[My Investor & Entrepreneur Profile Series features big ideas, questions, and answers from fellow entrepreneurs and investors. I hope you find these people as fun, interesting, and helpful as I have.]
I’m thrilled to bring you a new guest expert interview this week. It’s going to be fun.
My guest is a man who goes by J. Money. He sports a mohawk, loves hip hop music, and has tried 40 different jobs during the course of his lifetime, including being a graphic designer, an airline ticket agent, a dishwasher, and an Old Navy associate, just to name a few.
J. Money is a pseudonym that allows him to be extremely candid about his personal finances on his blog called Budgets Are Sexy. He began the blog in 2008 with a net worth of $58,769, and today he has a net worth of over $440,000. And he shares every detail of his journey towards the Million Dollar Club (i.e. “a Milly”).
I met Jay at a financial blogger conference last year, and I was swept away by his fun, light-hearted, yet extremely helpful and intelligent approach to personal finance. He’s on a mission to help people with their money by making it not so boring (i.e. more sexy), and he does it with fun money experiments, candid writing, and a rock star personality.
Want some more fun, random facts about J. Money?
- Drives a “Franken-Caddy” around D.C where he lives
- Founder of International Be Proud of Your Money Day (October 19th)
- Collects coins
- Makes ridiculous websites when he’s bored:
I love that Jay is enthusiastic about mastering his finances, but I love even more that he’s enthusiastic about enjoying life now. We both agree that frugality and investing don’t have to bring temporary misery for eventual happiness some day. You can make smart financial moves AND have a blast right now!
Now, THAT is sexy!
Jay took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for me about money, life, and business. I think you’ll enjoy his thoughts below.
Money & Wealth Building
What does retirement or financial independence mean to you?
The freedom to do whatever the hell I want! Which, quite frankly, would be pretty much the stuff I already do just without the worry/thinking about money all the time 😉 I’d also stop doing stuff purely for money too and focus all my energy on spreading the good word in a more streamlined way…
How has financial success changed your life? What hasn’t changed?
I wouldn’t say I’m “successful” just yet, but I am a lot better off than I was 8 years ago before I got so into personal finance and the blogging world. The biggest changes I’ve noticed is never wondering anymore if I have the money to do something (I always do – whether I actually spend it on that something or not) and really just knowing where all my money is at any given point in time. I’m a firm believer of tracking net worth every month which has really kept me on track, and even more so motivated. By far one of the best things anyone can do with their finances!
What is your #1 investing tip for long-term safety and growth?
I’m a total Vanguard fanboy and literally have all my retirement money in a single total market index fund – VTSAX. I can’t tell you if it’s the best for everyone as I don’t know their situations/personalities, nor am I an investing expert (you might even think I’m an idiot for putting all my $$$ into a single fund!), but I can say for me it’s been a Godsend since I stumbled across this strategy. Which I got from the early retirement blogging crew (they all swear by Vanguard and indexing and they’re all very much retired in their 30’s or at least *can be* if they choose to at any given point). I love that I don’t ever have to think about it anymore, and even more so that I hardly pay any expense fees in order to be invested in tiny pieces across the entire stock market. While others might not be cool with getting an average rate of return on their money, I’ve long since retired the notion that I’m smart enough (or care enough) to spend the time trying to beat the market year after year after year. If “experts” can’t even do it, why do we always think we can?
Do you invest in real estate? If yes, why? If no, why not?
Hah – no. I agree it’s a killer way to build up wealth over time, but it just doesn’t match with my personality/interests at all. I don’t like all the responsibility that comes with it, so I prefer to stick to my index funds and choose that as my mechanism to reach independence one day. I can’t even stand owning a personal house anymore and so we just this year got rid of that! I feel like a teenage boy again with all the freedom in the world 🙂
If you invest in real estate, what’s your favorite niche or niches? For rentals do you manage yourself or hire a 3rd party?
If you had to start over and wanted to become financially independent, what’s the most important thing you would focus on?
Expenses. It took me way too many years to realize that the less you spend the less you *need* to retire on later, so if I could go back in time I would have learned out to spend a helluva lot less but still have a pretty kick-ass lifestyle as I feel like I do right now. It’s amazing the amount of fun and joy you can get without spending a penny, yet so many people are just lighting their cash on fire hoarding tons of stuff as if it were the only way! I like my fancy phone and TV as much as the next guy, but man. We gotta get better at being more conscious of the way we handle our money as a society. It’s getting out of hand!
Do you have any tools that help you manage your life, like a physical planner or digital software?
I keep a journal that I write in almost every day. I jot down dreams/goals/daily things that bring me joy into it and seems to do the trick 🙂
What does a typical morning routine look like for you?
Well, the past 6 months or so I’ve taken on a new challenge of waking up at 5 am a la Benjamin Franklin’s schedule! I had seen it passed around on Twitter a while back and thought it was a worthy idea to go after. 6 months in I can assuredly tell you that I get a LOT more productive time into my days than I was before hand. It’s amazing how just swapping the hours you work – even though they’re the same hours – can make a difference in your projects/life. It’s so peaceful in the morning, so I use it for both personal reflection as well as getting a good jump on the day while most of the world is sleeping. Was hard to go to bed earlier to make up for it (I’m typically a night person) but so far well worth the trade-off.
What’s your #1 habit to stay personally productive and fully engaged in life?
My kids 🙂 Never did I realize just how precious time is until they came into my lives. I swore from the second the first one was born (I have two: 3 and 1/2 year old and 1 and 1/2 year old – both boys) that I’d stop being a workaholic and make sure to BE ALIVE more. And since they take up so much time to care for, it forces me to pay attention more and shut down the laptop – hah!
Who have been your most important heroes, mentors, or teachers?
I’d say it’s the personal finance community online as a whole that’s really opened my eyes to a new way of living and pushes me to grow – and challenge the norm – more. Particularly the F.I.R.E. crew. The idea that you don’t have to work for 40-50 years if you dont’ want to just by paying attention to your lifestyle/money NOW was just mind-blowing when I first came across it. And while none of the “how to’s” are all that secret (even a kid could understand it!), it’s the positivity and all the stories people are sharing that really motivate me to keep on going and continue trying to get more out of life. They’re really like a 2nd family.
What are your favorite books or authors? In the business, investing, or real estate categories? In the life and philosophy categories (other than a sacred book)?
I’m big into minimalism these days, so I’ve been following a lot of the words from people like Joshua Becker, The Minimalists, and my new favorite – Bea Johnson. Oh, also James Altucher – as crazy as he is. All these guys are incredibly inspiring, and again something I wish I had paid attention to more in my youth.
If you’re looking for more financial recommendations, I’d go with The Millionaire Next Door book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and then anything by David Bach. Those guys are dope.
What advice do you have for a young person just considering their future career and life as an adult?
That RIGHT NOW you can do anything and everything you want! There’s no career/marriage/kids/stuck’
What legacy do you want to leave personally and in your career?
Oddly enough I literally think about this every single day right now. I think because of my kids and realizing how precious time is as well as how fast it can be taken from us. Right now I’m leaning towards getting back into the philanthropic game and finding away to harness all my online skills/community/network to do something big – and faster – than anything we could do ourselves. We ran a project over 5 years ago doing exactly that called Love Drop, and I envision a much bigger – more exciting – version of that continue to do even more good than we did back then. And I think we can do it 🙂
What hobbies do you enjoy?
Walking, beer, hanging out with my kids 🙂 Oh, also coin collecting.
What do you do for exercise?
I cheat and do this 7 minute “scientific” workout that the NY Times popularized. I’ve done it every work day for the past two months now and it’s amazing how fit I’m becoming! And there are tons of videos on Youtube that help you do this in a much more fun way too. I particularly work out with this one blaring in the background: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
If you could travel anywhere in the world or get to do any experience, what would it be?
Funny you should mention that. I just started on my 100 Things list and the first places I mention are 1) Colorado Springs (to see the Money Museum), 2) The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren, Belgium (to drink the world’s “best” beer!), 3) Manchester UK and Dublin Ireland to visit some online friends, and then 4) and my personal favorite – just hopping on the next flight out and seeing where it takes me 🙂 I aim to accomplish that one within the next year or so.
What is your business all about? What valuable service or product do you provide?
I run a handful of projects online (BudgetsAreSexy.com, RockstarFinance.com, TheMoneyShow.co) as well as some consulting, but I look at them all as really 50% hobbies and 50% businesses. They’re all projects to help people manage their $$$ better and I get paid via advertising/patnerships, but to me it’s all about immersing myself into a community I love and believe in, and even more so the *lifestyle* I want to be living. If I were all about the money I’d do things a lot differently online but I’d be bored to tears!
Do you have big plans for your business? If so, what are they?
I tend to just go with the flow and work on stuff that excites me at the time. That’s not the best strategy for business per se, but it is in enjoying your work on a daily level 🙂 Right now I’m focused on our new podcast we just launched –M.O.N.E.Y. – but next month it could be something totally different. That’s one of the perks of not having a boss – you can choose what you want to do!
I hope you enjoyed this interview with J. Money from budgetsaresexy.com. I know I did!
What were your favorite ideas, lessons, or stories from J. Money? How do you personally make money and investing fun? What motivates you to save money, invest, and work towards financial independence? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Enthusiastically your Coach,
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