Kyle is all about the little things in life — hence the name of his uber-successful blog The Penny Hoarder. But don’t let the name fool you, Kyle has more than hoarded pennies, he’s clocked big dollars writing blogs and creating a site that is seen by nearly 8 million unique visitors a month!
One of the most interesting facts about Kyle is the fact that his background in a financially disadvantaged family made him uniquely qualified to start a company teaching others how to be frugal AND how to make money in sometimes unconventional ways. (Much like some of his posts do —-> LIKE THIS ONE)
Kyle’s financial journey started in a most unconventional way — with his Mom giving him the reins to do the grocery shopping as a teen, a task he took on with gusto. Kyle began treating the grocery shopping like a money saving game you’d see on The Price Is Right getting the family grocery bill down to around $30 per week by stacking coupons. It wasn’t a chore for Kyle, but instead a privilege to learn these lessons at a time when he wasn’t exactly the most popular kid in school.
As part of growing up in a financially conscious family, they did crazy contests like seeing how low they could get the utility bill — every morning running outside to check the meter to see if they beat the day before. Despite tough economic conditions at home, Kyle and his siblings only saw the fun and challenge. A fact Kyle credits his mom with to this day.
While Kyle was a political science major in college, he’d drop out of school every time a politician got him fired up and work for them until they were either elected or not. As political jobs don’t pay a great deal, Kyle was always looking for additional money and through his affinity for odd ways of making jack, he found a job as a beer auditor. With a very boyish face, Kyle would be sent in to convenience stores to buy beer to test whether or not the clerk would ask for identification. The perks of the job were many — hours were flexible, he made a reasonable amount of money per hour, and probably most impressive was the fact he got to keep the beer he bought with the company’s money. (That job increased his social cred immensely — he was one of the most popular guys in the dorm.) [Read Kyle’s beer auditor story HERE.]
The Penny Hoarder Blog was started to share some of Kyle’s experiences around saving and making money. What started as a simple blog hosted on a blogspot type site, ThePennyHoarder.com is now a full-fledged business with over a dozen employees at their headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. (And to think he could barely get his grandma to read his posts at the beginning!)
Even more impressive is the fact that only 6 years ago, Kyle and his disparate team were spread all over the country. Utilizing freelance writers for much of his content, it wasn’t a priority to bring everyone in house until Kyle realized what he was really building — a media company with financially related content. Walk into The Penny Hoarder offices today and you’ll see flat panel TV’s hung all over the office, all of them tuned to a different news channel, all of them feeding the story hungry staff with ideas for the next (sometimes sarcastic) story.
And if you happened to see The Penny Hoarder folks in the environment I did (FinCon 2015), you’ll appreciate how far Kyle and his band of merry savers have come. With the biggest booth space of anyone at the conference, these money-happy journalists were handing out t-shirts with phrases like ‘I’m bringing budgets back’ and TPH Purple socks with Lincoln’s outline in white. (This photo is me wearing them proudly!)
One of Kyle’s money savvy inspirational stories came from the busiest shopping day of the year — Black Friday. Kyle used to go buy black friday deals en masse and then turn around and sell those deals on Ebay in December, sometimes making tens of thousands of dollars. His biggest and most profitable haul was on 1,000 furbees (the hottest toy of the season in 1998 AND 2012). My biggest question was where the hell do you buy 1,000 Furbys?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are sort of the holy grail holidays for retailers and those looking for the best deals. This year, you won’t see Kyle standing in line at the local Best Buy or Kohls, but instead working hard all weekend helping people find the best deals possible from their Penny Hoarder offices. This holiday shopping season, The Penny Hoarder offices turned into online shopping central where they were sharing the hottest deals of the season through their online portals like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Think of it as a savings concierge desk that will be open for 72 hours, ready and willing to answer any and all questions to save the most money.
The Penny Hoarder team even granted some pretty amazing wishes over that weekend to their loyal fans and readers (did I mention their mailing list is nearly 2 MILLION people? That’s like the whole country of Namibia on his mailing list.) Kyle told me they’re nearing the point where very little seems out of the question, yet when I asked him if he was going to have an Oprah moment (“You get a car and YOU get a car and YOU get a car!”) he said he couldn’t reveal what the gifts would be. Just that they would be a surprise. My mind went immediately to delivery by drones, but the reports don’t support it.
One of the most profound things Kyle said during the Build A Bigger Life interview was in relation to what he’s ultimately building. When asked if the play is to sell the company for a 7 or 8 or 9 figure sum, Kyle confirmed that there have been offers for his traffic-heavy site, but at this point he has no clue what he’d do otherwise. He’s built a company that he loves doing work that he loves with people that he pretty clearly loves — I’m not sure you can put a price on that.
If you think you have an idea worthy of being featured on The Penny Hoarder, Kyle said they’re always looking for talented writers with great content. Check out their guidelines for contributors by following this link: http://www.thepennyhoarder.com/share-your-story/. This should come as no surprise, but you can make money doing this. They even have an article on how to make money writing as a freelancer: http://www.thepennyhoarder.com/start-a-business-in-college-freelance-writer/
The stories can sometimes border on the ridiculous, consider the following articles featured on the site:
His Build A Bigger Life philosophy is pretty simple — do what you love every day and it never feels like work. Not only is he creating a business, he’s creating a business that helps people make and save money. In his own “Aaron Sorkin” experiment, Kyle said The Penny Hoarder is a perfect fit of everything that fires him up in life.
Books Kyle Recommends:
Books by Jonah Ferretti
Find more from Kyle at www.ThePennyHoarder.com, sign up for the newsletter, and check out their instagram account for behind the scenes photos!