As Devin Hughes of LendKey explained in our Braintrust interview, student loan debt now represents the 2nd largest debt category for Americans behind only mortgages. Both Toby Silverman and Samara Laxineta took on student loans as a launching pad for their careers: as a UX designer and a nurse, respectively.
The newly engaged couple have been forced to become financially astute as they navigate the tricky, impactful period of late-20s/early-30s personal financial decision-making. How much should we prioritize paying off student loans? How much should we be saving and investing? When is the right time to buy a house? Can we really afford to have a kid?
The last decade has been one of disruptive innovation in finance, but it’s also meant that optimizing your personal finance takes 5-10 different accounts and apps. That’s why Unifimoney is building an all-in-one account to make saving and investing as effortless as spending. So, we reached out to Silverman and Laxineta with a question: As a lead product designer at Formation and a labor and delivery nurse, living and working in the Bay Area, what’s in your financial stack?
We have 8 in total: a joint checking account, a joint savings account, and then we each have a credit card, a 401K, and an IRA (Roth for Toby and SEP for Samara).
We have four. YNAB for budget tracking (this is what we use by far the most) and then Schwab (rarely use), Ally (rarely use), and Chase (rarely use).
Samara checks in on our accounts daily and categorizes all transactions via YNAB. YNAB is linked to all our accounts so we rarely open individual banking apps.
Right now? 0. Samara will be starting NP school in the next year and rather than taking out loans, we'll be cash-flowing her tuition. So, we're currently stacking cash in Ally in preparation.
Intermediate. We spent the last three years building better financial habits. This past November, we finished paying off over $160,000 in student debt. We feel really good about the way we manage our finances in that we're organized, track everything, spend well below our means, and save every month. We're always trying to learn more.
Now that our debt is paid off and we're able to save, our next step is learning how to grow our money with investing.
We get inspiration from the following places:
The best advice we’ve received is simple (but surprisingly not followed): create a budget and track where your money is going. Samara logs into YNAB each morning, categorizes transactions from the day before and alters our budget as necessary. It sounds elementary but assigning a job for each dollar has been key to changing our habits and accelerating our savings.
We don't really care about features. The main data points we care about are zero fees and a high annual percentage yield savings account.
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