Where We Are At With Our $575,000+ Student Loan: An Update

Hi there! If you are new to the space, welcome! As you may or may not know, my name is Samantha Tillapaugh and I am known as The Debtist. I graduated from dental school at 26 years old in 2016 with more than $575,000 of student debt. Upon graduation, I was told by multiple financial professionals that the smart thing to do was to wait 20-25 years for student loan forgiveness (see options here). But the decision didn’t sit well with me. The debt was a psychological burden that caused me a lot of angst, anxiety, and made me depressed. I searched for a financial planner until I found one that listened to my desire to pay back debt and supported my decision. Since then, I have never turned back.

Where We Started

In 2018, I first shared my personal story with Choose FI. I then learned that there were others who struggled with the psychology of having debt. So I dedicated my spare time writing about shifting mindsets around finance, and using lifestyle choices to reach financial independence. I surprised myself in 2020 when I reached independence BEFORE I paid back my loan. At the time, I quit a job that I struggled with, even when my husband was also without work during a pandemic which we knew nothing about. But for the first time in my life, money did not dictate what I did. I followed what I knew in my gut to be right, and it was the most liberating feeling I have ever felt.

My Money Story

Money psychology is deeply rooted in the narratives around money that we were told growing up. A lot of my fear of debt came from financial traumas as a youth. In choosing to face that fear head on and tackle the debt that I was afraid of, I gained not only financial literacy, but also a confidence and understanding of money that allowed me to have more control of it. Instead of being reactive to money, I know view money as a tool to get to where we want to go financially.

An Update on Student Loan Repayment

Today, I wanted to give you an update on where we are at with my student loans. I just released a second podcast episode with ChooseFI which details some of the things we have done since 2018. The Ever Growing List of Things I Have Done to Get Out of a Student Debt can be found here. We started at over $575,000 when I graduated from dental school. When the pandemic hit, I stopped making my aggressive payments since we didn’t know what would happen! My husband was without a job for the rest of 2020, and I quit my job November 2020 using the FU money we saved. At the time, we were somewhere between $430,00 to $440,000. Instead of spending the money, I continued to set it aside as if we were still making payments to our debt. Student loan repayment is set to resume January 1, 2023. At that time, we plan to make one lump sum payment that would bring our debt down to $200,000!

How We Got Here

To be honest, the first step was finding a financial planner who supports your loan repayment strategy, whatever you choose. I recommend Travis Hornsby from Student Loan Planner, not just for his expertise but also because he was one of the people who paid back a massive student loan aggressively. He had to deal with student debt personally, and can speak from experience and knowledge. My consultation with him saved me thousands of dollars, just by helping us choose the appropriate repayment plan. (We were on the wrong one!)

The second thing we did was cut our spending. Raising earning is fine and all, but lifestyle inflation is real. We learned how to use a budget for the first time with YNAB. To this day, my husband and I have budgeting dates and use YNAB to keep track of where our money goes. I highly recommend the YNAB app to all new budgeters because it is intuitive and easy! This step was so crucial to our journey that I even wrote an entire course on How to Master a Budget. It’s free and available on my blog.

Third, I changed my mindset to a positive one! I first found gratitude towards my debt and money story. This is a debt that is my privilege to own. I then approached life with a growth mindset. After realizing I had a lot of learning to do around money, I poured over books and binged podcasts. I also tried to find ways to make money doing the things I love. This led me down a rabbit hole of side-hustles which include being an early morning baker, opening my own bakery, being a wholesale director, creating a dog-sitting business, monetizing the blog, and more. My love for learning hasn’t stopped. Currently I am taking a teacher training course at CorePower Yoga to get my yoga teacher license.

Our ultimate goal was this:

To be free from student loan debt enslavement by facing my fear around money head-on without allowing money to dictate our life’s happiness. We wanted to focus on our goal of financial independence, while maintaining autonomy over the present moment. We wanted to built a life around freedom, both from debt but also from job dependency. At it’s core, we wanted to be free to do what made us both happy.

My only hope with sharing my story is to help others do the same.

Thank you for being here.


The Debtist

10 Time-Saving Tips

Time is a currency that will forever be limited. It is my most valued asset and I try not to take it for granted. To honor my time, I reduce the amount of time it takes to do things. I want to reserve enough of it to be able to enjoy. “Not having enough time” is the number one reason people fail to live out their lives to the fullest, achieve their dreams, or even partake in the little joys. There came a point in my life where I said to myself, “I don’t want that to be me.” So here are my top time-saving tips. I hope it helps regain control over some of the hours in your day.

10 Time-Saving Tips

Create habits.

It’s quicker to do something automatically than to have to think about what to do next. Eliminate the decision tree and get rid of decision fatigue. Simplify your life through habits. Stack them one by one, and you can get so much more done in a short amount of time. Here are 5 habits I do every single day.

Automate everything.

Turn on Auto-Pay for all recurring bills. Create response templates for your emails. Have a system for your life. Automation not only reduces stress and worry, but it also reduces my to-do list!

Get rid of distractions.

Distractions are so unhelpful. Get rid of the things that will instigate a distraction. That could include TVs, social media apps on your phone, or even access to email. One tactic that has helped me a lot is to keep a blank sheet of paper next to me when I work. Any distraction that enter my head get jotted down for later. I then look back on the sheet at the end of the day and intentionally choose which ones make it into my schedule and which distractions are tossed out.

Delegate as much as you can.

This is my weakest point. I try to do things myself, but am slowly learning that it isn’t always efficient. Ask for help. Look to experts. Or turn to friends and family. You don’t have to be the one to manage everyone else’s schedules or do the laundry. At first you may feel guilty, but just try to delegate one thing a week. See how much that helps you.

Declutter your to-do list.

Half of the things on my to do list are unnecessary. Truly! I love to re-evaluate in the middle of the day and cross off the tasks that really won’t get me towards where I want to go. I also declutter the things I don’t really want to do. Is there a point to menial tasks that don’t add value to your life?

Use a capsule wardrobe.

I never spend time thinking about what to wear. That’s because I use a capsule wardrobe. My make-up routine takes me less than 2 minutes. I wear scrubs to work every day. And I wear athleisure on my days off. When I was younger, I would spend at least thirty minutes getting ready every day. Today, I can roll out of bed and be ready in five! Plus there is no stress. With fewer options, there is less anxiety about whether or not you chose the “correct outfit”.

Time block the schedule.

You’ll get more done in a day if it’s time-blocked correctly. Why? Because you increase focus and flow, both of which increases efficiency. Just like buying things in bulk can save money, doing things in bulk saves time. It also reduces the amount of energy your brain is using switching from task to task. Multi-tasking is the biggest joke anyone ever told. Stop trying to do it, as it’s hindering your progress.


I know that it sound’s crazy coming from a finance blog space, but outsourcing could be your best friend. Think of it in terms of return. You could spend hours researching the nuances of student loan repayment options. But it could take you 50 hours to gain the information a professional has. Would it be worth it to book a consult for an hour and pay the fee? Perhaps. Especially if you can start putting into effect what you learned and earn that money back in the meantime. I highly recommend outsourcing things such as finance advice and I recommend speaking with a professional. Travis Hornsby from Student Loan Planner is a good one! Andrew Paulson from Student Loan Advice is an alternative. These are both my affiliate links.

Optimize tasks around energy levels.

In other words, optimize your timing in a day. Tackle your most difficult tasks when you have the most energy. For some that could be first thing in the morning. For night owls, it could be late into the night. Check out my post on how to optimize timing in a day.

Be intentional with incoming information.

We get tons of information day in and day out. It is our job to weed through that knowledge and pick and choose what we allow into our lives. This applies to everything, from who you choose to follow on social media to what emails you choose to open. I literally don’t listen to every voicemail on my phone. I certainly don’t open every email that enters my inbox. This life is now an attention economy and people, businesses, industries, corporations are fighting for your attention. Make sure it goes to the people who care about.

I hope this list helps you save time. Life isn’t meant to be spent checking off a to-do list all day long. Go out there and enjoy it!

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

How We Made $2k Pet Sitting Last Month: Grow Your Clientele

Here again, talking about pet sitting ad nauseum. But I must share, we made over $2k last month taking care of pets! This was after consistently hitting $1k since May 2022. Our dog-sitting venture first started with Rover in 2019 but did not become this successful until I started my own business called RMV Tail & Paws. Today, I wanted to share with you how to grow a clientele for your business so that you, too, could make money doing what you love to do!

But first, if you haven’t yet, make sure to check out my top 5 tools for growing a small business. This is a round-up of my favorites and includes everything from website, social media, email marketing, and accounting.

How to Grow Clientele for Small Businesses

I have one golden rule when it comes to growing your clientele: Be genuinely invested in their best interest. Care about your clients like you do about your friends and family. Trust me, wanting to help others is the best way to earn their trust, and their business. This is first and foremost my mission when it comes to gaining new clients. Money, referrals, and reviews come after taking care of the person’s needs.

Beyond that tid-bit of advice, here is a more step-wise actionable guideline to growing a clientele.

  • Communicate clearly. Have a website with a list of services, products and pricing. In this day and age, transparency is key. Be clear about what you have to offer, and what it costs. Make it easily accessible via a website. I use WordPress for all my website needs.
  • Honesty is the best policy, and I am very honest with my clients. I communicate with them from the get-go what I can offer them and what I can’t. Sometimes, clients have special requests that are outside of what I can provide. Or they ask for more than I can give. I am direct and honest when what they ask for does not align with my values or my business. Most of the time, they are grateful for my honesty, and if they have to look elsewhere, it’s in the best interest of both parties.
  • Use social media. It’s free marketing. I received some of my first clients through social media. I posted on a Facebook group for our neighborhood my services. I also use Tailwind to manage Instagram posts. On top of that, our neighborhood has an online bulletin on which I shared my website.
  • Promote your business in person. Be an open book. I constantly talk to others about the things I am doing. Not as a form of bragging, but as a way of saying, “Hey, how can I help you?” It all goes back to genuinely wanting to take care of others. Trust me, people can FEEL your intentions. I got into the habit of mentioning that I dog sit to my patients, my co-workers, my workout buddies, the farmers I volunteer with, and our friends. When I learn that someone has a dog, I always offer to watch them when they are away. And I carry my business cards while I dog-walk. I have run into multiple people who learn that I am a dog-walker/dog-sitter and book appointments on the spot!
  • Place business cards in other businesses. I have my business cards at a local coffee shop in our neighborhood. I also have them ever ready at the dental office. It’s a great way to grow! Simply ask neighboring businesses if they would promote you.
  • Actively ask for reviews. This is a biggie. After ensuring that my clients have a STELLAR experience, I go out on a limb and ask them for a review. I go so far as to send my clients the link to my review page. Every single one has been more than happy to do it for me, which is also validation that I am doing good work! YAY!
  • Take lots of photos. A picture says a thousand words. At least, for visual people like myself. I take photos of happy pups, pet cuddles, dog walks, and adventures. I post them on both social media and the website. If others can see how happy the pets are, they are more likely to choose my business over a pet spa or a pet hotel, where the pets don’t get individualized care, love, or attention.

If you want to start a pet-sitting business, you can check out this how-to guide I created. It goes through the 5 steps to creating a pet-sitting business.

My Sourdough Bread Recipe

Why has it taken me this long to share my sourdough bread recipe? I’ve gone and shared how I make banana bread, strawberry scones, bostock, but not my beloved bread? Seriously though, this is my favorite thing to bake. I have consistently made bread from scratch since learning how in January of 2018. Bread baking is one of my true loves in this world. And knowing how to bake sourdough bread from scratch is more important now than ever before.

We live in a world where highly-processed wheat is causing an inflammatory epidemic that has been linked to conditions such as autoimmune diseases and autism. Our gut microbiomes are off-kilter because processed foods are anything but nutritious. I have studied microbiology in Chile, gone through medical training in dental school, talked to farmers preserving ancient heritage grain, worked in a sourdough bread bakery, got my hands dirty volunteering on a farm for six months, and read multiple studies and books. All of this has lead me repeatedly to the following truths:

  • More people need to be making their meals at home.
  • We need to source ingredients that are local.
  • It is imperative to avoid anything packaged in plastic or pre-processed.

Look at the ingredient lists. Nix the preservatives. Be a part of the process. You can start this entire journey just by baking your own bread.

There are many recipes out there and I welcome you to try all of them as I have. Treat this one as a guideline rather than stone-etched truth. Even I change my ratios all the time! It depends on how me and my starter are feeling that day, or what my schedule looks like. My best recommendation is to approach it like you would a science project. And just have fun!


  • 650 g water
  • 200 g starter – ours is self-made from scratch, using the Tartine Bread’s method.
  • 200 g whole wheat flour – my favorite is Red Fife, Rye, or Sonora from Tehachipi Grain Project in Southern California
  • 800 g bread flour – my favorite brands are Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur
  • 20 g Salt
  • Additional 50 g water
  • Rice flour for dusting

A word on ingredients: High-quality ingredients lead to high-quality bread. It isn’t rocket science. When I started out, I was buying low quality flour which never translated to decent bread. It wasn’t until I started buying fresh grains and then milling the grains myself into flour that I saw a big difference. I bought the Mockmill which is perfect for a household that bakes often. I used grains from a local farmer and had to pick up bags of ancient heritage grain from a farmer’s market in Long Beach. But I understand that a personal mill is quite the investment. Luckily, the popularization of microbakeries and microfarms providing freshly milled flour has occurred since I first started making bread. I recommend Rye Goods and Ecology Center for my Southern California audience.


A word on products: I got all of my materials from Williams Sonoma, which happens to be my favorite cooking store. I sincerely like the quality of goods there, and find that the higher price of some of these products are worth the splurge. I have kept all of my materials since day one, and have yet to find the need to replace them.

The Process:

  1. Place the mixing bowl (either glass if you don’t have a Kitchen Aid or the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl) onto the kitchen scale and tare it to 0. Have the kitchen scale setting to grams.
  2. In the bowl, add 650 g of water, 200 g of starter, 200 g of whole wheat flour and 800 g of bread flour.
  3. Using the dough attachment, mix the ingredients in your Kitchen Aid Mixer. If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can hand mix the dough. It takes a lot of work, but it’s actually kind of satisfying! Use the plastic bench scraper to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and move it to the center – so that no doughy bits stick to the sides. If it has mixed thoroughly enough in the stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the sides on its own.
  4. Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 30 minutes.
  5. Add 20 g of salt and 50 g of water to the mixing bowl. Mix until integrated, by hand or using the electric mixer.
  6. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Turn the dough every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours. The amount of time depends on the temperature of your space. The warmer the temperature, the sooner the dough will finish fermenting. Likewise, the more active the starter, the quicker the dough will be ready. The most important thing is to look for texture. The dough should double in size and have an airy state. Turning the dough means scooping up the underbelly of the dough and folding it over itself. I do this 3 times with each “turn”, going around the bowl to make sure the dough is turned on all sides.
  8. When the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out from the mixing bowl onto a marble pastry slab. A wooden countertop works well too.
  9. Flour the top part of the dough using either rice flour or bread flour. Using a metal bench scraper, cut the dough in half.
  10. Take one of the halves. Flip the dough so that the floured side is down and the unfloured side is facing up. Gently fold half of the dough over itself so now a floured surface is on top and on the bottom. Using a metal bench scraper, shape the dough into a ball by dragging the dough towards you, then turning it a quarter turn and dragging it towards you again. Keep doing this until you get a boule shaped dough. Repeat with the other dough half.
  11. Let the two boules rest on the pastry slab for 15 to 20 minutes before final shaping.
  12. I like to shape these guys into batards. I do that by flouring the top of the dough, then flipping it over so the unfloured surface is exposed again. I proceed to make an envelope out of the dough. I grab the bottom section and fold it 2/3rd of the way up. I then extend the left and right sides of the dough and fold them to the midline. Then, I take the top part of the “envelope” and fold it to the midline. I then grab the left and right sides of the dough and “braid” them toward the center. Lastly, I roll the farthest part of the dough at the top towards the bottom, and flip the dough over. This is all too confusing, so I do recommend watching videos online on how to shape a batard! It is super helpful.
  13. Once you’ve shaped your dough, I let it rest for a minute and then place them in their bread basket, with the seams facing up.
  14. I place the bread babies in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Make sure to cover the tops of the bread with a double-lined linen napkin to prevent the cold air from forming a tough layer. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the more sour it will get as the bread ferments for longer.
  15. When you are ready to bake, turn on the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the combo cooker in the oven so it preheats with the oven. You need a hot combo cooker to make the bread rise!
  16. After the oven has preheated for 45 minutes, remove combo cooker (shorter pan) from the oven using really thick gloves (please don’t burn yourself!) and sprinkle rice flour on the bottom to prevent dough from sticking. Invert the bread baby from the basket onto the combo cooker. Take a blade and score the bread by making one big slash down the midline – you want to go about 1/8th the depth of your dough. Slash it with precision and confidence!
  17. Place the taller pan of the combo cooker on top as a lid, then place the entire combo cooker in the oven.
  18. Bake bread for 25-30 minutes. I have baked bread in 4 different ovens since starting my journey and I can tell you that each one has a different baking time! If you’ve got a strong oven, definitely go on the quicker side.
  19. Remove the top lid of the combo cooker and bake the bread for another 3-5 minutes. This will brown the crust of the bread.
  20. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  21. I recommend eating fresh bread within 2 days. Store in an air-tight container, away from cold drafts which makes the bread stale quicker. If you can’t finish a loaf of bread that quickly, I rec slicing it up and freezing them in a freezer proof bag.

I am a self-taught bread baker and I truly believe anyone can make gut-friendly bread in the comforts of their home.  My recipe works for me 100% of the time. The challenge lies in technique and understanding the dough. Practice will only make you better. My starter has become my most loyal and trustworthy companion. It never fails me and I depend on it whole-heartedly. After you learn the nuances of bread baking and tasted the difference in fresh bread, you will never go back.

My Favorite Books on Simple Living

Simple living has transformed my life. I initially was attracted to it because of the financial benefits of owning less and doing less. We are on a financial journey, after all! But after reading about it, I became obsessed with the thought of simplicity. Looking back, I have always been a simple person. I love that this lifestyle reduces stress, anxiety, clutter, spending, and the busy-ness that has pervaded my life. In its wake, simple living left me with peace, joy, clarity, and validation of who I am at my core. I can’t believe I haven’t created a round-up yet of my favorite books on simple living, but here they are.

Top books on Simple Living

  1. Simple Matters by Erin Boyle
  2. Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki
  3. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  4. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
  5. Do Less by Kate Northrup
  6. Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
  7. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
  8. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  9. Kinfolk Home
  10. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

I have read all of these books, although they are not in any particular order. Some of these authors were really good, and I’ve got my eyes set on a few new releases, as well as books I haven’t yet had the time to read. These include:

  • Hello Habits by Fumio Sasaki
  • Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary
  • Simple Living by Julia Watkins
  • Simplicity at Home by Yumiko Sekine

I hope you’ve found these lists useful. Simple living is one of the tactics we have used to tackle our $575k student loan debt. It has been instrumental in getting us this far. Paying down debt isn’t exactly the most sustainable task, but with simple living, we have been able to do it with success!

Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash

How Enneagram Type Relates to Finances

I am a big fan of the Enneagram. I have read about and taken multiple personality tests and to me, this was the most accurate of them all. Learning my enneagram type was similar to being wholly seen for the first time, even by me. At the same time, I better understand the people closest to me. It gave me a framework for relating to their motivations, their deepest fears, and their innate reactions. I wholly recommend learning about the Enneagram and then learning which type people around you are. It changed my life by allowing me to interact with others at a deeper, more personal level. It also gave me more empathy, a greater ability to help support others, and more confidence in where I fit in other people’s lives. Today, we will be talking about how your Enneagram type relates to your money habits.

There are 9 Enneagram Types

There are 9 Enneagram types. Each type has a title, a main motivator, an innate emotional reaction to failure, and a core way of processing the world. For each enneagram type, I will list these characteristics, followed by their money tendencies. So as not to peg people inside a box, it is important to append with the acknowledgement that we are all on a personal journey from our base enneagram type to a more evolved version of ourselves. When people work on themselves, they transcend their Enneagram type’s limitations and become a higher-self version of their Enneagram. I’ll avoid minute specifics for now, but I do recommend you read Enneagram books in order to learn more.

Type 1. The Reformer

  • Main Motivator: Moral Perfection
  • Reaction: Anger
  • Processing: Instinctive/Gut

Type 1 focuses on moral perfection, justice, doing what is right and being a good person. More often than not, they have a voice in their head that is constantly talking to them like an angel or devil on a shoulder would. I can affirm this as I am a type one. Constantly, a voice tells me “bad, wrong, not good enough, be better, work harder, try more.” Self-criticism is a big thing with Type 1s, and so is judgement of others.

Just as they seek moral perfection, they also aim at perfecting their budgets. They are great at creating budgets and keeping track of their money. Their strength is that whenever they make a rule, they follow through with it to the end. They restrict pleasure quite easily, so they can push through hardships.

Sometimes, it’s difficult for them to start facing their finances, especially if they suffer from perfectionist procrastination. For example, some type 1’s will first need to assure themselves that the stock market is a morally right place, or that being rich is does not make one morally bad. But once they form an idea, they fall behind it almost religiously.

Unfortunately, they often fail to celebrate successes. They feel a lot of guilt with spending money, especially on themselves. They also question, “Do I deserve this?”. Most often times, it goes back to moral perfection. I personally keep thinking, “How could I buy all these things when others in my country barely have food to eat?”. This may be why my love language is receiving gifts. I rely on people around me to gift me things that I can’t give myself. Type 1s sit well with what others would consider deprivation, especially when they have a finance goal in mind. With type 1’s there is no stopping them until they get to what they view as the right destination.

Ways in which type 1’s can transcend their finances:

  • Let go of the All-Or-Nothing thinking and embrace the middle ground. You can save money and spend on yourself too.
  • If you think the stock market is a bad place because it supports morally wrong companies, perhaps the best strategy is to pick and choose companies that are morally right to you. For example, if you don’t want to invest in SPY because it includes oil companies, maybe pick one or two companies you believe in and invest in them instead. I also like the idea of not investing in companies but rather, investing in yourself. Your education, your small business ideas, and your family and friends.
  • Set aside a small amount of money each week dedicated to yourself. If you budget it as ‘Fun Money’, it is accounted for and you will feel less guilt when you buy something for yourself. Although, I can’t guarantee the guilt goes away completely 😉

Type 2. The Helper

  • Main Motivator: Being Loved or Liked
  • Reaction: Shame
  • Processing: Feelings/Heart

Type 2s main motivator is being loved or liked by others. They are interesting when it comes to money because they can be both altruistic and hedonistic. They are altruistic because they earn the love they seek through flattery and being helpful to others. This could mean giving their time to do favors for other people, dishing out words of affirmation, or buying people gifts and experiences. Because type 2’s struggle with feeling enough, worthy and lovable, they tend to buy their love from others. Often times, type 2s are the ones supporting their families.

Part of the heart triad, type 2s are considered emotional spenders. They overspend on others and are the least likely type to ask for help. At their worst, they use money as a way to fill a void within themselves. They end up hurting themselves financially. It is important to recognize that their spending on others is not as sustainable as it is honorable.

There are some 2s who prefer to give their time to others. However, they feel that financial stability is what will allow them to give up their time. ‘If I am financially stable, I would be able to work less and spend more time with people I love.’ Ironically, because of this, type 2’s work extra hard so they can make more money to have enough resources for others. Work can end up taking up most of their time.

Sometimes, they work so hard in an unselfish way that they forget to self-care. This is where the hedonism comes in. Type 2s tend to burn out because they are so self-less. When this happens, spending goes out the window and they become self-indulgent. They throw money at the problem in bursts of quick fixes, whether that’s a day at the spa, a quick get-away trip, or massages and shopping sprees. They don’t care how much money they spend because they are so fatigued and exhausted.

A strength that type 2s can use in finance is their ability to read others. Because they are constantly seeking love, they tend to know what their bosses and co-workers want from them, and they can use that to get promotions. That combined with being a hard-working employee, type 2s can definitely move up the ladder and make more money quicker.

Ways in which Type 2s can transcend their finances:

  • Balance is key. Dedicate one way to show self-care every day in order to avoid burn-out. That could be taking a walk, taking a bubble bath, or reading a book.
  • Budget money for spending on others. For example, we have a ‘Gifts and Donations’ category in our budget. Another great title for this category is “Love Language Money”
  • Limit the amount of hours you spend at work. When you are off, spend time on yourself instead of with others.
  • Prioritize yourself when it comes to finances. Understand that spending too much on others can be hurting you. If being loved and liked is your motivator, reframe. Think of how not being financially savvy can make others feel. The people you love don’t want you to hurt. Let those around you motivate you to improve your finances.
  • Get an accountability partner! 2s are motivated by others and some have reported that it helps to do the weekly budget with a spouse via a ‘date night’. Set challenges and share your goals and successes with each other.

Type 3. The Achiever

  • Main motivator: Success
  • Reaction: Shame
  • Processing: Feelings/Heart

Type 3s main goal is to achieve success, or more importantly, to appear successful to others. They have big dreams, big goals, and big spending habits. Let’s talk first about their strengths. Type 3s are constantly thinking to themselves “I am worthless and I need to earn my worth through doing and achieving.” They are strongly tied to money. Type 3s tend to be high-income earners. Their wish to do and achieve also makes them hard-workers.

When it comes to budgeting, they are good at it when they want to be. They are at their best when they can track progress and see their outcomes. They are goal-oriented and work hard to reach their money goals. Just like type 1s, they stick with the rules they make.

Their weakness lies in their need to appear successful. Technically, they are emotional spenders. Type 3s tend to keep up with the Joneses. They accumulate debt. Type 3s spend money on things that look good instead of feel good in an effort to be recognized. To them, money is a measure of success as well as a status symbol. Wealth to 3s is more about doing what they want when they want rather than having money sit in a bank account. Unlike Type 1s, money is a reward for their hard hustle. ‘Work hard, play hard’ is probably something they live by.

Ways in which Type 3s can transcend their finances:

  • When feeling compelled to spend, ask yourself your true intentions. Is it to impress others or keep up with a trend? The clearer you are on your priorities, the better you are at feeding your inner happiness.
  • Define financial success by how much you save as well as how much you earn. This will keep a balance between earning and spending. There is no point in earning more if you go into debt because you spend a lot.
  • Since type 3s are external-facing, start a blog on saving money or publish your savings goals. If you don’t want to be so public, verbally announce to friends and family what you wish to accomplish. For example, if you want to pay your student debt down by a certain date, inform your social circle. Then you will feel the pressure of success to get it done. And starting blogs CAN increase your income too.

Type 4. The Individualists

  • Main Motivator: To be unique and original
  • Reaction: Shame
  • Processing: Feeling/Heart

Type 4s are most concerned about being seen in the fullness of who they are and liked to be viewed as original. Their greatest fear is that they will have no identity or significance to the world, and they long to find themselves and remain authentic to who they believe themselves to be. This is an Enneagram type that is not really motivated by money.

Like type 2s and 3s, type 4s value the way they are viewed by others in the sense that they have to be seen as unique. So they emotionally spend money in order to be perceived a certain way. However unlike type 2s and 3s, they do not live up to other people’s standards. They live by their own rules.

Type 4s can be big spenders. They like to spend money on very nice things so that they can live up to their standards. They will buy rare items, one-offs, and very outlandish costumes in order to stand out. Because unique items tend to cost more, they tend to spend more to be original.

They also spend money on becoming who they want to be. For example, if they decide they want to pursue a hobby or passion like snowboarding, they will buy the nicest gear, and ALL of it. They think that doing so will make it more likely that they achieve that title. They are romantics are heart, so they approach everything they do from a sense of grandeur.

Type 4s hate mediocrity. If they feel like they can’t reach high levels of success, they’d rather be doomed to failure and not try. This is bad for finances. Type 4s tend to avoid budgeting if they think they will fail. They have very high standards and can be like type 1s in their all-or-nothing approach. They also tend to keep things to themselves because they don’t want others to know they are failing. If they fall short of their own standards, they pretend like they didn’t try at all in order to avoid the shame they feel.

The strength in 4s lies in their ability to romanticize everything. If they so choose, they can make something as mundane as money super cool!

Ways in which Type 4s can transcend their finances:

Type 5. The Investigator

  • Main motivator: To be Informed
  • Reaction: Fear
  • Processing: Thinking/Head

Type 5s are the researchers and the intellectuals. They are the people who usually start the conversation with, “Actually, did you know…”. Their biggest fear is being useless or incapable. In terms of finances, they fear depletion. Because of this, they hoard their resources. They do that with everything, actually. They hold back on affirmations, they reserve energy, they save time.

Type 5s are incredible savers. They actually don’t want to spend their money. They limit what they ask for and buy because they can mostly do without. Unfortunately, this also means they don’t do much with money for fear of approaching it incorrectly. They don’t invest their money and typically prefer to let it sit in a savings account. If that is the case, a Marcus High Yield Savings Account would probably make type 5s comfortable. If you open an account using my referral link, you can receive an additional 1% APY for the first three months.

Ways in which Type 5s can transcend their finances:

  • Introverted type 5s tend to spend money on information. Use your research skills to learn about finances. Create graphs and charts that will point you towards the right direction in terms of investments. Trust the information you gain and invest your money. Remember this statistic: Historically, the market always goes up.
  • Gamify your finances! Type 5s spend most of their money on music, streaming, and games. They love YOUTUBE. Make a game out of your finances. Optimize your credit cards for free flights or maximize rewards! Find ways to get free stuff.
  • Just like type 1s, create a ‘Fun Money’ category in your budget! It’s okay to spend on yourself once in a while.

Type 6. The Loyalist

  • Main Motivator: Security
  • Reaction: Fear
  • Processing: Thinking/Head

Type 6s value safety, security and certainty. They want answers for everything. They care a lot about money because they want to ensure they have enough of it. This can sometimes lead to fear of losing money. Type 6s may avoid investing if they view the risk as a great one. However, they should reframe investing in the market as the only sure way to secure a future wherein their wealth grows.

Type 6s are called loyalists because they are loyal to their friends and family. Sometimes this can become an issue. When it comes to money, they will spend on the people they care about. They tend to rescue others. Sometimes, those people can take advantage of 6s. They know that 6s are prepared enough to have the money and may rely on them for money.

In terms of career, 6s tend to stay with a stable job for a long time. They don’t like to be in charge, so they avoid promotions. This can limit their earning potential. They also stay in jobs that may not be promoting them or have a toxic environment, simply because they are comfortable with their role. They are the ones who most likely will keep a stable job and pay down their home ASAP. This can be good but it can also limit their wealth growing potential.

Type 6s struggle to use their savings for a free and happy life. They worry a lot about money. In the same boat as type 1s and 5s, type 6s are most likely to stress about having money in the future. This makes them very good savers. They are most likely to have an emergency fund. They are considered the most responsible Enneagram type, and should lean into High Yield Savings Accounts, long-term investment accounts like Roth IRAs, and set-to-forget apps.

Ways in which Type 6s can transcend their finances:

  • When 6s treat themselves, they tend to spend the most money on the ‘essentials’ like clothing or dining. It is important for 6s to also spend on self-care.
  • Type 6s are uncomfortable with promotions and career changes. However, they are typically great at what they do. Have the courage to ask for a promotion. Reframe it as ensuring finance security and wealth in the future. Use financial security as a motivator to earn more.
  • Type 6s tend to worry about not having enough for retirement or their kid’s college. Perhaps looking into how I Bonds can help with paying for both would calm a 6s nerves.
  • Don’t let fear overcome your finances. Try a set-it-and-forget it strategy with investing and budgeting. Then avoid checking in every single day.

Type 7. The Enthusiast

  • Main motivator: Being Happy/Satisfied
  • Reaction: Fear
  • Processing: Thinking/Head

Type 7s are adventurers who want to experience life to the fullest. Their main motivator is being happy and seeking pleasure. Their fear is to be trapped in emotional pain. Type 7s don’t want to be limited and like to keep their options open. Because of this, commitment is rough, budgeting is even rougher. Having to structure spending is stressful for them.

Type 7s tend to spend money. They like new experiences and are good at convincing themselves that there are no consequences to their spending. When they feel limited or trapped, they look for escapes in forms of hobbies or travel. They tend to fudge the numbers in order to justify themselves. Most often, they tell themselves ‘Everything is possible.’

Type 7s tend to fall into the hamster wheel of life. They have to work their tails off in order to work back the money they spend. Often times, they spread themselves thin and have a hard time following through.

They are great with idea creation. Unfortunately, they also tend to overestimate their love for something. They might spend money upfront on a hobby that they will later give up. Often times, they get a bad rap for being flaky but they really aren’t. It’s more like they want to experience it all and jump from one hobby to the next in their zeal. They spend freely on what they love. And they are open to financial risks, but do not want money to limit their life.

Ways in which Type 7s can transcend their finances:

  • Type 7s should create frugal challenges. View these challenges as fun adventures. For example, Don’t Buy Technology Brand New.
  • Use their creativity and idea creation to find ways to get what they want without spending money.
  • 7s sometimes suffer from impulse buys. Perhaps create a rule to wait 24 hours before buying something. Sleep on it. Or find ways to borrow items from someone or buy used.

Type 8. The Challengers

  • Main Motivator: Being strong
  • Reaction: Anger
  • Processing: Instinctive/Gut

Type 8s are the challengers. They are strong, decisive, and protective. Some might see them as aggressive types, but they will defend themselves and their loved ones whole heartedly. Their biggest fear is weakness. They don’t want to ever be controlled or undermined. They view the world as a dog-eat-dog place and feel the need to be strong to survive. In this sense, they are highly motivated by earning money.

There’s a running joke that the only person an 8 will listen to is themself. So when they set a budget, they will stick to it. They have a ‘Go Big or Go Home’ mindset which could work for or against their favor. They want to earn a lot of money because money is a social status symbol that tells others they are on top. But they also don’t mind spending money with their ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. At their worst, they are stubborn and even delusional with their financial habits.

The good thing about 8s is how they protect their loved ones. They will do the hard things to care for others. Sometimes, this makes them prone to burn out. Physical illness befalls type 8s often. They will financially support their family members the best they can.

Ways in which Type 8s can transcend their finances:

  • Fierce 8s are good negotiators. You should use this to their advantage. Type 8s would make great salespeople or could negotiate a better salary for themselves at their current job. No one is going to rip them off and get away with it.
  • Listen to other people’s money stories. It isn’t the easiest thing for 8s to do, as they are programmed to think theirs is the best way, but learning from others could pay out in the end.
  • Sometimes 8s spend money to feel in control. Notice when you are doing that. Instead, reframe it as your money controlling you. To be better in control of money, focus on a budget.

Type 9. The Peacekeepers

  • Main motivator: Easy to get along with
  • Reaction: Anger
  • Processing: Instinctive/Gut

Type 9s think they need to be easy to get along with. Think of them as the gentle and creative devil’s advocates in the Enneagram world. Their biggest fear is conflict and separation from the people they care about. Type 9s struggle with numbness to self and numbless to life. Some sources call them sloth-like and indolent. They do only what they need to get by. Likewise in terms of finances, they only want to earn enough to live their life. Type 9s are not very motivated by money. In fact, a statistic shows that type 9s are the least likely Enneagram type to make over $150k per year. Only 4% of the people in this salary bracket at type 9s.

Type 9s also struggle with prioritization. They are thoughtful and considerate with their outcomes and options. Unfortunately, they also get overwhelmed easily. They often don’t know what’s most important and where to go next. This leads to procrastination. Type 9s get overwhelmed by money too. They hardly want to create the systems that will help them with money. However, once it is done for them by someone more proactive, they can follow systems quite well. They are of the set-it and forget-it types, because peacemakers TRULY WILL forget it.

Their strengths lie in the fact that they don’t need a lot and are not big spenders. They are happiest with ‘useful’ purchases and prefer to spend on hobbies over status symbols. 56% of peacekeepers define being wealthy as having what they need. However, because they are so kind and agreeable, they may get pulled into trips, movies and outings they wouldn’t attend on their own.

Ways in which Type 9s can transcend their finances:

  • Create a vision board of your wants in life. This may spark interest and inspire action. Type 9s are actually very creative people which is why vision boards are a great thing to do. They don’t always have the right words to explain what they want, but they can cut out pictures or images of what they hope for.
  • Like type 2s, type 9s will benefit from having a friend hold their hand. Budgeting dates work best for a type 9. Creating finance goals and having an accountability partner is helpful too. Pick someone who is more go-getter than you, not another peacemaker. My husband is actually a Type 9 through and through. It works out really well for us. He lets me (a type 1) formulate the budget, and then he goes through and adds and subtracts from it as needed. I am crucial to getting the job started, but I need him to curate it for me in an intentional way.
  • These self-less creatures name gifts as an expenditure that gives them joy. Create a ‘fun money’ category in your budget.
  • Definitely budget! 9s seek inner peace and having a budget set every month actually calms them down since there is a plan set out for them.

As I said in the very beginning, enneagrams are meant as a framework for understanding the people around you but it is by no means set in stone. If anything, I hope you found this fun. Enneagrams have changed my life and have improved the way I interact with people. I actually have a specific person in my life for each enneagram type. These are the ways in which I give to them financially.

  • Type 1: Give them a gift, just-because.
  • Type 2: Constantly tell them they don’t have to buy anything or do anything for me. I schedule self-care-centered dates, such as coffee, hiking, or beach days for my type 2s.
  • Type 3: Tell them they are successful enough.
  • Type 4: Gift the most random/unique item I can find to gift them, usually from my travels.
  • Type 5: Remind them to spend on themselves.
  • Type 6: Buy them gift-cards to restaurants or essentials.
  • Type 7: Gift them experiences over things.
  • Type 8: Thank them for their hard work.
  • Type 9: Set up systems for their finances.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Financial Self-Care

Here we are, back again on this topic of self-care. It is a recurring theme in this space, and appropriately so. The concept of self-care is a crucial tool for people of color, women, poor communities, and the LGBTQ movement as they work to dismantle the systems working tirelessly to keep them down. It was created with the following question in mind: “If I don’t take care of myself, who will?” Self-care and FIRE (financial independence, early retirement) are similar in a way. Both require taking into one’s hands the situations presented to them and navigating around a system that would otherwise keep us on the hamster wheel called life. So what does financial self-care look like?

For starters, self-care does not mean self-soothe.

Like everything else, self-care as of late has become a commercialized term. Self-care is marketed to young generations as buying products to ‘take care of themselves’. Yes, some products can help with self-care. I wrote a list when I turned thirty of my own products. But more often that not, the products fall short. That’s because self-care does not mean self-soothe.

Self-care isn’t buying things to make yourself feel better about your situation. Throwing money at something won’t make it go away. If anything, spending money on ‘self-care products’ could be hurting you in the long run, at least financially. It will make you feel better for a short while. Perhaps enough to deal with the situation, sure. But self-care products will never take away the cause of the problem. One day, you wake up back at square one.

Here are 10 Ways to Practice Self-Care Without Spending Money

Self-Care is Doing the Hard Bits

I could have said something else instead of ‘Bits’ but I didn’t. You know what I mean. Most often, it is really about doing the hardest things in life. Here are a few examples.

  • Showing up one more day, when you just want to give up.
  • Working that extra shift to save enough money to buy your financial freedom.
  • Not eating that slice of cake in order to be a healthier person.
  • Waking up at 5:30am in the morning so you can hit the gym before work.
  • Staying up late at night getting the household chores done because you spent your day-time hours with the kids.
  • Resisting to keep up with the Joneses because you know it hurts you financially.
  • Standing up to your boss, colleague or partner who is taking advantage of you.
  • Quitting a job that is not aligned with your values.

Self-care is about showing up for yourself. That means doing the hard things in order to better your life. It’s taking care of yourself at the core, ensuring the future you want for yourself, TODAY. Usually, that means resisting buying all the self-care products. Ironic, isn’t it?

Financial Self-Care

If I am going to be brutally honest, financial self-care not about rewarding yourself for your hard work with a shopping spree. It’s not about treating yourself to dinner after a long day. Skipping your workout because work was exhausting is not taking care of yourself. Scrolling for hours or watching mind-numbing TV isn’t the way to fix a mentally tiring day. All of this is self-soothing, not self-caring.

Self-care is pushing through the hard work and continuing on. Because the goal is to get through the hard stuff in order to reach your destination. Erase the “I deserve it” mentality. What we all deserve is a reality check. Self-care as its sold today only sets you back.

Contrary to deprivation, TRUE financial self-care is fueling your life energy into whatever gets you to financial freedom. Some people attack this belief with accusations of deprivation. If you asked me, deprivation could be viewed the other way. By buying into consumerist culture, you are depriving yourself of true freedom from the grind.

Here are a few examples of financial self-care:

  • Budgeting every dollar that you earn.
  • Investing your money instead of spending it.
  • Cutting out certain relationships with people concerned about the Joneses.
  • Saying no to societal norms and expectations.
  • Having tough conversations with friends and family about what it means to spend money.
  • Dissociating from the idea that ‘more expensive’ means ‘better’.

Look out for yourself.

Corporations want you to spend your hard-earned dollars on products. And there’s no better time to convince you of doing so than when you are most exhausted, fatigued, stressed, and burnt out. That’s why companies hang onto the term, promising to fix all your problems if you just buy this ONE item. They manipulate the term’s original intention. ’Take care of yourself’ they say, pretending to care about the real you. But just remember, Who will this really help in the long run? Wouldn’t paying for self-care services and products keep you working day in and day out? Doesn’t that keep you away from time off, time with family, and time to take a break?

Let’s not get it twisted. As the founders of the term self-care thought to themselves, “Who will take care of us if not ourselves?” They couldn’t rely on systems that worked to keep them in their place. Financial self-care is about financial freedom. That’s all it is.

Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash

Play Pretend: Back-to-School

I cannot believe I am writing this post mid-August. Back in my day, school would resume after Labor Day. If you were lucky, a few extra weeks were granted and your return date would be late September. Then again, I can’t believe I am saying ‘Back in my day’. Times have changed, that’s for sure. So I thought it appropriate that this post also have a different focus for back-to-school.

This is a curated list of things to support college students going back-to-school. It doesn’t comprise of popularity inducing products. Rather, it is a mix of basic essentials that could carry a college student beyond school and could last a long time. This means less hard-earned dollars spent, and less student debt taken out over time. Included are items that would also be of use during stressful times, which there were plenty. Lastly, a few investment items that would overall reduce spending. I truly believe when we have goods that we absolutely love and adore, we don’t really go to the outside world searching for more.

In general, be minimalist, choose timeless pieces, and high-quality goods. Then keep them until they lose function. That is good advice to follow for life.

Back-to-School Essentials

  1. A coffee maker that can make fuel you for the entire day. (In September 2021, The Perfect Brew reports that women spend about $2,327 per year on their coffee habit, while men spend almost $400 less, at $1,934 per year. Save yourself money!)
  2. The only pen and paper you’ll ever need
  3. A smart sleep assistant that also gets you to class on time
  4. This kettle for coffee, tea, and instant cup of ramen noodles
  5. An Anti-Anxiety Therapy Notebook
  6. A reusable water bottle
  7. A toaster for one to reduce your electricity bill (avoid the oven if you can!)
  8. Noise-cancelling earbuds.
  9. One reliable pan to cook all your meals at home – you only need one!
  10. A laptop bag (Does anyone use text books anymore?)
  11. Reusable lunch containers

I wish every student luck on their first day back-to-school.

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