Interview with J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy

j. money


I have a very special treat for my readers this Monday evening.  One of the most  successful  personal finance bloggers over at allowed me to interview him.  His name is J. Money and has a passion for personal finance but likes to spice things up a bit at the same time.  So, please enjoy the following interview and head over to his blog if you haven’t already!

1- J. Money, thanks for this awesome interview opportunity. You’re known for running a pretty great blog over at Budgets are Sexy. How did you get started in personal finance blogging?

Thanks dude 🙂 Oh man, I got started when I bought a house w/ my wife 4 years ago and realized we didn’t know what the heck we were getting into! I started Googling for budget and mortgage help, and kept coming across all these sites that didn’t look like real❠websites, haha⦠After a few months of hanging out on these blogs,❠I realized I could put my own thoughts out there too and maybe add a different perspective to the PF world. So 2 weeks later I launched Budgets Are Sexy (originally titled Savings Are Sexy❠but it was taken!) and wrote my first blog post. Who knew I’d get addicted?


2-What are your favorite personal finance topics to write about?

Pretty much whatever pops into my brain at the time, to be honest with you. I don’t know If I have a favorite❠per se. I like talking about beer and lottery tickets though 😉 Oh! And also Net Worth â“ that would probably be my fave⦠I pretty much stick to anything that’s positive and just FUN to read about. I have major A.D.D. and I get bored easily. So if the topic at hand doesn’t interest me, there’s no way in hell I’ll be able to blog about it (I’m not good at how to❠articles for example, cuz they’re just not exciting to me). I’m very much into the personal❠side of personal finance.


3-How do you manage your time and run your blog? What type of balance do you have in your day to day life?

Very badly. I work about 75% of the day, and I have trouble eating properly and taking breaks 😉 Luckily I LOVE everything there is about blogging, but I definitely haven’t learned how to pace myself or get into a consistent habit yet. Though I’m currently on day #9 of waking up early, and without hitting the snooze button! That hasn’t happened since I was in high school 😉 If anyone wants to get better at it too, I highly recommend this article by Steve Pavlina: How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off.


4-Give us your top two posts you’ve ever written. What were the goals of those articles, and why were they so popular?

1) I got fired. By far my most popular, and favorite (by me). I think it was the first time I really realized the power of words and storytelling. I remember sitting there for 4 straight hours trying to get my thoughts out properly, but it was the first time of my blogging life that I realized I’m a true writer. And I hate writing, so it was a big light bulb moment for me 🙂 I think people related to it cuz I was as raw as I could have been that day, and everyone realized from that point forward I went from side blogger to full-time. That was an amazing time in my life, and I think about it almost every day (it’s only been 8 months now, but I can remember it like yesterday!)

2) Are Protandim Pills a Scam? This is the first post in 3+ years that continue to get comments regularly. I think because there’s such a heated debate about it right now, and people are constantly researching and trying to determine all the time if it’s all really a scam or not. And actually, this is a guest post 😉 Oddly enough most of my most circulated articles are guest posts! I think because the other bloggers research and really teach my audience something I don’t do very well. I applaud all of them for how they do that, and I think that’s what makes our whole niche awesome. There are story tellers on all sides of the equation.


5-What advice would you give to a new blogger?

ALWAYS BE YOURSELF!! I can’t stress that enough. It is SO easy to compare yourself to others out there, or change the way you’re doing things cuz you think it’s the right❠way to do things, but the whole beauty of blogging is that it’s our *personal* views on the subject! That’s very very important, and the reason why your readers come back time and time again. And even for me this is hard sometimes. Every now and then I don’t think I’m doing as well as so-and-so blogger, and I start writing like them or doing something else they’re doing, and I get called out on it fast 😉 People can tell when you stray from your own entity. That’s not to say you can’t test things, or take some risks here and there â“ you HAVE to do that â“ but just that in general it’s always best to be yourself, and remain focused. There are a lot of other tactical things you can do to market yourself, and get picked up by search engines, etc etc, but I don’t think any of that really matters unless you connect w/ an audience. So just keep being YOU!


6-What were some of the best and worst financial decisions you’ve ever made?

Worst: Buying a house. It’s just not for me. Sure I save money not renting, and I have a butt-ton of mortgage interest I can write off every year, but emotionally it’s just not a good fit with me. I feel trapped, and now w/ the economy I can’t easily get out. I think something that people have to really realize is that our emotions play a HUGE role in all our major financial decisions. Just because something makes sense down on paper, or everyone else is doing it (or praising it – The American Dream!â), it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for YOU. Always do your best to keep that in mind.

Best: Maxing out my 401(k) every year. I can’t tell you how AWESOME that makes you feel (and how FAST it adds up over time!). Even if you did nothing else at all â“ no more savings, paying off debt, etc etc â“ you’d have thousands â“ and eventually millions â“ of dollars saved up over time. It really is incredible. Yes it’s hard (it comes out to over $1,000 a month!) but if you can pull it off, you’d be sitting pretty for the rest of your lives. And if that’s too much for you, or you don’t have an option to invest in 401(k)s, try going for a maxed out IRA every year which is only $5,000. That’s a great starting point for anyone trying to really rock it. And by the way, back to the 401(k) stuff real quick â“ if your employer matches even just *anything* you’re now getting that free money added in on top of everything your putting in yourself. It’s all rather amazing!


7-If you wish you knew one financial tip when you were 18, what would it be?

That living paycheck to paycheck isn’t smart. I think everyone inherently *knows* that, but usually we don’t accept it until we’re older and/or set in our stubborn ways. The advantage we all have while we’re young is that of TIME. Time to save, compound, invest, pay debt, lower our lifestyle costs, etc etc. The sooner we allow ourselves to do that, the more power we have in the form of time and letting our actions play out. I was always good at zero’ing out my paycheck w/ my expenses, but you can’t live that way forever. Eventually you need to start saving/earning more than you’re spending, and enough to really cover yourself for all emergencies and retirement down the road. A lot easier NOW to realize this, but back when you’re 18 all you really care about are chicks and having fun 😉 I don’t know if anyone could have changed my mindset back thenâ¦


8-What are some of your favorite tools for budgeting and tracking spending patterns.

I track everything via google docs (the excel-like kind), and my USAA account. It’s crazy, and I don’t recommend it for everyone, but I’ve slowly xfered all of my accounts under one main financial roof. I have over 16 accounts w/ USAA now, and it makes it a TON easier to track and manage. I now have 1 main site to check every morning (because I’m addicted and a financial nerd, so I have to see what’s going on in there every day!), and then I only have 1 spot to manually enter my numbers. Most people are fine with or other equally as sexy (and free!) budgeting tools, but for me I need to manually do things so it sticks❠more. And really it only takes 15 mins a week for me to update the numbers and track my progress, so it’s not all too bad anyways. My brother used to write everything down on paper every month, which to me is just insane 🙂 But if it works, keep going with it!

(btw, here are my all-time favorite budget templates I’ve collected over the years â“ including the one I use!)


9-If you could teach a college course for one week, what would you teach to the students?

That smart financial planning opens up a TON of opportunities down the road. And that it really is easy as shit. (I’d curse all the time on purpose in my class, so students feel comfortable and know I’m one of themâ). I think kids are just bored to death with this stuff, and really don’t understand (or care) how it affects them down the line. They’ve got friends and parties and who knows what else on their mind, so if you don’t capture their attention and make it INTERESTING to them, it doesn’t matter what you’re teaching. They’ll do enough to get a good grade and move on, but then it’s out their heads and onto another class that excites them more. So I’d teach them about all the things financial freedom can bring: travel, perfect lifestyle, working a job because you CARE instead of for the money, and doing whatever hobbies you want forever because you’ve laid the foundation of a financially sexy game plan. It wouldn’t be easy, but it can be done. (it’s a shame I don’t like public speaking! Hahaâ¦)


10-What is in your wallet?

LOVE this question! I’ll tell you exactly (and I use a money clip, not a wallet):

– Driver’s license
– $31 in cash (3 tens and 1 one. Cash is VERY important to me, you always need to carry some on you just in case!)
– Mastercard #1 â“ For my personal❠stuff – anything non-household related
– Mastercard #2 – For our house❠stuff â“ anything home or family related
– Personal debit card â“ Only used to get cash out of the ATMs (I take out $200 every month for random expenditures)
– Amex – For all business expenses
– Starbucks gold card. Haha⦠yeah⦠ummâ¦. no excuses here 😉 (okay, I lied â“ you get a lot of discounts with that bad boy! I swear!)


Thanks J. Money!