Today I had the opportunity to ask Glen at Free From Broke a few questions about his personal finance goals and history. Free From Broke is a top quality personal finance site. It chronicles a journey from credit card debt to being, as the name implies, a lifestyle free from debts and worries.
1) How did you get started in personal finance blogging? What was your inspiration?
Like many, I was neck-deep in credit card debt. On top of that I was living paycheck-to-paycheck with just about no savings and nothing saved for retirement. I know something had to change so I slowly started to educate myself and make changes to my finances and debt. I was able, with the help of moving back with my folks, to eliminate my credit card debt and start on the track to savings and retirement.
In reading up on personal finances I found Get Rich Slowly. Loved it! What J.D. was writing there rung true to my life. After a bit, I thought I might be able to contribute my experiences and help people out so I started up Free From Broke.
2) What changed in your financial life after you were married that was a surprise? If you can instill one financial value in your children in the future, what would it be?
Hmm, does having kids count? It was a surprise to actually see how much those little rugrats actually cost (I love each of our three dearly). Maybe another surprise, a good one, was how well my wife and I integrate our finances. Not that I was worried we wouldn't mesh, it's just pleasant to know that we trust each other fully and have each other's backs. We've been able to save such that we were able to buy a house last year with close to 25% down. Though money is tight, it hasn't been as bad as we thought it would be. We're making it happen!
As for financial advice to the kids, don't be a slave to money. Use, and save, money well and it will be a great liberating tool. But if you become a slave to it, buying things to live up to some imagined expectation and/or building up a lot of debt, your life decisions will be ruled by how you can pay things back, not by financial freedom. Hope that makes sense.
3) You made a massive financial change when you moved in with your parents and overhauled your finances. What tools did you use to help you accomplish your goals? What advice do you have for someone getting started on a financial overhaul today?
Yeah, that was a BIG decision moving back with the ‘rents. I didn't really use any tools such as budgeting tools, but what I did utilize was making automatic savings into my online savings account and my 401(k). Making payments automatic meant they were put away before I could use the money. I loved seeing my account grow, even slowly.
For someone starting on a financial overhaul I have this to say – Anything is possible! If your goal is to get out of debt it CAN be done. It may take some time and you might take a couple of steps back occasionally, but stick to it and you will meet your goals. Personal finance is a process that isn't complete overnight. It takes time and your financial plans will change over time.
4) What is the biggest personal finance lesson you learned the hard way?
Wow, good question. Maybe it's that, just like small savings add up over time, so does small spending. When I was in debt, there were a couple of big things I spent on, but most of it was small like a CD bought here and there. Over time, that spending adds up. And when that spending is done on a credit card that you aren't paying off every month, you are adding interest as well. It's easy to find yourself drowning in debt from consistent, small drops.
5) Outside of blogging, what has been the biggest change you made to your financial life that made a difference? (i.e. making more money, frugal changes, budgeting, investing)
Consciousness. Knowing where my money was going and realizing how much I could actually spend. I think most personal finance issues aren't simply a case of not having enough money. People with six-figure salaries goes broke, even millionaires. I think it's when we aren't conscious of our money and what we spend on and why that we get into financial trouble. You need to respect your money and be accountable for your financial actions. I see so many people pretend that things will just turn out ok but they aren't willing to be responsible and realize what their financial situation is.
When I started making changes to my finances, it's because I told myself things had to change. No one was going to make that change for me.