Kyle Taylor, founder and CEO of The Penny Hoarder.
In 2010, Kyle Taylor was a young college student at the University of Colorado. Like many Millennials, he was struggling with massive student loans and debt.
To get an outlet for his frustrations and feelings about his financial situation, Taylor decided to start a personal blog where he began writing about his adventures in making and saving money. He had at that time amassed almost $50,000 in credit card and student loan debt, after only about three semesters of being in college.
Fast forward a little over six years later to 2017 and Taylor is a self-made millionaire and CEO of The Penny Hoarder, the personal finance blog he started as a hobby and creative outlet.
The Penny Hoarder is now a fully fledged media company, recently ranked number 32 on Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies.
The Penny Hoarder's Rise to Success
Taylor pioneered a new kind of personal finance media site that delivers stories about real people and offers actionable money tips. The Penny Hoarder offers financial tips to millions of readers each month; tips that make a real difference in people’s budgets.
The popularity of the site has culminated in it bringing in nearly $20 million a year in revenue, according to Taylor who is now 30.
If you are thinking Taylor grew the site using Venture capital, he didn’t. He says he found unique ways to make extra money and saved it. For example, he bought items that would go out of stock in the rest of the country and sold them on eBay at a premium to bring in a few bucks, including Furby brand of toys. He also found a job watching movies and writing reviews for film review and advertising companies.
Over time, the extra money added up.
A big lesson Taylor says he has learned while on this six year journey is this: Having fun while saving is the key to long-term financial health.
Have Fun Saving for Long-term Financial Success
"I had come from a history of making so many poor financial decisions," he told CNBC. Fortunately, he eventually figured out a way to turn his life around. How did he do it?
Here's how he turned his life around.
Instead of letting small purchases add up and drain his bank account, the young entrepreneur decided to have weekly "date nights" with his finances, a habit he still keeps today.
Every Sunday evening, Taylor makes himself a nice meal and pours himself a glass of wine. He then goes over all of the expenditures from the week.
Sunday is a good day to have this personal finance date with yourself, he explained to CNBC, because it starts you off on the right foot for the upcoming week.
The wine is a key factor too. It makes the experience enjoyable to Taylor, and takes the stress and monotony out of spending precious weekend time working on your finances.
"I want to make it a positive experience," he said of this weekly practice. "We need to take the agony out of finances, make it fun."
Taylor looks at his retirement saving; at his emergency funds; at his expenditure. "I ask myself, 'Am I getting ahead or am I falling behind?'"
By reviewing his bank account and his credit card history, he can keep his spending in check and remind himself of his goals and commit to them.
Check Your Spending, and Commit to Your Goals
It’s interesting looking at the Penny Hoarder website because it seems so simple. It’s a basic WordPress site marked by elegance and simplicity. The site features catchy headlines like “This Study Says 72% of People Won’t Marry Someone With a Bad Credit Score,” “How to Buy Perfectly Ripe Fruits and Vegetables, Every Time” and “Make Your Valentine’s Day Memories Last With $15 of Free Photos From Shutterfly.”
With headlines like these, it’s difficult to see where the revenue comes from. However, as Tyler reveled in an interview with Mixergy, the Penny Hoarder makes 95 percent of its revenue from performance marketing, or what some people call affiliate marketing.
Essentially, the Penny Hoarder partners directly with clients like Uber, Airbnb and Yelp. They write an article about Uber, say about working side jobs for Uber. And then link to Uber. Every time one of the site’s readers signs up to be an Uber driver, for example, and gets a check, so does Penny Hoarder.
The smaller portion of the $20 million a year is display advertising revenue.
"It feels pretty incredible to, six years later, be so blessed," Taylor said.