, aren’t they? Right?

Tamar 2:54
Credit unions are very different than a bank.

We’re like a bank, but better

Shannah Game 3:01
That is the slogan, that’s the T-shirt.

Tamar 3:05
So credit unions, in general, I think so, structurally, we are not for profit and any profit we do make as an organization, we pass back to our members who are our shareholders in the form of better rates, lower fees, discounts, etc. So, you know, whereas, or profit organization pays dividends out to their shareholders, we pay our dividends to our members in the form of better rates. So, in general, credit unions are structured differently and for-profit, right so, I would imagine like as a customer, you have this different feel because like we saw on the first episode we did that somebody will come into Wescom that like a birthday or a celebration, people working here will know about it.

And so I would imagine like for a customer like you just the feeling that you get is probably this it really does feel a little bit moral I mean, just cheesy but yeah, like a family kind of hit you because it truly you belong to a credit union right and, and just you know, I talked to structurally but we’re member first just given the way we operate and, and that really translates all the way through to our team members as they interact with our members. And so we live it we breathe it in member first and our you know, our purpose is to build better lives to help be your partner in achieving your financial dreams. And so, you know, it’s at the very founding principle and structurally for us

But it’s carried through with every interaction. And so when you even when you step into the branch, we really make it an effort to get to know you, and help, you know, partner and make sure we’re providing you the service and meeting your needs.

Shannah Game 5:13
And so I know you’ve been here for like 13 years, and you kind of have risen up the ranks. Did you know a lot about credit us before you started here?

Tamar 5:22
Actually, no, I’d have to admit that I myself did not know. And so we joke and say best-kept secret.

Um, and, you know, when I was interviewing, and I got called for my interview, I, you know, decided to do some research and I realized, wait a minute, I’ve been banking where like, how did I not know about a credit union? And really, there’s this misconception that you have to belong to some employer group. Yeah, I was going to ask you to open an account right. So you have to belong to the teachers or be a teacher in the or administrative or

faculty to open an account but with Wescom, we’re unique in the sense that we’re community-based. So we serve Southern California, which means anyone in Southern California can open an account so and so you don’t necessarily have to belong to a specific employer group to be a member of the credit. Interesting.

Shannah Game 6:20
Yeah, I was going to ask you because I always had this idea that Yeah, I had to be in this like, specific niche or, you know, somehow or you don’t qualify.

Tamar 6:28
Exactly. And then you sort of feel like you got left out of the party. Yeah. So it’s good to know.

Shannah Game 6:33
And then, you know, I’m curious, just even about, like credit unions in general, because I know a lot of our listeners kind of all around the US, you know, have access to lots of different credit unions, and maybe they, they, they don’t know, you know, other than like structural wise, like, what are some of the features that credit unions even in general just kind of offer you that are different than so it’s all the conveniences and products and services that you would

find elsewhere.

Tamar 7:04
So whether it’s just really robust online and mobile banking,

I think another misconception is sometimes Oh, my credit unions just a small credit union not going to be they don’t offer check deposit, you know, the ability to be able to deposit my checks remotely from my phone. Right? They can’t feed that technology to me, right? Yeah. Or the other thing is, well, there’s not a branch near me. So it’s not convenient. But one of the nice things about a credit union and we’re, we’re cooperative in nature. And so for example, ATM.

You know, you might not be walking into a branch that often but you’re certainly using your debit card, withdrawing cash from an ATM. Well, for example, at Wescom, you have access to 30,000 ATMs nationwide. And if you just to put that in perspective, at

Maybe another National Bank, their average would be 3000 ATMs may be like the difference right and so what it is cooperatively credit unions come together to share their ATM network so that as a consumer you just have more convenient access so it’s certain things like that like whoa, it is convenient after all.

Shannah Game 8:20
Yeah, cuz I often joke about the like a black hole in your bank account because everybody has like something they spend money on. That’s sort of like the sinkhole where, you know, the bottom just kind of goes out and they don’t know how much they’re actually spending for most people is eating out, right because we don’t like to eat Starbucks does it? Yeah, figure out like how much we’re spending our money on but also find like a trend in ATM fees. Because people are like, well, I don’t really know how to categorize that on my budget. So I just kind of leave that out. But I mean, I’ve seen people who’ve had like, hundreds of dollars a month just in those silly ATM fees.

When you start talking about 30,000 ATMs like I mean, that could be like a sizable. If we’re talking about like people having a tough time being able to save money like I often say it’s all these little, little, little expenses and something like that could be, you know, I mean, because every time I have to go to ATM and I don’t have like, for instance, this is really lame to admit, but when I get my nails done, they don’t take you can’t do a tip unless it’s cash and I’m like this terrible person that cash on me. So they have an ATM there. So I always have to use ATM and me every time I’m like, Okay, I’m good. I’m like this financial person here I am spending $3 and 75 cents right on the stupid ATM fee. And sadly, there’s probably one around the corner that’s got that credit union symbol on it.

Tamar 9:50
Yeah, but yeah, yeah. 30,000 it’s super convenient and easy to find. And so it just saves you money at the end.

Unknown Speaker 9:57
Yeah, right of the day. So

Shannah Game 9:59
And I would imagine maybe this is a credit union theme as well is that you offer a lot of like educational opportunities that are free, which are great because I think then, you know, that allows someone to maybe like a baby step into,

you know, something they want to learn about.

Tamar 10:21
Absolutely. So, really making sure we’re committed to helping you achieve your financial goals. And that’s part of what we do.

So whether it’s buying your first home, your first car, learning how to save for retirement, Social Security, or maybe you have a parent who is about to, you know, enter some like you’ve got to make some living trust decisions, etc. So, throughout all our branches, we do offer free workshops that help address some of these questions. And we bring in the experts and it’s a noncommitment type of thing. It’s come in and just

Start with getting to know the lay of the land and educate yourself and ask the experts who can guide you in the right direction. So we do have those options. And if you can’t make it in a branch, we also offer a free financial website where you can go and just view modules and gain information, watch a quick video

and kind of get ahead your head around some of these financial questions you might have. Right? Yeah, very, very, like friendly for people who don’t want to show their face, right? Yeah.

Shannah Game 11:42
Hey, we’ve got another Ask Shannah. And this one comes from jasmine and Jasmine says I’ve been listening from almost the beginning of the podcast. Thanks so much for the show. Really. You’ve been that little voice in my head through some really tough times in my life. I lost my job last year and had to focus on my

Unknown Speaker 12:00
my thoughts around money for the first time, I listened to your episodes and feel like you were a friend there with me. When I did get a new job I nervously negotiated for a higher salary again, with you in my head. And guess what? I got it. And I gave you a super-secret high five. I give you a lot of super-secret high fives. Actually, you helped me figure out how to afford a wedding with my fiance next year, and what cost to really focus on we’re getting ready to move in together next year and I’m back asking for some advice. I know you’ve done a ton of podcasts on relationships and money, and I’ve been bookmarking them all. But I’m curious. So then I’m going to have some downtime around the holidays. I wanted to ask my fiance some money questions but in a fun way without feeling all stressed out and stuff. Any good conversation starters you could send my way would be awesome. Thanks again so much. I really appreciate the podcast and I’m sure others do as well. Jasmine, you are a rock star. This is such a great question. Thank you so much for really sharing all of that with us. I love that I can be a little voice for you. And the secret high fives are really pretty cool. I think what are we if we can to create a community for each other all of us involved in this show listening to the show. That’s why I love these ask Shawna questions not that I have all the answers, but that we really are creating this community and somebody else out there probably has the same question or is wondering the same thing. So just a gentle reminder to anyone who has a question. Don’t feel shy or embarrassed. There are no bad questions, you can send it in and let us know that you want to keep your name anonymous. That’s perfectly fine. But I think this is how we create community and we can all see that. A lot of these money issues are things we might struggle with our questions we might have. A lot of other people have the exact same question. So we’re not alone in this thing. Okay, Jasmine, so you’re getting married next year, which is awesome. 2020 I think has this to it. So what a great year to have for your wedding and anniversaries. Okay, you asked about conversation starters, those are actually some of my favorites. I’m going to give you some ideas, but I want you to have fun with these talking about money with your partner. It just shouldn’t be hard. And I think a lot of times it does feel hard. I even some of the conversations that I have with Jess they kind of start out little like,

Shannah Game 14:25
and I don’t know what I’m wanting to say or how I want to say it. But I think once you get those words out, then it starts to become easier to do these things. So the hardest part just like anything is starting. It’s that first word. It’s asking that question. It’s suggesting some sort of change whatever it is, that’s always the hardest part. So set the scene however you want to do it could be casual, could be romantic with a beverage at the park with some snacks, bake some cookies. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. So here are some questions. I love these questions I have asked these to not just Jeff, but too many people that I have dated in my past. So these are some fun ones. Okay, the first one is don’t think someone drops a million dollars in your bank account. What’s the first thing you’re going to do? That’s always a fun question. Number two, what would you do if you didn’t have to work for money? That is also a very fascinating and revealing question. Think about that own one for yourself. Number three, what was your very first memory around money? Number four, what is the craziest thing you’ve ever done for money? Number five, if you could describe your money as a superhero, what would it be and why? Number six, you can invest in the hottest stock you have a 60% chance of hitting it big and 40% chance of losing your money.

You choose. Number seven? What is the best purchase you’ve ever made? What is the worst purchase you’ve ever made? Number eight. What is the first lesson you remember around money? And number nine? What role do you want money to play in your life? These are just some examples. Make them your own. Also, I provide transcripts for every episode. You can get a transcript that has all of these questions, so you don’t have to remember them or hit pause constantly. So I’ll make it super easy for you. And if you have an Ask Shannah, jump on over to our website and enter your question right on the homepage, or just click over on the show notes to follow the link. But have fun with these questions. Jasmine, let them be again like just conversation starters. Let them take you wherever they want to go. And the most important thing is not to attach any judgment

Unknown Speaker 17:00
your partner says, let them feel like they can answer these questions however they want. I think that’s really important when we’re talking about relationships and money. So continue being you and I’m so happy that I get to be the little voice for you. Here’s to hoping that someday we actually do get to high five in person.

Unknown Speaker 17:25
Okay, curious because we’re in this, this evolution of banks were particularly a lot of younger people are saying, like, I don’t want to do their traditional bank or I feel like they’re making too much money off of me or whatever it may be. And they’re really looking for different alternatives. And of course, there’s like a rise in the like, financial technology sector of these different like online banks. And I would imagine like credit unions are really sort of in that upswell as well, like, what do you think even the next few years like it’s going to look like for credit unions, are they going to, like evolve, you know, maybe more so so that they can catch that That

Tamar 18:00
That segment, I’d say, you know, speaking from my credit union, you know, really making sure that kind of downplaying some of those taboos that people might have and, and having a better understanding of, you know that innovation is part of your credit union. And

you can offer or find ways to achieve your financial goals, whether it’s through mobile, so making sure that credit unions are, you know, staying up to be with that and sharing that information with their members.

And also, we’re finding a trend that, you know, it’s not just about opening an account to park your money or, you know, get alone but it’s truly finding an organization that like cares about things you care about aligning with your values, and whether it’s a foundation that they might have that gives back to the communities they serve to, you know, maybe they’re helping directly make your life better with your

finances, but also the community you live in because they’re giving and participating in community events and just helping overall. So I think those are kind of the two trends that we’re seeing, especially with our younger consumers and millennials. And I think it’s important for you to ask those questions that your organization to and see if it aligns with your values. And is it? Do they really care about me? Well, yeah, here’s our track record here. All the things they’re doing. Yeah, that’s really smart. Because we don’t ask questions where we, where we put our money, we’re just kind of like, well, we’ll just put it wherever and, and having that that dialogue, I think, I mean, you have the right to have that conversation and you have your voices. So absolutely. ask the questions and make sure it’s, you find the right choice and the smarter, smarter choice for you or the better way to do your banking. So yeah, and you talk about like that community aspect, which I think for a lot of people who are

aren’t enough credit you’re kind of like yeah, yeah, yeah, you know everyone likes to throw away throw around that word, you know, community.

Shannah Game 20:07
But you guys are actually really involved in the community are you can you point to like any examples of different things you’re doing?

Unknown Speaker 20:15
so I’ll give you an example.

Tamar 20:18
Last year alone, we appeared at over 200 community events throughout our specific Southern California communities. And all sorts whether it’s a festival where we pop up and share Wescom kindness and Wescom kindness is, you know, our acts of random kindness in our communities. So we’ve got our community involvement when it comes to the 24 branch locations. Another community that we partner with

faculty and staff and so you know we really partnering and making sure we’re there early on for the students providing financial education giving them the tools they need. And so and then we’ve got our charitable foundation I can’t leave them out so we have our we care Charitable Foundation and our team members give towards the fund and get to come together and decide which non-for-profit organizations we want our dollars to go to and support and was that’s something we’re very proud of as an organization 79% of our employees are donating. That is actually why I am in jeans today so when we collectively hit a certain 75 and above in contributions to we care we get jeans day as an organization to celebrate so also a nice thing for us here so right. Oh, yeah.

Shannah Game 21:55
So then obviously from the employees become part of the giving. Right?

Tamar 22:02
Yeah. And that just helps with like that whole connection piece, I would imagine. Yeah.

Shannah Game 22:07
I’m curious. If someone does belong to a credit union, I would imagine that there are

maybe common threads. Maybe you see this here of

like, people not realizing that you offer certain things, whether its products or services. Are there any, like commonalities that you could point to that maybe somebody that belongs

to your credit union might not realize that a credit union has or does or

Tamar 22:34
let’s see, oftentimes, if you’re not a credit union member, you’re first

Shannah Game 22:39
kind of misconception would be belonging to a certain employer group.

Tamar 22:44
And knowing that there are community-based credit unions like Wescom, that, you know, is so long as you live in the community, yeah, welcome to open an account.

They have free financial seminars and education, as I talked about that’s unique, but even knowing that they do home loans, or maybe they do some pretty cool home loans. So we’ve got some Adjustable Rate options that are pretty unique to us like a 15-year adjustable offer, you know, what is.

So you have an adjustable-rate of 15 years that helps you maybe enjoy a lower rate, right, and then it locks in. And so learning about some, maybe options that are pretty different and unique, and not necessarily offered, you know, across the board at other institutions. Those are kind of neat things to at least our credit union and other options. So for example, we have Insurance Services, we have Investment Services, so it’s truly a full-service experience. It’s not just where I open an account, maybe get an auto loan,

Shannah Game 23:56
right? Yeah. So you should if you belong to a credit union You belong to God, like, you should ask questions,

I mean, that should be part of the process. Even if you’re thinking you’re just going to open a bank account, or maybe you just have a bank account. No questions. Yeah, ask questions. And you know, if you’re in the branch, the staff there and committed to you. So, you know, ask them, Hey, what else do you offer, of course,

Tamar 24:24
and they’ll kind of talk to you specific to your needs. download their mobile app, most patients have the mobile app. So you’ll know there’s one right around the corner. I think you might take for granted that it may be perhaps a credit union could be smaller in scale, and you’re thinking they don’t offer it, but they probably do.

Shannah Game 24:50
Yeah. Are there any since you’re in marketing, are there any like cool tech things that you’re kind of developing for the app?

Tamar 25:00
So we are working on developing our own will not our own but partner. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, just making payments a little easier for you to tap, you know, so pay your friends when you go out where you just transfer the money into, like real-time. Right. So we’re, you know, working hard to get that release for our members. Just cool things on our mobile app, like endlessly security features to I can’t even write a lot of security features, but just facial recognition to log in. You know, are

they cool? Yeah.

Those are like, you know, I would say really cool and just conveniences that just make my life easier. I know I use those things all the time. And then the ATM or I can’t even say how like useful That is right, overall.

Shannah Game 25:45
So I want to ask you kind of like the last question if there is one thing that people should remember about the power of credit unions. What do you think that is?

Tamar 25:57
I’d say as a credit union The cooperative nature of a credit union and the founding principles of just giving back and helping members achieve a better life. I think those are the two things the cooperative nature that makes your life easier. Things like the ATM network being more accessible to you. And then the structural nature of the credit union where they pass back their savings for you in the form of better rates and fees so that, you know, you truly are making a smarter banking decision.

Shannah Game 26:33
Yeah, I love that cooperative. I love that partner. Like that’s a real, that connection, I think is certainly something like, at least in my life at this point, really, value and I would imagine that a lot of other people love that to just feel like they belong somewhere rather than just being this number. Do you know? Yeah, yeah. Well, Tamar, this has been great. Again, I’d love for you to tell listeners where they could go to find out more about Wescom.

Tamar 26:59
Sure. So you can find more information at and Wescom is without at. And then you can also follow us on our social media pages on Instagram or at underscore Wescom. And Facebook at Wescom credit union.

Shannah Game 27:18
The biggest takeaway from this episode, I think is that I can, you should be happy with your bank. It’s so fascinating that we don’t even spend time thinking about the place that we put our money, we just look around, choose some bank, some name that we’re familiar with, and that’s the place we put our money and we’re, of course trusting that they’re doing the best things with our money, that they’re good ethical people and all sorts of things. And I’m not saying that banks are not that way. But I’m definitely excited that people are looking for other alternatives, whether it’s online banks or credit unions, someplace where you just feel like you’re taking care of and you also feel like a person like there are people there to help You with your financial goals. So I think in the words of Marie Kondo, your bank should actually spark joy, you should actually feel really good about them. So if you want to learn more about Wescom credit union, head to, for all the information, you can find all of their locations as well. And hey, thanks so much for checking out this episode. We’re really trying here to just change our language around money to help others unlock the lives they want to live and live it out with purpose. Now that you’re part of this movement, it’s up to all of us to invite others into this journey. So please share this episode with someone you think is really ready to make life changes that they’re never going to look back on. Let’s talk about money, all of us in a good way in a fun way. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode. I’ll see you back here in a few days for a brand new one.

Guide to Hacking Health Insurance (with Ashley Oerman)

You’ve got only a few more days to enroll for open enrollment for health insurance in 2020. However, no matter when you’re listening to this episode, you’re going to love this guide to hacking health insurance with Cosmopolitan Deputy Lifestyle Director Ashely Oerman. Ashley is breaking down what you need to know and how to save some bucks in the process, like her great tip on whether to choose an HMO or PPO (hint, there’s more gems like this one in the episode).

health insurance, saving money

What You’ll Learn

  • How to figure out whether you should have a PPO or an HMO (and Ashley’s $84K trick)
  • What a health savings plan is and why you might want one
  • The biggest lessons Ashley learned putting together her guide to hacking health insurance
  • Tricks to help you save money on your monthly premium
  • Ways to save money on prescription drugs
  • Career and money advice from Ashley



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Have an Ask Shannah question, submit it here

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Episode Transcript

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How to Easily Create a Budget

If you’re like me, budgeting brings up negative emotions and feelings that you shouldn’t spend money on the things you love. This is only one side of the budgeting story. Learning how to create a budget is easier than you think.

What if I told you your budget was the not-so-secret key to achieving your goals? Maintaining and sticking to a budget is the foundation of financial health, and many tools exist to help you become a budgeting rockstar. 

how to create a budget, how to budget

You may have a negative relationship with your budget, but I’ll be the first to tell you that you can change that. It’s possible to figure out how to easily create a budget and do it all within as little as 20 minutes a month.

Why you need a budget

Fact: you need a budget. 

A budget is merely a tool. Think of it as the GPS system for your goals, whether you want to save for the down payment on a home, fund a 529 plan for your kid’s college expenses, kick some debt to the curb, or save for an amazing vacation. 

The good news is you can make your budget your own. You can change the name if the word budget makes you want to curl up in the corner. You can change the names for the categories. For example, change Income to Money In, and Expenses to Have To’s and Want To’s. The beauty of the budgeting process is when you make it your own and have some fun with it.

Without a budget, your money has no direction. You’ve undoubtedly experienced this. At the beginning of the month, you have every reason to believe you’ll be left with a certain amount left at the end of the month. Except then you don’t. And it happens month after month. This cycle can keep you borrowing from your savings or using your credit card to pay expenses. And you have amazing goals you want to achieve. But they stay dormant on your journal from day to day and never seem to go anywhere. 

Time to break up with a lack of direction.

Check out these budget-related podcast episodes to help you ace your budget:

What goes in a budget

Creating your budget is easy and you can maintain it all in as little as 20 minutes a month. I know for a fact because this is the process I use every single month and have taught thousands of people to do the same.

 There are a few key pieces:

  • A list of your income for the month that you know you will get or an idea of how much you will earn on commissions or your side hustle
  • A list of your fixed (have to pay) expenses for the month. Think mortgage, rent, student loan, minimum credit card payments, groceries, car payment, life insurance, and so on.
  • A list of your variable (want to pay ) expenses for the month. Think subscriptions, gym membership, entertainment, shopping, eating out, transportation, travel, extra credit card payments, and expenses that aren’t necessary, but you really want to have them.

How to make your budget work

A budget is only as good as the numbers you put in it, so think about following these steps to make your budget tell the truth each month.

First: Create your budget at the beginning of the month with a column that includes the income and expenses you think you will have for the month. This can be accomplished by copying and pasting from the month prior, and adding in any extra payments you think you might want or need to make.

Then: Create a second column on your budget at the end of the month that includes the income and expenses that you really did have. This is the truth bomb for your budget. There are lots of tools that we’ll discuss below, but one of the easiest ways to do this is by looking at your current bank statement and totaling up how much you spent in each category. If needed, you can add categories that you forgot about. I’ve got a handy free Signature Budget Worksheet that can help you out. 

Budgeting tools and apps

There have never been so many great tools from mobile apps to software to downloadable templates to help you set up and manage your budget. Don’t just limit yourself to apps as well. Think about Post-It notes, journals, notes on your cell phone. Anything will work. Try a couple of different strategies to see what works best for you and will keep you motivated to stay up-to-date with your budget. 

Here are some tools to get your budget up and running:

You Need A Budget

You Need A Budget offers software and a mobile app to help you get your budget and spending in shape. Its focus is on helping you give every dollar a job along with setting and achieving goals. Sign up for a free 34-day trial to see why I love You Need a Budget.

Clarity Money

Clarity Money is a mobile app that packs a lot of punch. Their motto is to help you take control of your finances by giving you a full financial picture, helping you find unwanted subscriptions and delivering other money-saving knowledge in the palm of your hand.


Medean is a newer budgeting app that is all about helping you save money. Did you know in fact that the average American has less than $400 saved for an emergency? Medean helps you know where you stand financially and shows you ways you can save money each month. I’ve found that Medean makes budgeting each month super fast and really easy.

Budgeting for couples

Mastering the art of budgeting can be tricky as an individual, let alone as a couple. Money issues with couples are one of the top reasons for divorce year after year. As a couple, you bring to the relationship your own values and habits around money. Hence why so many couples fight about money. That’s why you need to cultivate open communication channels so you can talk about your goals, problems, and create a system that works for you both.

Money rules – it’s a great idea to put a few money rules in place. The rules can serve as a foundation for how you make decisions as a couple for example, who is the primary person in charge of money decisions day-to-day, how much can you each spend without talking to each other, what will your bank and savings account structure looks like, how much will you each invest from your paychecks, etc. Setting the foundation will take the mystery out of money decisions as a couple. 

Money dates – I’m a big fan of weekly money dates. They have been a life-saver in our relationship. A money date is just like it sounds, only better. Set aside fifteen to thirty minutes each week (preferably at the same time each week) to talk about what’s going on with your money. Make your money date enjoyable; have a glass of wine, go to your favorite park, make a nice dinner. During your money date, talk about what’s on your mind. What happened last week to your finances and what’s coming up in the next week. This is your time to reset and get focused on what’s happening behind the scenes with your finances. But please, have fun with these. 

Set goals – Setting goals is a crucial piece of success with couples. You can set money goals in your money dates, or set aside a separate time during the month to write these out. Include short term goals like paying off debt or covering financial risks and longer-term goals like saving to buy a house and retirement planning. Goals can and should be flexible, and always incorporated into your budget so you can achieve them. 

You can budget in 20 minutes a month

You can easily create and budget in 20 minutes a month. Whether you use an app, an Excel spreadsheet, my Signature Budget Worksheet, or software, you can become a budgeting champ in no time. 

Here’s how we make it work in my household:

Beginning of the month:

  • Take 5 minutes and complete the “What I think I’m going to spend” section based on last month’s numbers.
  • Set 2-3 goals you want to achieve this month. Write down what the goal is, how much it will cost, when you want to complete it by and any other notes.
  • Use an app to track your spending throughout the month. I also pre-pay my credit card a certain amount each week. That allows me to bank some credit card points, treat it like a debit card and pay it off in full each month, and easily see where I’m spending my money.
  • Make sure you have weekly money dates with your partner or on your own to stay on top of your cash.

End of the month:

  • Fill out the “What I spent category” and list all your expenses and actual income.
  • Compare and contrast the two columns to see where there are any irregularities. For example, did you budget enough for eating out or Uber trips? 
  • Give every left-over cent a job. Sent it to pay off some debt, put it in savings or towards a goal, or put it towards next month’s budget.
  • Rinse and repeat next month.

See how easy it is! If I can do it, you can do it. Let this be the year you create real change with your finances and start hitting all your goals out of the park!

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

How to Budget With Inconsistent Income

If you’re an entrepreneur or self-employed, you’re surely on a first name basis with inconsistent income. Let’s be real, learning how to budget is hard enough when your income is consistent. When you throw in the curveball of inconsistent income, your finances can feel downright out of control. 

how to budget

While you might be tempted to throw your budget out the window, I caution you to think twice. I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 19 years old, and having a budget in place has been one of the smartest money moves I’ve made to manage the ebbs and flows of income and expenses. Always remember, a budget is just a tool that directs your money where to go and an essential part of your financial plan if you have inconsistent income. 

Why you need a budget

It can’t be said enough – if you are working with inconsistent income you need a budget. In fact, everyone needs a budget even though most people hate the idea of a budget. Learning how to budget the right way can be tricky, but is totally doable.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve given my clients over the past decade is to change the word “budget” to a word that excites you. For instance, I love to travel, so my budget is called my travel itinerary.  It keeps my head focused on the why behind my budget each month. I encourage you to change the word budget into whatever excites you and will keep you motivated to stay on top of your finances.

So, what is a budget? 

A budget is a tool to help you achieve your goals – personal or business-related. Your budget tells your money where it needs to go to fund your expenses and financial goals. Tracking the money that goes out of your bank account (your expenses) is essential if you’re working with inconsistent income. There are some simple steps to mastering this each month.

  • DIY your budget with an Excel spreadsheet, Post-It notes, paper, or whatever works for you. Download my free Signature Budget Worksheet to help you out.
  • Or choose a mobile budgeting app like You Need A Budget or Clarity Money. Start a FREE 34-day trial of You Need a Budget.
  • Find out what your must-have number is – this is the number that includes all of your fixed expenses that you have to pay each month. Your must-have number is your starting point to build your budget on.
  • Categorize every penny that leaves your bank account, so you know what is going on with your variable expenses – those expenses that change every month. (Hint: your variable expenses is the place where most budgets break down so spend some time getting to know these expenses).
  • Set spending goals for any category that you feel is out of control (Hint – for most people that is eating out and uncategorized fees like ATM fees and Uber or Lyft rides).
  • Calendar weekly a weekly money check-in so you can review your expenses for the week, set goals for the week coming up, and direct any excess income towards your goals.

Check out these budget-related podcast episodes to help you ace your budget:

Have an emergency fund

Traditionally, you should look to save between three to six months’ worth of fixed expenses in a savings account, ideally, a high-yield savings account, for your emergency fund. However, if you’re working with inconsistent income, your goal should be to save between six months to a year’s worth of expenses.

That may take you a while to achieve since your income is in flex, but if you’ve ever had a month where you’ve struggled to make ends meet, you understand the importance of having a savings safety net. 

If you aren’t sure where to begin to supercharge your savings, start with the first step of knowing where every cent is going from your bank account. This allows you to track patterns and find savings that are hidden in your bank account. You might notice that you’re indulging in some unnecessary expenses each week that you can cut back on and then route those savings to your emergency fund. 

In the land of inconsistent income, you’ll need to pull out every money trick you have available to you. That begins with thinking about your money differently. 

Opening a high-yield savings account at an online bank such as Marcus by Goldman Sachs or Ally Online Savings is a great place to start. On average, online savings accounts offer higher interest rates for your savings, which means more money in your pocket. Earning more money on your money is a great place to start when you’re ramping up your savings. 

Make a budget plan that works for you

The idea of budgeting might not sit well with you, but the good news is you can make a budgeting plan that works for you. As long as you are actively tracking your expenses, you can create a budget that meets your needs both functionally and aesthetically. 

For instance, meet Amanda. Amanda is 31, a single freelance writer and content strategist, who deliberately plans for July and August to be income-free months. “I love traveling in the summer, and for me, it was a big reason why I decided to jump into the freelance life. Sometimes, I get checks, or a project runs over, but in general, I know that I need to budget to cover those two months whenever I work on projects throughout the year.” Amanda has made her budget work around the lifestyle that is important to her. You can make up rules that work for you.

  • Build a travel savings fund so you can take a month off to travel
  • Build in a reward each month if have excess income and stayed on task with your budget every week
  • Scale back on retirement or college fund savings in months where you’re not as flush 
  • Use a rewards credit card for points or cash-back that you can use for holiday gifts
  • Break big goals like saving for a house or planning a wedding down into small monthly savings goals and incorporate them into your budget. In a month where you have excess savings, you can allocate more money towards those goals and then scale back in months when you need to

Bounce back from a mistake 

Miscalculation and mistakes happen to the best of us. You thought a project was going to come through and it ended up falling away leaving you short on money for that month. It can leave you feeling like you’ve failed and lead to a big confidence crash. I should know, I’ve been there myself many times in my long entrepreneurial career. The good news is you can re-calculate.

Fear breeds confusion and confusion leads to mistakes in your finances. If you find yourself in the position of a miscalculation or mistake the first place you turn to is your must-have number. How much money do you need this month to pay for your must-have expenses? Once you’re armed with that number, you can find out where you’re short and head to your emergency fund for some relief. 

If your emergency fund is need of some help of its own, taking on debt would be the next logical step to bridge the gap. In this situation, you’re looking for debt with the lowest interest rate that is available to you. This might be a credit card you use for business or a personal loan from an online lender such as SoFi or Lending Club.

Remember only to borrow what you need to bridge your financial gap and calculate what your monthly payment would be to pay off the debt ideally within three months. Once you have that number, add it onto your must-have budget list so you can pay off the debt quickly. 

Use mistakes to help you

Don’t beat yourself up. Again, mistakes happen to us, all and it isn’t a sign of weakness. Figure out a plan to cover the financial gap, put that plan into action, and then move on. Do your best in months of excess income to save as much as you can in your emergency fund so when you miscalculate again (and you will, and it will be ok) you’ve already created a financial safety net. 

Sticking with a budget to manage inconsistent income takes time and practice to form a habit. As an entrepreneur, I can identify the months when I stay on track, manage my expenses and use my income as a tool to achieve my goals from the months when I don’t, and my finances suffer. 

There’s no perfect score when it comes to budgeting with inconsistent income – sometimes you’ll have it all together and other times you won’t. There’s no need to stress – while your income may ebb and flow you can create a budget that stays consistent with some practice.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

Real Talk About Investing For Women (with Amanda Holden)

I’m normally not a big fan of separating women from men when it comes to money, however, I am a strong supporter of creating a new language around investing for women. Why, because, as our guest, Amanda Holden, aka the Dumpster Doggy says, “there’s a lot of femme shaming when it comes to money, how we’re spending and investing it and well, we just don’t process information the same way, but that’s a good thing.”

So let’s drop the bs and get some solid investing advice from someone who is committed to changing the way women invest.

Investing for women

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Amanda is passionate about teaching women what they need to know without the bs
  • The story behind Amanda’s successful blog, The Dumpster Dog Blog
  • Money blindspots women have and how to avoid those
  • How to win at investing even if you are a newbie
  • Why learning about investing is critical



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The Power of Your Money Story & How to Create Real Change (with Dr. Daniel Crosby)

We all have a money story. A way in which we grew up thinking about money, either consciously or unconsciously and our money story has power over the choices we make and don’t make with our money.

Our podcast guest, Dr. Daniel Crosby, a psychologist, and a behavioral finance expert says that behavioral changes around money are tough because we all think our money story is normal because that’s all we know. So then the real question is, how do we create real change with our money?

money story

What You’ll Learn

  • How powerful are brains are when it comes to money
  • Why your money story is a critical part of your success
  • How you can balance the fear of investing with the need to invest
  • Why Daniel decided to write his latest book, The Behavioral Investor
  • How you can override your money story and create a new one



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Posted in Budgeting, Podcast, Saving | Comments Off on The Power of Your Money Story & How to Create Real Change (with Dr. Daniel Crosby)

How to Budget (the Right Way)

Six letters – BUDGET – probably one of the most despised combinations of letters in the English language, but that’s because you’re thinking about it all wrong. A budget isn’t a set in stone document that is some formal decree telling what you can and can’t spend your money on. In fact, in this reboot episode, you’ll learn how to budget, and why I’m giving you permission to throw out your budget with a few simple caveats.

how to budget, how to create a budget, budgeting

What You’ll Learn

  • Understand why you despise the process of budgeting first
  • What questions to ask yourself to get in a better money mindset
  • Why setting goals is the key to achieving financial success
  • So many tips on how to win at budgeting and tracking your money each month
  • My easy 1-2-3 system of budgeting
  • Why you need to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your spending (your future will thank you)
  • Sharing my own story and struggles with budgeting


Want to be the first to know when new episodes are released? Click here to subscribe in iTunes! IT’S FREE!

If you loved this episode, don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social channel and tag @shannahgame.

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Money Saving Tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (with Jay Klauminzer & Julie Ramhold)

It’s that time of year again for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the deals. It’s easy to get carried away and spend more money than you want during this time of year. Luckily, I’ve got Julie Ramhold from DealNews and Jay Klauminzer from Raise on this episode to help us sort out the money-saving tips we need for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

money saving tips for black friday and cyber monday

What You’ll Learn

  • Where the deals are, and where they aren’t
  • How to shop smarter and make your money stretch
  • Mobile apps and websites to help you save money
  • When the best day is to shop
  • How to outsmart the retailers and know what to buy when
  • How to buy gift cards at a discount with Raise



Want to be the first to know when new episodes are released? Click here to subscribe in iTunes! IT’S FREE!

Go behind the scenes of the podcast and sign up for our free monthly emails.

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Posted in Budgeting, Podcast, Saving | Comments Off on Money Saving Tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (with Jay Klauminzer & Julie Ramhold)

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