With Paige DiFiore, Editorial Assistant at Credit.com and Blogger
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Lord Voldemort As Financial Role Model
Steve speaks with Paige DiFiore, former editorial assistant at Credit.com, whom Steve describes as “generally just a smart cookie” and cites a recent piece she penned that draws on the nefarious, troubled, and downright dangerous Harry Potter villain, Lord Voldemort, whose diabolical actions, if used for good, can serve as an example of how to get what you really want out of your money.
So how can Voldemort be a financial role model as a good steward of money, asks Steve? Paige ties it down to Voldemort’s single-minded focus on his goals, ignoring the utterly evil intent for the moment. And, she says, you should have the same single-minded dedication to saving your money, as the first step.
Advertise Your Savings Mission
Next, Voldemort widely broadcasts his mission: everyone knows that he is after Harry Potter. So, when it comes to saving money, Paige suggests you let everyone know that you’re on a mission to save money; that will make your task much easier. Steve believes this could also help you create a support system where others line up to encourage you and cheer you on. To underscore her analogy, Paige says you can paint debt as the villain you want to take control of and conquer and use Voldemort’s methods and dedication to slay your enemy.
Be Ruthless On Yourself
Paige talks of being ruthless on yourself, about putting yourself through hardship as part-and-parcel of achieving your goals and not letting the feeling of deprivation make you go soft on yourself. You need to look at what you’re spending money on and think, do I really need this? You need to prime your frugality pump and look for ways to save, such as brewing your own coffee instead of spending $4 on a latte. She also suggests holding off on purchases by first looking at what you already own and feeling grateful and content with what you already have, rather than wanting more.
Wear A Uniform!
Just as Voldemort stuck to the same black robe, Paige suggests “wearing a uniform.” She says clothes cost a lot, especially if you’re following fashion trends and buying new outfits. Instead, if you standardize on just a few sartorial combinations, using Voldemort as a financial role model, you’d downsize your wardrobe, cut down on purchases, and save yourself the stress of worrying about what to wear. Steve believes that could be more a “woman thing” and cites his own example of wearing the same blazer for all his meetings but buying high-quality clothes when he does because they look good and last longer.
Keep A Financial Diary
Paige attributes Voldemort’s ultimate demise to his lack of understanding of a certain curse that backfired when he used it. So, when it comes to money, understand your finances, know your credit score, and understand the pros and cons of the investment actions you plan to take. In this case, don’t ape Voldemort as a financial role model but do the opposite—learn from his mistakes.
She also recommends keeping a diary of expenses so you can see where your money is going, which could motivate you to spend less while also making it a lot easier to keep track of your savings.
Know Your History
Paige believes it helps to be aware of the mistakes you’ve made in the past, the various account transactions you’ve had, what your main budget items were, etc., so you can learn from past mistakes and be better prepared for the future. When you know the negative aspects of your history, you are less likely to repeat them.
In wrapping, just as our financial role model of the day, Lord Voldemort, created his first Horcrux when he was seventeen and got better at devising tricky new ones from there on, Paige suggests we start investing at a young age and, as Steve says, let the magic of compounding work in our favor.
Finally, find the motivation that works for you. While Voldemort’s actions were motivated by true hatred, you should tap into your inner financial hunger to find something that really drives you, such as getting rid of debt or assuming all new purchases are evil, etc.
Voldemort as a financial role model is novel and unique, but dark lords and villains are generally portrayed as more driven, disciplined, and focused on their various quests. So, take those qualities and apply them to achieve your financial goals.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital. Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.
Steve Pomeranz: Paige DiFiore is the former editorial assistant at Credit.com. She’s a blogger and generally just a smart cookie. The proof of this is a recent piece she penned drawing on the actions of the nefarious, troubled, and downright dangerous Harry Potter villain, Lord Voldemort. It’s his diabolical actions that when used for good can serve as an example of how to get what you really want out of your money.
Welcome to the show, Paige.
Paige DiFiore: Thanks, nice to be here.
Steve Pomeranz: So, let’s get this out of the way. You know, Lord Voldemort is a very, very nasty character. And you’re not suggesting anybody murder anyone or become a villainous snake wizard, right?
Paige DiFiore: Definitely not.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay. Well, that’s good to hear. By the way, for those of you who don’t know, Voldemort’s main goal was to kill Harry Potter. But, how does this make him a good example for someone who’s good at managing money? Let’s find out. Tell us what transpired to make you think about Lord Voldemort and being a good steward of your own money?
Paige DiFiore: Well, when it comes to finance, I know that when it’s tied to something that I have interest in, it’s so much easier for me to understand and want to read about it. So, when I was trying to come up with ideas, I was trying to think of what’s something that’s really strange and crazy to kind of pair with money, and I thought, how about one of the worst villains of all time?
Steve Pomeranz: [LAUGH] What is it about him that makes him, what about his actions and the way he feels about things that would make him a successful money manager?
Paige DiFiore: I mean, he is dedicated. There are so many movies, and in every movie, he has the same goal. So, when you’re saving money, if you’re dedicated, that’s the first step, and he’s also very widely broadcasting his mission. Everyone knows that he wants to kill Harry Potter. So, when it comes to saving money, if everyone knows that you’re saving money, it makes it so much easier.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, he lives…well, actually, he’s dead now, I guess.
But, you know talking about a fictional character being dead. But he was driven by so much hate for Harry Potter and what he represented, that every single day, he plotted to destroy him. So, are you suggesting that a person get to a certain point, maybe not through hate, but through some other feeling to get their act together?
Paige DiFiore: Yeah, I think it’s a great motivator. If you’re really motivated, if you kind of paint debt as a villain, it can be really helpful in kind of making you want to just take control and conquer it.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, you know also, in the case of Voldemort, it led to a lot of career longevity because he was in eight movies and seven books, so [LAUGH] maybe there’s a lesson there as well. What are some of the other characteristics? You write, be ruthless with yourself. What’s that mean?
Paige DiFiore: When it comes to money, it can be hard because you don’t want to feel like you’re depriving yourself by saving. But you really need to be a bit ruthless. You really need to look at where you’re spending your money and think, do I really need this? Is this something that is making my life so much better, that I can’t afford to be without it? He’s just very ruthless. He just didn’t care and kind of stuck to his main goal. And when you stick to your main goal, you have to be a little ruthless with yourself and be a little hard on yourself.
Steve Pomeranz: In your article, you had a link to how to save without feeling deprived, and I copied and pasted that. So, let’s talk a little bit about that,” to prime your frugality pump,” as it’s written here. Some painless ways to pinch pennies without depriving yourself of the things that you enjoy.
Number one, I guess, brew your own coffee instead of going out and spending. You’re not depriving yourself of coffee and maybe the coffee’s actually a little bit better. Any other ideas of ways to save without feeling deprived?
Paige DiFiore: I think when you’re looking to buy things for yourself, if you really kind of go through what you have and see how many things that you already own and to just focus on being grateful rather than saying, I need the next thing; I need this thing. In reality, you’re probably not as deprived as you think if you take a moment to kind of have gratitude for what you have, you might not feel as inclined to spend.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, and maybe quit eating out as often as you do, shop smart, don’t fall for stores’ tricks. They are masters at marketing and they know how to target your emotions. Make sure that you understand your emotions and you can walk away because really, the facts are that If you don’t act and you do walk away, there’s actually I believe, just a 90% chance that you won’t end up buying that item on the spur of a moment.
And here’s another one that interests me about your article about Lord Voldemort, is wear a uniform. Why would that help me?
Paige DiFiore: One of the biggest ways a lot of people spend money—I know a lot of my money is spent on clothes—is when you feel like you need to keep following trends and buying new outfits. But a really big thing, and it’s really famous with a lot of CEOs, is kind of wearing a uniform, wearing the same outfit almost every day or every day. You just have a go-to outfit formula, and it kind of downsizes your wardrobe, and you can sell other clothes. And you won’t feel as inclined to spend money on clothes, and it will also save you a lot a stress when you’re worrying about what to wear.
Steve Pomeranz: Especially, I think for women…I think men tend to kind of wear the same thing pretty much every day. I know I keep a blazer in my office, and I kind of come to work with basically a shirt, no tie, here in South Florida. And then when it comes time to see clients, I put the blazer on, and it’s really quite simple, and I really, I guess, don’t spend. But I’ll tell you one thing I do, is when I do buy clothes, I buy good quality clothes. And while you may pay up for that initially, in the long run, it’s best because the clothes last longer.
Paige DiFiore: Absolutely.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah. Here’s another one and you mentioned this before: share your mission. I mean, everybody knew that Lord Voldemort wanted to find and kill Harry Potter. Why is sharing your mission so important?
Paige DiFiore: I think when people around you know your goals and know that you’re really trying to stick to them, you have people that will hold you accountable. And when it comes to time for the holidays or when your friends constantly want to go out to eat, and they know you’re on a budget, they might better accommodate you. You might say, “hey, like this year, the gifts aren’t going to be as expensive.” And it’s not going to be really difficult because they know your mission, and they really want to help you, once they know what you’re trying to do.
Steve Pomeranz: I think that there’s also a psychological aspect of talking about it, of getting it out there and getting other people involved as opposed to just internalizing it and suffering yourself. There’s some kind of catharsis that may help you succeed at this well. And here’s another fact: focus on actually understanding. I guess Voldemort’s ultimate demise resulted from his lack of understanding about a certain curse. Tell me about that.
Paige DiFiore: So, had he known that a certain curse would backfire when he used it at the time that he used it, he probably could have avoided getting killed, at least for a bit longer. When it comes to money, if you actually understand your finances and know your credit score and know what all of it means, you’re setting yourself up for success. Because if you go into something not actually knowing what’s going on, just kind of like, I’m going to save money, but you don’t actually know the intricacies of it, it can backfire.
Steve Pomeranz: Yes, so don’t be caught up in denial and remember the old idea that if you’re sitting at a poker table and you’re wondering who the patsy is, that means you’re the patsy. So, you’ve got to be the smartest person in the room. And one way to do that is to know your stuff, know your credit score, know what’s in your bank account, know what your student loans are, know what the rate on the student loans are. Just know your stuff so you don’t make a big mistake. Here’s one: keep a diary. Why is that important?
Paige DiFiore: I think that when you can see where you’re spending your money, where you’re getting your money from, if it’s all laid out in front of you—whether it’s on physical paper or even on an app, there are many apps out there— it can really help you look at everything and cut your spending because you can see where everything’s going. It’s not just a vague idea. And it’s a lot easier to keep track of your savings when you have it all written down.
Steve Pomeranz: Know your history is another one. Voldemort had a slight obsession with his heritage. Why is that important?
Paige DiFiore: When you know the mistakes that you’ve made in the past and you know how long you’ve had your accounts open and what’s really been eating your budget, it can better prepare you for the future.
Like they always said in history class: when you learn history, you are less likely to repeat it.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s a good lesson for our politicians as well these days.
And finally, a couple of last ideas here: start young—I’m always talking about that on the show. The magic of compounding really takes place or really reveals itself when you start young, and as the years tick by, it’s pretty amazing. Voldemort created his first, I don’t know how to say this, Horcruxes? [LAUGH]
Paige DiFiore: Yep.
Steve Pomeranz: Did I say that right?
Paige DiFiore: Yep.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay, at the age of 17 (I don’t know what a Horcrux is) but he started early and that seems to help him. And finally, find the motivation that works for you. His actions were motivated by true hatred and hunger to rid the world of muggles. I guess you better find a different kind of motivation?
Paige DiFiore: Yeah, I think a good motivation—I mean you can take a page from his book and really be motivated by an anger and a hunger to just be free of debt or to rid yourself of debt.
Steve Pomeranz: Right, right. Okay, my guest, Paige DiFiore, former editorial assistant at Credit.com and blogger.
What is the name of your blog, Paige?
Paige DiFiore: It’s called Eyeliner Wings and Pretty Things.
Steve Pomeranz: Eyelinerwingsandprettythings.com, pretty cool. Thank you so much for joining us.
Paige DiFiore: Thank you.
Steve Pomeranz: To hear this segment again and to find out all the links that we mentioned here with Paige, don’t forget to come to our website and follow our show at stevepomeranz.com.