This November, we are highlighting our very own Guin Miels! Guin works in the Summit Marketing Department and has learned a thing or two about smart money management during her time at Summit. Check out what Guin has to say about splurging on the big things and why it’s okay!
- What does “owning it” mean to you?
“Owning it” means taking responsibility for my finances and being held accountable for my choices. More than that, it’s actively taking charge and thinking about my financial decisions.
- Tell us how you got to where you are today.
My parents are small business owners. They bought a campground in Wisconsin Dells when my sister and I were very young. Being raised by small business owners in a rocky economy meant that I learned the value of a dollar at a young age. Fast forward to college, when I worked in sales at a retail clothing store. I wasn’t very successful there because I wasn’t good at convincing people to buy more and spend unnecessary money. Going into my interview with Summit, I didn’t really understand the difference between banks and credit unions. But when the interviewer explained to me that as a teller it would be my job to help people find ways to save money, it clicked. I knew Summit was the place for me. Two years later, I’m in a different role with Summit, but I still wholeheartedly believe in our mission and what we’re here for.
- What would you say are your most important lessons learned about finances?
Most people view purchases in an emotional way. I try to take the emotion out of the equation and look at a purchase strictly from a numerical stand point. For example, let’s say you find a pair of shoes that are $75 and you earn $15 an hour. You know it’s going to take 5 hours to pay for that new pair of shoes. Then, you figure out how often you think you’ll use the item you’re considering purchasing. In the case of a new pair of shoes, depending on their practicality and seasonality, you might wear them once a week for three months of the year for three years. That means you’d wear those shoes 36 times. When you crunch the numbers, that breaks down to roughly $2.00 a wear. That’s almost a whole day of work for one pair of shoes, and the cost per wear is pretty high. In this case, unless you can guarantee you’re going to wear the shoes more often, I’d suggest finding a cheaper pair.
As much as we’d like to not spend money on a large ticket item, sometimes we have to. I’m a new mom, and there were a lot of big purchases my husband and I had to make to get ready for our new addition. As much as spending $800 on a crib and mattress
pained me, knowing that she’ll use it every day for the next few years lowers the cost per use and eases my mind. Bonus: the crib grows with baby into a toddler bed, so we get to prolong its use. Double bonus: the next Miels baby down the road can use the crib as well.
In cases where you have to spend money, whether it’s on a big-ticket item like a crib or even a small item like new shoes, it’s important to save, save, save! I can assure you that my husband and I did not wake up one morning and decide, “Let’s go buy the first crib we see at the store.” We did our research, we set a budget and we saved a little out of each paycheck.
- What’s your favorite current financial education resource?
I have two favorite educational resources. First, I couldn’t live without Money Minder. It makes tracking my money super simple and really gives me a full picture of my finances. Second, I really enjoy reading the Project Money blogs. Living frugally is not always fun. It’s hard to not spoil myself with morning lattes and eating out. But when I read about other people going through the same things as I am, it’s encouraging. When a Project Money family figures out a new way to save money and blogs about it, it’s almost like I’ve found a new way too, and that empowers me to keep saving.