Today I have this week’s installment of our segment: Interviews with Money Experts. I talk with J Money from Budgets are Sexy.
Without further ado, here’s the interview.
By now, most people know who you are and your story, but for those that don’t. Who is J Money and how did you come to blogging?
Oh man, haha… the short story is I bought a house when I shouldn’t have 10 years ago, and it led me down this internet portal to blogs and I ended up becoming obsessed with them.
Mainly, because people were sharing their REAL LIFE STORIES online with real-life numbers and all! I had never seen such a thing before, and before I knew it I was starting my own blog and getting my financial life better squared away as well.
And now here we are 10 years later and we’re still blogging 🙂
(For the longer bullet-point story, click here)
Each month you give an update on your net worth. Why did you start doing that? Any forecast of what it’ll look like in 5 years?
Yup – on Month #123 in a row now! One of the best things I’ve ever done for my money as it gives me an overall view of how everything’s going and you can usually tell what areas you’re rocking and what you aren’t which keeps you super accountable.
Seeing someone else’s net worth for the first time was just a game changer for me, so the second I started my own blog I knew I’d be sharing the same and I haven’t stopped since.
And in fact, we now have over 500 bloggers in the space being just as transparent as well! Pretty incredible!
As for 5 years from now, I honestly couldn’t tell you, haha… I’m great at living and thinking in the *present* but horrible about forecasting the future. Just because so much changes in life and dreams, especially when you keep popping out kids like we are (#3 is due any week!).
I can tell you though that we’ll be continuing to save and invest as much as we can as we always have, and God willing our net worth will continue to climb just as much… if that happens, we’ll be over the million dollar mark and maybe even pushing $1.5?
Who knows… As long as I wake up happy each day that’s what matters the most 🙂
That’s awesome! Congratulations on number 3! Any tips for new parents on how to manage the expenses that come along with a new baby?
My only advice for new parents is to make sure they clear their schedules as much as they can when that baby comes because there will be no time to do anything else despite your best intentions 🙂 Because even when you DO technically have the free time, all you’ll want to do is sleep because your brain is a mess!
So the more work-work you can avoid doing during that first month or so the better… (also – as a nurse once told me when my first baby was born – “you can never love your child too much!” which is good now, and probably 18 years from now too when they’re stealing your car and sneaking beers ;))
What were some lessons you were taught growing up that you appreciate now?
There were two main ones constantly brought up in our family, one from my mother and one from my father (although growing up, of course, we didn’t always follow them ;)):
#1) You don’t need to buy everything *new*! My mom was/is the queen of frugality, and I swear half of our stuff – if not more – came from yard sales and thrift stores. She was raising a family of 5 on a shoestring military budget, so she def. had to stretch those dollars far.
#2) Whatever you do, make sure you’re getting your FREE 401(k) matches from your employer! This one was brought up multiple times by my father once we were all old enough to work, and despite it being ingrained in our heads we still failed hard early on 🙂
Once it finally clicked, though and I saw the money continue to RISE and never go down, it was mind-boggling as usually at that age you just deplete stuff, haha… And when $100 turns into $1,000 and then $5,000 and then $10,000, it’s just amazing to see and I’ve been contributing to my retirement accounts ever since. Even maxing them out most years.
What are some lessons you hope to pass onto your kids?
That you can live a life on your OWN terms and not have to do what everyone else around you is doing (or buying). We’re so caught up in this “American Dream” of the 9-5 work life and buying a home and having 2.5 kids etc that it’s hard, sometimes, to step back and really ask yourself if it’s all worth it in the end? Why do we work so hard for stuff that might not even make us that happy?
So the #1 thing I want to teach my kids is to be more *conscious* about their actions and dreams/goals/etc, and that they can set up a lifestyle that they enjoy themselves vs just chasing what everyone else is.
And I hope to instill a little entrepreneurship in them too, although I wouldn’t be sad if they did go corporate in the end 🙂 Whatever gets them excited to wake up!!
I also want to teach them that no matter what is going on in their lives to always be kind, loving to people and never apologize for it. This world needs as much love as it can get, and even if it tries chewing you up and spitting you out, you always have the *choice* of being nice! So I pray they do so!
What are your best budgeting tips? Any hacks for people who suck at budgeting?
Well, the first thing I’d say is that if you suck at budgeting try tracking your net worth! It only takes 15 minutes and you only have to do it once a month! If you can’t manage that, then you’re in trouble, haha…
Outside of that though, it really comes down to HOW BAD you want it. Most people already know how to do this stuff (spend less, save more!), but it’s the *motivation* you need to actually start taking action.
So I’d focus on the parts that excite you with this stuff and then work your way from there. For some, it may be killing your debt once and for all, and others it may be starting to invest or seeing how low you can get your cable bill or whatever.
But if you can really focus on the areas that motivate you *right now* vs the stuff that you “have to do,” I guarantee you’ll succeed much faster and not burn out.
You don’t necessarily have to save and invest and pay off debt and get better at budgeting all at the exact same time. But you DO need to be taking action on *something*, so why not work on the stuff that’s more fun for you?
How do you keep track of your net worth? Mint? Excel spreadsheet?
I use an old school spreadsheet I found off another blogger 10 years ago which has since been modified approximately 38 times, haha…
You can find the main version of it here if anyone wants to check it out: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/free-budget-templates-sites/
I find I pay more attention when I manually track my $$ than I do when it’s automated.
Do you have any advice for someone who can’t decide between buying a home or renting?
I would think REALLY hard about what you truly want in life, particularly the next 5-7 years, and see where housing plays a part there.
If you’re one who likes getting up and moving/traveling every other year and/or not having to deal with maintenance, then renting is probably more your speed.
However, if you’re trying to lay down roots and will be staying put for a handful of years, then owning might be better for you long term. It really comes down to a mixture of two things: your personality, and your finances.
Some people have the money but can’t stand the thought of up keeping a house so prefer to rent instead (me), while others like the stability and long-term financial benefits of home ownership and thus prefer to own.
Whatever the case, just remember to a) pick the route that makes the most sense for YOU, despite whatever anyone says! (particularly if you rent – when all the haters come out), and b) keep in mind that home ownership is *not* an investment.
It’s a good place to lay your head down and might be cheaper than renting overtime, but investments grow and pay you money over time – not suck it up 😉 If you’re strictly looking for an investment, I’d pick a different route.
(Editors Note: I threw this question in because my wife and I are currently having this discussion)
What’s a book that you’d recommend to someone who wants to improve their financial literacy?
I really like the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Not necessarily a financial book per se, but one that really gets you to stop and focus on WHAT YOU TRULY WANT in life and to start moving away from all the nonsense that detracts from it.
Whether that’s a healthier personal life, career life, financial life, love life? Anything really. We do so many unnecessary things in our days, and often times we don’t even realize it because they’ve become a habit.
So this book – at least for me – was instrumental in opening up my eyes and clearing the path for a more efficient, and happy, lifestyle.
Is there an app or program that you use to help with your finances?
There’s also a newer one about to drop on the scene called Pickpocket that applies the same principles but towards debt payoff. If you suck at any of those three areas in life I’d give those apps a peek…
That concludes my interview with J Money. I hope you gained some new insights into how to improve your Financial Health and grow your Wealth. Come back next week for my interview with Erik from The Mastermind Within.
So readers, what was your favorite point made here? Anything you want me to follow up with J Money about?