Did you wake up this morning wondering to yourself, “Gee, I sure wish my favorite blogger EVER would let me ask him a question today! I’ve never been able to reach him via email or twitter or facebook or linkedin or pinterest or even through his newsletter – when will he finally let us chat with him??”
If so, today’s your lucky day :)
For the next 24 hours I’ll be doing Round II of the popular “Ask J$ Anything Day” as we last did, *ahem*, three years ago. It’s your chance to ask me anything you’ve ever wanted to but been too coy/lazy/busy/nervous to ask – nothing’s off limits. It can be about my awesome hair, my money, your hair or your money, relationships, career, debt, blogging, tiny homes, sex, entrepreneurship, underwater belly dancing (not an expert yet, though), or even child rearing. You ask it, I answer it.
Leave your questions in the comments below, and I’ll pluck them out and answer ’em back in this same post here. So make sure to check back as the day progresses… We call this “live blogging” in our industry, and you never know what’ll happen (eek!).
Ready? I’ll go first:
Q: Why the hell did you choose that pic up top? It’s so random!
I know, right? It totally doesn’t go with this post, I don’t know what I was thinking… It even features the turd Cowboys! Everyone knows the Redskins are gonna dominate like they do all year, every year, jeesh… (NFL is back baby, yeah!!)
UPDATE: The J. Money Ask-a-Thon is now over – thanks for participating! :) You can always shoot me an email with questions anytime: j [at] budgets are sexy [dot] com
Okay – here we go!
Q. What source of income do you have aside from blogging? If you were to choose one, what would you choose having a regular job or blogging?
It fluctuates over the months, but currently I’m doing some blog coaching, money coaching, freelance writing, helping people buy/sell finance sites, helping people with advertising placements here and there, and a bunch of other random stuff that comes up. I never just have the blogs, though it is something I may solely focus on one day in the future.
If I could choose either my blog or a “regular” job, I would choose the blog – which is what I did 3 1/2 years ago when I decided to go for it full-time :) But there are certainly times I consider taking up a regular job again. Especially now that I have a family to support and have turned into a workaholic.
Q. How in the world did you grow your blog to become so popular? I mean beyond the whole “write good content” type of stuff. For example, do you have certain SEO tricks you use? Social media tricks? What’s your secret?
I wish I had a secret, cuz then i’d just keep doing more of it! Haha…. But sadly it’s not as easy as that :) I honestly don’t know what I do outside of what everyone else does which is to try and put out decent content and then do my best to market it. I will say that when I focus on the latter part though stuff seems to grow a lot faster. For example, I’ve started emailing everyone I link to in my blogs and those 30 seconds I spend help immensely. Not only to grow my network and connect with awesome people, but also to get the word out on my sites more and remind people it’s still there. This is especially true for Rockstar Finance – as soon as I started emailing people my traffic pretty much doubled.
When I first started out I did a TON of guest posting though – that’s the first thing I suggest to every single one of my blog coaching clients. You get immediate eyeballs to your content, plus links back! Much more return on investment than even a post on your own blog, haha…
Also, don’t forget I’ve been doing this for almost 7 years now. It’s a lot easier to get noticed and picked up by larger sites/media/etc when you’ve been out there so long. As for SEO stuff – I pay attention to it but not as much as you should if you want to really kill it. I consider my sites 50% hobby 50% business, so I do enough to get like 80% good on the SEO stuff, and then I leave the rest be. This is also why I write kind crazy sometimes and do stuff that’s “not appropriate” for growing a site – ultimately I just want to have fun and enough to pay the bills and live a good life, so I just do my best to hit most of the areas you’re supposed to be doing and then move on.
Q. I feel weighed down by my budgeting and I am tempted to tame it back down to a simple spreadsheet that shows my check register, car loan balance, investment balance, and due dates of bills. What should I do? Also, I currently don’t want kids or care much about getting married, but I’m getting close to 30 (January 2016) and I’m scared I will turn into a giant biological clock. Am I doomed?
RE: Budgeting – I think anytime it’s not going the way you want, it’s a good time to stop and re-assess. So I say try out a bunch of ways until you figure out the one that starts working again :) There’s no one size fits all here, so if you think that new one will work – go for it! Just make sure to try something else if you find it’s sucking again.
Here’s a pretty simple one I put together for my coaching clients btw – maybe it’ll help? Money Snapshot
RE: Kids/marriage – haha, no – you are not doomed :) Anyone in their 40s and 50s and 60s will tell you you’re a spring chicken!! Sure it may be more ideal for some people to have kids/relationships/marriages/etc early, but you know what – it’ll happen when it happens. And things change incredibly fast too, for the better or the worse. I never thought I wanted to get married – esp at 25 – and then I met someone and was hitched less than 2 years later. And then I thought I wouldn’t have kids until much later and now I’m a dad of two. You just never know :) I think what’s important is to focus on trying to be happy on a daily basis and then if something amazing happens ride it out! And if you’re stuck – like the budget thing – change it up and see if you can alter your path. But you’re definitely not doomed, believe me. You’re just on your very own path…
Q. What are your thoughts on charity donations? Do you set aside a certain amount, don’t do it all or only certain times? Do you think that donating leads to good karma?
I think you can *never* go wrong donating your money or time. It’s just hard as $hit to get into the habit of doing it. at least for me :( I even launched my very own charity to get better at it – Love Drop – which worked for a year (we raised almost $90,000 for people!) – but then I fell back into my own little world again.
I think the trick is finding something that your passionate about and really want to help. For example, to me it’s *people* vs, say, a large charity or “cause.” So the one rule I DO have is that I have to say “yes” anytime a friend or family member asks me to support whatever they ask me about. It doesn’t matter if I like it or not, I’ll say yes and donate money because I know it’s important to *them*. It’s win-win-win all around, but I don’t get asked that often so I maybe donate something once every other month or so – definitely not as much as I’d like to be doing.
Q. You seemed to have slow down on the blogging and/are moving in a different direction with regards to your main hustle. Is there some new business venture(s) you are exploring (other than consulting)? When you getting a new hair doo? When you going to retire the caddy? What’s your 5 yr plan?
You’re making me work today, huh?! :) Yes, there is a big project I’m working on now that’s requiring a lot more of my time – it’s called Kids, haha… So I’m just in the middle of restructuring my time/hustles and figuring out how everything mingles together for a satisfying life. Don’t forget I also have Rockstar Finance and my hobby site Coin Thrill too – they all take some bandwidth.
RE: Hairdo – when the rest of my hair starts falling off… sadly I’ve started seeing signs of the male pattern baldness my father and brother have succumbed to, so at some point I shall be going the way of mr. shaved head guy. But right now it’s in “receding” mode and leaving the middle strip okay so we’ll rock it until it’s gone!
RE: Retiring the Caddy – Never!! I’m going to make a bed out of it once it’s dead! Haha… Don’t ask my wife though.
RE: 5 year plan – “Work” 4 hours a day in the morning, and then spend the rest of my time doing whatever the hell I’m interested in. I’ve heard this idea called “pretirement” and I’d love to be in that stage by then.
Q. I’m right on the edge of replacing my what would be full time income but we’re struggling and my husband wants me to return to work. Do I just return until I do officially replace my income (making it harder because of less time) or do I try to stick it out and convince him it’ll work out? This question might help you answer the above one too, ha! But what would you recommend as the best way to consolidate debt?
First, does your husband read this blog? ;) It’s a tricky one to answer for sure, especially not knowing you two and the full situation, but I feel like this is one of those times where you have to decide how important this hustling stuff is to you. We all have our battles with relationships/marriage, and if this one is worth fighting for, I’d do whatever it takes to communicate just how passionate you are about it and what the overall game plan is. Have him rattle off every last fear/question in his mind, and then answer them with as much conviction and facts as you can muster.
I bet he would LOVE for you to be doing what makes you happy with this stuff and he’s just scared about not having enough money to live/etc. So if you don’t believe that’s the case, it’s your mission to convince him of it. And if you are worried about it, then maybe put a time frame on it like “Let me give it my all for the next 3 months, and if we haven’t hit $_____ by then I’ll start looking for a new job again, deal?”. That’s what I did when I went full-time w/ blogging for my wife, and it set up both the game plan and expectations for everyone. Maybe that’s a good route to try?
RE: Consolidating debt – Again, hard without knowing the facts/numbers/%’s, but the first thing I always recommend is listing out everything on paper and then first calling all places (ie credit cards) and asking them to lower the interest rates. This works a lot more times than it doesn’t, and will save you $$ from the get go regardless of any consolidating. Then, I’d check with your local credit unions and see what types of things they offer to help with this. They usually have lower rates and will sit down with you and go over all our stuff and the options. Worst case you get a better idea of what’s out there :) Also realize paying down debt can be done without consolidating too, even though the idea of having just one lump to pay off is easier than a bunch all over the place. And the only way to pay it down more is to earn more or cut back on daily expenses, which of course is easier said than done, haha… Still, doesnt make it not true!
*Break time – gotta hang with my kids and then take them to day care! Be back soon to answer the rest of the questions coming in… Okay, back!
Q. How much of one’s retirement savings should go into 401k/403b accounts and how much in taxable investments? I have about 15% going into my 401k but could save more in it. I have 6 months of expenses in a savings account as well. I want to balance tax savings with access to my money for emergencies or fun before i retire. I am 46. Thanks!
Oh wow! 6 months of expenses is great – way to go!! I’m not an expert in either the investing area OR the retirement planning one, so take this with a grain of salt, but I know for me I tend to rock out all the tax-benefit tools first and *then* go to taxable – mainly so it can all add up over the decades before retirement. Which means you have a LOT of extra money leftover every month since by “rock out” I mean “max out” :)
You can read this post on what I do with all my “extra” money, but I start with putting in my company match first with 401k (when I had one), and then going to max out the Roth IRA, and then returning to max out the 401k( like the full $17k or whatever the legal limit is now – haven’t looked in a while) before moving on to anything else. Those two accounts alone get you up to $25k’ish a year. So then anything after that would go into taxable or paying off debt/mortgage/savings/etc.
Again though, that’s just what *I* do. I’m by no means an expert in this field so you’ll have to consult a different blog for more in-depth stuff like that ;)
Q. Did your family live in your home while you fixed it up for rentals? We’d like to sell our townhome in the next six months or so and need to remodel the kitchen and bathrooms a bit. We also have two dogs and two little boys (hey hey! It’s a good life)…
Nope! We considered it but we literally ripped up the floors and the entire kitchen and ultimately decided it wasn’t the best area to have a baby crawling around ;) If it was a bathroom or minor kitchen updates though we would have stayed – it’s always easiest to do that if feasible. We ended up moving in with my mother-in-law though for 30-40 days and it was great. The reno process went much quicker/easier, we spent quality time with family, and we didn’t have to shell out any extra $$ for shelter. So it can be a great option for sure. If you can knock out the projects one by one over the next 6 mos that might be a good route, but if you come up to month #4 or #5 and still have a ton to do, prob easier to hang w/ family and just knock it all out and be that much more motivated to then sell it! It’s real easy being complacent when you’re comfy ;)
Q. What’s been your hardest bad money habit to break? And what was your first post about on any website ever (with link??)?
Great ones! My first post ever on any website was this one on my HELOC loan:
The hardest money habit I *did* break was going shopping all the time… I hit up the mall anytime I was bored and it wasn’t until I did a “no spend” challenge for 40 days that I finally broke it. All I had to do was NOT step foot into a store – imagine that? ;)
The hardest money habit I’m dealing with right now is not taking on work that pays well cuz it bores me to death or I hate it. Even though I could use the money! I’ve been spoiled the past 6 years doing what I want and being able to get paid for it, so when times change like they currently are (either because of my own doing, or cuz of the changing economy online) I find myself not wanting to adjust, and instead looking for new projects to build to recoup the $$. Which sometimes works, but often times doesn’t.
Q. I noticed you don’t have any products, e-books, etc, so how do you earn a living blogging? Traffic, ads, guest writing?
HAH! Yes, that’s part of the “stuff that bores me, but I know I should be doing cuz it’s good money!!” problem I mentioned above. If I could sit down and pump out some ebooks or real books or courses/etc I’d be in a much better spot – but it just bores me to death :) I’ve had people offer to partner up with me and do most of the annoying detail parts for me, but haven’t found a product I really care about yet to move on. I do have some ideas though, so we’ll see.
How I get paid: Advertising on all my sites, blog coaching, money coaching, helping people buy/sell sites, helping people place advertising, some freelance writing, and a bunch of other random one-off stuff that comes my way. My income pretty much comes from a handful side hustles all put together :)
Q.For a finance blogger like myself, do you think that my plan of serving others, producing the best content I can, learning all I can and having fun will produce a successful blog if I stick with it for several years? (my one year anniversary is coming up)
YES! I’ve never actually seen anyone get real successful with a blog when they come into it solely for the purpose of making money. If you look at all those that have “made it” online they all started because they were passionate about whatever they were blogging about and they really enjoyed it. Then they stumbled across the business side of things. So as long as you’re rockin’ it and having fun and paying attention to your readers like you mention, I think you’ll be fine. ESP if you’re in it for the long haul. There’s very few people who make it super fast, and if they do it’s because they’ve succeeded or failed a thousand times before this current project they’re on.
Q. What are your biggest money mistakes? Like investments, ideas, etc.
Buying a home at the peak of the market when I wasn’t ready to be a homeowner (and on a whim). Also buying and selling shares of stock every other day to try and “time” the market when I was first starting out (I should actually write about that one day! I don’t think I have…) and probably a ton of other things I’m forgetting at the moment. Oh, not tracking my money was bad too – I didn’t realize how dumb I was being with it until I started tracking where all my money was coming and going – that action alone started steering my ship a lot better. I’ve also failed in a ton of business ideas, but as any entrepreneur knows they’re never full failures cuz you always learn and bring that knowledge into the next thing you build :)
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a dad?
When your kid runs up to hug you!! Or wants to hold your hand while walking down the street :)
Q. Has your wife always supported your business adventures without a flinch or has she ever told you that you might be a little cray cray from time to time?
90% no no flinch / 10% cray cray ;)
She’s always supportive of me regardless of how cray my idea is (whenever I ask her opinion of something she’ll tell me, and then tack on “but you’re gonna do whatever you want anyways, which usually works” haha…) but there are times when we have to have the serious talks. Like, when I got laid off and wanted to try blogging full-time (we came up with a plan that helped both of us get what we want) or when we have a kid or want to move/etc. Unlike most 9-5s you have the power to pivot a lot more with self-employment, so anytime a big life decision happens it affects business and you have to make sure everyone in the family is happy. Which is why I’ll never say I won’t ever go back to the workforce again – I would if it’s in the best interest of my family.
Q. How does one start with budgeting and investing? I feel like I am doing ok but cant seem to get ahead. Investing just seems so overwhelming, where does a newbie start? Reading all these blogs it seems like people are just living the lavish life before they even start.
Yeah, it’s hard because all us bloggers are in different stages and there’s really no one size fits all with this type of stuff. Which I’m finding more and more as I do money coaching – a lot of people need one-on-one help with their specific situation vs general advice (which of course helps too, or else our blogs wouldn’t be here anymore ;)). So I think having an accountability partner could def. help if nothing else has – like maybe a like-minded friend or mentor or even coach if you know any.
Also, there are a slew of ways to budget/invest too (two completely different things, btw – I’d make sure budgeting is set first before jumping into investing, unless we’re only talking about 401k type stuff). If you haven’t tried manually tracking it like via spreadsheets try that, and vice versa online sites that automate it for you – like Mint.com, etc.
Here’s a list of budget templates I’ve put together over the years: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2009/07/free-budget-templates-sites/
And then here’s one I’ve started using with my money coaching clients: http://budgetsaresexy.com/files/Money-Snapshot.xlsx. It’s not so much a budget per se than it is a “where’s all my money coming and going?” type deal. Sometimes just knowing that part can push you light years ahead. It’s powerful to know how much it costs you to live every month and what your overall net worth is.
PS: On that lavish life part before starting — Some do and some don’t, but I find it interesting because you get different viewpoints from both which can help. For example, the ones who are already doing well you learn how they did it and it obviously works, whereas the ones who are *trying* to make it you can relate more to and connect on that level. I think both are needed for sure, but haven’t really paid attention to who has started out well and who hasn’t… interesting though!
Q. How much do you charge for blog coaching, just ball park menu prices?
Right now I’m only charging a flat rate of $50 a “session” which is about an hour or so. I say “only” because compared to everyone I’ve interviewed about this, and the research I’ve read, most charge anywhere from $100-$1,000 depending on what you’re looking for. But I’m happy at $50 for at least now. And I typically do a free 20 min “intro” session too before we even get started to make sure it’s going to be beneficial for everyone involved (and we get along ;)).
UPDATE: I thought you said “money coaching” – oops! I normally charge $100 for blog coaching if you’re already making $$, and then $50-$75 if you’re not. But for you, and anyone else reading this right now, we can just say $50 that’s fine :) Just remind me when/if you ping me later! (The setup for blog vs money coaching is the same too btw – one-on-one hourly sessions whenever needed, along w/ the free 20 min intro call)
Q. Do you have set time frames for where and what bloggers should be focusing on? ie 0-6 months content and guest posts 6-12 months etc?
You mean to grow a blog? Nah, not really. Except to NOT think about making money at least until 6 months or a year in. I say putting at as great as possible content as you can should *always* be #1 no matter what stage, and then marketing it should always be #2. Which means guest posting, connecting with other bloggers, commenting around, engaging with your readers, etc etc. Most bloggers only focus on the first part (content), but it’s when you start really doing the 2nd part that it really adds fuel to the fire. I often struggle with that myself and go on and off depending on my mood/time ;)
Q. Hi, I am new to your site (I found you from an article on “How to be a Financial Stud” from the site “The Art of Manliness”). I really enjoy your approach. My question has to do with 401k’s. I have three of them. I was recruited to a job a little over a year ago to another job. The company that hired me went through lay offs after a year at the new role. I landed on my feet fortunately at a really great new company. My issue is that I have a 401k from all three companies (1 from the company I was recruited out of; another from the company I was recruited to; and another from the company I just landed at). My question: Is it best to consolidate my 401k to the one I am actively contributing towards, or would it be OK to leave the funds in three different places.
Great question! And thanks for chiming in :) I always prefer to have my financial life as simple as possible, so if it were me I’d move all the old 401ks into the new one OR move them into a Traditional IRA that *you* own and can keep throughout the years – esp as you continue moving to other jobs as well. Either route gets you to consolidate everything in one spot, and if you go the Traditional route then YOU have control over what that $$ gets invested into. When you move 401ks around you’re only options are what the employers give you – so def. keep that in mind when you’re dealing with stuff. It’s OK to leave your old ones alone too (you’ll have to check with your old employer’s rules on that stuff), but it can be unwieldy over the years – again, especially as you change jobs in the future too.
(FYI I’m also not an expert in this stuff so def. do your research before moving stuff around)
Q. Do you expect to need to take care of family someday (financially)? How are you preparing for this if so?
I’m not good at thinking about the far-off future, so I guess my answer is no – I don’t expect to :) I am good, however, at KNOWING big life changes will occur, so I try to get my main stuff locked down so that when that stuff hits I’m better able to deal with it. Yet another reason to work on being financially independent! So you can help family out when needed!
Q. Thanks for doing this! I work at a small company with no benefits or 401k and want to open a Roth IRA. However, I will be leaving for grad school next fall and while I can make payments to the IRA until I leave next year, it would have to sit for a year while I finish the program (and will probably have fees). Not to mention I’ll be using loans to pay for school. Should I wait until after to open one up? Are there other things I should think about while making the decision? Thanks!
I think anytime you have extra money to be applied to a financial goal is a GOOD thing – regardless of the route you end up taking with it :) And since I skew more emotional than I do financially factual – my opinion is to always do the route you’re most excited/passionate about. If you really feel good about having investments growing while in grad school (there are not always fees, and when there are you can limit it) then I say go for it. There’s never a *right* time to invest/pay off debt/etc cuz life is always so crazy, so if you get an opportunity to bank some away that’s great. Conversely, if you feel more comfortable throwing it all into a savings acct or taking out less of a loan because of this cash, that’s great too!
They all go towards our ultimate dream of being financially free, so I say pull the trigger on the one you really WANT to do and you can always adjust it later – nothing’s usually permanent. (Also, if you haven’t already, take a few minutes and write down your top 3 main financial goals. That should also help lead you to the right answer as it should align right with them!)
Q. Do you know anything about Canadian investments? Eg – Are ETFs taxed before the money starts investing (like TFSAs) or after you pull the money out (like RRSPs)?
I don’t, sorry :( But luckily a lot of my blog friends are Canadian! Try out CanadianBudgetBinder.com or do a quick Google search. Should be an easy one to find out :)
Q. Do you think that you’ll ever go back to a 9-5 type of job? Are you ever worried that blogging full-time will be unsustainable at some point?
I never rule out anything anymore, so yes – it’s possible I do a 9-5 job one day again, and it’s DEFINITELY true that I worry about blogging being unsustainable one day :) But more so out of my unwilling to do the things to make it sustainable vs stuff outside my control (see my bad money habit mentioned up above). There are things I can do right now to make a lot more money on my blogs but it just pains me to do them so I don’t. So that would be my demise over anything else… Unless I just don’t enjoy it anymore and want a change of pace. I’m realizing more and more that the 9-5’ers don’t have it as bad as I used to think. I can’t remember what it’s like to have my evenings and weekends free again so I’d actually look forward to that part! And ultimately I have to do what’s best for my family – so if I’m not providing any more then back to work I go…
Q. If you won $1MM, what would you do with it? If making money wasn’t a concern, what would you do everyday?
I’d set aside, $400,000 for taxes (!!!), $100,000 into our savings, $50,000 to help others/family out, and then throw the rest ($450,000) into VTSAX. And then sell our house/rental even if it means taking a hit, and stop doing any of the side gigs I do just for the money. I really hope I win it!!! :)
If making money wasn’t a concern I’d pretty much do the same thing I’m doing now, just with a lot less stress :) And I’d scale back my 12 hour work days to 4-6 and have more “me” time the rest of the work day until my kids come home from day care. So I’ve figured it all out for the most part, just minus the “never having to deal with money again” part, haha… we’re getting there though :)
Q. What are your thoughts on investing in Target Date Retirement accounts?
I’m ALL about keeping stuff simple and getting the most out of investing without putting in tons of work, so I am definitely biased towards target funds. And more recently index funds (cheaper fees, esp @ Vanguard). I think you have to ask yourself how much time you want to spend on this stuff and also what your risk levels are. Those two will determine a lot about where you should put your money. And even more so *what will make you take action* and KEEP investing! So many people stall and never do anything because it’s too complicated and they keep pushing off for another time, so if you’re slipping into that region I’d say it’s best to just START with the idea you have now, and then re-evaluate later. You can never go wrong investing money vs spending it – even if you choose the worst investments!
(IE if you spend it you have $0.00 and if you invest it and it’s crap, you still have *something* – but that’s worst case, you’ll be fine with mutual funds ;) every single company would have to fail and go to zero for that to happen which also means the world is crumbling and we have more serious problems to worry about)
Q. What are you wearing? Uh, wait. I mean, what advice can you give to a first time FinConner this year as far as networking and making the most of the experience?
I’m wearing one of my sexy new shorts and shirts I got from Plato’s Closet last week ;) As for FINCON – hit up all the events/parties and just chat your ass off! There’s so many good and fun people there, and everyone’s super friendly and willing to talk about everything – business, blogging, life, money, you name it. Just be yourself and have fun :) Also hang out in front of all the rooms where presentations are going on – you’ll meet a TON of people literally just standing there while people go in and out – that’s what I do all the time. It gets exhausting talking all weekend long, but you have plenty of time to rest when you’re home ;) When’s the last time you got to hang out with HUNDREDS of personal finance bloggers?
Q. Do you feel like you did a good job preparing financially for your kids being born/wife’s school would impact your earning potential?
Yes and no. I’m horrible at planning for the long-timer future and what may or may not come into it, but I’m great at saving and investing as much as possible. So by default I’m better with future planning cuz I bank a lot away :) That being said, I didn’t foresee me wanting to sell a lot of my projects that I’ve since did, which then capped cash flow, nor me realizing how precious *time* is vs money and wanting to work less. So that’s def. affected my current income. It’ll be a lot better once the wife goes back to the work force next yet, but until then it’ll be an interesting ride… with probably more and time lost unless I figure it out sooner than later ;)
Q. Bonus question 1: What were the secrets to your success/failure?
HAH! There are no secrets of course ;) It’s always a work in progress…. Though that quote “the harder your work, the luckier you get” does come to mind with this stuff. I was telling someone the other day that I BETTER be at least moderately successful online as I put in 12 hour days! Imagine if you worked your ass off for 6 years like that and had nothing to show for it? :)
Q. If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
If alive, Mark Cuban. That guy’s a genius AND knows how to have a good time! I’m addicted to his interviews… If dead, I choose Abraham Lincoln. He seems like he’d have been a good guy to have a beer with.
Q. If you could have three famous people over for dinner who would they be?
Q. What is something you learned in the last week?
That you can auto-post on Twitter THROUGH Twitter! If you look under “settings” and click “Twitter ads”, there’s a whole area where you can schedule tweets to go out at a later date. I knew you could do it through 3rd party software but not directly through Twitter.
(I also learned that toddlers copy stuff you say including curse words – oops)
Q. What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Haha… I’m going with Hannah’s answer below: “An African Swallow or a European Swallow?” ;)
Q (via email) — Spouse would like to sell everything we can (including our home), and either rent a cheap place somewhere in the mountains we love, to store everything we don’t get rid of (and be home for the pets). He’d like to travel around the country in a used RV for a few years (or until the novelty wears off), while he’s still able to do so (health issues). I think this is a bad idea for a number of reasons, including lack of stability, inability to replace my job, confinement in a very small space 24/7, inability to bring all the pets, distance from kids and grandkids, sale of our home before we could really make a killing in a few years, etc., but I don’t want to be unreasonable, and I’d love to drop out of the rat race while his health will still allow us to see the nation, and maybe the world. In general, it’s a crackpot idea…or is it?
Are you sure you want my opinion?? The guy who wants to do ALL OF THOSE THINGS too and whose wife keeps him in check? Haha… Well, I’ll tell you two things: 1) I think we can all adapt a LOT easier than we may think, and I bet you’d have a lot more fun doing it than you realize, but b) You’re right – it’s crazy to do it on a whim out of nowhere.
I think if your husband is serious, and it’s truly important to him, you tell him to start devising a (serious) game plan and you’d be willing to at least be open to it and then talk it out, in say, a week. Or a month and see if he’s still all about it. I don’t know how sporadic or not he is, or if this is some mid-life crisis type thing, but it’s always good to at least entertain your other half and just keep asking questions/poking holes to make sure they’re thinking stuff through. And of course you have to be at least somewhat intrigued with the idea too.
I’ll also add that it seems he’s willing to at least just give a test for a few months and then scrap it if you guys are miserable, which leads me to believe he’s much more rational than not :) Is there a way you could take a sabattical from work for a while and test? Is there a way you guys can make money while on the road? I know a little about your financial background from earlier emails we’ve sent (ie you have some good money put away), but being able to still make more if/when needed might make you both more comfortable with this crazy new idea.
So in a nutshell I’d entertain him and just ask as many questions as you can and see what it looks like in a few weeks from now. Maybe the more you think about it the more you’ll get an answer one way or the other?
Q (via email) — I am a newly empty nester, I am very unsatisfied with my 20 year career. How did you find your passion? I just don’t seem to know what I want to do..lol]
I stumbled across it by accident :) I get bored with a lot of things, so by nature I’m always testing stuff out and trying to figure out things. I thought blogging would last a month or two – if that – but I fell in love and now here we are!
Can you start testing things out on the side too? In your evenings and weekends outside of work? I know you say you don’t know what you want to do, but think about all the stuff you are good at or ENJOY doing already, like reading or going to the beach or cooking, I dunno – whatever you do in your free time now :) Maybe there’s a way to turn one of those things into a revenue-making venture which you can then slowly grow until you make enough to go full-time on it and replace your old career? Or maybe you’ll run into an entirely new group of people who enjoy similar things and you’ll get new best friends for life? Or business partners? Or even a different 9-5 job that you never thought you’d do?
In my 6+ years blogging I’ve found that it’s not about the blog or the money itself – it’s about the community and connecting with others who have similar interests. All of my friends and business opportunities have come from being online (mainly twitter) and I would have never guessed it starting the blog – which was just for fun and to be more productive with my time.
So really think about the stuff you enjoy and if others like you are in the area or have their own blogs/meetups/etc. You never know what can come of it! (another example – i’ve started going to our local coin club and now have 30+ new friends to talk and trade coins with :) Some I’ve made for a profit and have even discussed starting businesses together – all it took was going to a meeting one night!)
Q. I am 30 years old and have never been aware of any financial savvyness until about 2 months when I traded in my leased car and bought a brand new car ago. That was also when I discovered all these great personal finance blogs. So far, I have not saved anything, though I have contributed little to 401K. Also, I got married a few months ago and now I’m realizing the mistakes I have made through these years. I have been praying and crossing my fingers that it is not too late for me to correct my past personal finance mistakes. I just want to ask you what you’d advise me to do to be more savvy about personal finance?
I’d say keep asking questions like you are and reading these finance blogs you’re enjoying :) I’d also tell you it’s NEVER too late to start! We all start at some point (it was my mid-twenties for me), and the sooner you do the quicker you can reach financial independence. It’s just a matter of how hard you want to hustle and what you’re willing to give up in the process (ie you have to pay attention to expenses now and make sure it’s not increasing as your income does – something we call lifestyle inflation).
It’s hard to advise anything outside of that without knowing you/your situation, but keep reading and poking around blogs, start challenging your expenses, and DEFINITELY start tracking things like your net worth and budget. You need to know the numbers so you can compare how well you’re doing or not as time goes on. And knowing those numbers alone will help you shift your mentality as time goes on.
Q. I happen to have a side hustle that as been a great additional income for family, and on paper- it’s awesome. It’s a part-time, from home, salaried position that used to be my full-time, in the office, salaried position. The downside? The organization (a non-profit) is starting to get a little to political for my taste, and my boss is really taking advantage of me and my time. How do I know if it’s time to give it up, and how can I possibly replace the (much needed) income- especially since between my full-time job, and this job, I’m working around 80+ hours a week?
Yikes – an interesting problem to have indeed. What a score though, way to go! :) The immediate thing that concerns me off the bat is the 80+ hours a week part as I know just how hard it is to keep that up (I’m currently trying to fix my 70 hrs/week schedule – it’s not easy). That aside though, you have to ask yourself what the main goal is down the line and focus on that as best you can. What is this much needed money going towards? Is there an end point where it’s not “much-needed” anymore? You can go pretty long putting up with nonsense at work if the money coming from it is making your life ultimately better, but if we’re talking about going years on end then something’s gotta change.
It’s pretty much one of those “which is the highest priority” type things. If you need the money to feed your kids and keep your home, obviously you gotta do what you gotta do. But if it’s to keep up a luxurious lifestyle then of course that’s different and you focus on cutting expenses and *then* the side job (though I doubt that’s the situation you’re in if you’re reading blogs like mine ;)).
Have you already talked with your boss about this stuff? What would happen if they thought you might leave? Is there anyone else in your family that can take on a hustle? Hard to advise on such an important topic without knowing all the details really, but it’s good you’re thinking about this and actively trying to solve it :)
If you end up sticking it through for a while, write down what those main goals are and leave them all over the place so you can be reminded! It sounds stupid but it helps!
Q. What was your full income as reported on your 2013 taxes?
Q. I’m working on some side-hustles that I’m excited about. They’re not money-makers yet, but there is some trickling in. I spend lots of time working up business plans, dreaming about the future, then I consider taxes and get completely intimidated. I’m not worried about paying taxes, just that I do it correctly. Would you recommend hiring a CPA right out of the gate? Honestly, that feels somewhat…presumptuous.
I don’t know what types of businesses or hustles you’re working on, but I don’t even think twice about business plans until after the concept/product is tested (and has good feedback) in the “real” world. So many people get boggled down with business cards and websites and all sorts of stuff before they even know their idea/service/product is good. So if it’s something you’re trying to online, or a service you’re trying to offer, I’d work on getting your first clients and THEN jump on the strategy/plans/etc. The best way to prove it works is to ask for the money and see what people say :) (Again, no idea what your businesses are – this is just my experience in the online world)
As for the CPA – I personally think it’s smart to have one anyways, just for personal finances cuz they’re always finding ways to save you money and more importantly do stuff *correctly* and on time – well worth the money in my opinion. And if you’re considering a business they can usually help with that too, at least mine does (She loves getting all my questions cuz it means no surprises for any of us when it comes time to file!). But hiring a CPA before you have a proven concept I personally wouldn’t do.
(Now I want to hear all about your ideas! :))
Q (via email).Okay, I have a random question…… I have 4 areas of savings: 1) extra principal towards my residence and rental property mortgages 2) traditional savings 3) SEP IRA 4) cash — I don’t spend any of my change, $1’s or $5’s. You would be shocked at how quickly this adds up! And that’s where the question lies…….I roll up/bundle the cash every month and put it in my safe deposit box. (Yes, I understand the value of compound interest but I’ve also seen too many of my clients hit retirement and have the need for cash that doesn’t come through option 1, 2 or 3.) I’ve also wanted to convert the cash to $100’s for space reasons but am concerned that some of the change/bills I currently have might actually be worth more than face value (now or later). Is there an easy way to determine the worth (other than face value) of all of this? Or do I literally need to get a money valuation guide and go through it all one by one by one……I know that won’t happen now! Or maybe that will be how I’ll be passing away my time in retirement!
HAH! Definitely did NOT see that question coming – love it though! Because as you know I’m an avid coin and currency collector :)
I’m not sure what types of bills you exactly have over there, but unfortunately yes – you’d have to literally look them all up in a valuation guide if you wanted to see what you’re dealing with there. There’s so many variables that go into a bill (or coin’s) worth, including the year, mint mark, condition of the bill/coin, rarity, etc etc. So you could literally have two bills that look almost identical, but one could be worth 10x more than the other. or even 1,000x.
Here’s the book I use: A Guide Book of United States Currency / The true test is to put it in the market to see what people are willing to pay for it (like, on eBay)
That being said, you can get a general idea by clumping them together. For example, if you have 20 $5.00 bills with red seals from 1953 in decent condition (no tears, rips, creases/etc) you can reasonably assume they’ll be worth $10-$20ish depending on condition. And then if you want to sit down and go through them all one-by-one later, you can then see if there are any that exceed these numbers.
Unless you’re holding super old bills in excellent condition though, odds are they aren’t worth much more than face value. And if they are, you’d then have to find a dealer/collector to pay you for what they’re worth which will always be a lot less (esp if you go the dealer route). So it’s probably best to take a general inventory and then look up a handful of them in a book to give you a good idea, and if we’re only talking a few dollar more you can turn them in and minimize like you’re wanting to do, but if you hit the jackpot you can more thoroughly go through them and then save or sell them for a tidy profit :) It’s a fun project either way, if you like handling money!
Oh, one last thing, I wouldn’t worry about bills being worth more later if they’re not now. The US makes sooooo many bills these days that it would literally have to be like 50+years for them to be worth anything collector-wise. So def. not worth holding them for that chance. Especially with $2.00 bills which I know a lot of people hold hoping for future worth (they’re cool as hell, but not worth more than $2.00 – at least the modern ones.)
Q. If you were to start your financial journey over again at the point you decided you wanted to save for financial independence, would you do anything differently? Would you decide to spend more or less money with family outings or traveling?
Excellent question. I wouldn’t change a thing about spending money with family or traveling (those rank high in my priorities – esp going out partying with friends back then) but I WOULD have changed a lot about my day-to-day expenses. I would have found cheaper, more fun ways to put shelter over my head (think: tiny homes or RVs or Trailers) or roomed up with a lot more people than I did, and I would have stopped dicking around with stock picking and just maxed out all my retirement accounts from day #1 of working. Imagine if you banked money and NEVER touched it starting from job #1 you had? Man…. I’d be retired right now! :)
Q. I’m just starting out with my blog and have a lot to learn about the technology side of blogging so I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, even though I have a whole list of topics I want to post on. When you first started, how often were you publishing new posts? Do you think there is a certain amount of posts per week or month that is good to aim for?
I posted Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday for 6+ years straight :) Even when I started. It’s probably a main reason I’m still doing it now (though posting less) because it kept me accountable. I know that’s crazy for a lot of people, but having ANY schedule is a good one if you promise yourself to stick with it. It forces you to post on a consistent basis, and it lets your readers know when ones coming too to look forward to.
I don’t know your situation and how much free time you have and how passionate you are, but I’d start with once a week every Monday, and if that’s too easy or you want to write more, go to Mon, Wed, Fri and stick to that. The “sticking” to it is the important part – esp when starting out. I wouldn’t worry about the technology part of things – as long as you can write an article and publish it easy on your platform it’ll be fine – that’s the most important part :) If you don’t like your platform, try out WordPress if you’re not already on it.
Good luck! If it’s about money, tell us the name of it!
Q. When you spoon, do you like to be the big spoon or little spoon? ;-)
I like to fork! ;)
Q. What’s the best bank to get a low-cost or free checking account from for a small business?
Oh man, I *wish* I knew of a kick-ass small business bank! I couldn’t find any super good 4 years ago when I finally got my own biz account (I hounded USAA and they finally told me it just wasn’t going to happen) so I ended up with Chevy Chase Bank – which later turned into Capital One Bank. Nothing too exciting, but you do get free checking and no fees/etc. So maybe give them a shot? I don’t have any real complaints with them.
Q. What do you think it will take for our government–or anyone?–to address the growing horde of political money-stampers who seem hell-bent to deface every dollar that they can get their hands on under the guise that it’s all for a good cause . . . claiming that it’s “100% legal” just because they WANT these bills to circulate? … When do you think the watchdogs of our money supply will sit up and take notice?
You and your mission, haha… I know this is more for everyone reading than it is my benefit, so I’ll just repeat what we’ve already discussed in the past and say I don’t think it’ll be addressed until it really DOES become a problem w/ our gov’t. I know you think it’s a problem already, and maybe all your emails/tweets/messages will reach them and you’ll finally get a response (I hope you do!) but if I were a betting man I wouldn’t put my money on the near future. My guess is 5-10 years. Though again, hopefully for your sanity you hear sooner than later ;)
Q. My question is of a somewhat personal nature. As I seem to recall you started your blog after you lost a pretty good job. I don’t recall if you were fired, laid off, down-sized or whatever. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t your idea to leave and from your picture giving the “bird” you weren’t a happy camper. Were you pissed and are you bitter now? And if so or not how did you cope? I lost and excellent job “back when dinosauers roamed the earth” and was good and pissed for a good bit but it all worked out. Look forward to your reply.
Actually, it was quite the opposite! Here’s the post you’re referring to: I got fired, and it actually happened the day before I was going to put in my two weeks :) Which REALLY caught me off guard – I was supposed to be breaking up with *them*, not the other way around! Haha… So it was actually perfect timing because I still didn’t know if it was the right move to make – going on my own – and I was nervous as $hit to pull the trigger. So when I got called into the office that day it actually solidified my answer right there on the spot and I was ready to rock an hour later! (After a few beers with a friend, of course ;))
That picture of the bird is actually some random person on the internet, but I found it perfect for the post. But you’re right, it *was* a great job up until the past year or so (I was working at a startup in a growing industry with TONS of crazy benefits), but then the $hit hit the fan and we knew it it would be shutting down at some point, just not at the time it did. So overall very happy with how things went down, and it’s now been 3 and 1/2 years of being self-employed :) Sometimes when you’re supposed to be doing something the world works to make it happen!
Q. You mentioned writing great content and building community as being the most important. How much time should one spend daily building community as in reading other blogs, commenting, social media? I can never get caught up and feel like I’m perpetually behind or missing a lot of great posts. How many hours or blog should one read daily? (I know you read a lot of blogs for Rockstar Finance, so I’m not asking for you but for a normal blogger trying to grow their blog)
Oh man, there really isn’t a good answer for that I’m afraid because we’re all different and there are so many variables that factor in. I usually just say to do whatever you can vs a strict “you must network for 2 solid hours every day” type thing. Obviously the more you do it the more odds it’s going to help you and your site out, but at the end of the day it should all still be pretty exciting and fun for you too or you’re liable to burn out. So I say just do it until you’re tired/bored/etc and then move on to something else (whether that’s writing content or a completely different project). Or start reading other blogs that are more exciting to you and cut out the ones that aren’t. It’s great to read/comment/etc, but should be a natural fit over doing it simply to help grow your own site. There are other ways to do that that take much less time and give much better return (like guest posting on other blogs).
Q (via email). How do you make money? Like literally? Who pays you? Wouldn’t you make more money if we were forced to go to your website rather than just read your email?
I make money from advertising, coaching, freelancing, side projects, flipping sites, a number of ways. The people who literally pay me are companies who advertise with me and bloggers and regular readers/people who I partner with or coach. Not sure what you mean by “forced to my website” instead of email, but yes – it always helps to have high traffic to your site. Feel free to visit my site instead of emailing me if you’d like ;)
Q (via email). Will you a write an Article about budgeting when you make money on a commission basis rather than steady flow of income?
I will! It’s actually half written already, I just haven’t gotten around to cleaning it up yet. It won’t cover all the different ways to do it, but it will the way *I* do it which hopefully will be helpful. In the meantime, here’s an article I liked on the subject that I’ve come across recently:
Q (via email). What would you charge me to write articles for me about business? I am interested in someone like you taking my knowledge and rewriting it so it sounds good.
Hah! I’m probably not the best man for the job unless you’re trying to gear it towards the younger generation, but if I were to do something like that I’d probably charge $200/article. Which is a lot more than you should be paying for something like that :) I can recommend a few good people that could hook you up though if you end up pulling the trigger – just give me a shout (and thanks for thinking about me for it! Appreciate it.).
Q. Simple question: Is Thinking Wealthy your favorite brand new personal finance blog? Ok – shameless plug aside, I haven’t dug through your historical posts in much detail but do you have/would you be willing to share your Net Worth over time?
Hah! I’ll start reading it now ;) And yes – You can see every net worth update I’ve done over the past 6 and 1/2 years here – I’ve done them every month without fail: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/net-worth/
[“Man Lunch” photo by Jim Legans, Jr]
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