Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.

This week’s episode features a conversation with author Joe Saul-Sehy about making managing your finances fun. Personal finance Nerd Kim Palmer talks with Saul-Sehy about techniques for budgeting, saving and paying off debt that don’t have to be a drag.

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Our take

Contrary to popular belief, you can have fun while tackling the seemingly boring tasks of money management. Whether you’re building an emergency fund, paying off debt or setting big financial goals, it’s possible to find the joy in it. Joe Saul-Sehy, co-author of the book “Stacked: Your Super-Serious Guide to Modern Money Management,” shows us how with some easy-to-apply tips.

He cautions against saving so much for the future that you forget to enjoy your hard-earned cash today. Similarly, he says all money goals should come with a timeline attached or else you can keep pushing them further into the future and never achieve them.

Saul-Sehy also embraces the art of laughing at his own money mistakes, something his followers can benefit from, too. He shares how he ruined his credit as a young college student but eventually recovered, years later. He might be finding the humor in personal finance, but his tips can lead to serious financial benefits.

Our tips

  • Prioritize building an emergency fund. Whatever else is on your financial to-do list, building an emergency fund probably deserves a place near the top. An emergency fund can help when you face unexpected expenses or income drops. Try to set aside at least $500, which could go a long way toward providing extra financial security.
  • Set money goals with timelines. Giving yourself a deadline, even an approximate one, helps you decide where to store savings as they build. For example, if you’re saving for something like retirement decades in the future, then you might choose to take on more risk and invest in the stock market, whereas savings for a short-term goal like next year’s vacation probably belongs in a safer spot, like a high-yield savings account.
  • Forgive yourself for money mistakes. No one’s perfect, but that doesn’t stop us from dwelling on errors. Whether it was overspending or ruining a credit score, think about how you can move on, making better choices going forward.

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at podcast@nerdwallet.com. To hear previous episodes, go to the podcast homepage.