What made you want to launch The Penny Drops?
I've always wanted to do another podcast, but I guess the biggest question for me is what do I do it on? And I never thought I'd be doing a finance podcast but when the opportunity popped up I think what I liked most about it was the fact that it was actually something that was really going to benefit me and my situation. Because my financial knowledge was as simple as "don’t spend more than what you earn" and that’s where it stops and so there’s so much else I know I should be doing, that I’m not, but so it was awesome to do a podcast that was going to benefit me and the family in the long term as well.
Laura had a little feature in the first episode. She's got her own successful podcast [Life Uncut] - did she have any tips for you?
Laura was a huge help, right from the very beginning when we were talking about this podcast like "how can Matty J host a finance podcast make sense for people?" and she was really the sounding board from step one of putting this podcast together, right through to recording. So, I don’t think I would have been able to do this without Laura's help. She's now won, two years in a row, the Most Popular Podcast Award, so there's a little pressure to perform. I know I’m not going to be giving Life Uncut a run in the charts [laughs] but it’s nice to have someone in your corner like Laura who is so experienced.
You've both come a long way since filming The Bachelor. When you stop and look back at everything that's happened in the past five years, including the new podcast, are you just blown away?
Yeah, I think when we came off the show to where we are now, I think the media landscape has changed so much. Like I remember after the show finished I had a little stint on The Living Room, filling in for Chris Brown, and I was like oh, I guess that's where work could lead me? So, I never imagined at all I’d be doing silly little videos on social media and the podcast as well. I think we’re really fortunate to have been on the show when we were, to then get to take advantage of all of these unique opportunities that are now available.
But your fans really love those "silly videos." People are still obsessed with your story all these years later.
Yeah, we still pinch ourselves! We are such a normal and boring couple, and it’s always really such a surprise if people are like "oh we love you guys!" like we love it, there’s nothing nicer than someone just coming up to you and giving you a compliment for the fact that you’re a couple [laughs] but even now we’re surprised by how lovely people are.
And a large part of that seems to come down to how authentic you both are across your social media and podcasts.
I think maybe it’s becoming a dad, it made me care less about trying to be shiny and perfect on social media. I look back at what I was putting out there in content before I was a dad and after, and I think I’ve really leant into being a bit of a lame, embarrassing dad. And I'm quite thankful. I think, as well, people want to see that relatable content... but it's kind of happened by accident.
You can save all the goofy videos for the girls as they grow up, we're sure they'll just love that...
I'm sure that when Marlie and Lola are teenagers they…. won't love it. It's always funny when I pick up the girls from daycare and someone will be like oh what do you do? And I'm like, um, how can I explain this in a 30 second conversation. My career is very unique, but I'm so thankful for it.
Having that unconventional career must mean you get to spend more time with the girls?
Totally, I think I always knew I wanted to be a really hands-on dad and doing this type of work has been amazing because Laura has got so much on her plate and the fact that I can be there and support her and we can both parent 50/50. It still allows Laura to do everything that she's so amazing at and it allows me to spend so much more time with my girls. More than I thought possible.
It's pretty amazing when you think, you were meeting on our screens just five years ago.
Laura and I actually have the season saved, I've got it on my hard drive. And every now and then we will watch back some of the moments like the finale or our first kiss. And even when we watch the TV show, we're like it's so crazy that that's how we met and it really does feel like a lifetime ago.
Our wedding is planned for the end of the year, we've had to postpone it a couple of times [due to COVID], but we're just waiting for something to happen again where we have to move it again. But, after this podcast, that’s my to-do list, to start organising the wedding.
Well, you can use some of your new financial knowledge to plan!
Well now I'm like oh, god, do we really want to put that much money into flowers because now I can top up my super [laughs].
Speaking of, the podcast is all about breaking down the need-to-know finance stuff for those of us who... might not be great at that kind of thing. Yourself included.
That's it and I mean like the great thing is, I am definitely not the expert here [laughs] so it's nice to do these conversations with the actual experts where I don't have to pretend like I know what I'm talking about. There are so many times across all the episodes where they'll say a word you think people would understand, and I'm like well what is the Dow Jones? And what is mortgage insurance? And how does that work? It’s nice to be the fool and not have to pretend.
Which is great for the listener! Because taking care of your finances can be difficult if your brain just isn't wired that way. It's easier sometimes to put things in the "too hard" basket.
Yeah and I think that's where a bit of the trouble is, when you're speaking to the experts you don’t want to seem like you're dumb. No one wants to ask the silly questions, especially when they're just spitting out words that everybody should know and you don’t want to be like… well, what does this mean? So, I really hope the fact that I lack so much knowledge means I can break down the conversations in ways that are really easy for people to digest.
And quite a lot of the "financial advice for younger people" tends to come with condescending notes like, stop eating avocado toast. But you're trying to give people real tips and help them understand?
That's it, exactly right. And I think Laura was pretty excited as well, because we're both in the same boat. And it's as though, unless you're in a really critical position, you just think "well we don’t have to pay attention to our finances because we’re not hitting rock bottom." So, I think if it wasn't for this podcast I'd still be neglecting my finances.
Exactly. It's easy to think "I'm not doing bad, so there's no need to worry."
Totally. I remember speaking to one of the girls who was in one of our case studies, and she was in her early 20s and she got into $30,000 worth of debt – to the point where she couldn't pay rent – and that is the obviously the perfect catalyst where you go, okay stop everything and reassess. But for a lot of people who are just focusing on work and other areas, unless they hit rock bottom they’re not going to turn things around.
There are so many of us who are actively avoiding our finances. But, in episode one Effie Zahos points out how much you could save on a few small tweaks to your insurance, super, things like that...
So, we speak to Effie again on the episode of superannuation, and I'm very guilty of not even giving retirement a second thought. I'm like… I’m not going to get old? I'm 34 and I'm definitely an adult but the thought of retirement, to me, seems like a world away and up until we did superannuation as an episode I had no idea where my super was, how much was even in there, paid zero attention. And so, I never thought I'd be saying these words, but I'm actually so excited I know what I'm doing with my super.
It's definitely one of those things we don’t think about right? Which is embarrassing to admit, but it's pretty standard.
Totally! Like when you’ve got a new employer and they’re like hey wanna sign up with these guys? I’m like sure! Whatever, great! I don’t want to do more paperwork this is easy [laughs].
For people who might not be very financially savvy, what would you say the biggest tip you've learned is?
I think more than anything, and this is the most simple tip in the world, is giving your finances the attention they deserve. I am so guilty of, up until now, avoiding looking at my bank statements because ignorance was bliss. And I think having healthy finances is a lot like being healthy in your body, you need to be consistent in spending time on it – even if it’s once a month or ideally once a week, but looking at your finances and considering how much your spending each week and on what.
And then at the early stages having some rough goals of knowing where you want to go. For a lot of people, they don’t really know what they want to achieve outside of maybe buying a house, but they haven’t identified what the key milestones for their finances would be.
Even now, Laura and I on the weekend have a quick catch up, a little health-check with our finances and so far it’s been going well. We have not missed a weekly catch up but I think that's been the biggest change, is giving it time.
And what do you hope listeners take away from the podcast?
We cover off the basics and I would love for anybody out there who may be in a similar situation to myself, where they do neglect their finances, and haven’t known where to turn because it can be really confusing, I hope this gives them a nudge in the right direction to start giving their finances the attention that it deserves. And I'm definitely not expecting this podcast to be like "job done" for anyone but I hope it can be the first step in allowing people to start their journey to understanding their finances better.