Manage Your Money in 8 Minutes

(originally posted on Medium, February 26th, 2018)

Track your spending
Open a bank account
Open an investment account
Get a credit card
Read these recommended books
And stop stressing about money.

Some people know how much money they have down to the next penny; when their next dollar is coming in and when the next dollar is going out. I think that’s insane. If it makes you happy, do it. But I’ve always focused on systems to manage my money. That way, I don’t have to think about it.

Do what you can now, and bookmark this, so you always have it ready.

Also, Im thinking about doing 30 minute FaceTime calls with friends to chat about a plan for their budgeting/credit cards. Let me know if you’re interested and we can chat! I still haven’t figured out what to charge for it.


Here’s the quick guide to managing your money
Okay, starting off easy.


Track your spending with Mint. It’s super easy and you can link all your accounts. After a few months, you’ll be able to tell me over a cup of coffee that you spend about $260 a month on groceries and $42 a month at coffee shops without even looking. Soon, you’ll be a superhuman. Unlike 95% of the US population, you’ll know exactly how much money you need (I made that up). And when you know that, you’ll know exactly how much money you need to make. And of course, when you know how much money you need, you can turn down the high-paying job you hate and take the fun job that you’re passionate about.

(edit: I don’t restrict my spending… I just look at it at the end of each month so I maintain a good idea of where my money is going)


Charles Schwab. The reason I use this specific bank is because there are no monthly fees, no ATM fees worldwide, and it's a quick and easy way to set up a Roth IRA too. 

Now that you know your spending habits, you should be able to calculate how much money you need in your checking account each month. The rest you can divide between savings, investing, travel and charity. Here’s a public Google Sheet where you can plug and play. Link

Now that you know exactly how much money you’re going to set aside each month, set up an automatic deposit from your checking account to each respective account, on repeat. If you get paid every 2 weeks, cut the amount in half and schedule it for 2 or 3 days after you get paid.


Set up a Robinhood account. Because you’ve already committed to investing X amount per month, you can now set up an Automatic Deposit in Robinhood as well. That way you don’t have to think about it. Money is always flowing into your investment account and it keeps growing. If you don’t want to put too much time into it, invest in large companies you firmly believe in, as well as ETFs (Exchange Trade Funds). Once money goes in, don’t pull it out. ETFs allow you to invest in an industry as a whole. The fastest way to lose your money is to continuously trade it. Buy and hold.

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with Robinhood and understand trading a bit, I’d highly highly highly recommend also setting up an automatic deposit into a Roth IRA account for retirement.

Credit Cards

Pleeeaaassseeee don’t let your fear of credit cards shy you away from this section. I recommend that every 18 year old (and older) get at least 1 credit card to build their credit. Once you build your credit, you’ll get better rates on home/car loans, better acceptance rates when renting/buying your first house, and you’ll get approved for any credit related thing you want/need.

DO: Buy a few things a month on the credit cards and set up an automatic payment to pay off your balance IN FULL each month.

DON'T carry a balance from month to month.

DO: Always pay on time. Never utilize more than 20% of your credit limit (e.g. you have $1000 limit. Don’t let that total balance get higher than $200. I know, it’s weird). Those two right there (pay on time and utilization) account for 65% of your credit score. Who knew it was so easy. The other 35% comes from your “average credit length,” “new credit” and “credit types.” To win at these three categories… don’t cancel your $0 annual fee credit cards. I have a credit card from 18 that I’ll never cancel because it keeps my average high.

DON'T apply for new credit cards too often. Wait AT LEAST 91 days. But…. I’d really recommend waiting 6 months before opening a new credit card (your credit score gets dinged every time, which effect “new credit.” As you get older, you’ll have more types of credit (car loan, mortgage, student loan, etc) which will help the “credit types” section.


DO: Get a Credit Karma account so you can keep track of your credit score (free) and know which credit cards you’ll get approved for. You can also see anything weird going on with your accounts here.

DON'T change your mentality towards money. No, it is not unlimited. Yes, you still have to pay it off. Yes, credit card debt can happen to you. You don’t have to pick up the tab because you want to show off your new card. Think of it as a debit card. If you find yourself at the end of your first month thinking “shhhhhhiiiiiittttttt” how did that happen… then put the card in a drawer and never touch it again.

Here’s the order I recommend: If you don’t have a credit card, and your credit score is under 710, get the Discover It card. If you’re over 710, go for the Citi Double Cash. And if you already have a standard card and want to “play the game,” go for the Sapphire. And then after 6 months, the Venture One.

Personal Credit Cards
Discover It Student Card: Super easy to get approved. No annual fee. Get it, use it, build your credit a bit, and then get….
Any Chase Freedom Cards: No annual fee. Good Sign Up Bonus. Chase Points are the best. 
Citi Double Cash Back: My favorite card. 2% cash back on everything. No annual fee. Hold it for life.
Chase Sapphire: $95 annual fee (waived for the first year). Amazing travel perks and ~ $500+ signup bonus. If you have a reason to spend $3000 in the first 3 months, then do it. Don’t buy random stuff just for this…. If you want, you can even set up a PayPal account, invoice yourself, pay yourself with the credit card, and eat the 3% fee. You’ll be out $90, but up $500 ($410 isn’t too bad). After 360 days (or so), call Chase and downgrade to the Chase Freedom card. That way you preserve your credit history.
Capital One Venture: Essentially the same exact card as the Chase Sapphire. The metal is thicker and makes you look even more badass if you care about that. Same thing, after a year, call and downgrade to the Venture One.
Amazon 5% back: It sounds great… and it is. When you spend a TON of money on Amazon. If you spend more than 5K a year on Amazon, get it. If not, you’re better off rotating travel credit cards and getting those perks).

Travel Credit Cards
American, United, and Delta: 
$95 fee. Waived for the first year. They all offer 30,000 to 60,000 points for sign up, depending on the month ($300-$600). Wait until the signup offer is at least 50K. This could be after you sign up for their newsletter/mailing list, or it could be on your next flight with that carrier (I got 50K on American, 50K on United and 70K on Delta).
JetBlue: Free. 10,000 point sign up ($100).

However, I hate travel credit cards. Yes, they are nice and free points, but you’re locked in with one carrier. When I was flying down to Atlanta every few weeks, I always flew United. So I got the United card. Makes sense. If you’re trying to fly to South America for a surf trip, American Airlines might be for you. The only real issue is when you see that super cheap flight that’s $100 cheaper, now you have to decide if you want to pay in cash or over-pay in points. If you’re looking to balance credit cards and play the credit card game, get the cards listed above before getting these.

Business Credit Cards
Chase Ink Preferred (Approx. $1,000 sign up bonus. $95 annual fee. Need EIN/LLC to get it, but totally worth it).

Again, be careful. It’s super easy to get carried away with free points. I have about 10 credit cards (at the time of this article) and am super systematic about how I manage them. This should add pleasure to your life, not stress.

Andddd if you really like to travel, get the Chase Sapphire Reserve and enjoy your Chase Ink and Chase Sapphire points going a little bit further :)

Now What

Ahhhh okay. So. You now have a bank account that won’t ding you $5 a month for having a low balance. You have a budget in place so you know where your money is going each month. You put the systems in place that allows your money to grow, save, and donate, without even thinking about it. And now you have a credit card plan that prepares you for the future and allows you to benefit A LOT from all the perks.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Medium for updates.
Check out my reading list below if you find this still fascinating.
Comment and share to let me know your thoughts!

Reading List

Rich Dad Poor Dad (super helpful for understanding what it means to build your investments and have them earn money for you)

Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (a nice book on life. My favorite book)

E Myth (A book on building systems. Worth a read even for non-business people)


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