Money pro tips: A Q&A with financial adviser Sarah Montoya

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Money pro tips: A Q&A with financial adviser Sarah Montoya

Each week, we ask a personal finance or business expert for their money pro tips. This week we talked to Sarah G. Montoya, a financial adviser and financial planning specialist.

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Last thing you resisted buying:
With the Los Angeles food scene being as robust and expensive as it is, my husband and I made a pact to limit the nights we would eat out each month.

Last thing you splurged on:
Travel. In 2019 we went backpacking in Canada, and went on a little getaway for the holidays.

Why’d you OK the splurge?
Balance is mission critical. I find that I recharge and derive so much of my power from the time spent away from the hustle and grind. A digital cleanse is so helpful for my mental endurance, and for me, sometimes that means going somewhere that has no cell service.

What’s your current money goal?
Between my husband and I, as is the case for so many millennials out there, paying down our combined student debt.

How you’re working toward it:
Budgeting is key. When there is an interest rate being charged on any portion of your money, you have to think about your purchases in the context of “is my money better spent here, or applied to my highest-interest debt?”

Money thing you’re most proud of:
To be honest, I have been financially responsible for myself and my family from a very young age. I put myself through college at an incredible university (University of California San Diego), and have continued to be a financially independent and stable woman throughout my life without any real advantage that many folks enjoy. I have worked so hard for everything that I have achieved, and have figured out how to rub two pennies together to make things happen every time.

A money regret:
Not completely understanding the ramifications of the student loans I received when I was in school. I think I would have more seriously considered a lower-cost community college or transfer arrangement if I had better understood rates and repayment terms.

Best financial advice you ever got:
Start saving for retirement early. Even the smallest amount saved early in life makes a major impact later on. Your future self will thank you.

Worst financial advice you ever got:
To use a credit card to pay for large expenses. In my case it was tuition for a few semesters. As far as I am concerned, if you can’t afford to pay for it, using a credit card will not fix that issue. It will likely only make it worse.

What would you do with a $1 million windfall?
Pay down student debt, put a down payment on a home, save any excess.

Book, podcast, newsletter or blog you recommend to help people be better with money?
“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
“AgeProof” by Jean Chatzky and Michael Roizen
“The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey
“The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason
“Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin

Best tip for spending while traveling:
Find a debit card that has no foreign transaction fees, no currency conversion fees, and works at almost any ATM.

Learn how to avoid getting ripped off when exchanging currency.

Best tip for saving for travel:
I like to fund my goals by setting up a direct deposit of a portion of my pay into a savings account.

Best travel-related purchase:
I collect hot sauces when I travel. I get to enjoy a different culture, or a different take on hot sauce, and continue to enjoy it long after I return home.

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko

*Sarah Montoya is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Beverly Hills, CA. The Information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley LLC, Member SIPC or its affiliates. *