This interview was originally published by Mint.com.
SuperMoney isn’t your typical personal finance site: With a theme of superheroes and villains, it teaches personal finance in a fun, dynamic way. We spoke with founder Miron Lulic about SuperMoney and personal finance.
What brought you to writing about finance?
I read some startling facts about how big of an issue basic financial literacy was in America. A 2012 studyfound that two in five adults give themselves a C, D or F on their personal finance knowledge. I wanted to build something to help solve this problem. So I built SuperMoney – a platform for people to share all the world’s personal finance knowledge. Our mission is to organize all this knowledge into the most transparent and honest source of good financial advice.
SuperMoney has a playful theme of superheroes and villains. Why’d you choose that as your approach?
When you think about consumer finance, you probably think boring and colorless. If we’re going to get people excited about the topic, I felt we needed to make our brand as consumer-friendly as possible. After all, the worst thing we could do is to make personal finance intimidating. So we went with a playful superhero theme to make things a little more accessible. Our brand mascot is Captain Money, and he’s in a battle against the Evil Debt Blob to “Super Power Your Finances.” Captain Money is an advocate to the consumer, helping to guide their decisions through content, reviews and Q&As.
What are some common misconceptions about personal finance you often run into?
People are far too willing to adopt constraints. They say to themselves, “I just don’t have any money to invest at this time.” As a result, they fail to ever get the wealth-building process started. The truth is, you don’t need a lot of money to get started building wealth. I recently wrote an article about breaking free from these self-imposed constraints in “How To Turn $5 Into Your Dream Company.”
Another common misconception is the belief in quick fixes. Rather than build a solid foundation, many neglect to put any plan in place and seek out instant solutions to their problems when they arise. For example, rather than have an emergency savings fund, they take out loans to deal with unexpected financial needs. Often the debt gets out of hand and they end up settling their debts or look to other quick solutions. Similarly, they seek get-rich-quick schemes to build wealth rather than adopting long-term strategies. The right approach is quite the opposite. I recently wrote about it in “The Secret to Why Most Endurance Athletes Are Wealthy & Successful.”
Personal finance is all about setting goals and working hard to achieve them. It’s a long-term process that requires a combination of strategies. Most people either don’t get that or choose to ignore it. We try to educate them with simple strategies they can adopt without much friction.
Is there a common financial mistake you see a lot among people, and how can it be avoided?
People like to tell themselves that they will save more later in life, when they have more income. But even if they get a raise, they tend to just increase lifestyle expenses rather than allocate it to a retirement plan, for example.
If this is you, the solution is to first be honest with yourself. Every year you put off investing makes your ultimate retirement goals more difficult to achieve. In fact, the amount of capital you start with is not nearly as important as getting started early. This is due to the power of compound interest. Time is the primary ingredient to the magic of compounding. The sooner and more aggressive you start, the more powerful the result.
Secondly, you should adopt a strategy that will automatically nudge you into the right direction. For example, many companies have adopted “save more tomorrow” retirement savings options into their 401(k) programs. This allows employees to make a commitment today to allocate a portion of future salary increases toward retirement savings. There are many “personal finance hacks” like this that can have a major impact.
What’s the single best piece of financial advice somebody’s ever given you?
Pay yourself first. Too many people treat savings and wealth building as the bonus money that comes after you’ve paid your expenses. They should instead take some time to find out their long-term retirement goals. When they determine how much they should be saving, they should then make sure they are automatically deducting this amount to fund a 401(k) or other savings vehicle. Find ways to reduce your expenses so they can work around your savings, and make sure you pay yourself first!
Where do you see personal finance headed in the next few years?
There have been many amazing personal financial management products to emerge in the last 10 years. The sad truth is that only a small fraction of the population leverages them. I think we’ll see these tools get smarter and easier to use with much more widespread adoption. Additionally, I think we’ll see them embedded into many of the financial firms themselves. This is the path LoanNow is taking by turning loan repayment into a rewarding game-like process. Borrowers unlock achievements to help raise their credit score or even reduce their interest rates. Their end goal is to incentivize loan repayment through personal finance education.