Lillian Karabaic, Host of Oh My Dollar!


Cool Tools Show 188: Lillian Karabaic

Our guest this week is Lillian Karabaic. Lillian is the host of Oh My Dollar!, a weekly syndicated financial advice radio show and podcast for covering the kinds of modern money issues that aren’t represented in the mainstream media. Her book, A Cat’s Guide to Money, just went into its second printing. She eats 3 tacos for breakfast every morning.

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Show notes:

Kokuyo Jibun Techo 3-in-1 Planner
I’m one of those people that, even though I use a lot of digital tools, I still really need a paper planner. And the reason I need a paper planner is that there’s infinite space on my digital to-do lists and I will overextend myself. So I have to have a paper planner so that I can actually see if I’m over committing myself to a number of tasks in a day or a week. I absolutely love this planner. It’s a paper planner, I picked it up in Japan. I get really excited every time I pull it out. I track a ton of data about myself and I use a lot of apps to do that. But if you want to do all of that in a planner, you can do it with this. It’s extremely Japanese in how both efficient it is at like cramming a bunch of stuff into one space, but also how extra it is in what it thinks is a necessary thing to have in a planner. Like it has little icons everyday where you color in what the weather is and write down what you ate for each meal and who you ate with and how your mood was and a little tiny bit of journaling. But what I also love about it is the 24-hour timeline. My ritual with my planner is that I don’t put my appointments out months in advance on my planner. I use it as my Sunday ritual where I take everything from my massive to-do lists and my Google calendar, and then I transfer it all to my week view. And that is kind of my way of assessing, “Oh, you said that you were going to do these seven things this week.” But realistically once you start putting it down on paper you realize you can’t.

Beeminder is kind of amazing. I charge myself money for things that I am supposed to do. The tagline is it’s “reminders with a sting,” but essentially you can set it up to track anything you want and they have literally hundreds of integrations, but you can also use it for manual things. Say you want to average seven hours of sleep a night. If you have something like a Fitbit, you can just hook up that data source and as long as you’re averaging seven hours of sleep a night, you will never pay anything. But if you start to go off track, you will pay them money. A lot of people use it for writing. A lot of people have used it to finish their PhDs or for working out. I have to run a certain amount of miles per week. And It’s great because I’ll wake up and I’ll check Beeminder, and Beeminder’s says, “You’re going to get charged $5 if you don’t run half a mile today.” Well, half a mile is not that much, but I know that if I run two miles, that means I don’t have to run it all for four days. Obviously I’m trained as an economist, so I love the behavioral economics behind it because I hate paying anyone money.

So You Need a Budget or YNAB, as most of the super fans call it, is the budgeting software I’ve used for six years now and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I think it’s probably one of the most hands on budgeting apps, but I think it’s one of the best ones for actually making you engage with your money. YNAB completely changed my life and I was already pretty good with money. What I love about it is that I am able to enter transactions on the go. It automatically remembers where I’m at with geolocation and assigns the categories. It even remembers the payment method. It is the only thing I have found that makes me track cash. It was instrumental in me saving half of my income on a nonprofit salary, and being able to save up and start my own business.

Spot Trace GPS
Spot Trace GPS is a GPS beacon, so it isn’t a thing that you use to navigate. It’s just a thing that shows your location. And it’s about the size of a small iPhone. If it can see the sky, it reports every four minutes where your location is. It’s really, really helpful because you can just broadcast that. You can give people access to a link where they can see you. I have used this as a beacon to update my website with my location while on a 13-country train/ferry trip from Ireland to Shanghai, China. It’s phenomenal. The reason I use this one is it’s one of the smallest and it has the longest battery life, and it runs on regular batteries. No matter where I’m in the world, I want to be able to buy the batteries. I don’t want it to have a proprietary battery. And so this one is great because it runs on four AAA batteries, and I just get the long lasting ones. It lasts for two or three weeks. And it is continuously broadcasting.

Also mentioned:

cats guide
A Cat’s Guide to Money: Everything You Need to Know to Get Control of your Purrsonal Finances
We did the first edition on Kickstarter and then we ended up selling out of copies in less than a year. So I went back to Kickstarter this June and asked for help to do the second print run and we raised $20,000 to do the second print run. And this book is just cats explaining personal finance. So there’s lots of puns and there is illustrated cats to explain everything from investing to budgeting. My cat uses her toys to explain investing allocations in her basket. So it’s meant to be something that makes the terrifying part of personal finance really approachable with adorable fuzzy kittens. But it doesn’t dumb it down. It just makes it something that is less terrifying. All the cats in the book were illustrated by Fiona Wu, who only illustrates cats. And all the cats in the book belong to people who backed the book’s first Kickstarter. There’s even an index of the cats in the back. So if you want to go look up the cats and their favorite activities, you can find out what page they’re on.


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