What up, what up! Welcome to our very first “Ask J$ Anything” Day! Featuring YOU, my awesome readers, and ME the too lazy to post today blogger ;) If you’ve ever wanted to ask me anything, today’s your day. I’ll be answering questions all day long on whatever you want – money, life, relationships, sex, cars, rock n’ roll, whatev. It’s a 24-hour ask-a-thon where anything goes. Just drop your question in the comments below, and I’ll copy & paste it, along with my answer, here in the post. Sound good? Alrighty, here we go! Start asking………………… NOW!
How does your income compare today vs. when you had your full-time gig?
I make about 50% less now ;) Losing my $70,000/year salary dropped me from $11,000/month income down to $5,500/mo, pre-tax. Although that number is steadily going up. (here’s my 3-month update on self-employment so far, wouldn’t change it for the world!)
With your change in regular income have you done anything to lower your bills such as starting a garden, using solar flood lights or landscape lights, or grocery shopping for the month to take advantage of volume discounts?
Nope, not yet – but I DO like where you’re going with this!! I’ll tell you something funny though, because I’m workin’ so hard on all my projects every day, I’ve actually started spending way less *by accident* haha… because I pretty much work out of my home now, I’m not tempted by all the stores around me or by what my friends are doing that day/night, so I rarely spend any extra money right now besides the bills :)
What’s your dream vacation? What has been the best vacation you have been on to date?
Oooooh, my dream vacation has always been Australia :) But I only wanna do it with all my friends w/ me so we can all experience it together. I’d also like to start hitting up more tropical places too, haven’t been to many places like that lately. Best vacay ever? Last year’s Eurotrip! My favorite city in the world is now Prague – freakin’ love that place! (and beer only costs like $2.00, haha…)
My husband and I are expecting a baby in June. Should we focus on consumer debt or all debt (student loans included) until that time? We have an Emergency Fund in place and will be creating a Baby Emergency Fund ($1,000 just in case we are short on cash with our zero balance budgeting). We are also currently lined up to pay off 4 credit cards (one a month) in the next 4 months, so that will greatly diminish our consumer debt.
I would totally save every last penny I could and build up that Emergency Fund as plump as you can make it. I think what you’re doing w/ the debt is INCREDIBLE, and very very smart (1 credit card a month? Dang!) but kid stuff scares me and I’d want access to as much liquid cash I could get my hands on if needed. The sucky part about paying off your debt is that once you “spend” that money it’s gone, whereas when you save it you still have options to do whatever you want with it – including paying off debt if need be. But again, that’s me – always hard to “advise” when you don’t know each other well ;)
Do you think it’s possible to save too much for retirement? Right now I’m saving about 22% a year of my $65 k NYC income at age 24, but because of that I don’t travel or ever get to do any type of splurging.
No, I don’t – but I DO think there’s such a thing as going to the extreme and not taking advantage of stuff you enjoy doing. 22% savings in NYC is incredible, but if you’re already feelin’ a bit bummed you can’t do anything fun right now, then I think it’s time to adjust a bit. Maybe you can save 18% for later, and 4% for things to do now? I’m sure people would disagree with me, but if you get into the mindset of saving-saving-saving w/out any release whatsoever, you’re gonna eventually either burn out or end up dying a rich man. There’s nothing wrong with spending a little of your hard-earned money now while you’re young and healthy – waiting until we’re 60 years old to THEN have fun is crazy talk. Life is good my man, treat yourself to it every now and then :)
Are you reading any books at the moment or what are some of your favorites.
Nah, only magazines (Entrepreneur, Kiplinger, and Money Mag. Oh, and sometimes Fortune). Some of my fave books: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit, The Power of Less, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time :)
Two part question. 1. What are the key things you did to build your blog when you frist started? 2. What are your top income streams (blog and non-blog)?
1) I immersed myself in it completely – I read every single blog post I could from others, I left comments and emailed back and forth with ’em, I did carnivals every week, guest posts every other week, and above all I forced myself to be consistent. If I didn’t blog at least once a day, M-F, there coulda been a good chance I would have gotten lazy over the years ;)
2) Adsense and direct text links (the “sexy sponsors” section over there) – something I need to quit doing because not only is it not sustainable, but it looks like trash. Other streams: graphical ads, blogging for other websites/companies, side projects, and in theory, Love Drop. But when you give away all your company’s money, it’s hard to pay yourself anything ;)
What are a couple of your biggest fears as it pertains to life and income? Do you think you’ll ever go back to full-time work?
Life: That I just burn out from workin’ so hard. If I didn’t get laid off from my 9-5, It coulda happened pretty much at any point and who knows how effective I’d be then.
Income: That I’d have to go back to working a 9-5 :) As crazy as it sounds, I am MUCH happier now making 50% less than I was rolling in the money. I know I have to start ramping up my income again sometime in the future, but right now as long as I’m making enough to pay the bills I am feeling a-okay.
Going back to work: No, I don’t think I’d ever go back to a typical 9-5 again, BUT after this year’s over (I’m going 12 months without applying to a single job to see if I can do it) I might entertain consulting and/or jobs that aren’t really job-like, if you will ;) If there’s a company out there building something great and I really believe in what they’re doing, I’d certainly consider it if they can use my help. I’m just never taking a job again just cuz I need the money.
Have you ever considered a Podcast?
Yes, but I’m not good thinking on my feet :) What I would have a lot more fun with, is doing a show based on *anything* in life over specifically money. Kinda like today’s “live” blogging Q&A. This is fun as $hit! I’d def. want a sidekick too so the audience can have more than just 1 viewpoint. Nate and I have joked about it before, but mainly so we can prank each other on-air ;)
Now that you’re no longer anonymous with the Love Drop videos, have you considered swapping the GW goatee pic with one of you and that awesome mohawk?
Yeah, kinda. I still feel pretty anonymous here though cuz not everyone cares, or knows, about Love Drop all the way so it’s still kinda sneaky-feeling. Which I love :) I’d never give out my real name though cuz it’s a) boring, and b) I still need that sense of privacy going on… but yeah – I’ll eventually kick out the ol’ George Washington and swap in my real mug.
What are your favorite PF blogs (please say me, please say me) and what’s your favorite non-PF website?
Haha, I actually DO enjoy yours a lot. Any site that keeps my attention for more than 2.3 seconds has something special going on ;) (which reminds me, I have to update my blogroll – I don’t even know when the last time I touched it was?) I’m also huge fans of Enemy of Debt, for Brad’s passion, Bargaineering, and even more so Free Money Finance. Even though he doesn’t go out and mingle like the rest of us PF’ers do, there’s something so simple and engaging about his posts every day. It’s one of the only originals I still read consistently, and it’s hard not to respect someone who GIVES AWAY all of his blog revenue. Do you know how much he takes in??? Crazy.
I also wanna add that my favorite articles to read, EVER, are from the bloggers who are first starting out. I never get to see all of the up and comers like I used to, BUT when I do they’re first handful of posts are so REAL and full of passion. It’s one of the only times in blogging where you’re 100% pure and aren’t tempted by the chance of making money and/or being popular ;) It’s a great mindset to try and channel every now and then to make sure you’re still writing the way you truly want to.
Who’s your favorite employee at USAA? *Just kidding!*
D’uh! My girl TrinnieDoo, and my boy John Hancock – what what!
What is your favorite type of music? Artist? Song?
Got any plans for kids? (via email)
Yup! We’re “practicing” as we speak! Actually wrote about it a while ago, but that was when we weren’t *as* serious. Now, if we had a baby magically pop out tomorrow we’d be pretty overjoyed ;) I need someone to take over my blog in 20 years!!!
What would you do to your budget to prepare for that? (via email)
Save save save!!! I don’t spend much outside of bills anyways these days, but I’d honker down even more and just stash as much cash as physically possible in 9 months. I mentioned it briefly above in question #4, but kid expenses scare the crap out of me.
For what amount of $ would you cut off your pinky toe?
Hahaha… $0.00 sir. That little guy helps me stand up straight! ;)
What is the weirdest or most embarrassing thing you have done for money?
I can’t recall anything too crazy at the moment, but I have gotten paid to do some random errands.
1) Once got paid $100 to deliver an important document across town 20 blocks. (and yes, it was a real document, not drugs or anything, haha…)
2) I used to wash wrecked cars that were about to go up on auction. A quick $5 car wash (that takes 7 minutes) and dumping of inside trash brings in at LEAST $200-$300 more for each car. Even though it’s totaled and will be taken apart for parts. Interesting, huh?
3) Most embarrassing might have been when I had to be Old Navy’s official “greeter” in downtown New York City during xmas. I always got chosen cuz I loved talking to people, but I felt like an a$$ due to the stares I’d get from customers walking in. Especially since I had a diploma. But then again, I was living my dream at the time so I was putting up with a lot to be there ;)
What do you think of Retailer Reward Cards that are linked to your personal accounts and can be used as a debit cards at their locations?
Woah! I think that sounds both AWESOME and SCARY at the same time ;) Although do you mean “rewards card” as in a separate credit card from the retailer? Or a rewards card like one you scan at Safeway to get you $X off? If it’s the latter, I’d be all about that and attach ALLLLLL my rewards card to my 1 account cuz I never remember to bring all those cards and I wouldn’t have to worry about it again. Of course, I’m very trusting and would hope that they don’t have access to my accounting info, etc where they can F something up. If that’s a possibility, then forget it. Also, if you’re not good at managing your money/cards, I wouldn’t recommend signing up to any rewards cards at all (if you’re talking about the “Credit card” types).
If you had to leave the country and never move back, where would you live?
I would have to travel around the world first and stay at different places for a month to see what I like the most :) But if I had to pick before that, I’d say it’s a tie between Puerto Rico (if that’s allowed), the Carribean, and England.
You were handed 1milli in cash and were told you must spend it by end of the day… your plan?
I would give our Love Drop family $100,000, my sister $100k, my brother $100k, I would pay off our house, and then I’d ask my friends what their fave causes are and I’d donate the rest there. If I can’t give any away and had to actually buy “stuff” (which I assume is what you’re asking? haha…) I’d buy myself a car and a new laptop, then throw a massive party somewhere and invite all my blog friends out for us to get it all outta our system so we can go back to being frugal again! hahaha…. and then find a way to buy things for the less fortunate. Which I know is one of those “stock” answers, but I’d for real do it. I’d have to punch myself in the balls if I didn’t give back because right now in my life it means more to me than it ever has. And plus, I don’t *need* anything at all besides what I’ve got.
YAY for trying for a baby!! What’s your top girl and top boy name. (is that too much of a girly question? If so, sorry. But still answer!)
Haha.. yes, it’s too much of a girly question but I dig it. Top girl name: Ever. Top boy name: Trevor haha j/k, just said that cuz it rhymed :) I actually don’t have a good boys name I like a lot, but one I used to was “Alexis.” I have another girls name I like a lot too – Juliet. In case you can’t tell, I really want a girl :)
J on your monthly net worth updates, how come no mention of your blogging income?
Yup, most of my income right now comes from blogging & other sites I own online. I don’t separate it out in the net worths because that’s not what those updates are for – they’re for tracking where all your money is (or where it isn’t), rather than *where* they came from. Does that make sense? To me it doesn’t matter if I’m making, say, $100,000 from 10 jobs or from 1, it’s still $100,000 that will somewhere be reflected in my net worth updates :)
If your financial cushion wasn’t as large when you lost your job, would you have done anything differently? If so, what would you have done? Any advice for the recently unemployed?
No. Even if I had $0.00 in my “work for myself fund” when I got laid off, I would have still jumped into blogging 100% the same way. I’d be more STRESSED and freaked out about the whole thing, that’s for sure, but I still woulda given myself 1 year to go for it. Cuz really, that’s my whole dream. To be able to blog full-time. At this point it’s not about the money or anything else like that, it’s purely to spend my *time* the way I’ve dreamt about spending it. And when I got laid off that door got wide open and I took the opportunity :)
Advice for recently unemployed: Yes, to do your best to realize that this is just *temporary* – it’s not going to last forever. And you know what? Neither will that job once you get one! ;) Our entire lives are built around change and different events that happen in our lifetime. Some are good, and some suck a$$. But you gotta have both of them to really appreciate how fragile (and exciting!) the ride is. Nothing I can say will unfortunately make the unemployed feel TOO much better – it didn’t help me when I was in that boat 2 other times in my life – but when I understood it was all a phase, and I did my best to stay positive and keep pushing forward, it all got better. Eventually you win and all is right in the world again :) And 9 times out of 10, you’re happier than you were at the last place.
One a scale of 1-743, how cool is your wife?
742. She lost a point on her typo! :)
Did you have a great paying job straight out of college? I hope you say no, I need some inspiration lol
Haha Nope! I actually didn’t get a “real” salaried job until almost a year after college ;) I was hustlin’ with 3 part-time jobs at the same time and trying to make it in NYC as a graphic designer (which I later realized wasn’t what I wanted to do as a career). So I washed cars (wrecked ones as I mentioned up in an earlier question up there), washed dishes (yeah Applebees!) and then spent my days at Old Navy. I did this combination for around a year, and then ended up working for the airlines as my first salaried job. Then hopped to other salaried jobs until I got laid off last December. Does this inspire you? :)
What is a carnival? I’ve seen that mentioned in a couple of finance blogs in the last few days but no idea what that is.
No worries! It’s basically just a bunch of bloggers who submit their best articles of the week to another blogger who rounds all their favorites up and then posts them on their site when it’s their turn (you have to sign up to participate, and each “carnival” has their own rules and regulations around it). It’s a great way for bloggers to get their articles in front of a different audience each week, and for the hosting blogger to give their readers new voices to check out too. It’s win-win when done right :) (aka – you only put the “best” ones in there and not 100+ that overwhelms people). There are a good 5-8 different carnivals out there in the PF world, which is probably why you see them pop up a lot. Does this help?
How much does it cost each month to maintain the glorious hawk? :) (via text message)
Haha.. $6.00 in hair spray, a handful hours of my time, and probably a little in electricity (ya know, for the hair dryer), haha… now ask me how many times I’ve put it up since working at home?
(Photo by Reggie Bibbs)