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

[button_2 color=”green” align=”center” href=”http://simplefinanciallifestyle.com/category/interview-series”]READ MORE SIMPLE INSPIRATION INTERVIEWS[/button_2]
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.

Your Vacation Planning Can Help with Your Financial Planning in 10 Easy Steps

10 Steps Vacation Planning

Who does not dream of going on a great vacation with family or friends? At least I know I enjoy taking a vacation each year. Planning your vacation can take some time to plan.

However, we always seem to find a way to make it happen.  We find a way to save enough money, we shop around for the best deals, and we know where we are staying and what we will be doing while on vacation.

But when it comes to our personal finances we seem to forget how to plan. We can spend more time planning our vacation than planning our financial future. Why not apply the same excitement and get it done attitude to financial planning as you do to your vacation plans. Doing this can have just as much impact on your life as a vacation or even a greater impact.

I know planning can be a daunting task. You probably ask yourself: Where do I begin? What’s step one? How can I save more?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning, especially when you haven’t planned before.

Here are 10 steps to help you create a financial plan like you were planning your vacation:

Visualize the Perfect Situation

When planning your vacation you have to decide what’s the ideal place for you to visit, activities you want to do, how you plan to travel, and what time of the year you want to travel.

The same as planning your finances. Write down what you would like your financial life to look like.  What would it take to get there? What time frame do you have to get there?

Set a Budget

You usually set a budget when planning for your vacation at least I hope you do.  Same with your finances, set a budget to manage your monthly expenses. Having a budget is the key to a good financial plan.  A well prepared budget enables you to have a clearer picture of your spending.

Decide Where You Want to Go

You have a picture of the perfect place and have set your budget. Now you have to decide where you want to go. By deciding where you are going it sets a goal to work towards. A lot of people talk generally about what they want their finances to look like but never set a specific goal or put a plan in place.

Deciding where you want to go is important as it forces you to set a definite goal. Having goals in place makes it easier to commit to.

Determine Your Time Frame

When vacation planning you usually decide if you’re traveling by car or plane and how long you will be on vacation so you can plan appropriately.

The same can be applied to your financial plan by determining the time frame it will take to reach your financial destination you desire. To help achieve your goals establish long-term and short-term financial goals.

Start Saving Money

Time to start saving! When vacation planning I am sure you save over time to cover the cost of your trip. I try to allocate funds throughout the year to my vacation fund. It makes it easier to save that way.

Same with your personal finances. Establish a saving plan. Having a saving plan in place will provide you with a financial peace of mind. Here are three savings you should consider establishing if you do not have any savings in place:

Retirement Savings

Emergency Savings

Future Spending Savings

Automate Your Bills

While you are traveling you don’t want to forget about your bills so automate them. Same is true with your personal finances get rid of your mail, go paperless, and set up online bill payment for your recurring bills to ensure you won’t miss any.

Consolidate

When packing for your trip you try to consolidate as much as you can. The more suit cases you bring adds additional cost and hassle so you consolidate the number you bring with you.   You do this by reduce the amount of items you bring with you.

Consider doing the same with your financial accounts. Consolidate your bank accounts, investment, accounts as well as providers. Consolidating will help:

  • Reduce the number of statements you receive
  • Easier to keep track of your accounts
  • Possibly reduce fees

Buy Insurance

When planning your vacation, you may consider purchasing travel insurance. This will help protection you if something occurs and you have to cancel your vacation. Maybe some occurs while you are traveling travel insurance may help cover some of the cost of this unexpected situation.

Same is true with your personal finances. You want to make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage. You do not want to be left standing uninsured when a medical, natural disaster, or other financial situation occurs which can place a significant financial burden on you.

Hire professional help

When planning a vacation you may hire a travel agent to help you arrange your travel plans and accommodations.  So when preparing your financial plan consider hiring professional advisers to help you reach your financial destination.  The ride to your destination will be smoother and quicker if you hire good financial professionals to help you.

Stay Focused and Inspired

The planning process can be long and time consuming but stay focused at the goal at hand. Here are some inspiring stories how other have simplified their finances which will help you:

Simple Inspiration Interview – How Creating a Budget Helped Mr. CBB Simplify His Finances

Simple Inspiration Interview – Taking a day off helped Peter Anderson Simplify his Finances

Simple Inspiration Interview with Jeremy from Go Curry Cracker

Use these 10 steps as a guide to help better organize and simplify your personal finances.

But no matter what your financial goals are, these steps will help you stay organized as you begin to put your financial plan in place.

So take action now by applying these simple tips to design your financial future and begin to simplify your personal finances.

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

[button_2 color=”green” align=”center” href=”http://simplefinanciallifestyle.com/category/interview-series”]READ MORE SIMPLE INSPIRATION INTERVIEWS[/button_2]
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.