Simple Inspiration Interview featuring the Debt Free Guys

Debt Free Guys

 

Thanks for checking out this week’s Simple Inspiration Interview.  Today I have the pleasure of interviewing not one but two individuals this week.  This week we have an opportunity to hear from the Debt Free Guys.  I am sure many of you can relate to John and David’s financial struggles.  They offer some great advice on how they were able to overcome their financial struggles and begin to live a debt free life.

Let’s hear how John and David have simplified their finances and began to live a debt free life:

What event lead you to realize you needed to eliminate debt and improve your financial life?

About ten years ago we found ourselves as two thirty-something professionals living in a friend’s basement apartment and had two beat up cars. Our peers were passing us by and we wondered why. It didn’t take long to realize it was because we had $51,000 worth of credit card debt. We were borrowing from our future and had nothing to show for it.

What area of your finances needed the most improvement outside of eliminating your debt?

We had no budget. We spent unconsciously. If we wanted it, we got it. It didn’t matter if we spent cash or credit. Eventually everything was on credit and we were living paycheck to paycheck.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock to improve your financial lives?

Our biggest challenge was realizing that we didn’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy life. Once we realized that we could have a good quality of life within and even below our means, things changed for us financially.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

This took a lot of self-reflection and open dialogue between the two of us. We ultimately realized that we both had two primary goals in life. The first is to travel extensively. The second is to save for retirement. Once we realized those were the areas we want to spend our money, it was easier to get our spending in order.

What steps did you take to change your financial lives?

Initially, we eliminated all non-essential spending and travel. We did this until we paid off all our credit cards. This helped us embrace budgeting. When we were finally able to loosen the purse strings, we did so on a budget and have done so ever since.

How long did it take you to get your finances in order?

We quickly came up with a budget and payment plan to pay off our debt once we realized what we most wanted in life. It took us about two and a half years to pay off our credit card debt. It took us another year or so to feel more comfortable financially. It was at this point that we moved out of the basement apartment into our own condo.

How did you feel once you had your finances in order and eliminated your debt?

Amazing! We occasionally think about how we felt when we were mired in debt and how good we feel now. We have less stress. We’re happier. We can do the things we want. We own what we have. It’s just an all-around good feeling. We want others to have the same feeling.

What financial habits have you developed so you continue to improve your finances?

We’re what we call “money conscious”. We know how much we truly make. We know where every dollar will go before we receive it. We save aggressively for retirement. We have accounts for home improvements. We have an account we’re funding because we’ll need a new car in two years. We have these accounts because we want to spend cash and not credit on the things we want and need.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Our advice is to just simplify your financial life. All the spending, all the shopping and all the stuff makes our lives more complicated than they need to be. Figure out what it is you truly want financially and work for those financial goals. Just because something is important to your neighbor, sibling or coworker doesn’t mean it’s important for you.

Are there any areas of your finances that you still need to improve on?

Yes. We love to dine out on good food and wine. We don’t go into debt because of it, but we’d do better if we cooked at home more often and drank cheaper wine.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to eliminate debt or improve their finances?

We documented our experience and what we learned in our book 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life. In 4, we break down what it takes to quickly pay off credit card and other debt and have a good time.

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount need to fund it?

We do have an emergency savings account. We have three month’s worth of living expenses in a credit union account that has no check writing or debit cards privileges. We have not had to use it, but it’s a great feeling know that it’s there.

What percentage of your income are you saving?

Among our retirement, saving for a new car and other financial goals, we’re currently saving about 25 percent of our income. We’re currently making a lot of changes to Debt Free Guys, LLC, too, and that’s taking some of our income.

What’s your best savings tip?

It’s almost too simple, but we still use the envelope method. We have a budget for groceries, gas, social spending, etc. Every other payday, we withdraw the money we need for each category and that’s all the money we get to spend in each category until another two paydays.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

If money wasn’t a concern, we would go on a world tour. We’d travel to everywhere in the world we want to go and see everything we want to see.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with others who are looking to simplify?

We think living simply is really a mental shift. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the hectic, fast paced, always on our phone lives and have the insatiable need for more, more, more. Once we make a shift in thinking, everything else falls into place.

Thanks John and David for sharing your story with my readers. As I mentioned earlier I am sure many can relate to your story and are looking for ways to improve their finances.  You provide some great advice to help them turn their financial lives around.

If you can related to their story want to learn more about John and David, check out their new and improved blog  www.DebtFreeGuys.com.  They use their blog, video and podcasts to help others with their personal finances. Whether it’s getting out of debt, investing for retirement or creating a budget, www.DebtFreeGuys.com has the answers.  You can also follow them on twitter @debtfreeguys or friend on facebook.

To read previous interviews in the series click below

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If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

Simple Inspiration Interview with Stephen from How to Save Money.ca

How to Save Money

 

Are you looking to save money?  I have the person for you.  Stephen from How to Save Money.  His blog HowToSaveMoney.ca shows people from all walks of life how to save money on everything they buy and does it without cutting back. It’s all about getting exactly what you want for as little money as possible.  Then, the leftover money you have can be spent however you choose: savings, investments, entertainment, travel, clothes, cars, jewelry … it’s up to you.  He does not try and tell people what to spend their money on, just how to spend less of it.

Let’s learn a little more from Stephen in this week’s Simple Inspiration Interview:

What event lead you to start How to Save Money?

Beginning to earn and spend my own money in my college years really got me thinking about how much things cost. I used to think the price on the shelf was the price you paid, but then I noticed that every store had a different price for the same product.
That realization led me to do a lot of research on saving money on the things I bought which in turn led me to be active on money saving forums. I found a goldmine of information there that was inaccessible to the general public so I decided to make it easier to read and more accessible through HowToSaveMoney.ca.

What is the biggest financial challenge you see from readers of How to Save Money?

The site is more geared to teaching people to maximize the value of their dollars no matter their status in life so there is no one financial challenge that really sticks out.

How have you simplified your personal finances?

My finances are far from simplified because often the best money saving deals involve a little bit of extra work and complexity. You can earn thousands of dollars opening new accounts and trying new products and services.
Lately I have simplified some by cutting down on my accounts, always sticking with no fee banking from the start, and not worrying too much about budgeting. I find that being money conscious and trying to save on every purchase is enough to not over spend.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

It’s really the generous sign up offers and rewards available from having multiple accounts that makes it difficult.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

I try to balance the upfront reward with the extra time involved to make sure it is worth the effort because there is nothing I value more than my time.

How has simplifying changed your life?

The more I simplify, the more I’m able to focus on the things I enjoy in life. Again, it’s a balance, but I’m definitely open to more simplification in the future.

How long did it take you to simplify?

It’s a work in progress that will probably never be done =)

How much of your personal finances have you automated?

Most of my finances are automated at this point. The one thing I never automate is my credit card bills which I prefer to pay manually twice a month. That way I can review all the charges and ensure they are correct.

What do you automate?

All my bills really: internet, cell phone, water & sewer, home and auto insurance, ETF investing, etc. I do pay my life insurance bills to save money on their automation fees once a year.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Simplification is good but make sure you aren’t over simplifying. You could be missing out on some big rewards if you never try something new or re-evaluate your finances. If you put it on auto pilot, make sure you check it every now and then to ensure it isn’t steering you into an iceberg!

What’s your best savings tip?

My site is overflowing with tips on how to save money, but my best one single tip is to plan ahead when it comes to everything. A little planning will both save you and earn you a ton of money!

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

My favorite personal finance blogs other than my own are My Own Advisor, Boomer & Echo, and Million Dollar Journey.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

My favorite things to do are spend time with my family, travel, and play video games so I would probably do more of all than that!

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount needed to fund it?

I have lots of funds that can be accessed in case of an emergency, but none of them are designated as an emergency fund. I don’t believe an emergency fund is always necessary because there are lots of ways to get funds in an emergency.

Thanks Stephen for sharing your story.  As well as offering some great tips to help simplify your finances.

If you would like to read more from Stephen check out his site HowToSaveMoney.ca I am sure you will find at least one tip to help you save.  You can also  follow him on twitter via @howtosave

To read previous interviews in the series click below

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If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

Simple Inspiration Interview with Kate from Cashville Skyline

Cashville

Let’s welcome this week’s Simple Inspiration Kate from Cashville Skyline.

Kate created Cashville Skyline to promote financial literacy, especially among lower earning, creative professionals. To her, financial freedom means pursuing the amount of work you choose, when you want, from where you want, without ever feeling the need to sacrifice your quality of life for compensation.

Read how Kate has simplified her finances so she can pursue financial freedom:

What event lead you to decide to pursue financial freedom?

I worked as a concert promoter / talent buyer for most of my twenties. Producing concerts was fun, but the stress, long hours, and constant traveling started taking a toll on my body. I realized it wasn’t a long-term sustainable career path, but in order to make a career change, I needed to get my finances in order. This was my primary motivation for starting Cashville Skyline.

How long had you planned this? KateDorePress

I left my job last August, but I started my journey at the beginning on 2013. I took a free personal finance class at University of California Irvine via Coursera and discovered the world of personal finance blogs through their forums. I voraciously read everything I could find for several months before starting my blog at the end of 2013.

What steps are you taking to achieve financial freedom?

I work full-time in digital marketing, but I believe it’s important to diversify streams of revenue. In addition to my ongoing frugal lifestyle and aggressive saving, I’ve focused on increasing my income through various side hustles. I’m also committed to generating passive streams of income through my investments. I’m planning to invest in my East Nashville property later this year to add rental income.

What is your biggest challenge or roadblock to achieving financial freedom? 

Earning an average income can be a challenge. It’s only possible to cut expenses down so much. And my energy levels are finite. There’s always the temptation to devote more time to side hustles, but it’s possible to overdo it.

What are your current financial goals?

I recently left my part-time job working customer service for an online ticketing company. I’d like to replace that income (approximately $1,000 per month) through my blog and freelance writing gigs. Regarding financial milestones, I’d like to reach $100K equity in my home and $100K in my portfolio by the end of this year.

How will you feel once you’ve reached your financial goals?

I’m sure my sense of achievement will be brief, as I’ll be ready for my next set of goals :)

What one thing have you done to enable your current lifestyle?

Transitioning from entertainment to technology has been life-changing. Working 9-5 has substantially freed up time for Cashville Skyline and wellness.

What’s your best savings tip? 

It’s important to consistently pay yourself first. Treat it like any other bill, but with even higher priority. Also, save until it hurts.

Do you have an emergency fund established?

It’s unpopular, but I don’t have a dedicated emergency fund. I do, however, have $25K in a taxable Vanguard account. That could easily cover 10 months of living expenses following my bare bones budget.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simply or improve their finances?

My blogroll includes all of the blogs I read on a regular basis. Also, The Millionaire Next Door really changed my perspective on wealth and the importance of a frugal lifestyle.

What advice or thoughts would you like to share with others who are looking to achieve financial freedom or just improve their financial life?

Tracking expenses and calculating personal savings rate are important starting points. I try to envision my future self (even 9 years from now, at 40). How does future Kate want to be spending her time? Every penny saved is a penny less I have to earn later.

If money wasn’t a concern, what would you do for fun?

I have a degree in classical singing, so I would spend much more time practicing and improving my instrument. I would devote a lot more time to developing my visual artistic skills (weaving, painting, ceramics, etc.) I would travel more and work improving my fluency in Spanish. I would continue writing and continue try to help others.

Thanks for sharing your story Kate.  You offered some great advice on how to simplify your finances some ways to as well as your life.

If you would like to read more from Kate visit Cashville Skyline or follow her on social media

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Pinterest

To read previous interviews in the series click below

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If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

 

Simple Inspiration Interview with Will from First Quarter Finance

First Quarter Finance

Are you looking to build your wealth in your early twenties? If so, you will enjoy reading this week’s interview with Will.  Will blogs at First Quarter Finance which is about building wealth ASAP!  He started FQF because he wanted to create a resource for young people who want to make money early in life.  He uses his personal past and present experiences to give tested advice for building wealth early in life.  He does this by telling his story of how he began investing at age ten.

He states:

“Combining early investing with a healthy income and a frugal lifestyle and… magic happens. Haha. That sounds corny but it’s true.”

If you want to see exactly what he is doing or even emulate it, visit FQF.

Let’s learn how Will has managed his financial life so he will be able to retire at an early age:

What event lead you to realize you needed to simplify your finances?  Will Lipovsky Image

I watch this PBS documentary about the high cost of managed investments. I decided after watching to stop buying managed funds and go with the E/R index mutual funds offered at Vanguard.

What area of your financial life needed the most simplification?

My investments. Hollywood makes it seem like investors should take crazy risks and constantly be screaming and yelling. I decided to stop the buy and sell, scream and yell nonsense. Turns out I’m actually making more money with my simplified approach. Warren Buffett may be onto something…

When did you begin to simplify your financial life?

I was 23 years young when I decided things needed to be simpler.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

Having to bite the bullet and sell my American Funds!!! I already paid massive front-end load fees. I felt like I already paid to join the club and now I was foolishly giving away my membership by selling. I finally sold all those funds and lost the approximately $4,000 I paid in loads over the years. Ouch. Oh well, it needed to be done. Front-end loads aside, the expense ratios were so high I needed to get out.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

I did the math on how much more I would make if I switched to low cost investments. Over the long term, selling my American Funds made sense. It’s hard to argue with math.

How has simplifying changed your life?

My investments are now on auto-pilot. I couldn’t be happier with them. I’ve also simplified my life by riding a bike more often than I drive. I also stopped buying empty calories. When you think about it, those cookies won’t help you out one bit.

How long did it take you to simplify?

I’ve taken a pretty simple approach to my finances my entire life. I’ve never had to make any major corrections except with my investments. However, simplifying my food budget took years. I began with giving up soda. Then I stopped buying bread and made baked at home instead. Eventually I stopped buying heavily processed foods.

Today is May 28, 2015 and I’m proud to say I’ve only had one unhealthy item all year. It was a sucker my adorable 6-year-old cousin begged me to eat after telling me, ‘It’s the best food in the entire world!’ It was a green Blow Pop. It was not good.

How much of your personal finances have you automated?

I automate AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Life is too short to slave over paying bills. Heck, even Dave Ramsey promotes automating your finances.
Everything is automated except my invoicing to my freelance writing clients. Maybe I could get something going there… I do use Quickbooks…

What do you automate?

Bills, dollar-cost-averaging my investments, I even use Digit for my savings.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Use the rule of first principles. Elon Musk said it best:

“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.”

We should not live our lives based on what we witness around us. Just because your coworkers eat out for lunch doesn’t mean you have to as well. Just because your coworkers drive fancy cars to work doesn’t mean you have to as well. Just because most people are in debt, it doesn’t mean you have to be as well.

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

Well, the site you’re reading this on is a pretty great resource! I’m partial to my own blog as well, First Quarter Finance. Other than those two obvious answers, I recommend people read A LOT of books. I’m always reading at least one personal finance/self-improvement/business book. Doing this is opening up my brain to even more than what I learned in college.

I hate to use this because it’s such a cliché but I recommend you read The Millionaire Next Door. It will cleanse you from the Hollywood millionaire BS you’ve already been exposed to in ample quantities.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

My life would not look much different. Heck, I still drive the same car I got when I was 16. I’m now 25 and have hundreds of thousands more dollars than I did back then. I’m a sucker for sports cars so I suppose I would have one or two more.

What’s your best savings tip?

Don’t do anything just for the sake of saving money. Life is too short for that. You need to have a greater reason for doing something other than saving money. I bike to work because it’s healthy (and saves money). I drive an older car because I love 90s sports cars (and it’s cheaper than a new Porsche 911). I cook at home because I don’t like the low quality ingredients and hidden calories served at most restaurants (and I can eat steak at home for what I could pay for a paper thin burger at a fancy restaurant).
It’s hard to be motivated by saving money alone. Think bigger.

Are there any areas of your finances that you still need to simplify?

I still have things to sell on eBay and Craigslist from my younger years. Most of the items are listed, they just need to sell. I hate owning things I don’t use. I can’t stand the waste.

 

Will appreciate you sharing your story with us today.  You offered some great advice on how to simplify your finances as well as your life.

If you would like to read more from Will visit First Quarter Finance or follow him on Twitter @firstqfinance

To read previous interviews in the series click Simple Inspiration Interviews.

If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.