Today I have this week’s installment of our segment: Interviews with Money Experts. I talk to Jamie from Mr. Jamie Griffin.
Without further ado, here’s the interview.
Could you give a little background about who you are and how you came to start your blog?
I’m a middle school history teacher and have been doing that for the last 6 years.
When I graduated high school, I had about $45,000 of student loan debt and was only making $19,000 a year as a paraprofessional at the current school I work at.
I was overwhelmed and out of panic, extended the loan repayment from 10 to 25 years because I couldn’t afford it.
A few years later, in 2014 when my wife and I got married, she brought in a boatload of student loan debt giving us a combined total of $90,000.
We made a plan to aggressively pay off our loans in five years by learning how to budget, stop going out to eat, tithing, and living below our means. I decided to start blogging to share our story of debt repayment and budgeting.
I wanted to share what we were doing and how big of an impact it had our lives.
I didn’t have big blogging dreams back then, but now that I’m a year and a half in, I love it and am excited to keep helping people get out of debt.
What kind of progress have you made on your debt? How did you stay motivated?
When we got married, we had $90,000 of student loans, and as of May 2017, we’ve paid it all off (minus $17,500 which qualifies for loan forgiveness in January 2019).
We made small goals along the way to help us stay motivated and used Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball method to pay them off faster.
Also, we knew we couldn’t afford student loans and daycare costs, so we knew we had to pay them off before we could start a family. That was crazy motivating for us.
There were a lot of times it really sucked working extra jobs and saying no to traveling, eating out, and spending more freely.
But it’s so worth it to be debt free and have a beautiful baby daughter. 🙂
What have you learned so far about being a parent? How have you personally developed since becoming a parent?
In the few short months of being a parent, I’ve learned how important it is to have a routine. Our daughter functions so much better on a routine, which allows us to function much better.
When she sleeps, everyone’s happier 🙂
I’ve also learned that it’s important to take care of myself. I function much better with good self-care, and that has a positive effect on my family, friends, and blog.
Any lessons you’ve learned from teaching over these past 6 years?
It’s important to always keep learning. There is so much we don’t know and admitting that you don’t know something is an opportunity to learn and ask questions.
My students ask questions all the time and it’s through these questions and my willingness to answer them that real learning can take place.
I taught a personal finance elective this year and we spend so many days just doing Q&A sessions.
They are genuinely curious and I want to help them build a solid foundation of how money works, our financial institutions, and how to live on a basic budget.
What has history taught you about finances? What do we still have to learn?
Hmm…good question. I’ve learned that finances and economics can explain a lot of our conflict in the world, today and in the past.
When I think about people and countries in history, a big theme is seeking money or resources to gain wealth.
Nobody ever seems content with what they have, but always want more and hats created conflict, war, and strained relations between groups of people.
It makes me wish there were more stories of contentment. There might be, we just don’t hear about them as much.
Do you think it’s as easy as practicing gratitude and being thankful for what you have? Or do you think there’s a more systemic issue at hand?
Practicing gratitude can be really challenging when most of American society is tellings us we need more stuff to be happy.
It creates a cycle of consumerism and keeping up with the Jones’s that makes it tough to feel content and have gratitude for the amazing things we already have in our lives.
Even if you’re not where you want to be, everyone can find something in their life to be thankful for, even if it’s a simple fact they woke up breathing and healthy.
Bobby Hoyt of Millennial Money Man says it a lot, that every day you wake up is another day in the bonus round of life, and I like that philosophy.
Gratitude and contentment are skills we need to learn so practicing them in small ways will build until you actually feel content and happy with what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t.
What are some lessons you learned growing up that you appreciate now?
Growing up I didn’t learn a lot about money. In fact, my parents rarely talked about money in front of us kids. I really wish they had, though. I could’ve learned a lot.
However, I did learn that it’s important to work hard and do the right thing. My parents both still work incredibly hard and they instilled that work ethic in me.
What are some things you hope to pass onto the next generation?
I hope to pass on the importance of learning personal finance and to start at an early age.
Also, learning about personal finance is a family value that can be taught to kids at a young age so they can develop healthy money habits as they grow into adulthood.
Money doesn’t need to be a taboo topic. We can all learn from each other and grow.
How do you recommend parents teach their children about money?
Start with basics and talk to them about money. You could even talk with them while you’re out shopping, explaining how much money you have to spend and what you need to buy with it.
It’s a good way for them to start understanding that things cost money and money isn’t endless. One idea I really like is giving an allowance, even when your kids are really little.
My sister and another friend do this. When they give their kids an allowance, they split it up into three jars. One is for saving, one is for spending, and the other is for giving.
When the spending jar runs out, they have to wait to get more money. The biggest thing I’ve learned though is kids want to know about money, they just need someone to help them understand it.
If it’s not parents, they’re going to learn about money from someone else, and it might not be a good source. When they ask about money, be real and honest with them.
What’s an app, a book, blog or podcast you’d recommend to someone that wants to improve their finances?
I started budgeting using Mint, which was a great starting point for me to understand budgeting and track my expenses easily from my phone.
Mint also has a great website that lets you track your bank accounts, investments, debt, bills, your mortgage, and help you calculate your net worth.
I wasn’t aware of all those features back when I used it, but I definitely got a lot of value out of just the app.
A few years ago I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and it really got my head turning about money. I took notes like crazy while I read and after I finished the book, I moved onto reading personal finance blogs.
The blog that I kept going back to is Millennial Money Man by Bobby Hoyt. I still get new blog posts sent to my email and soak in as much as I can.
He was also a former teacher turned blogger, which really inspires me to grow and improve my own blog. He has a straightforward style that I like and resonates well with me.
He also hustles like crazy to help people turn their finances around and is very active in communicating with his audience.
What are some lessons you picked up from Rich Dad, Poor Dad?
The biggest lesson I learned is that there are other options for making money besides the 9-5 workday.
It’s important to spend time and effort creating alternate income streams to supplement your income. It flipped a switch in my brain to find a way to start investing, save for retirement, and find ways to make passive income.
If I can create passive income, I have more options in terms of where I work, how much I work, and to invest more money into my family’s future.
Do you have plans for creating a passive income stream?
I have hypothetical plans for creating passive income but no concrete plan set in place.
I would like aspects of my blog to become a passive income source but I have a long way to go.
I would also like to figure out dividend investing too.
With regard to dividend investing, would you use a retirement or non-retirement account? Why?
I honestly have no clue how I would start dividend investing. I don’t know enough about it to make an informed choice. Right now most of our investments are in retirement accounts so maybe I’d stick to that?
I will definitely sit down with our financial adviser before making any real decisions on that front.
Is there anything you’d like to add that would benefit the reader?
No matter what your finances look like right now, it’s within your power and ability to make them better.
If things suck right now, it’s only temporary.
Keep learning and growing from people who know more than you do and can guide you. It takes hard work and discipline, and changes certainly don’t happen overnight.
But if you make a good plan, stick with it even when it’s hard, your future will be much better because of your hard work today.
Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
You can find me at http://mrjamiegriffin.com. If you want to hear more of our story and tips for saving money, getting out of debt, and growing your family’s finances that’s the place to be.
I’m also active on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. You can follow me there and join the 2,992 other families who follow me and subscribe to get my most recent updates and financial tips in their email.
Follow this link and get a FREE Budget Spreadsheet to get your family finances on track.
That concludes my interview with Jamie. 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 PIG from Passive Income Guy.
So readers, what was your favorite point made here? Any questions for Jamie?