How I Stopped Mismanaging My Finances and How You Can Too : Under30CEO How I Stopped Mismanaging My Finances and How You Can Too : Under30CEO
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How I Stopped Mismanaging My Finances and How You Can Too

| July 29, 2014 | 41 Comments

financial mismanagement

Hey Under30CEO,

Two weeks ago I sent an email talked about some honest truths about looking at your financial picture…. and guess what happened?

It was the lowest response rate to an email I’ve had in months.

Why?  Not because you all have it all under control… No– it’s because of what everyone told me who did respond to the email.  It sucks to look at this stuff.  

About 50 people spilled their guts about having huge mental blocks around money and personal finance including:

  • Fear, stress, and procrastination about looking at your bank account
  • Not knowing where your money goes and fear of sorting through your issues
  • Not liking money and simply not wanting to deal with it

Look– I have a confession to make.  

I was the same way for years, and even still I struggle with it at times.  Quick story:

After my galavant across six countries this spring, it was time to do my expense report for Under30Experiences.  (yes, we have expense reports)

I was absolutely *dreading* calculating how much money I had spent.  I know it sounds douchey to say that, but this is how these issues start.  We’re not allowed to talk about money, and unless we do, we’ll never come clean.

I put off the simple task of reconciling my American Express bill into our accounting system for THREE MONTHS.

Not only was this financially irresponsible, but every time I thought about it, I procrastinated and didn’t want to look at it.  It caused me a huge amount of stress and mental energy.

“Sh*t I really need to look at my AMEX bill,” was probably repeated 200x in my head over those three months.

When I realized this mental block could be causing strain on my relationship with my co-founder, I finally cracked down.  AND, once I calculated it– which took me only twenty minutes, the amount I had been fearing was thousands less than I made it up to be in my head.

All that anxiety, stress, fear, and bullsh*t for nothing.

I don’t want to have these mental blocks anymore and neither should you.

In the Under30CEO insiders program we’ve been working a lot on this stuff (opt-in for free here), but seriously, now is the time in our life that we need to do the work.

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to be WAY worse including:

  • Hundreds in overdraft and late fees
  • Thousands because of my high APR credit card I never could bring myself to investigate
  • Black marks on my credit report b/c I never open my f*cking mail

What I did to solve my problems with money that you can put into action:

  1. Harness the mentalities of wealthy people.  Read: Think and Grow Rich.  It’s a lot like the old expression “dress for the job you want”, but this time you think like the people who have money like you want.
  2. Start examining your deep rooted beliefs about money.  Write down all the stuff about growing up that might have made you the way you are when it comes to finances.  Most of these beliefs are from your parents, not you.
  3. Get your sh*t together when it comes to managing your dollars.  Sign up for and figure out where your money goes!
  4. Read Ramit Sethi’s book I Will Teach You to Be Rich and his six week program on getting your finances together.
  5. Do some meditations around abundance and attracting wealth.  It sounds hokey, but you are re-programming your subconscious to think and act like someone who is wealthy.  I used Mindvalley’s free Omvana App.

It’s no different from Snoop Dogg saying, “Mind on my money, and my money on my mind”.  If all you think about is getting paper, then it’s going to be imprinted in your subconscious to always be seeking financial opportunity.

Homework: Leave a comment and I’ll respond today.  What tools have you used to manage your finances? and 2) What action steps have helped you or are you taking today?

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO and Adventurer in Residence at the travel company Under30Experiences.

About the Author: Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO. After two years traveling and working from his laptop, Matt's official title became Adventurer in Residence, heading up Under30Media's travel company Under30Experiences. If Matt is around he will be easy to spot as his long luxurious hair is generally flowing freely in the breeze.

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Category: Entrepreneurship, Personal Finance

  • Daniel C. Andrews

    Tapping resources can help too. Trusted friends and colleagues can act as financial mentors, role models, accountability partners, or even advisors. Chances are that someone in your network is in the Personal Finance Profession. In addition to helping existing clients, I personally love coaching people on how to set up a sensible financial foundation. The trick is to find someone in your network that you trust to bounce ideas off and personal financial freedom can be yours with discipline, smart decisions, and the drive to tackle these responsibilities.

  • Kid in Canada

    I was 25 and had a bank employee tell me “I’ve never thought about telling a person so young to consider bankruptcy before”. I’m 30 now. Have no debt and feel as though I’ve faced all of my fears with regards to money. It hurt. Hurt for a long time. Then it became a reality, face the fears, change my mentality towards money, and be better for it. I don’t make 6 figures but read “The Wealthy Barber” and used every tool available to me to understand how to make money work for me vs against me. It’s worth it.

    Signed, a kid in Canada

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey my friend, thanks for reading… As a US Citizen, it’s nice to know that we have a right to file bankruptcy and start all over again. It sounds like you grateful for that as a Canadian, and have faced those fears. Most people don’t ever face those fears and go talk to their accountant or lawyer.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Dan, glad to see you sharing your knowledge here. I know you have a ton of experience in the field and I’m really happy we had the chance to get to know one another on our U30X trip. Tapping resources is powerful– you are putting out some great content for Under30CEO soon, and I had the opportunity to ping you about my 401k. This is a perfect example of how utilizing someone in your network works. Thanks for being part of our community.

  • Chan-Lo

    Lucky for me, as I blogger I come across tons of content every day so, when I finally reached that storied point when one realizes they’ve only got themselves to blame, I was fortunate enough to stumble on a Twitter following dubbed Brass Knuckle Finance ( which brings constant reminders right to my news feed. forces me to understand reports, see how debt weighs with monthly income, set budgets (which I never did before) and reminds me when I’ve overspent my allocated amount. It really is all about training yourself to utilize the tools at your disposal, build self accountability, and come to the realization that bills don’t suck as much as we thought – if we stay ahead of them

  • MattWilsontv

    Hi Chan, thanks for sharing. I’m checking out This Is Why You’re Broke right now. Have you read the book yet?

  • Sirita Wright

    I too would not open mail and dreaded looking at my bank statements. It took a court judgement from an old cc for me to get my checks & balances in order. I searched online and found a community program that has been wonderful in getting my student loans organized and under control, getting the cc judgements settled and in one instance dismissed, I had no idea what was going on because I was scared to open the mail. Largely because my salary at the time was not in line with paying ANYONE anything. lol I am now working with this same organization, that does not charge by the way to create and implement a budget. I am very excited for this chapter and I have vowed to NEVER dig myself in such a hole again. I used Mint at one point but was so upside down I didn’t get the hang of it. Now with my fiances falling into place I am excited to give it another go and create some financial goals.

  • Tameka

    This is so on point! I needed this confirmation. I recently started using to manage my finances and I LOVE IT! I recently decided to put my big girl panties on and look at the money I was spending. I discovered I eat out way too much and now I’m working on a plan to eat at home more but also carry snacks with me to reduce the chance of being in a hurry and buying something quick.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Sirita, thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes is just as hard as opening up your bank statement in the mail… especially when it requires some work on your part or you see overdraft fees you need to look into, or payments approaching. I try to look at my mint every single day just to make it habitual and be thankful for what I have.

    How did you dig yourself out of your hole? Any tools besides Mint?

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Tameka, thanks for sharing YNBA (You Need a Budget). It looks like a paid tool– why do you choose this over something free like Mint? Curious to know.

  • Katie D

    As a young adult starting out in my career, I dread looking at my finances. My students loans especially stress me out everyday. But the time is now to get it together. I signed up for ( and it helped me put debt into perspective. It was my cheerleader when I needed it most – I would get congratulatory emails when I made payments, paid off a credit card, etc. I needed someone to share in the accomplishment of getting out of debt. It really is how you think about money and changing your attitude. It should always be about how you can make more money, but how you can make your money work for you.

  • Katie D

    Edit: It’s should NOT always be about making more money, but how you can make the money you have work for you.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Katie, thanks for sharing your tool above. I heard a good quote from the guy at, he said he read Think and Grow Rich and wrote down his intention to make millions of dollars. By the time he was 26 he’d made several million and lost it all. He forgot to write down “make millions of dollars and keep it”. Big difference…

  • Katie D

    Yup, definitely a big difference! I like that you are bringing finances into the light because it’s a red herring that no one ever wants to talk about it but it’s extremely important.

  • Cliff

    For some additional insights on this topic – check out “The Millennials Perspective on Money & Impact Investing” at GreenMoney new July issue – 5 articles written by Millennials. Link to articles –


  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Cliff, good stuff, glad to see Millennials are taking charge of this stuff and publications are recognizing it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anne

    Matt! I love this!!! I have tackled the approach part in terms of my mentality towards money which is a huge step in the work that I have to do. I save my receipts and also have a small book that I sometimes write my debt and expenses down in so I can see where ‘m at come bill time. I think the most important part I need to do though is SAVE! Whenever I have a shortfall (I’m a seasonal worker) I kick myself for not having enough cushion for the pushing of my lifestyle! But I have made a goal of how much I want to save and my goa;s for the end of this year that should get me on track…and as much as I hate to admit it, I have to slow down the travels and just buckle down for a little to get myself together. BUT this is honest, takes courage and I thank you!

  • Cara Murphy

    Thanks for sharing Matt! I’m pretty lucky that I have never been in debt and I’ve worked my butt off since college to keep it that way. But I feel like I keep putting off looking at my near term future to see what I can be doing to actively manage (and grow) my finances instead of just being passive and cutting costs. Think and Grow Rich is definitely on my reading list!

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Cara, I’ve read the book a bunch of times, and most recently came across the revised edition. It was originally written in the 1930s and had a lot of Christian undertones, so when they recently revised it to speak more about the laws of how the universe and your subconscious brain works it resonated much more with me. Let me know what you think.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Anne, glad you appreciate the honesty.

    I absolutely *hate* saving receipts for business expenses, it’s clutter that pollutes my life and then I just throw them in a file, or a pocket of my suitcase and never look at them again…

    Does anyone have any good apps for this? My only problem is that I don’t want a bunch of pictures of receipts in my iPhones Camera Roll…. bonus points if they sync with Wave Accounting.

  • Eileen Connors

    My goal this year was to be financially organized by the end of 2014. When I calculated my 2013 taxes, that through me for a loop. My first goal was to eliminate debt (aside from mortgage and student loan). That was accomplished. I will finish paying my 2013 taxes this month. I finally got myself accustomed to Quickbooks, and now I am having my boyfriend really look into my books (he’s a CPA / financial analyst so that helps) for one of my businesses so that for 2015 I can actually set up budgets and projections. I have to say, getting financially organized feels soooo good.

    Also, I’d like to share this meditation for when you are worrying about money:

  • MattWilsontv

    Thanks Katie. It’s definitely something our generation needs to talk about! Thanks for the followup.

  • Lorrice Grant

    ok this is a really good start. I hate talking about money and a nudge to refocus is priceless!

  • Blanca

    I haven’t been tracking my spending as well as I should. In general I’m a very frugal person but I do tend to spend too much on food. Recently I’ve been tracking my expenses since I did rack up quite a bit of credit card debt. My goal is to try halve my credit card debt by the end of this year.

  • Gabrielle Shahid

    Really great post. One this that I have done that has been the ultimate financial miracle for me is a zero balance budget. I do my budget every payday (instead of in advance) and I take out all my expenses until I literally have nothing left. So I take out all the bills first, then things like money for entertainment, gas, food, savings, etc. The food and entertainment money is always in cash because those are the areas I spend the most and once the cash is gone so is my eating out. This has really made me more accountable because there pretty much is no room for error. Once the money is gone its gone. It creates a lot of discipline. To help with cash flow I break my bills up between paychecks so bills from the 1st to the 15th are paid with one check and bills from the 16th-30th are paid with another.

  • cgitosh

    I was really undisciplined with money (still need to improve) and my major enabler was the ATM card. Scenario: I’m out with friends and my planned cash limit is X, but as the night goes on and the party gets better and better and my X party cash is gone, what do I do? find the nearest cash dispensing machine and let the party continue. I stopped this habit by getting rid of the freaking ATM card and replaced with a cheque book, now before I go to withdraw cash, I do a budget and only withdraw that amount. If my X party cash runs out, it’s home time baby!

  • MattWilsontv

    Wow the good ole fashioned checkbook. I wasn’t expecting this an answer, but if that’s what works, then do it! I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from people in casinos taking out cash and gambling it away… having a planned cash limit is a great idea though.

    I find that psychologically dealing with cash is a mini-hack that really works– you feel the money actually being let out of your wallet, instead of just a meaningless digital transaction. A friend of mine was doing this living in New York and threw me $1500 rolled up in hundreds. It’d been a long time since I held that much cash and it really hit me when he told me that’s what he spends in rent every month.

    It’s good for your brain to associate what money smells and feels like. When your brain is linked with these sensory perceptions it’s a lot easier to go home early. Also linking emotions to money is very powerful– it’s why I enjoy spending money on travel so much. It brings me tremendously positive emotions.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Lorrice, thanks for reading– I’ve been giving a lot of nudges to our newsletter at lately, and sometimes they aren’t so subtle. Let me know what you need help with and I can try to write about it in an upcoming post.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey @gabrielleshahid:disqus glad to hear you are using cash as a way to hack your finances… I address this in the comment above with our friend @cgitosh:disqus…

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Blanca what kind of tools/strategies are you using to budget / save so you can pay down the debts? Let us know, I think a lot of other people are struggling with this.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey @eileenconnors:disqus good to hear another U30Xer in the convo. I’m going to check out this mediation this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sadie

    Im 23 seriously considering bankruptcy (I live in Australia).
    I want a app like mint, but we cant get it here. Any other ideas?
    P.s thanks for the article.

  • MichaelEFear

    Great article Matt!

    I definitely think all of Dave Ramsey’s work should be added. It’s helped me a ton.

  • cgitosh

    Hehehe good old checkbook my friend and because of it me and MS excel are now BFF. Every month I open an excel sheet and do my budget, before that I was just spending money freestyle and at the end of the month you ask me how I spent the money! no idea. I also have a debit card that is not linked to my main a/c which I allocate money to every month as well, I mainly use that for online purchases.

  • Blanca

    Well, basically I set attainable 30/60/90 day goals to pay down my debt. Every month I review the implementation to see how well I’m doing. I also use a sheet I got from a local wealth club, it’s called the Reality Check Sheet, it helps me properly gage my financial situation. :)

  • MattWilsontv

    Thanks for responding and glad you aren’t just freestyle money spending anymore. I reconcile all my expenses in excel too. Can’t beat the simplicity!

  • MattWilsontv

    Hi Sadie, someone suggested… not sure if there is an app, but I’ve heard positive things about the program.

  • MattWilsontv

    Thanks @MichaelEFear:disqus, if you had to read or listen to just 1 Dave Ramsey program, what would it be?

  • MattWilsontv

    Thanks @disqus_GJLDGTYIpj:disqus. Your local wealth club has my intrigued– is this a networking group / support system in your local area? I haven’t heard of this and think a lot of our readers would be interested. Accountability with your finances is key and having an open forum to discuss these things would be a big help!

  • MichaelEFear
  • MattWilsontv

    Awesome @MichaelEFear:disqus thanks for the followup!