Aug. 22, 2022

Taking a Six-Figure Side Hustle Full-Time in Two Years

Money with Katie on the micro-cuts & budget hacks that create financial freedom


 Nora chats with Katie Gatti Tassin, creator of Money with Katie and host of The Money with Katie Show, about how she turned her side hustle into a lucrative full-time gig, and why she thinks having a bunch of side hustles in this hustle-culture environment may not always be the best decision for your happiness. She also explains how to start budgeting in your own life and how to set yourself up for success, even in the event of a recession. For more info on our presenting sponsor, check out realvision.com/businesscasual

 

Host: Nora Ali

Producers: Bella Hutchins, Olivia Meade   

Video Editor: Sebastian Vega

Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus

Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder

Fact Checker: Kate Brandt 

Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop

VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer 

 

Full transcripts for all Business Casual episodes available at https://businesscasual.fm

Transcript

Nora Ali: From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, bringing you conversations with people you know, and some you may not know yet, to make business less intimidating. Because money talks, but it does not have to be dull. I'm your host, Nora Ali. Now let's get down to business.

We have a very special episode for you today, the Morning Brew content crossover we've all been waiting for. Katie Gatti Tassin, who you might know as @MoneywithKatie, turned her interest in personal finance into a business and a community. What you may not know is that personal finance blogging was Katie's side hustle. One that she managed to take full time and scale to a half million dollar venture in just two years. As she tells it, Katie has devoted her corner of the internet to the psychology of money, financial independence, and upgrading your lifestyle and happiness, regardless of your income bracket. Her content ecosystem extends across social, newsletter, and podcast platforms. Be sure to check out The Money with Katie Show from Morning Brew. And I wanted to find out how she made it all happen, how she turned this side hustle into a lucrative full-time gig—which she admitted is more the exception than the rule—and why she thinks having a bunch of side hustles in this hustle culture environment may not always be the best decision for your happiness.

Katie's superpower, in addition to personal finance (and being able to keep an interview going without skipping a beat when her cat's tail is in her face on camera), is breaking down complicated business and financial topics and making them less intimidating, which is super helpful in turbulent times, especially.

We talked about how to start budgeting in your own life—it's less scary than you think—and how to set yourself up for success even in the event of a recession. And we talked about the micro-cuts you can make in your budget that can lead to financial freedom. I can confirm that I'm reflecting on my own spending habits as a result of this conversation. Katie does the math and it might actually surprise you. All that and more is next, after the break. Well, I am so excited that we are doing this, Katie.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Me too.

Nora Ali: A little crossover special. Everyone knows and loves Katie from Money with Katie. And I know this is going to be a fun conversation, because I have learned so much from you already, from your podcast episodes to your newsletter to meeting you in person, but you are just full of knowledge, and there's so much more for me to learn when it comes to money and finances. And I'm sure our listeners will learn a lot from you as well.

But before we get into the meat of it, let us do an icebreaker. It's called Professional Pet Peeves. Okay Katie, I'm sure you have plenty of these. So if you could wave a magic wand and get rid of something at work that annoys you—it could be an interaction, it could be something that people do or don't do—if you could wave that wand and get rid of it, what would that thing be?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Oh, man. Okay. I think probably the way that being very indirect and encoded in your language is considered professional. Like instead of saying, "Oh, I have too much to do right now; this turnaround's way too fast. I can't make that work," we say, "Is there flexibility to reconsider timelines, because my bandwidth is limited and I would like to understand the urgency." So it just turns communication into this game of decoding what the other person actually means. And I'm for sure guilty of it too. And I think the hard part is that it is considered professional.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: So if you were to be super direct and use plain language, you'd probably get a reputation of being unprofessional, despite it being a way more efficient way to communicate with other human beings. But probably that.

Nora Ali: And there's the double standard with being a woman in the workplace too. It's if you're direct, you're considered maybe having an attitude, or sassy, assertive.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Aggressive. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Nora Ali: We know all about that. The first time we met was for our International Women's Month little video, Oscar-winning video that we made for Morning Brew, not Oscar.

Katie Gatti Tassin: The Emmys just keep coming.

Nora Ali: Yeah, exactly. Okay. I love that pet peeve and I could not agree with you more. Okay. Let's get into Money with Katie. For our listeners who don't know, you started Money with Katie as a blog in April 2020, beginning of the, I think you call it the Pamela Anderson or the panini.

Katie Gatti Tassin: The panini.

Nora Ali: The panini.

Katie Gatti Tassin: The panorama.

Nora Ali: It started as a side hustle.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah.

Nora Ali: And incredibly, you took it to a half million dollar venture in just two years, which is just insane to think about.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Thank you.

Nora Ali: So take us to the beginning. How did Money with Katie come about? What was that impetus for you?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Well, mostly because I noticed that none of my girlfriends were talking about money. And after I spent a few years obsessing over it and turning it into this pretty serious hobby, I realized how important the information was. So on some level it felt very compulsory to share it with other people, particularly other people like me, young women, who I figured might not be exposed to it otherwise in their social circles, because I certainly wasn't. So, that was the broader inception.

And then as far as Money with Katie itself goes and the actual creation, that was really a product of pandemic boredom. My life, like many people, turned upside down pretty quickly, and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands as a legally single woman with no kids, bless up. So Money with Katie really was just like my pet project that gave me something to do in the beginning.

Nora Ali: And you at some point you had a full-time job, you had a part-time job—when did you decide that Money with Katie was the one hustle, this was the one thing that you wanted to fully focus on?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah, ironically, when I got turned down for a job writing about money for somebody else. I had been interviewing at NerdWallet for about a month to write about travel rewards. And I realized through the process that I really did want to write about money in some capacity full time, as opposed to my career at the time, which was user experience design, which I liked, but I wasn't gripped by it in the same way. And when I was turned down for the job, I was totally crushed. But after a few days of talking to friends, I kind of realized like, "Wait, I don't need them to write about money full time. I can do that myself. I already have this website." So, that was kind of the silver lining of not getting a job that I wanted.

Nora Ali: I love that you can just keep going like nothing's happening and your cat's tail is literally in your mouth while you're talking.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yes. This is very standard for us over here.

Nora Ali: I love that.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Sam is like our mascot.

Nora Ali: When did you realize that you were a money expert? Because it's clear that you do lots of research; you're very savvy with the numbers and making it very digestible, but did you have training in it? Is it something that you just decided to learn on your own? How did you even get to that point where you felt confident to be able to write about it and advise others on it too?

Katie Gatti Tassin: This question gets at the heart of my imposter syndrome to some degree, because I don't have any formal training and I haven't worked in finance formally. So I am always very careful to disclaim everything I say with, like, I'm not a licensed professional, this is not financial advice, this is really just somebody who is obsessed with personal finance who consumes information about it constantly and is very tuned in to...I feel like I'm always kind of observing the world around me through that lens. And so that's really where a lot of my content, I think, comes from, is personal experience and things that I'm learning that I just find amazing.

So, from the confidence angle, it was mostly, I think, coming from the fact that as I learned more and as I saw these very simple best practices playing out in my life in a pretty successful way, and kind of realizing there's really not that much to it, this is not that complicated. There's only a few things that you really have to get right, and then it kind takes care of itself. That was really the energy that I was bringing to it, which was like, this isn't rocket science, anyone that has an internet connection and can spend a few hours reading or listening to something can figure this out. And sure, there's always another level you can take it to, there are certifications and licenses, and you can overcomplicate it to the nth degree, but at the end of the day, "earn more, spend less, invest the difference." That's really what it comes down to. So it's like, that's not that complicated.

Nora Ali: It's not complicated, but there's a lot of jargon. And I know this anecdotally from my own peers—it just feels intimidating.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Oh yeah.

Nora Ali: If you've never thought about budgeting or investing, just approaching it for the first time can be a little scary. So we all appreciate that you help folks take that first step.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Well, thank you.

Nora Ali: Of course. I imagine what gave you at least some confidence was the fact that you could monetize Money with Katie. And like I said, you took it from zero to half a million dollars in two years. And when you and I had first met, you were sort of sharing the stories of how you did your own reach-outs to potential sponsors. So, take us to that first moment where you decided, I'm going to start monetizing this because it's actually working.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah. So, for the first eight months or so, I just published free content and focused on building up a little bit of an audience, because at the time I didn't really have any plans or intentions of monetizing it. It was really around the time that I was hitting 4,000 to 5,000 followers/readers that I decided to try that. And so my first foray into monetization was refining and packaging something that I was already using myself to manage my money, something I call the wealth planner.

So, my version of it at the time was pretty janky. So I just spent a few months building it out into something of a recommendation engine with pretty colors and best practices built into it, to help someone who maybe was trying to begin tracking, but also might not know where to start. And so that was kind of the impetus or the idea, and the digital product had a $25 price point, launched at the end of 2020 over New Year's into 2021. And I think the success of that, seeing that with this idea that I just said, "Here's this thing, if you want to buy it." And selling it to an audience that I already had some trust or rapport with. It had, I don't know, $5,000 or $6,000 in sales in January. And that was kind of the lightbulb moment of like oh, I maybe could turn this into more of a business and less of a hobby.

And then throughout 2021 as my audience grew, other opportunities presented themselves. So like sponsorships with brands, a few of which are still sponsoring Money with Katie today, which is very cool, and affiliate relationships with credit card companies, because I was writing about travel rewards.

And so it really just built up from there of digital products, sponsorships, affiliates, and testing and learning. Seeing what worked, seeing what didn't, what was a good use of time, what wasn't, but it was definitely trial by fire, or trial and error.

Nora Ali: So obviously you built Money with Katie and then this opportunity with Morning Brew came up. You don't have to go into details, but just talk to me about the mental calculus you made when deciding, I'm actually going to go join this larger company and maybe have a little bit more stability instead of having to build this just on my own. So what led to that decision to join our family, to join Morning Brew?

Katie Gatti Tassin: The honest answer is that it really just felt like the best of both worlds. So at the time when the opportunity presented itself, I was in kind of a weird spot where I was really craving the ability to just focus on one thing, because I was working full time and doing Money with Katie on the side. And the context switching of doing both made me feel a little bit frenetic. And if you've ever tried to do two things at once, you probably know that you never feel like you're doing a very good job at either of them. It kind of just feels like you're treading water.

And so I really wanted to make the leap, but I was afraid because I didn't know if I had a strong enough proof of concept yet. I had seen a lot of success in the last 12 months, but I know that economies change, advertiser budgets change, people's spending habits change. It just felt risky to me to give up a great full-time job with a great benefits package, to do something full-time that I was already managing to do well on the side. And I think joining Morning Brew really gave me the best of both worlds, because it was the stability, the benefits, the support, the mentorship of a full-time job, but with the freedom to focus on the thing that I cared about the most.

Nora Ali: So it doesn't feel like a hustle anymore.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Right.

Nora Ali: Or does it still feel like a hustle?

Katie Gatti Tassin: No, it doesn't. It really it's kind of hard to describe. Sometimes I feel like I've almost forgotten what it feels like now. We've only been doing this together for eight months, so it's not like it's been years, but sometimes I think back, I'm like, "Man, I used to wake up and log on to Slack and build someone else's dream. And now I'm kind building my own." It's just that it's a weird feeling because on some level it doesn't feel like work—it feels like what I'd be doing anyway. But then I think there are always aspects of every income-producing job that are going to feel like work. And I think that was something that almost surprised me about it.

Nora Ali: Yeah. Even if you're on payroll at a company, it's not always going to be a nine-to-five, right? I imagine you're not just working 9:00 to 5:00. I see your tweets, I see your Instagrams.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Well, that's the thing, right? The line is very blurred.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: I know, Nora, you're going to come on The Money with Katie Show to talk about this. But I think when your work is your identity, there is no such thing as work-life balance. It's all just kind of melted together. And so this idea of a traditional nine-to-five, or you can take PTO and not think about it, that kind of goes out the window a little bit.

Nora Ali: Yeah, totally. People ask me this all the time: Do you have hours? What are your working hours typically?

Katie Gatti Tassin: I tend to work during the normal work week like when everyone else does, because all of my colleagues are working during normal working hours. But I think the thing that I've adapted to is that it's hard for me to actually get into flow state and get things done when I'm on call at work and need to be responsive on Slack or have to be in meetings.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: So, I typically do my best creative work either at night or on Saturday mornings, when other people are not working or expecting a response from me. That's typically when I'll actually sit down and research or spend a few hours writing.

And I don't mind that, because this is obviously what I've chosen to do. I find it quite enjoyable, but it does make that idea or that concept of work-life balance a little bit weird, because it's, am I working right now, am I having fun? I don't know.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: And there are some afternoons where things are slow and I'll be like, "I'm going to take a few hours to go outside on a Tuesday and not do anything." And that's okay too, because no one needs anything from me. It's like, well I know the benchmarks that need to be hit and the content that needs to be produced on a certain schedule. So as long as that's happening, I don't think anyone really cares if it's on a Sunday afternoon or a Tuesday afternoon.

Nora Ali: Yeah. You even said on one of your episodes that it's hard for you to even go on a walk without putting on some finance podcast in your ears, because you feel like that "relaxing" time also has to be productive.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah. Yeah.

Nora Ali: I am the exact same way. All right. We are going to take a very quick break; more with Katie when we come back. 

I have so many follow-ups for you. So you brought up this notion of context switching, where it's hard to balance multiple things at once. You had a recent episode about side hustles that was inspired by this Medium article where this woman had nine side hustles, and she wasn't even really making as much as her traditional nine-to-five. So what is your take, especially after recording that episode: How do you think about side hustles leading to financial freedom?

Katie Gatti Tassin: I think there's a little bit of survivorship bias in my answer, because obviously the rarity of having a side hustle become your full-time job and lead to financial success or have it be lucrative, I think that's more the exception than the rule. I think the important thing to keep in mind is that not every side hustle is created equal. Side hustles where you are trading your time for money, that is always inherently going to be difficult to scale, because you have a limited number of hours that you can trade for money.

Whereas I think side hustles that are maybe very enjoyable to you, that feel like a hobby anyway, that are accretive in nature, where you are building some sort of portfolio of sorts—so for example with a blog, you have this backlog of blog posts that can be searchable indefinitely, that can consistently lead to new traffic coming in. You're building up this bank, as opposed to trading time for money. I think that is something to consider. And I fear sometimes that our generation, whether it's necessity or cultural pressure, feels as though it's not really an option, that they have to have multiple sources of income if it means they ever are going to be able to buy a home or to have kids or feel some level of stability and breathing room in their finances.

And sometimes I think we lose the forest for the trees a little bit, because in some ways, if you're devoting a lot of time and context switching a lot to all these different frenetic pursuits, in some cases that time is probably going to be better spent just focusing on your traditional career and building up skills that are going to enable you to command more money for your traditional formal skillset.

So, I think it's a unique calculus that every person is going to have to make for themselves. And I think I would be doing everyone a disservice if I said that I started Money with Katie with any sort of plan or intention of turning it into what it's turned into. I think I was really just doing something that interested in me and I got lucky. You know, worked hard, but also got lucky.

Nora Ali: And I think that is probably most often the case. Anyone who's made their hustle into a sustainable business probably had doubts in themselves. Maybe it was something they were testing out, but didn't think that they would survive the long haul. And it does. I'm glad you mentioned that it takes a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time, but no one works harder than Katie, so you gotta give that to yourself too.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Not so sure about that.

Nora Ali: I see your hustle, Katie. Okay. So clearly you enjoy budgeting and talking about finance and learning about these concepts. Do you ever get tired of it and just feel like, I wish I could just live my life and not have to think about money all the time, or are you truly passionate about it?

Katie Gatti Tassin: I think a little bit of both, honestly. It's more so, not that I'm tired of talking about it, it's more so this fear that I'm going to run out of things to say. That after a certain point, you've kind of said everything there is to say. The best practices of personal finance kind of are what they are, and sometimes I fear that sticking to this particular cadence of we have to have one long-form piece of content per week that's in the written word, and then one long-form piece of content that's audio, up until this point, that hasn't been a problem for me to consistently be turning that out. But I fear that there will be a point eventually where I'm like, I don't want to just keep putting stuff out there for the sake of making it. I don't want to be wasting people's time telling them things that they don't really need to know, just to serve my own agenda as a content creator.

So, that's something that's kind of in the back of my mind always. But I wouldn't say I get sick of it. I think there are just times where I'm acutely aware of how much I think about it, and I think to some degree, having personal finance be a job can be something that you have to just check every once in a while that you're not obsessing too much over money to the point where you are losing the plot.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Obviously having money, the intention of having money, is to live a good life and to be able to do the things that you want to do, but if money becomes the end itself and not just a means to an end, yeah, you've kind of lost the plot. So, I think that's something that I'm always trying to remind myself of, of hey this is a means to an end, this is not the end.

Nora Ali: Same with any job, though. I have to remind myself of that too, is we have jobs, we make money so that we can be happy people, presumably.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah.

Nora Ali: So, let's just take a moment to take a breath and actually enjoy our friends and family.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Right. Yes. It's easier said than done, which is sad to admit.

Nora Ali: Exactly. And Katie, to your point about maybe having this fear of running out of things to say one day when it comes to personal finance, I do think the conversations are so fluid now, and there is so much to talk about because you have things like the creator economy, you've got a lot of different ways to make money, people increasingly pursuing non-traditional career paths. And because of that, we're hearing terms like financial independence and financial freedom more and more. So can you actually define for us the difference between financial independence and financial freedom?

Katie Gatti Tassin: To me, financial independence is that's the point at which you're free of anyone else's clutches. You've got enough money in the bank that you really can do whatever you want. You never need to work a nine-to-five again. It's also, in the traditional sense, considered just retirement, that that's when you retire ,is when you can afford to logistically.

But there's something that comes a lot faster than that, something that allows you to move freely about your life, maybe not without paid work entirely, but without it being the most important thing, called financial freedom. So, financial independence to me is the point at which like, hey, I can retire at 35. I can spend my days napping in the hammock outside sipping cocktails. My money's making money for me; I don't have to work. But financial freedom is the point at which money is no longer going to be the number one concern in any given decision that you're making. So "But I can't afford to do that. I want to do it, but I can't afford to do that." That is mostly stricken from your vocabulary. And I think people really overestimate how long it takes to reach that point. And it makes them maybe less willing to try, because they think it's just so far off.

But if you're saving 20% to 30% of your income, that means you're going to have a full year's salary saved in three to five years. And that's assuming you're just saving. And if you throw some bull market fuel on the fire, you may find yourself with a lot more than that a lot sooner, which is obviously the ideal case. But I think you buy yourself quite a bit of flexibility when you reach financial freedom.

Nora Ali: And it is more attainable than you might think.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yes.

Nora Ali: So tune in to Katie to learn more on how to do that.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yes. That's definitely the part I would underscore.

Nora Ali: We're going to take another very quick break; more with Katie when we come back. Okay. Katie, I want to get a little bit actionable here for our listeners. You wrote this article called "No, We’re Not in a Recession—But Somehow, This Economy *Feels* Worse." Yes. It feels kind of bad right now. So, if you are someone who is looking to move towards financial freedom or financial independence, and you have never thought about budgeting and saving ever, and now here we are in a bear market, things feel kind of icky. What would be your advice on the very first step that you should take to start setting yourself up for success in a less than ideal economy?

Katie Gatti Tassin: The first step is going to be the same, no matter what the situation is around us economically. So I guess I'd underscore that, that this is not advice or not something that you should do specific to a bear market or a recession. But I think the first step always has to be getting the lay of the land and understanding how much your own life costs. So by that I mean, what does it cost to be you? In a given month, if you were to start counting on day one and finish up on the 30th, what is the outflow of cash that is required for you to live the life you want to live?

I think we always have to start there, because most of us know how much money we make; very few of us actually know how much money we spend. And I know from personal experience, as long as I had money left over at the end of the month to pay my Discover bill and then pay rent on the first, I wasn't really worried about it. I couldn't really tell you how much was going out. I just knew, "Oh, well there's enough to cover it, so I guess everything's fine." But there was no plan. There was no proactive approach.

So, I think step one has to be figuring out how much your life costs, and then comparing that number to the income coming in and determining what's the margin. How big is that shovel that I have to dig with? And if it's not very big or you find that you really don't have any margin at all, then you know that you're either going to have to lower your expenses or you're going to have to find a way to make more money. And depending on how much you're earning, I think that will probably determine which path you take, because if you're someone that's making $150,000 a year and you're somehow unable to save, you probably are overspending. Probably either your structural expenses are too high, you're living somewhere or driving a car you can't afford to. Maybe you are someone that is kind of death by a thousand paper cuts. You are eating out a lot. You're shopping a lot. You're not really aware of those kind of micro-cuts along the way. Or if you are someone that's not earning an objectively high income and you find you don't have very much margin, you might not have a spending problem, you might not be living beyond your means, but you might have a bit of an earning problem, and it might make more sense for you instead of focusing on cutting expenses and stripping all the joy from your life, it might make more sense for you to focus on professionally what you can do to increase your income. But I think it all has to start with figuring out how much it costs to be you.

Nora Ali: That's really smart. And for those who might be taking the lower-your-expenses approach, you brought up this idea of micro-cuts. We've seen the memes where we're like, oh, millennials can just stop buying coffee at Starbucks and stop buying avocado toast.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Right. I know.

Nora Ali: And make more money and have more savings. What actually works when it comes to micro-cuts? Because you and I even had a conversation about how you had stopped getting your eyelashes done, because that just felt like a waste, and I'm trying to get on that journey too, because it is such a waste of money and time. But yeah, how effective are micro-cuts, and do you have an approach to tackling that?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah. I will reiterate, I'm not a licensed financial professional. This is not advice I learned in a book. This is what actually worked in my own life, was actually kind of paying attention throughout the day to what was tempting me to spend. Like if I was sitting there at work and I brought my lunch and it was sitting in the fridge, but I was having a bad day and I wanted to kind of assuage those negative emotions with going out to lunch and spending $30 at some upscale Mexican restaurant with my friends, paying attention to what triggers in my own life were causing me to spend in ways that I knew I really shouldn't be based on how much I was making at the time. So, a $30 lunch out once a week, that's going to mean absolutely nothing to somebody that makes $150 grand, but I was making $50 grand. And so $30 twice a week for lunch, that actually added up quite a bit. That turned into, I don't know, 10% of my take-home pay, when it was all said and done.

So I think it kind of depends on your level of income and how splurgy you're being. But I think if you're assuming that your foundational expenses, your structural expenses are actually in a good spot, like your rent or mortgage is below 28% of your take-home pay, your transportation is less than 10%. Theoretically on paper it looks like you should have more left over than you do, I think my guess is that there are probably some areas in your life where you're maybe spending in a way that you're not really totally aware of. And the funny thing, I think, is that as human beings, we are not intuitively good at this. This is not something that anyone is just naturally good at, kind of having a sense of like, "Oh yeah, I think I'm going to eyeball it this month, I'm pretty sure I spent this." That is actually very hard to do. I think there's almost no shortcut to actually tracking.

And even in the beginning for me, it was like I had a piece of paper where I would write down every time I went out to eat or every time I went to window shop on a Saturday, and then the window shopping turned into a $300 trip to Lululemon and it was very kind of eye-opening for me to be like, "Oh my god, I'm spending $2,500 a month on I don't even know what."

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: And I think it is an emotional conversation. It's definitely psychological, because I think what you'll find when you start to really pay attention is a lot of your spending decisions are very emotionally charged and are reactions to your psychological state more than anything else.

Nora Ali: And monthly spending, even if it doesn't feel like a lot at the time, can actually have a big impact.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah.

Nora Ali: You wrote a blog post on this exactly, titled, "Wanna spend $100/month? That’ll be $30,000, please!" Very basically, Katie, what does that mean, exactly? How did you get to that number? I know you had some fancy formulas in there.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah.

Nora Ali: And it was a really great read, but for our listeners, what do you mean by that?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah. Good question. So I wrote this post because I get the sense sometimes that when we talk about this idea of financial independence, that it can be very daunting and it can feel like it's very far away. That it's not even a goal worth working toward because a lot of the time, honestly, we're talking about several million dollars. So I think people kind of tune it out or think like, "Oh my god, that'll never happen for me. I shouldn't even bother." But I think we can use the same math and logic that helps us understand how much money we would need to retire and trim it down into a bite-sized understanding that can help us contextualize our own spending.

So this formula, this $100/month number, I kind of chose that at random, but because I think it's an amount that we can all understand pretty easily because $100 goes fast. That's the price of a nice dinner out, or two days of boarding your dog. When we multiply by 12, we can see that over the course of a year, if you're spending $100/month, that amounts to $1,200 a year, and then to understand how much you would need invested to reliably produce $100 of monthly income, we can multiply that annual figure by 25. So that gives us $30,000. So, if you have $30,000 invested, you could reliably withdraw $100 per month and have a 95%-ish chance over time of never running out of money. That $100/month, we'll call it the interest, really it's the compounding returns. But you have enough interest income every month to be able to spend 100 bucks. So, spending $100/month on something or adding an additional recurring $100 expense might not seem like much, but when you put it in those terms, that it'll raise your net worth goal by $30,000, I think it makes it a little bit more understandable about what it will take to support that expense in perpetuity, in your post-working life. And I think it really drives home the point that increasing your income and net worth? Amazing. But keeping your expenses under control is still a necessity.

Nora Ali: I have some reflecting to do, Katie. There's a lot of expenses that I can get rid of. Like I just got my nails done for no reason. I'm in Minnesota, which it's more expensive in Minnesota to get your nails done than in New York.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Is it?

Nora Ali: Yeah. Because the supply is very high in New York. And I think people are vastly underpaid over there when it comes to nail salons.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah.

Nora Ali: And I get home, I spent too much money and my mom says, "I could have just done that for you for free." And I was like, "Yeah, you're right, mom."

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah.

Nora Ali: But it's the experience, right?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah, totally.

Nora Ali: You like to pay for experiences. Okay, Katie, before we let you go, we have a fun segment. It's called Shoot Your Shot. So this is where we want to know, what is your moonshot idea, Katie? This is your biggest ambition, your wildest dream. It could be you related, cat related, family related, work related, Money with Katie related. This is your chance to shoot your shot right now. Go for it.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah. Oh my gosh. You know what? This is maybe a little influenced by recent events. But I honestly think my biggest moonshot dream for my life right now is to move to Northern Europe, to move to Norway, whether that's temporarily or permanently. But I'm just so fascinated with their culture and their approach to life. And I think it would be very interesting to witness my very Americanized self and my American values within the context of a culture that just values very different things.

Nora Ali: You were there recently, right? Did I make that up?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yes.

Nora Ali: Yes, oh my gosh, yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah, no. I was in Oslo and it was very cold.

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh. The lifestyle is just so different.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yes. It's so different.

Nora Ali: If you end up living there, I'm going to come visit you, because it just sounds so lovely and less hustle culture-y, right?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah.

Nora Ali: Just a little bit more relaxed. Okay. Folks, it is time for a favorite segment of ours; it's something we're calling Brew's Tweets. Still looking for a new name, but we love the segment. Okay. The concept is simple. We choose a question posed by Morning Brew's Twitter account and we discuss the comments and the responses.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Oh gosh.

Nora Ali: And this is a perfect question for Katie, for Money with Katie. "What's something popular that you refuse to spend money on?" And of course our staple for this segment, I guess not for long, Bella Hutchins, our super producer. This is her last episode with us on Business Casual. Bella, we love you. We're not going to make you give a speech, but we're so happy that you can end on this note of Brew's Tweets. Okay. The question again: "What's something popular that you refuse to spend money on?" So, the top three responses as curated by our production team. One answer is getting my nails done. Do we ladies spend money on getting our nails done? We all know that I do.

Bella Hutchins: My new year's resolution was to always have my nails done. So, I feel so passionately about that. It just makes you feel so pretty while you're typing. So I always have my nails done and I am spending money on that. I'd rather that, than not have my nails done.

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh. What's the frequency, what's the frequency, Bella?

Bella Hutchins: I do once a month. I definitely stretch it out a little. So they get a little scary.

Nora Ali: Yeah. You gotta do gel manicures because that's just...you get more bang for your buck and it doesn't chip right away. Katie, what about you? Is that something you've gotten rid of in your micro-cuts?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Well, yes, I definitely think back when I first became obsessed with financial independence, I was like, "I don't need makeup. I don't need blonde hair. I don't need anything. I'll just be a cavewoman and I'm going to retire and be an ugly 35-year-old that doesn't have a job." But I think the manicures, the pedicures, the eyelashes...I have gone back to the highlights, as you can tell—this is not my natural hair. That one came back. But yeah, I think a lot of the feminine beauty standard things, I kind of saw through the matrix at the time, and then ended up in retrospect being like...Actually that also took me a lot of time. And so I'm okay with not bringing that stuff back.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Katie Gatti Tassin: But I'm a little bit nervous for the other two because I feel like I spend money on pretty much everything else. So I think you're going to probably get me on these.

Nora Ali: Okay. Next thing is coffee. "Make it at home," says this commenter. I don't spend a lot of money on coffee. I have a Keurig. It's not great coffee. Doesn't taste good, but I'm not that picky when it comes to my coffee. What about you guys?

Bella Hutchins: I only get lattes on Saturdays and Sundays. It's like my little treat. My little weekend treat.

Katie Gatti Tassin: I have a similar approach. Yeah, I'll do the weekend fancy coffee and usually do an espresso at home during the week.

Bella Hutchins: Okay, nice.

Katie Gatti Tassin: But that's also not cheap. That's still more than a dollar a pod. So yeah. I'm kind of losing there.

Nora Ali: Are those environmentally friendly these days or no?

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yes. So, they send you a bag and then you recycle the pods, or I'm told that.

Nora Ali: You do?

Katie Gatti Tassin: I'm assuming that's what's happening when I'm sending the bag back. They could very well end up in a landfill, but my conscience is clear because I feel like I'm doing my part.

Bella Hutchins: I get off-brand Amazon ratchet pods.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Nice.

Bella Hutchins: For my Keurig.

Katie Gatti Tassin: I didn't even know you could do that.

Nora Ali: I didn't even know that either.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Yeah, definitely.

Nora Ali: Ratchet pods for when you're not getting your Sunday, Saturday lattes. Okay. Final answer here: Netflix. "What are our thoughts on paying for all these subscription streaming services?"

Bella Hutchins: That's psycho. I'm paying for Netflix.

Katie Gatti Tassin: We use someone else's, like we just log in, but I would pay for it. I pay for HBO, I pay for Hulu. Yeah, dude, streaming is, you get so much bang for your buck. For $10 you get hours upon hours of entertainment. I think cutting out, you're not...I'm sorry. If not paying $15 a month for a streaming service is very financially impactful for you, there's probably something else going on, because that is such a good return on investment from the time it will entertain you for.

Nora Ali: Yeah. How many do you guys subscribe to, though, of just the television streaming ones?

Katie Gatti Tassin: I think three.

Nora Ali: Three.

Katie Gatti Tassin: HBO, Hulu, Netflix.

Bella Hutchins: I just have Hulu and Netflix.

Nora Ali: Oh, okay. I have Hulu, Netflix, Apple, HBO, Disney+. So I'm the one with the problem here. Yeah. And my family members use my account. I'm not leeching off of anyone.

Bella Hutchins: Wow.

Katie Gatti Tassin: You're not the mooch.

Bella Hutchins: Wow. So, streaming provider.

Nora Ali: I am a streaming provider. Thank you very much. Ali+.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Nora+.

Nora Ali: Nora+. Yes. Okay. Well, I think we've learned that us ladies, we like to treat ourselves when appropriate. We're financially smart, but we like to live our best lives. So, that's the end of the story. All right, we're going to leave things there. What a lovely, fun episode this was. Thank you, Katie.

Katie Gatti Tassin: Thank you.

Nora Ali: Thank you, Bella. We'll miss you. We love you.

Bella Hutchins: I'll miss you guys.

Nora Ali: I'm not going to give a speech about you, but you've been the best. Bella's the absolute best and we'll miss her so much. All right. Thanks guys. See you later.

This is Business Casual and I'm Nora Ali. You can follow me on Twitter @NoraKAli. And I would love to hear from you. If you have ideas for episodes, comments, thoughts on episodes you loved, even fun segment ideas, feel free to shoot via DM and I will do my very best to respond. You can also reach the BC team by emailing businesscasual@morningbrew.com, or call us. The number is (862) 295-1135. And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, wherever you listen. And if you like the show, please leave us a rating and a review; it really, really helps us. Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins, with special production help on this episode from Olivia Meade. Additional production, sound design, and mixing by Daniel Markus. Kate Brandt is our fact checker. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali. Keep it business, and keep it casual.