Recently, Johnny and I were contacted by a talk show in LA to be possible guests on a segment about money-saving tips. A producer from the show wanted to get on Skype with us and chat about our “area of expertise.” We went back and forth on how to respond to the email. “Umm, no, sorry, TV’s not really our thing,” or “Yes, you’ll enjoy the free publicity after one of us face plants on a wire during the segment and the clip goes viral.” But ultimately, we decided to carpe the diem and agreed to the call.
Before our video chat, Johnny and I sat down together and decided to figure out what our “expertise” actually is. My knee-jerk response was “budgeting.” We divulge our monthly budget. We think everything starts with having a budget and that nothing else really matters if you don’t have a budget. But Johnny stopped me dead in my budgeting-rant tracks and said, “No, Jo. She won’t want to hear about that. She’ll want simple, clear, quick tips for saving money.” Duh, of course he was right.
So we talked over some of our favorite tips that were quick, easy, and kinda interesting to explain and then both hopped on the Skype call.
We exchanged “Hello’s” and introductions and then the producer got right down to business and asked us, “What are your go-to money saving tips?” So we started explaining some of our money-saving go-to’s:
- Backwards budgeting
- Sleep-on-it rule
- Calling and negotiating your phone bill
- Cutting cable
- Meal planning
She listened for a few minutes and then stopped us. “Those are interesting, but do you have any big saving wins or tips? Things people can do to save, like, 50% of their budget? More specific numbers or percentages? Like doing this will save you X% each month? See what I’m saying?”
We saw exactly what she was saying. And she’d gotten on the call with the wrong people. We tried to work with her and give her more specifics:
- How a family of four can have a $450 food budget
- Saving 25% by buying refurbished
- How we were flying three for free for two years
But these weren’t very sensational. And it was clear these weren’t what she was looking for either. She wanted extreme, and we simply weren’t (and will never be) those people. In fact, we kinda pride ourselves on being mostly normal-ish (those of you snickering, quiet). The call ended soon after, and Johnny and I knew we hadn’t sparked her fancy. She’d said something like, “We’ll be in touch down the road.” before signing off.
We both walked away a bit dazed and confused. Within a few minutes, our brains started working again and started putting the pieces together. The nice producer had her marching orders to find the extreme, outrageous, bizarre, crazy ways to cut down on spending. And it’s not because those are the most effective tips, but because that’s what sells. She was tasked with finding tips that sizzled, not necessarily advice on how to change one’s mindset about money or making long-term changes or sticking to a budget. Because let’s face it — that’s boring. And oftentimes realllly, realllly hard. And not exciting enough. And not immediately gratifying for a generation (including us) who scoffs at any shipments that don’t arrive in two days or less.
Here’s the truth. There’s no quick fix or magic rule that will turn your finances around. It takes time, hard work, sacrifice, and lots of and lots of good ol’ budgeting. And budgeting would make a TERRIBLE infomercial.
Now you see that number over here under the Clothing category? Watch how quickly it changes from $150 to $0 with one innocent trip to Target. WHAMMO!
The truth about saving money is that it’s not all that sexy — like, at all. I wish that’s what talk shows told people. To that end, I wish that’s what people wanted to hear. But it’s not. And that bums us out because those boring things are the ingredients to freedom and financial peace of mind. We do our best to add a little color to the monochromatic world of personal finance, but there’s only so much to work with. The journey to financial freedom isn’t all that glamorous, but with the right goals and motivations, the hope is that it will all be worth it.
So while we may have missed our chance at daytime TV stardom, we’re content to keep chugging along on our boring, merry way. And we’re glad to have some pretty great company here.