Category Archives: Interview

Interview Series: Free From Broke

Today’s interview is with one of my favorite bloggers, Free From Broke. He is a frequent commenter and has been an active member of the Yakezie. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to get to know you better!

What was first personal finance memory?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I don’t know if I can recall my first personal finance memory but I do recall the feeling I got when I first started to earn money at a part-time job. It was very liberating knowing that what I bought with that money was truly mine and was earned through my hard work.

What is the most important personal finance lesson you have learned?

You have to keep learning! I could easily say “save more than you spend” or “don’t go into credit card debt” but really continuing to learn encompasses all of that. Personal finance doesn’t end. The more you seek the more you find and the better educated you are the more financially secure you will be.

What’s the most frustrating personal finance experience you’ve had?

Probably dealing with my credit card debt. Not that any particular company was a pain, it was just getting my head around what the credit card terms really meant and how it affected my balances. For instance, I tried to do the right thing and call up a credit card company to have my interest rate lowered. It worked but I didn’t realize I was still paying a higher interest rate on my older balances. The new Credit Card Act should help consumers not go through growing pains like that.

What is the worst purchase you’ve ever made?

You know, I wasn’t one who went out and bought a lot of big, expensive items. My debt grew little by little on things like music CD’s (remember those?). If I had to pick something it would be more of category – Music equipment. I spent a lot on various instruments and such at times when I really had no right spending the money. At least I still have the stuff so the purchases aren’t as bad now as they were back when I made them (to give you an example I spent about $1100 on a bass once).

If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?

Haha, “Dude, there will be this company called Google, yeah silly name…save up and put everything into their IPO!”

There would be so much I could say really: Focus on school, put money aside for emergencies, enroll in your 401(k) as soon as you can, quit watching so much TV, put your all into your passions… But really, no regrets. I am where I am now and can only move forward.

What are your thoughts on negotiation?

Sometimes the best negotiation is just asking. Maybe the thing I saved the most on was my first car. I made sure to do my research and homework thoroughly and in the end I got a great price! A big part of negotiation can be done before-hand by knowing as much as possible about the product and its price.

What are your two favorite posts?

One of my favorites, and a popular one as well is 25 Traits of the Not So Well To Do. It basically lists out 25 reasons why people won’t accumulate wealth. The article seems to hit some people where it hurts as the article has over 100 comments.

Another favorite is How I Love Thee ING, Let Me Count The Ways. I’ve had an account with ING Direct going back to 2003. Seeing how my interest can actually add up and being able to save my money in their accounts really helped me see the importance of savings.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions!

Interview Series: Little House in the Valley

This is a guest post from Little House in the Valley, who is currently working toward owning her own little house in the valley. On her journey toward home ownership, she is learning to be financial savvy through budgeting her money and living frugally. With each new savings tip or idea, she shares how she accomplished her goal.

You cover a ton of personal finance topics in your blog: Which is your favorite to write about?

You’re right, I do jump around and write about many different topics all tying into personal finance. However, I think my favorite topic on personal finance is small home plans. I love researching different economical and environmentally friendly designs. There are so many online resources for small home plans, I enjoy sharing them with my readers.

What’s the most frustrating personal finance experience you’d had?

Currently, the most frustrating personal finance experience I’m having is not saving as much money towards a down payment as I would like. Between my husband and myself, our income is slightly erratic, making it a little difficult to stick to a budget. For instance, I had a budget all planned out at the beginning of this year based on the income we steadily made the last two years. This year (though we are only one quarter into the new year), our income has drastically dipped. We are able to keep up with our monthly bills, but my savings account is suffering!

What is the most important personal finance lesson you have learned?

Don’t rack up debt! It drains your ability to save money. Instead of putting nice chunks of money away towards a savings account, you end up just paying a very wealthy bank finance charges. Whenever I look at an amortization chart, I cringe. We have paid off all of our credit cards, but we are still paying off a line of credit at an enormous interest rate, and a car loan. I try not to think about how much money I’ve paid these two institution in finance charges.

What was your first personal finance memory?

As a child, my parents pounded in the idea of not borrowing money (I have to say I lost this when I hit my 20’s). My very first experience with this idea was when a friend asked me to go skating with them. The entrance fee was really low, but I didn’t have it (I was about 13 years old). I had it all planned out; I’d borrow the money from my friend and pay her back at a later date. She agreed to this plan and she and her mom drove to my house to pick me up. As soon as they arrived, my stepfather (knowing I didn’t have the money) told me I couldn’t go. That was the end of that. I was mortified. I spent the first few years of my adult life using only cash.

If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?

It’s never to early to start saving for retirement. I’m so far behind. I think that the idea of immortality when you’re young inhibits people from thinking about their future. There’s this rose-colored lens over everything, including fulfilling your dreams. Then, you hit your mid-to-late 30’s and realize you don’t have as much time as you thought, 50 or 60 is just around the corner. One of my goals this year is to get serious about retirement planning.

What are your two favorite posts?

I think my two favorite posts of my own are Selling the American Dream and Small House Plans I Adore. They both focus on home ownership, a running theme throughout my blog, and focus on the idea that small houses can be a great deviation from the McMansions that boomed during the housing rush.

Interview Series: Eliminate the Muda

Today’s interviewee is Lean Life Coach from Eliminate the Muda. I can’t seem to get enough of his writing and he’s a consistent commenter on the site. Enjoy his fantastic interview:

What the heck is Muda? Muda is a Japanese word for waste. However as many things in the Japanese culture this seemingly simple word has a very deep and complex meaning in the context with which I teach it. Muda refers to any action, expense or effort that adds no value. The concept was popularized with a well known business management philosophy generically called Lean Management. In essence and properly applied it is a way of business that focuses on the customer first. Delivering the greatest value in products or services at the lowest price possible. In business this means eliminating the unnecessary. If you have ever worked for a company, any company big or small you have seen waste in many forms. Lean empowers and teaches employees how to identify and eliminate them.

In one’s personal life these same principles can be applied. For example, as the resident weekend breakfast maker in our house, I took a 40 minute process cooking pancakes and bacon a few years ago to a 20 minute process today. My wife teased me saying this was a silly example. But think about this, 20 minutes saved two days a week for 52 weeks a year times say 25 years gives me an extra 36 day of life to do what I please. It also manifests itself in money, not only does more time represent more opportunity to earn or save, but these principles guide sound spending habits.

What is the most important personal finance lesson you have learned? You thought I left you hanging on that last question? The most valuable personal finance lesson I learned was the value of money and how to make sound judgments when spending. For many years my wife was not my partner in finance. Until that is I shared with her my most important lesson: The value of savings.

In a nutshell it is this, your savings are worth more than any other money you have. Assume I have a 5% savings rate. This means out of every one hundred dollar I earn, ninety-five is spent on bills and discretionary items. Let’s say this 5% represents $1,000 meaning I earned just $20,000 per year. Furthermore lets say that I made a bad choice and blew $50 on a pair of rockin new shoes that I wanted (but didn’t need). That $50 comes from my savings, right. So if after bringing the shoes home I have remorse and want to recover the wasted money. How much extra do I need to earn?

If 95% of all earnings are already spoken for than only $5 of every hundred can be used to make up my savings shortfall. To recover $100 lost I must earn $2,000 additional dollars. I need a 10% increase of income to cover a stupid $50 purchase! How’s that for a different perspective?

What was first personal finance memory?

My earliest personal finance memory was in the second grade. I had a spare Cox airplane engine and no plane for it to go on. A friend at school learned of it and offered to buy it from my. Hey, what the heck it was doing me not good. So I brought it to school and took $10 in payment. It took about 30 seconds for us both to end up in the principles office and another thirty for my Mother to show up. I was punished for being a capitalist was all I could think of at the time.

Why did you join the Yakezie group?

I’d use golf as an analogy. they say when you play with a group that is better than yourself, you play better. Until just a few weeks ago I paid little attention to any performance metrics for my blog. My only focus has been on sharing my perspective, learning the technology, and working on improving my writing skills. The group is filled with some amazing writers, a tremendous amount of talent, and a wide array of skills. When the challenge was launched I saw it as another path for continuous improvement.

If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing (about personal finance or not), what would it be?

Don’t I wish! I would tell my 20 year old self the same thing I’ve been telling my kids since they were toddlers. “Always save twenty percent!”

Which is your favorite post? Why?

This is a tough choice. There are two that compete. Combat the Closing Techniques – The Puppy Dog Close was the first in a series I am working on to educate my readers on how to deal with salespeople. While I’ve really enjoyed researching and writing this series I am especially proud of this one because it was a Best of Money Carnival editors pick.

As a hobby I am a woodworker building furniture and turning bowls. Another post that means a lot personally is The Value of DIY is Greater Than Just Savings. This one was really enjoyable because I was able to share some amazing work by three fellow bloggers.

What motivates you to keep writing?

Professionally I teach many of the same principles of Lean that I share in my blog for personal use. There is tremendous personal reward every time one of my clients benefits by learning and applying these ideas. Blogging leaves me a little more disconnected than when I am consulting but What motivates me is the thought that I can make a difference in somebody else’s life.

Daily Yakezie Short Carnival:

Coupon Strategies – Establishing a Workable Coupon System @ Not Made of Money