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Hayley Sacks thinks there’s often a funny — and absurd — side to finance. Indeed, a sampling of her Instagram account (@mrsdowjones), which has over 320,000 followers, reveals a broad range of posts and memes including a picture of Kim Kardashian on her private jet that reads, “When you cut avocado toast and iced coffee from your budget and can suddenly afford a private plane,” and a recent reel in which Sacks reveals that you can deduct the entire cost of a Mercedes G Wagon from your business due to an IRS loophole.
Though Sacks comes from the world of money – she was born to a family on the Upper East Side with a father who works at Goldman Sachs – she says she was always surrounded by wealth without really knowing much about it. “My parents were very close-lipped about money, and they still are,” she says. Rather than making her feel safe, it made her feel “disempowered, anxious and self-conscious.”
So after she was laid off from a $43,000 a year job — where she got a 401(k) but wondered “am I supposed to know what that is?” she recalls — she started a digital content company in 2019 that uses the language of pop culture and memes to explain the basics of personal finance. The company’s name is Finance is Cool, and the social media arm of the company, which is called Mrs Dow Jones, has over 320,000 followers on Instagram, 16,100 subscribers on YouTube and 251,400 followers on TikTok. “I created the company for the younger version of myself,” she says.
Some of her most popular posts nod at her privileged upbringing. For example, in a recent post she revealed that she pays $670 to get her hair highlighted at a salon on the Upper East Side. She offsets the obvious privilege of this expense by making videos such as “Money Rules Only Rich People Know,” what states the following six rules:
- Don’t make money that big of a deal. (“Look at money as an asset, but never as a personality trait,” she says.)
- Know where to spend it and where to save it. (“Always remember that no one is ballin’ 24-7,” she says.)
- Don’t replace anything until you’ve absolutely exhausted it. (When you consciously save for something, and then are able to buy it, it feels so good, and you value that item so much that you just want to take really good care of it,” she says.)
- Be sort of careless with cash. (You want to have some money in your life that you can be generous with, she notes.)
- Check yourself with the check. (“If you invite someone somewhere, you should pay for them,” she says, noting that this is true no matter your gender.)
- Be so generous. (Whether it’s paying for the taxi or buying someone a drink, these little actions really make a huge difference.)
Jones also teaches a series of personal finance courses that invite participants to become their own trust funds. And she dreams of creating a production company aimed at telling uplifting financial stories. “I want to be Mrs Dow Jones forever,” she says. “And I want to take people along with me in the most transparent way.” Here are the top three savings tips she recently shared with MarketWatch Picks.
1. Automate your savings.
“Automation literally forces wealth to be in your future,” Jones says. What she means is that you should automatically set a monthly — or even weekly transfer — from your checking into your savings account so that you don’t have to remember to save money.
Jones prefers high-yield savings accounts that exist in a different location than the bank statements you open regularly to check your checking account balance. “If you can’t see it every day, you forget about it,” she says. In this way, you accumulate money without having to think — or worry — too much about it. This works especially well if you have a regular paycheck, as well as a firm budget that allows you wiggle room to put away a certain amount of cash. (See the highest savings rates you can get here.)
2. Wait a week before you splurge.
You just saw a great pair of loafers on sale on TheRealReal, and you’ve always wanted a pair. Not to mention that they’re consignment, so they’re already reduced in value, and also, won’t someone else buy them if you don’t? You should probably take advantage of the deal.
Stop right there, recommends Jones. “Don’t buy things impulsively that you didn’t plan for,” she says. Chances are that within a week, that burning desire to click buy will have receded into the past. And if it hasn’t, use money that you might have otherwise spent on another type of splurge, such as a fancy dinner out with friends, or a new dress for an upcoming wedding.
3. Talk about money.
Jones thinks that you can relate to this story. You get invited on a bachelorette weekend, and the maid of honor wants to make reservations at an expensive restaurant every night that you’re away. You know you can’t really afford it, but you don’t want to be a problem, so you just go along with it, even though it means that you’ll accrue high-interest credit card debt.
The way out of this situation, Jones says, is just communicating with your friends. “We live in a culture of keeping up with the Joneses,” she says. (Herself not included.) “You have to be able to speak up for yourself, or you will stay in this reactive cycle of spending, which is detrimental.”
Be honest on the group text that those sorts of meals are out of your budget, and then share some alternate recommendations instead. For example, a dive bar with decent food and great music, or a barbecue at the house you rented. “The more you are able to own what you want, and why you’re doing it, the better your relationships will get,” Jones says.