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Chihee Kim. Finny, Co-Founder

by Team Sammy

Chihee Kim, Finny, Co-Founder (Financial Education)

We are pleased to have Chihee Kim share an “aha” money moment and memory with us.

About Chihee

Chihee Kim is a Co-founder of Finny, a game-based financial education start-up empowering working adults to make better financial decisions.

Chihee’s personal and past work experiences motivated her to start Finny with the mission to make learning about all things money simple, jargon-free and accessible.

Prior to Finny, Chihee was an executive director at MSCI, a global financial data and analytics company. Before MSCI, she led business development at Lattice Strategies, a boutique asset manager, and was also in wealth management at both Citi’s Private Bank and Merrill Lynch. 

Chihee lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two rambunctious children.

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In Her Own Words: Early Mistakes

I had earned some money growing up doing the usual neighborhood babysitting and gardening, but it wasn’t until after I graduated college and had my first full-time paying internship that I realized I had to change my habits.

Being “on your own” in the real world can be exhilarating and challenging all at the same time. And for me, my first money habit only came after some obvious spending mistakes. 

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After earning my first paycheck, I celebrated by spending it all on a nice (and overpriced) winter coat. Yes, it was exciting to buy it because I’d earned it. But little did I realize how much basic living expenses would add up and I quickly found that out! I’m talking rent, utilities, food, transportation—all the basic ingredients that make up a majority of a young adult’s budget!

And despite my early mistakes, I racked up credit card debt on top of an already ballooning student loan—over $150K altogether.

I knew I had to change my mindset to reset my course and get out of debt. I needed to get in the habit of saving, paying off debt, stop using credit cards and living more frugally. 

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Building Habits & Getting Into the Money Mindset

Although certain habits, like brushing your teeth twice a day or taking a short daily walk, may seem inconsequential, over time they contribute to our health and wellbeing. 

It was only when I started to see my debts decrease that I became even more motivated to learn and wipe those debts away faster. And eventually I was able to get rid of all the debt I had owed.

I’ve learned that the biggest outcomes in life seldom happen out of the blue. They are usually the result of our habits, actions that are deeply ingrained in our everyday routines. And if performed consistently, they compound to have some remarkable effects.

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So What Now?

Fast forward many years later… I’m a mom to two kids (a 4-year old and an 8-year old) and a founder of the financial education app called Finny. 

Although my kids have a very hard time budgeting those M&Ms they get as treats sometimes, we’re working on building healthy habits and habit-stacking.

What’s habit-stacking? It looks something like this in our household:

  • After brushing our teeth, we’ll sing Sammy Rabbit’s SAVE song together.
  • Right after turning off the lights to sleep at night, we’ll each share what we were thankful for that day.

Habit stacking seeks to take advantage of the connectedness of behavior. It’s exactly as it sounds like—“stacking” new, healthy habits over the ones you’ve already developed.

Identifying the habits you currently have isn’t as easy as it seems, because they’re taken for granted. This is because when habits are repeated over time, they become cognitively effortless. In fact, each time you repeat an action, your brain builds a strong network of neurons to support that behavior. So the more you do something, the stronger and more efficient the connection becomes.

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Big life events come with a hefty price tag. Consider paying for college, getting married, having kids, buying a house, a car, and retiring. It’s the little moments and actions such as consistently budgeting, saving, paying off debt, and investing that can really matter.

So think about what habits you can stack to build better habits—intentionality can go a long way here! A few suggestions that you can tweak as you see fit:

  • Before closing my laptop for the day, I will enter my expenses/income for the day in an excel spreadsheet.
  • Before buying something expensive, I’ll put it on my “wish list” and wait at least 36 hours.

These small actions can make you become more mindful of your finances and your money!

Discover more about Chihee Kim, Finny, co-Founder on the Finny website!

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