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She’s one of the most popular financial TikTok stars in America with 2.2 million followers — and she says this is ‘the most important’ thing to do with your savings


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Tori Dunlap didn’t graduate from college thinking she’d be a financial guru — in fact, she studied theater — but she did have it in her head that she wanted to make money. “People would often ask me what I planned on doing with a theater degree,” she recalls. “And I’d tell them, ‘Make a ton of money.’”

That didn’t come easily: She says that her first job wasn’t exactly lucrative, and she didn’t love the 9-to-5 either.  So she set a goal for herself: Save $100,000 by saving, picking up freelance work and being frugal, she explains: “I felt that amount was the permission slip I needed to quit my job.” (Looking to save more too? Some high-yield savings accounts are now paying more than they have in a decade; see some of the highest paying savings accounts you can get here.)

She blogged about her journey of working, and picking up freelance gigs, with the aim of saving $100,000 on blog called Her First $100K. It gained a significant following, and Dunlap leveraged that into an even bigger audience. Her podcast, “Financial Feminist,” is the 11th most popular business podcast on Spotify, and her eponymously named debut book, Financial Feminist, hit The New York Times bestseller list when it was released in December of 2022. Dunlap has 2.2 million followers on TikTok and 685,000 followers on Instagram. 

Dunlap believes her popularity can be attributed to the fact that she doesn’t shame her audience. “I speak to them like they’re my best friend, not like I’m some Chad on Wall Street,” she says. Her ethos, which is that saving money doesn’t have to be hard, and can actually be a statement of political values, appeals to a generation of women activated by the #metoo movement and the persistent pay gap between genders. “There can be no equality without financial equality,” Dunlap says. “Financial education is a woman’s best form of protest.”

Here are her top savings  tips. 

1. Automate your savings.

This is age old savings advice, but Dunlap notes that it was essential to her reaching her goal.  She says she set up her accounts so that as soon as her paycheck was deposited, a certain percentage of it was transferred to a savings account. She also committed to depositing any money she made from side hustles – for example, freelance writing assignments or marketing gigs – into her savings account as well. Dunlap notes that you don’t need to start with a huge sum for the practice to be effective. In fact, you can start with as little as $20 a month. The pleasure of watching the money accrue is its own form of motivation, she notes. See some of the highest paying savings accounts you can get here.

2. Choose three things to splurge on.

Dunlap recommends making a list of three things you will splurge on. “You can afford almost anything, but you can’t afford everything,” she says. For example, when she was working on her savings goal, Dunlap chose to spend on travel, eating out and decorating her living space. Everything else – clothes, transportation and partying – she was careful not to waste money on. “I wanted my money to bring me the most possible happiness,” she says.

3. Have an end goal in mind.

Saying no to bachelorette weekends and impulse purchases is a lot easier if you see money as the means to an end rather than just something you should be saving because everyone tells you it’s important. “You have to identify what you want your life to look like, and how you can use money to get you there,” Dunlap says.

Dunlap realized early in her career that she didn’t want to give all of her time and energy to a corporate job, so she set a savings goal that she felt would allow her to quit her job. Maybe your goal is to be able to stay home with your kids for a few years if you’re planning a family. Or maybe you’d like to retire by the time you’re 45. Either way, a firm goal – preferably one with a number amount– gives you a reason to care.

4. Privilege process over perfection

Money habits, Dunlap notes, are ingrained in us by our parents. If they didn’t have healthy spending habits, then you likely won’t either. “How could you be good with money if no one ever taught you how?” Dunlap says. If this describes you, you may really struggle with reaching your savings goals even despite your best intentions.

Dunlap says that this is ok, and in fact, is normal. In fact, there were multiple times that Dunlap thought she wouldn’t reach her goal of $100,000 – for example, when she was unemployed for three months, she says. But even if she hadn’t reached her goal, she still would have had a large chunk of change saved that gave her financial power. “If you’re trying to be perfect, you will never be,” she says. “The most important thing is that you keep progressing.” In the end, some savings is better than none at all.

The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of MarketWatch Picks, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.


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