30 Invest in Your Future – How to Make Smart Money Moves with Tanner Combias

Alone with Peter Season 2, episode 13 Invest in Your Future: How to Make Smart Money Moves with Tanner Combias
Alone With Peter
30 Invest in Your Future – How to Make Smart Money Moves with Tanner Combias

You don’t need to have a six-figure job to pursue your dreams, but you do need to be diligent in balancing your budget, paying off debt, and investing in your future. In part 3 of our interview with Entrepreneur and Owner of Hostel Mate, LLC; Tanner Combias gives actionable, practical tips you can use today to start spending your money where it matters.

Tanner is a financial advisor with a degree in Finance & a Master’s in Accountancy. He spent five years working at PwC, one of the largest professional service firms in the world before he decided to quit his job to pursue competitive tennis and travel the world. Tanner visited 70 hostels in 16 different countries during his two years of world travel. Those experiences gave birth to Hostel Mate, a mobile app designed to enhance the hostel guest experience.

In Season 2, Episode 13 Tanner gives actionable, practical tips for balancing your budget and investing in your future so you can have the financial freedom to pursue your dreams. If you’re looking for real-world budget tips to get your finances in order this episode was made for you.

Tanner Combias – Financial Advisor, CPA, Entrepreneur, and Traveler Blogger

Website: hostelmate.app

Travel Blog: tennisthentravel.com

Instagram tennis_then_travel

Please enjoy part 3 of our interview with Entrepreneur and Owner of Hostel Mate, LLC; Tanner Combias

*Transcripts may contain a few typos. With interviews ranging from 1-2 hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors.

Peter Kersting: Welcome back to the third and final part of our interview with Tanner Combias. We’ve talked about his past, what his attitude has been about money, how he learned to save and budget money. This is a guy who spent two years living off solely savings. Wow. Playing tennis at professional academies and traveling to over 14 countries. It’s safe to say Tanner Combias knows a little bit about saving money and budgeting money. If you’re interested in how to do those things, if you’re interested in how to take this crazy leap of faith to do the next thing or maybe to see that’s not really that crazy if you have a plan, you’re going to want to stick around for this episode. If you’re interested in hearing more about his back story, about his experience with corporate America, also in world travel, you’re going to want to go back and check out episodes one and two of this interview. But, Tanner, I want to talk about Hostel Mate.

Peter Kersting: Hostel Mate is this entrepreneurial endeavor you’ve pursued that, as you mentioned previously, this is really something that combines your experience with something that you felt like was missing from the hostels experience. As you pointed out, you’ve been to over 70 hostels in 14 countries. I think people can see you’re very goal driven. It’s obvious to me that you have a plan when you’re doing things. When do you start thinking about creating this business? What is it that you think is the value of this service? Walk us through that process and how you’ve been preparing it and implementing it, maybe any updates you’re willing to give us in how it’s going.

Tanner Combias: Yeah, sure, Peter. After traveling, I guess it’s already been three years since I left my job at PWC, which is actually insane. It was close to year of tennis and close to a year of traveling and then a year that I’ve been back already, which is insane. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I wasn’t ready to go back to corporate, and I’m always writing down business ideas and coming up with new ones. I have a whole list and developing an app always seemed exciting to me. I learned about some no-code software where you could make apps without using coding. I thought, “Let me see what this is about.” I started researching it and learning about it. Then at the top of my list was what have I recently experienced that I can build an app on?

Tanner Combias: I was like, “70 hostels. Let’s do this.” I really want to see… I mean it’s an amalgamation of a bunch of things. I really want to see hostels thrive. I want them to do well. I think that this will improve the hostel experience helping people connect with each other. Then it also just aligns so well with me and what I’m passionate about. How cool would it be if I could just travel and visit hostels and talk about my app. It doesn’t get any better. I don’t know if it’s going to work out, but if it does, it’d be pretty cool. Other things that I know we talked about on the second episode about what it does, just high level. Basically, the guest arrives at the hostel, selects the hostel that they’re staying at from a dropdown menu, puts in the password that they’ve been given for that specific hostel. Then they have access to that hostel’s app.

Tanner Combias: Instead of that hostel having to build their own app, they can sign up for this, Hostel Mate. One tab lists out all the activities that they offer at the hostel. Sometimes I’ve visited hostels… I visited this amazing hostel in Bariloche, Argentina, and it was a penthouse. It was literally in an apartment building in the top with the best view of the city, better than any hotel. They had great activities on the lakes and the mountains. I remember there was this white binder that was this thick binder on the front desk of all the activities. We were all waiting our turn to see what they offered. I thought it was absurd.

Tanner Combias: I thought in my app, I’ll create a way that hostels can easily put in all the activities they offer and wait, why can’t you sign up for the activity and add yourself to a list through the app? I added that feature. I really like that feature. It’s a great way to raise more revenue from the hostel because they make a lot of their money off of the activities they offer. Then there’s another page that’s just basic details in the hostel, ways to get in contact with them, ways to extend their stay all through the app. That’s the premise.

Peter Kersting: You’re trying to basically create a one stop shop for anybody who would be staying at that particular hostel and the hostel, their buy-in needs to be that they’re willing to use the app that you provide, basically.

Tanner Combias: That’s right. There’s no other app that is currently out there. I’m afraid someone’s going to take…

Peter Kersting: Poaching your ideas, yeah.

Tanner Combias: Yeah. For booking wise, you know the drill. Its hostelworld.com for booking or maybe [inaudible 00:05:06]. But you’re pretty much using two or three sources. This isn’t a booking app. It’s made to enhance the guest experience at a hostel. You’re right. I need to convince hostel owners that it’s a good value proposition to offer this. I think everyone [inaudible 00:05:22] all the travelers, they’re on board. They’re like, “Let’s go. This is awesome. I would’ve loved to be able to do this.” It’s just convincing the owners and it’s tough because Covid right now. But it’s been a fun journey so far.

Peter Kersting: Yeah. It sounds like you’ve done a lot too. You’ve actually built out the app to make it functional. I don’t know how much you want to talk about the specifics of how it’s been going. When I heard you say this idea to me, I was like, “Yeah, I would love to have that when I go to a hostel because then I don’t have to go to the front desk and look at the whiteboard and wonder if that’s still going on today or whatever and is the pricing up to date? How do I pay? Who’s actually going?” You might be okay with going canyoneering by yourself, but somebody else might go, “If a bunch of other people were going, I’d be more likely to go.”

Peter Kersting: You’re trying to get the hostel owner to buy in. Can you tell us a little bit about what has it been like for you? You touched on it a little bit there that the events are part of what makes them money. You’ve had to do research on that. What have you done to prepare your pitch or what have been some of the setbacks for you?

Tanner Combias: It hasn’t gotten great yet. I don’t think I should give up. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about marketing campaigns through emails. My connections that I forged through my travels have been very helpful. It’s very tough right now with Covid. People just aren’t willing to try new things even if they’re for free. In Australia, I spoke to a very nice owner and there’s no travel between states, so they don’t have the money right now. They don’t even really want to try it for free for a couple months because if they get hooked, they’ll have to pay the money. They don’t even want to look at anything. It’s been really tough. I’ve also experienced a little difficulty with… There are ups and downs, I’m learning, where someone commits and they’re like, “Oh, this is a great idea. I’m in.” Then all of a sudden, they ghost. They go dark and you message them your response.

Tanner Combias: You want to know you a simple message from them saying, “I’m not no longer interested,” you’d be fine with. But then you go from this meeting where you’re giving high fives to everyone because you just hooked a fish, you got a couple hostels on board and now, they’re not responding. I’m kind of in this weird stage where five hostels or six hostels have literally up and down. I’m telling you emails that are like, “I’m in,” to suddenly disappearing. I don’t think I should give up.

Peter Kersting: It’s been frustrating, it sounds like.

Tanner Combias: It’s been frustrating. I biked around New York and I stopped at hostels. I didn’t even know there were that many hostels in New York.

Peter Kersting: There’s got to be a million because people from Europe and Asia and everywhere else wants to go to New York. It’s the spot.

Tanner Combias: There are definitely fewer than most cities just because it’s such an expensive city. To your point, there are definitely more than expected. Even New York that’s open right now for Covid, a lot of them were shuttered. A lot of them weren’t open or barely had any guests and weren’t that interested because of that. I was surprised even New York that’s open. I’m like, “Okay, Tanner, calm down. Just because it hasn’t worked for two months doesn’t mean this is a bad idea.” I still think that there’s immense potential.

Peter Kersting: Especially because, like you said, travel has yet to pick back up. Business owners are going to be wary of investing money in something when they’ve been bleeding money for a while. It’s a good idea that has unfortunate timing, perhaps. But I’m excited to see what you do with it. I know you’ve been pouring a lot of energy into it. Perhaps, maybe this is how we can segue. If you look at it from a clearly, “Did it work? Did it not work?” perspective right now, it’s a failure. You don’t look at it that way though.

Tanner Combias: No, definitely not. I definitely don’t consider it a failure. I formed a company. It’s an LLC. I’m not giving up on it yet. It’s definitely not a failure. It’s not. It’s definitely not a success. I’m trying to take wins from it. A, there’s still time for this to work. There’s a huge market. It’s a niche market. I think I have a good product. I’m not giving up. B, what can I use from this? I can write off certain expenses in my apartment because all I do in this second apartment is work on Hostel Mate. [inaudible 00:09:36] some of the capital expenditures that I put into this business.

Tanner Combias: It’s learning that stuff and trying to improve. I built everything myself. This week I actually, I don’t want to go into my newest app, but I was like, “I learned all this while I’m sitting on Hostel Mate, which is my front runner and I love, leverage what I’ve learned and work on a similar idea, apply it somewhere else.” When you say, “It’s a failure,” I know what you’re saying.

Peter Kersting: I didn’t mean to say it that way. I just mean there’s a lot that has not gone according to plan. There’s maybe a fear or a tendency to say, “It’s not working. It’s not doing what I wanted it to do,” and taking that as a negative thing. I’ve been reading so much about entrepreneurship and resilience and listening to other more successful people talk about these things. The reality of the matter is there’s no such thing as a good idea until you try and see if it’s good or not. There’s no way to know if something’s going to be a success or failure until you take action. Oftentimes, something that didn’t actually succeed the way that you expected it to still leads to your future success. In talking about the things you’ve learned from and how you’re applying it to the next thing, that’s kind of what I was trying to get at. What have you learned from the difficulties you’ve been running into with Hostel Mate to improve on your marketing going forward or whatever else?

Tanner Combias: Yeah, that’s a good question. You’re right. You can’t give up when you’re starting a business even if you have lots of ups and downs. That seems so obvious, but I’ve learned that where I’ll get an email and it’s like I’m in. It’s from a hostel in India and it’s 11:30 at night and I can’t sleep because I’m like, “I did it.” Then the next day, they don’t respond, send any email. Were they playing? I’m learning that you got to knock that off. You got to be where they say a goldfish and have the shortest memory and not even think about it and just keep going because you’re right. It’s going to either work or you’re going to use something on the next idea and that one’s going to work.

Peter Kersting: Because you tried it on the first one, exactly. I just read the autobiography of Jim Henson, which is awesome. Awesome story. I only think of The Muppets when I think of Jim Henson, but he’s the reason why we have animatronics at all.

Tanner Combias: Right.

Peter Kersting: Some of the biggest movies in the 1970s, ’80s, were because of the technology he invented. A lot of what he did was always just pushing the envelope to the next thing. I think one of the biggest takeaways I got from the book was that a lot of his critical failures came right before huge critical success. They worked because… He literally had an R&D department for how he made stuff.

Tanner Combias: Wow.

Peter Kersting: He had people literally making things that no one had ever made before like remote controlled puppets and things. There’s literally one time when he built an entire swimming pool and then he put live trees and moss and stuff on top of it to try to make it look like a swamp. Then he built a cage that went underwater that he could stay inside with a breathing apparatus that went out of it so that he could stick his arm up and out of this concrete submerged structure to control Kermit the Frog so that you could have a live Muppet being controlled in the water, in a swamp. It’s stuff that’s like, “How did he do that?” You read the book and you’re like, “That’s crazy.” He’s in this tiny little box underwater so that he can do the… There’s so much stuff he did like that. I loved it because it really cemented for me how much that doesn’t work, unless the thing he tried before it was crazy ambitious and fell flat a little.

Tanner Combias: Yeah. I like that. That’s very cool. I should read that.

Peter Kersting: Yeah, it’s a great book. I’ll link it in the show notes for you. There’s a couple books I would definitely recommend. I want to ask you a question. There’s a lot of risk and creativity associated with startups. As you even mentioned prior, accountants aren’t exactly known for their personalities or for their risk taking, I would say. How do you balance being practical versus taking risks, especially with this business you’re trying to do?

Tanner Combias: Yeah, you’re right. It’s bizarre living in New York city, in Manhattan, and not having a real job.

Peter Kersting: Yeah, that’s crazy to me. It gives me anxiety thinking about it.

Tanner Combias: It gives me anxiety thinking about it as well when I’m doing it. It’s not my character because I was always [inaudible 00:14:22] and now all I’m doing is spending and spending and spending. But I can do it. I quit my job. I saved my money. I have this goal, tennis, travel, and have x amount of money left over so that I wouldn’t have to just go back. Because the market was so good and because Covid happened, I couldn’t travel to some of the places I planned on traveling to that were more expensive, whatever. I have more money now than I had when I quit, which is just absurd. I don’t really understand it.

Peter Kersting: Wait, hang on a second. I want to let that ruminate a little bit. You quit three years ago from your job.

Tanner Combias: Right.

Peter Kersting: You haven’t had a traditional job since, other than maybe working as a farmer in New Zealand for a month.

Tanner Combias: Totally.

Peter Kersting: You have more money now than you did when you left.

Tanner Combias: That’s correct. I will say that I have made a little money here and there with the last few months. I’ve been working on some other stuff that’s been bringing in a little bit of money and whatnot here and there. But yes, for the most part, you’re spot on. I’m pretty much right where I was when I quit.

Peter Kersting: This is just because eight year old Tanner was smart enough to be saving and investing his money. Is this just the miracle of compound interest? Is that what this is?

Tanner Combias: It is a lot of it. A lot of it is having it invested in the market and the market being super strong. Over the last hundred years, the S&P goes up 10% every year. The last five years, it’s been crazy. It’s exploded. It’s luck there, but then it’s the eight year old saving every penny. When I was doing all that stuff, when I wanted to play tennis and compete, I wasn’t holding back per se on things. But I wasn’t just getting private lessons left and right. I was still being smart. When I traveled and I wanted to do things [inaudible 00:16:22] like canyoning, as we talked about before, I did them. But I didn’t just go and do 50 activities in a day and then go to the bar.

Tanner Combias: I thought about things. Because I did that, that money I didn’t have to spend was in the market creating more money and compounding. That was really nice. But to go back to it all, the market, it’s never going to continue at that pace. It’s bizarre living in Manhattan now and barely making money and spending more than I make. It’s against me. But I’m willing. Because I’ve saved enough, I feel better taking that risk.

Peter Kersting: It really brings me back to what you said before, you were saving for the freedom to do what you want. I think that’s something that a lot of people can relate to. I think it’s an amazing segue for the second half of this episode because I think people get it. You’ve done a lot. You have been able to save money and travel, start a business, and live in New York city, something that people can’t even do. Most people will go, “I can’t live in New York city. That’s crazy expensive.”

Tanner Combias: [crosstalk 00:17:28]

Peter Kersting: You’re doing it living off of index funds, basically, and smart budgeting. You’ve demonstrated what I consider to be a pretty admirable work ethic in doing so. I want to be able to help people know how they can do the same thing. In this part of the episode, I want to give our listeners some concrete advice. Maybe they’re trying to start a side hustle. Maybe they’re just trying to learn how to invest a little smarter or budget a little bit better, but you and I came up with a list of things here. I would love you to add to that if you can. We got about 15 minutes.

Peter Kersting: Before we get into the actionable and practical tips from Tanner Combias, I wanted to ask you guys to do me a favor. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, there are two things that I would really love from you. Number one, rate and review the podcast on Apple or on Spotify. Number two, follow us on Instagram so you can get updates on the podcast, including clips from the episodes so you can see who the new interviews are and some highlights from each episode. It’s also a great place to reach out to me and let me know which interviews you’re vibing with and what you want to hear more of. If you’re enjoying the interview, please head on over to Apple and review it and follow us at Alone with Peter on Instagram. All right. With that, let’s get back to Tanner Combias and those practical tips so we can make some more money.

Peter Kersting: Got about 15 minutes where we can just really focus in here. I don’t know if there’s a spot that you think would be a great place to start or if you’d like me to just pick one.

Tanner Combias: Pick one. Go ahead with that.

Peter Kersting: What are some of the most common financial traps that you feel people are falling into?

Tanner Combias: Even with my friends, subscriptions are some of the biggest culprits. You sign up for Hulu, Disney Plus, Netflix and internet providers, everyone. Every month, you think these expenses are small, but they just accumulate and add up. You really have to think about what you need and if you’re going to pay for something that you don’t need like entertainment, this kind of stuff, how important is it to you and how much joy does it really bring to you? If it does, then you do need to set aside money for that. But do you need them all or can you share with your friends a subscription? The classic call up the internet provider and say, “Hey, I got a better deal down the street,” and there’s more than a 30% chance that they’re going to drop your monthly rate. Just try to minimize or reduce your subscriptions. That’s a huge trap.

Peter Kersting: How are you factoring in the happiness part of this? What makes it worthwhile or not? What are some questions you’re asking yourself?

Tanner Combias: I have friends who love movies. There’s something about movies that is super important to them. Every week, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, they’re watching movies. They talk about movies that they go to. They want to share that experience, whatever. In that situation, maybe having access to those movies is super important to them. It makes them happy. It’s almost their hobby in that regard. I’m not going to say don’t spend money on these subscriptions. But then it comes back to do you need subscriptions at all of these places? Are there ways to share with friends? This one subscription gives you access to this one show. That’s the only show that you watch on it. Do you really even care about this show or is it on the edge? If it’s on the edge and you want to save money, cut it. There you go, you save five bucks a month. It sounds obvious, but small, little things add up. That’s a huge one.

Peter Kersting: Subscriptions.

Tanner Combias: Yeah, subscriptions. I’ll try to be quick. I know we don’t have much time. But I think a huge thing, and I always say in New York, is going to the bars, putting down your credit card, and just paying for drinks. A beer costs eight to 10 bucks minimum. You leave a dollar tip, so 11 bucks for a beer. No problem. Do you like beer? Do you enjoy going to bars? If you don’t go to the bar, are you going to feel like you missed out? Can you go to the bar and just use cash? If you just use cash at bars, then you know how much you spent walking out that door. Even me who literally, I can walk away from a weekend and say to you, “I spent $105 this weekend.” It’s kind of bizarre, but most people aren’t in that boat.

Tanner Combias: But if you have cash in your wallet, you’re going to be a lot less tempted to just get drink after drink because every time it leaves your hand, you notice it. I think that’s a good one. I like going to the bars because I enjoy hanging out with my friends. But I don’t even like beer. I go to a bar, it’s funny, I’ll get a sandwich and I’ll eat sandwich with my friends. I don’t feel like I [inaudible 00:22:25]. I spend 10 bucks on a sandwich and have a blast. Everyone’s different. I’m not saying, “Peter, you should go and buy sandwiches when you go to the bar with your friends.” But I walk away and I spent $10 and had a decent, healthy meal. Maybe I get a sandwich. They spent [inaudible 00:22:42] and they didn’t even maybe enjoy that last beer they had. Those are two big trips that definitely stand out to me.

Peter Kersting: What you’re talking about is intentionality in how you spend your money, how you spend your time, what’s important to you, and what you should be spending money on. Perhaps you could give some tips for how can I intentionally craft the economic freedom that I want to have. I think that goes hand in hand with some of the financial traps you’re talking about, eliminating necessary costs. But what are some other ways, whether that’s putting aside money in S&P 500 or something else? What are some tips, concrete things we could be doing now, and maybe the priority list that you would give them?

Tanner Combias: Right now, I’m doing some financial advising for a bunch of friends as kind of a side thing. I’m getting this kind of question a lot. I feel like I sound like a broken record, reading a lot of articles, but obviously, everyone has to have a little cash set aside, no matter what. I read these horror stories of 50% of Americans don’t have a savings account for emergency or emergency fund. You definitely want to put aside some money and how much you put aside definitely depends on a lot of different factors. You definitely want to have some money put aside. Then like we talked about before, really focusing on what you need. If your goal is, “I want to spend less. I need to slash my budget,” you need to think about what you… These are the expenses that you currently pay and you need to pay them all. Can you reduce any of these?

Tanner Combias: No, you’re already staying at a really inexpensive apartment. There’s really no way. There’s nothing you can do here. Then all this other stuff I’m spending on, probably on those beers, probably on the subscriptions, probably on some extra material things that you really don’t need. I think they take out seamless, those kill my friends and they don’t even notice those items so easily. That stuff you can start to take away and really start to save money. It’s focusing on those needs and those wants. But you got to have fun, you got to enjoy. You only have one life to live. I think it is really important to make sure that you do buy the things that are important to making you happy. For me, it was traveling and spending my money [inaudible 00:25:20] and experiences.

Peter Kersting: Budgeting for the fun things as well then too, though. That sounds like that’s the key, is you need to be… It’s just aware of how much money you have and how much money you can actually spend. I think maybe you could touch on this a little bit, the idea of debt and also credit because many Americans, I think, have a very lazy and/or stupid attitude about how to deal with debt and/or credit because we haven’t been taught or if we have been taught, we’ve been taught through merchandising to apply for the credit card so that we can pay for the thing and then pay back later, the thing that we can’t afford now. For the person who’s like, “I’m buying what you’re putting down, Tanner. I want to have more financial freedom and I want to invest money, but I have debt as well as this budget that I need to follow. How can I start paying that down in a smart way? What’s the priority list?”

Tanner Combias: You have a lot to unwrap there. Credit, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear credit, and I think they do a terrible job teaching this in school. I have a finance degree and they didn’t even teach us how to deal with credit and debt, really, from a practical way. First, when I think of credit, I think to myself, “This is actually a good thing.” As kids, parents should get their kids on their credit card, sign up for a credit card, and give them access to it. Maybe hide it from them. Literally, don’t let them use their credit card, but establishing good credit is very important for later on if you ever want to [inaudible 00:27:01] or get a mortgage for a house. By starting that earlier, you’re good to go. But I think what you said there is really important. This whole spending more than you have and taking out credit card debt is the worst kind of debt. It’s so enticing. Sometimes they say that they don’t charge you any interest for a certain period of time, but then they hit you with 15% a year or something [inaudible 00:27:29]

Tanner Combias: You definitely want to stay clear of that. Then sometimes you just have to have debt. Sometimes there’s nothing that you could have done. You need to take out debt for school and you think to yourself, “Tanner, like you said, you’re giving me all this great need/want stuff. But I have debt right now.” You definitely want to make that your priority and it sucks. But some of the stuff that you want that does make you happy, this is the time that I’m like, “I’m sorry. You have to sacrifice a little bit.” It sounds like I’m a drill sergeant, but you want the freedom. Once you get rid of these things that are holding you down, then you can really have more fun and start to get the things that make you happy. It’s a balancing act.

Peter Kersting: Sounds like having the emergency savings is important, maybe priority one, just in case something happens right now that I have to pay for it right now. I have that money.

Tanner Combias: Yeah.

Peter Kersting: Step two would be paying down your debt and then being smart about what you’re paying down first. If you have a higher interest rate on something, pay that off before the other thing, as long as the principle is similar to the balance. When it comes to, “I’ve started eliminating my debt,” have you ever heard about… You have heard about debt stacking. What do you think about debt stacking? The idea that, let’s say I have $100 of credit card debt, and now I’ve paid off the $100 of credit card debt. Now that money that I’ve been budgeting for that credit card debt goes on the student loan debt plus whatever I was already paying, so it’s $100 plus whatever I was budgeting for that. It’s $150 a month, let’s say. Then I pay down that one. Now that’s $150 plus whatever I was budgeting on the third piece of debt. Is that kind of the process, eliminate all debt and then invest and then build additional streams of money?

Tanner Combias: It’s a tough question because it’s not… Yes, as a theory, most people, I’m going to say that’s the way to go. You want to get your highest yield debt. I know that some people talk about the snowball effect, where you pay off a few small loans, you get victories, and you feel better and it forces you to pay up other stuff. Maybe that does push you. But ultimately, what it comes down to is pay off your higher interest first, get rid of it, give yourself some more financial freedom and flexibility.

Tanner Combias: But when you start to get deeper into the finance of it, we can get a little bit more picky. If you’re saying to me, “I have a mortgage and I’m paying 2.5% on this mortgage and, all of a sudden, I come into money,” should, like you said, “Tanner, you said you should pay off your debt first.” This is considered debt. I’m like, “No, wait a second here. We got to take everything into account here. [inaudible 00:30:21] picture.” What’s our financial stability? How much money are we making? Then I’m thinking you just came into money in the market. You’re definitely going to get more than 2.5% in the long term. I don’t necessarily want to pay back that 2.5%.

Peter Kersting: If it’s low enough interest, I might want to invest it for the long term…

Tanner Combias: For sure.

Peter Kersting: … because I’m going to get a lot more than 2.5% back.

Tanner Combias: Yeah.

Peter Kersting: [crosstalk 00:30:46] 10%.

Tanner Combias: You got to take a few things into account and also, you have to take into account human nature, human behavior, and the person you’re speaking to. If you have a rule, you need an emergency fund, three to six months of what you’re going to spend. You pay down your debt first, no matter what. But you can take into a bunch of different things into account. A lot of it has to do with your job stability and how rigorous you are in following through if you give yourself certain deadlines.

Tanner Combias: Are you going to continue to pay off that debt when you can? If you took that money that I just gave you and invested it instead of paying off debt, are you still going to be constantly thinking about that debt you have? Is it going to hinder you from doing other things that you want to do? You need to take [inaudible 00:31:41]. But I think from a high perspective, I love the fact of getting rid of the debt that you can, especially if the rate is higher than 5%.

Peter Kersting: This is all really actionable stuff. It seems so simple and so obvious to do, but it takes a lot of discipline and delayed gratification to do. I’m trying to think. I would love to ask you more questions about those things actually. But maybe we should finish more with this question. Tanner, I’ve been doing a good job eliminating debt. I know what my budget is for my needs. I’m trying to set myself up for some more economic freedom so I can budget for a better life. What are your thoughts on establishing side hustles or additional streams of money or investing in the S&P? What are smart things for people to be considering when it comes to that kind of stuff?

Peter Kersting: I’m operating my own business, but at a very slow pace because of my debt situation. Yet, I’m also working another job to help finance my immediate expenses. Sometimes I find myself just frustrated by how long it takes to get the ball rolling on things because I don’t have money and I’m unwilling to spend money that I don’t have. I’ve made that a conscious choice, but it makes things happen much slower. I just wonder if there’s things people can be doing once their debt has been eliminated, but they’re just not making very much and they want to set themselves up for more freedom. What should they be doing?

Tanner Combias: First off, I love that you’re willing to spend more than you make. I think that’s huge. Two, I love side hustles. I know you had mentioned that. Why not? Why not try to find other ways to make money? The only way to get rich is to make money when you’re sleeping. I love those things. But I think it comes down to this: In your situation, in Peter’s situation, if you wanted, what are your priorities? If your priority was, “I want more financial freedom. That is the most important thing in my life. I want to be able to buy things that I can’t afford right now.” I know that’s not the situation where that’s the number one priority for you. It’s not for me either because I [inaudible 00:34:09]

Tanner Combias: But if that was your number one priority, then I would say, “You need to get five to six jobs right now. You’ve already budgeted. You cut your needs. You barely spend any money on anything else and you want more freedom. It sounds stupid. Now you need to go down to the corner and you need to get a job at the coffee shop. You need to get a job there. You need to get a job at the car wash. You need to get a job there. [inaudible 00:34:33] with jobs. I don’t care. That’s your priority right now.” You turn that dial down a little and you’re like, “I want a little bit more financial freedom.” That’s where you start to come in and you’re like, “I need a job to support what my needs and my little wants. I have this dream of some other business opportunities. I can’t afford them right now. I can’t do this, so I’m going to pursue them.”

Tanner Combias: That’s where I am too. [inaudible 00:34:59] I’m dialing down, but I have this dream of Hostel Mate. I’m not making much money, but it’s my dream and I can do it. My priority is not the financial freedom. It’s that dial about how important something is to you and not. Your process is going to be a little slower. I could say to you, “Peter, you should go get four jobs for six months and then maybe [inaudible 00:35:22],” or I could say, “No, this is important to you. It’s going to be slower, but there’s no other avenue.” But I think that’s really how I look at it. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong.

Peter Kersting: But I appreciate it. There’s something to be said about the fact that it’s worked well for you. I think it’s something that we’ve clearly been able to establish in this three episode extravaganza, that coming away with some intentionality, some tough love, some hard budgeting, some future proofing, if you will, of your plans. I think the biggest takeaway for me, and I hope that’s something that other people see from this too, is you don’t have to be making six figures to do what you want to do. It certainly couldn’t hurt. In your situation, being able to do that for a year or two has certainly, I’m sure, helped. But it’s more important to know what is most important to me, how do I prioritize that, and what role does money play in that? As we’re wrapping up, I wonder if there’s anything in particular that you would like to say, any message you would like to get out there or big takeaway that you would like people to have from this experience or anything else?

Tanner Combias: First off, thanks again for having me on. It’s been fun, fun little experience. I’m not used to doing it, but it’s hard. I think it would be fun. Hopefully, in a couple years, you’ll have me back on and I can be like, “I’ve been successful. I struggled and I was able to live this way and make it.” Now, I can’t pretend to be like, “I’m crushing it,” because I’m not. I think your summary was really good there about finding what’s most important to you. Anyone can do this.

Tanner Combias: I think what it comes down to is I saved a lot of money and invested it and I’m able to have freedom to do what I want. But I’m also going to come to a stage where I’m going to either need to go and go back to corporate or try something new. Everyone struggles. There’s no one who can just navigate this complex arena here. It’s not easy going. It was hard to save that money. Every month, I was being careful. How I spent it, even the choices I made, they weren’t easy. It isn’t easy for anyone. Even if you make mistakes and you struggle with it, don’t give up. Make sure you know what’s important to you and focus on that and you’ll make it.

Peter Kersting: I appreciate that. I appreciate you, Tanner. I think it’s safe to say that, for you, it has been worth it. I certainly would count you as a success. When I talk to you and I talk to [Maury 00:38:10] and honestly, all the different people that I’ve had on this show, I always enjoy hearing the story, getting to know people better. I think you’re an awesome guy, man. I think you’re incredibly diligent and hardworking and I love your focus and Hostel Mate has a lot of potential. I’m excited to see what you do with it.

Peter Kersting: But even if it’s not Hostel Mate, if it’s something else, I am going to be the least surprised person when I find out that what you’re doing is working. I’m honored to have you on the show Alone with Peter. People know where to find you. If you want to reach out to Tanner or talk with him about Hostel Mate or anything else, I’m sure you could find him on his website. If you want to learn more about where he’s traveled, where he’s been to, he’s done a lot of cool stuff. Tennisthentravel.com is an awesome resource to see what that has been like. Thank you for joining us on Alone with Peter.


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