OppLoans Q&A with Ashley Stetts, The Frugal Model: Part II

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Ashley Stetts is a working model and creator of The Frugal Model, bringing you tips for saving, investing and living your best life on a respectable budget. In 2015, Ashley also founded her own modeling agency, Stetts Management, a boutique firm that represents fitting models of all sizes.

You can also check out Part One of our interview with Ashley.

What would you tell someone who’s looking to start investing from scratch?

Educate yourself on the market, and find a financial advisor who you trust. Don’t be afraid of investing your money – it’s how the rich maintain their wealth. At the same time, don’t feel that you need to invest if the timing isn’t right. Be sure all of your debt is paid off and you have a good emergency fund set up before you lock money away or risk it.

You’re Canadian. Are there any general differences you’ve noticed between how Canadians handle their finances and how Americans do? Are there methods for spending, saving, or investing that work better in Canada than they do in the States, or vice versa?

I think that in North America as a whole, we are generally a very consumer-driven society. We spend beyond our means and carry loads of debt. I think the same rules for handling your finances would apply the same way to either country.

In your “5 Money Rules to Live By” you mention the importance of staying positive. What are the best methods and resources that you recommend for maintaining a positive outlook?

There is definitely a “poor person mentality” that can keep people stuck in one place. It’s important to believe that you are capable of attaining financial freedom despite your circumstances. I am a big believer in writing down your financial goals and having it somewhere you can read it every day. It will remind you to take action steps to make it a reality. Perhaps that means getting a side job, or cutting something out that can help save money, or not buying things you simply don’t need. Stop making excuses for why you’ll never have money and BELIEVE that you are capable of being debt free and living the life that you wish for yourself.

What are your best tips for managing loans and credit?

I always tell people to prioritize paying debts by whatever has the highest interest rates. Don’t keep money in a savings account while you pay crazy interest rates on debt you can pay off! Also, don’t buy things off credit if you can’t afford to pay it off almost immediately. If you don’t have the money in the bank, you can’t afford to buy it … so don’t.

Is there an approach to budgeting that you find works better than other methods? Are there any specific apps or programs that you recommend?

I take a look at my bank accounts and credit card transactions at least 2-3 times a week. I also use Mint to see an overall snapshot of my spending and money so that I can keep things in check. This way, when I see spending getting out of hand, I can take a closer look at where the money is going and where I can pull back.

If you could go back in time and start all over, would you change anything about the way you’ve handled your finances?

I wish I had better educated myself on investing when I was younger. I did an incredible job of saving, but I was always so afraid of risking my money and losing it that I did not take advantage of potentially making a ton of money with smart investments. At the end of the day though, the fact that I was able to create smart saving and spending habits young helped me to have the money necessary to live a comfortable life now and start my own modeling agency, Stetts Model Management, without the help of any outside investors. It was worth living within my means when I was in my 20’s to have this kind of financial security now.

For more of Ashley’s financial tips, check out www.TheFrugalModel.com.

She’s on Twitter as @thefrugalmodel, and on Instagram as @astetts.

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