Beating Broke Interview

beating brokeIf it feels like there have been more interview posts than usual, well it’s true!  I’ve had the chance to interview some awesome bloggers and I plan on keeping this up as you have shown great interest in hearing from other people in the personal finance industry.

My next interview subject is Beating Broke.  Talk about a cool site!  Both Beating Broke and I are part of an elite group of PF bloggers over at Yakezie.  We have helped each other grow and plan to keep it up in the years to come.  Also, be sure to check out his guide “Your Credit Score” which breaks down credit scores in a “no-nonsense” format.

Enjoy the interview and a big thanks goes out to Beating Broke!

1- How did you get started with Beating Broke? Do you run any other websites?

To really tell the full story, I have to go back a few years before Beating Broke was founded. I started blogging way back in 2005. It was an instant addiction for me. A way to write, and be heard by hundreds (O.K. maybe tens) of people a day. Shortly after I started blogging, I discovered Dave Ramsey, and started a personal finance blog. I ran that blog for a little over a year before deciding that I had lost interest and selling it. About a year later, I discovered that I hadn’t really lost interest, so I started a new personal finance blog, Beating Broke. I’ve always wanted Beating Broke to be about my journey to save money, eliminate debt, and live a better personal finance life. Writing about the topics helps me to learn more about them, and also to find new ways to become a better financial steward.

I do run other websites. At the moment, I think my total portfolio of sites is at about 10-15 active sites, although none of them is as popular as Beating Broke is.


2- What’s the single worst financial mistake you’ve made?

I only get one? There are several that are really, really close. I think, though, that I would have to say that getting a credit card as a freshman in college and then using it in a terrible manner was probably the start of my financial troubles early on. Call it the gateway debt to mountains of other debt, if you will. Seriously, if you are getting ready to go into college, or have kids that are, you can’t spend enough time learning/teaching about responsible debt usage.


3- Do you have any long term financial goals?

Absolutely! They are necessary. How else will you know if you’re getting ahead? Unlike the Joneses next door, though, they have nothing to do with buying a Benz, or a McMansion. Living a responsible financial life is always a goal. But, I also have goals that are a little more easily quantified. Paying off all of my non-mortgage debt is the big one, and has been for a while, but we’re getting closer than we’ve ever been. Of course, if any of your readers follow my blog (they should!), they’ll know that I recently quit my job, so that goal is in a bit of a holding pattern while we weather the storm that created in our finances. I always have the goal to learn more about my finances. When I was younger, I knew very little past how to balance a check book, so I had a long way to go. I think I’ve done well and learned quite a bit, but I know there is a long way to go for that one as well.


4- If someone asked you how to invest for early retirement, what would you say?

First, let me say that Investment is one of the topics that I still have a lot to learn about. That being said, early retirement means different things for different people. How active do you plan on being during your early retirement? Do you plan on earning money from hobbies, or living off of your retirement savings? Retiring early is a fun idea, but the earlier you retire, the more you’ll need to support your lifestyle without major changes. If early retirement is in your future, I suggest you work like heck to earn as much as you can now, and put away as much of it as you can. My current thoughts are to invest the money into divident aristocrat stocks (stocks that have increased dividends year after year), and also to look into some alternative investment methods, like peer-to-peer lending. I’m an aggressive investor with a high risk tolerance, but, know what your risk tolerance is and make sure that you’re investments reflect that.


5- What are examples of your best posts on Beating Broke?

My current favorite, although I don’t know that it really is one of my best posts, is the post where I announced that I quit my job. I’m also fond of the post (and resulting series) about when my wife quit her job. The first, because it was something that I needed to do, and overcame the fear to do it. The second, because the series shows some of the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. My all time favorite post is Breaking up with Debt. It was a fun post to write, and put a lighter spin on the struggle that we all have with debt. And, finally, one of the best posts I’ve written is Want to save Money? Eliminate some Needs, because it really focuses on one of the biggest issues that many of us face, wants vs. needs.


6- What do you like to do outside of personal finance blogging?

I’m a geek at heart, so I like to play with computers. I also like to read quite a bit (about 35-40 books a year) and even dabble a bit in writing my own fiction occasionally when I get a break from writing for my sites. I’ve got two kids and a dog, so most of my nice weather time is spent out in the yard playing with them, and most of my winter time is spent indoors wishing it was nice so they could go outside. 😉 Spending time with family is (and should be) top priority.


7- Any pleasant surprises since you’ve started blogging?

One of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had is the reception that some of my writing has received. It’s one thing to write a blog and publish it to the world, but quite an entirely different thing to have people read and react to that writing. I have some great readers! I’ve also been surprised by the number of fellow bloggers that have become friends and the amount of support that they give to each other.


8- What are some common mistakes you’re seeing Americans make these days?

Debt. We’ve become a commercial society. We base our social statuses on what we own, or how much we make. Far too often, we run up debt just to try and climb that social ladder, only to have it come crashing down around us when we lose our job, or have a financial emergency. We stopped working for what we want and buy it all on credit. It’s a toxic mix, and if we want our economy to recover, we’ve got to stop it.


9- What is the most effective way to pay off debts?

First, stop adding more debt to the pile. The one step forward, two steps back method of debt that many use, just isn’t working. Second, find ways to make or save more money. Get aggressive about paying it off, and you’ll find that it disappears faster than you think it will. And, once it’s gone, you’ll find that you have far more money to spend on things that you truly enjoy than you’ve ever had before. One small tip that’s related to that, add up all the monthly debt payments you make. What would you do if you had that much money to do what you wanted with each month? Many will find that they could have $500 or more a month to spend. That’s not chump change, folks!


10- What’s in your wallet right now?

Oh my. I can’t begin to list it all. It’d be longer than the rest of this interview. I’m a bit of a pack rat, so there’s tons of receipts, deposit slips, and the like in there. I’ve got my debit card, a personal credit card for emergency situations, a business debit card, and business credit card, a couple of pictures of the kids, and two undeposited checks. Oh, and insurance cards, and a tiny bit of cash just in case I find myself someplace that doesn’t take debit cards.