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Budgets Really ARE Sexy! with J. Money

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast
61 min read
Budgets Really ARE Sexy! with J. Money

J. Money wasn’t necessarily BAD with money, but his first home purchase—made because everyone else was doing it—prompted him to seek out advice about money.

He stumbled upon the blogging world and was enthralled with the transparency. Here were real people talking about real issues they were facing—similar to what he was going through himself.

He started his own blog called Budgets Are Sexy and soon was approached by someone who wanted to buy an ad on the site. A new source of income generation!

His blog success brought attention from national news sites, and traffic grew exponentially once they started sharing his articles. But as traffic grew, so did his time commitment.

As he became more entrenched in the blogging space, he discovered that people buy and sell blogs—so he started flipping websites—another source of income generation.

When it came time to choose between his full-time job and his side hustle, he discovered the decision was made for him when he was called into his manager’s office and let go. (The company later went out of business.)

Thrust into entrepreneurship, J. buckled down with his spending and discovered that budgets really ARE sexy, and they can be the key to your financial success.

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Mindy: Welcome to the BiggerPockets money podcast show number 103 where we interview Jay Money for budgets that are sexy and we get his story of financial independence.

Scott: Just being conscious of what you’re doing and same with their money, right? Like why am I spending my money, am I glad this money’s going to the spa? You know, it’s a really simple question. Everyone knows how to save. It’s not that complicated or hard, it’s just hard to do it. It’s hard to not spend when you want to spend.

Mindy: Hello. Hello. Hello. My name is Mindy Jensen and with me, as always is my amazing cohost, Scott Trench. Scott and I are here to show you that wherever you are in your journey, you can begin rapidly moving towards a position of financial freedom, capable of generating a great income, saving a huge percentage of that income, and setting yourself up to make larger and larger investments.

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Mindy: Okay, huge thanks to the sponsor of today’s show, Jay. Money from budgets are sexy. Welcome to the BiggerPockets money podcast. I’m so excited to have you on the show. It has been quite the ordeal lining up our schedules, but I’m so glad it finally worked out. Welcome. Welcome, welcome.

J. Money: Good. It feels good to be here. I enjoy being on the side of the podcast first year aside so I commend you guys,

Mindy: Well, so we want to know where your money story begins, but I want to first start off and say, have you been blogging since 2008?

J. Money: Yeah, I’m an old man. It’s literally almost a fourth of my life. 11 years. Isn’t that crazy?

Mindy: Wow. You’re 44?

J. Money: I’m 39 but I feel like I’m 40 something. So yes [crosstalk 00:05:01] it’s a big difference.

Mindy: Okay. So yeah, 40 is a big hurdle. Oh spoiler alert. Hangovers after 40 so much worse. Drink all you can right now. That’s probably not the best financial advice-

Scott: [inaudible 00:05:18] after 28.

Mindy: 28? Yeah. Also also Scott, wait till you hit 30.

Scott: Jay, where does your story with money begin?

J. Money: Well the part that’s the biggest change and what kind of snappy into reality was buying a home at the peak of the market and 2007 actually, which prompted the blog. I didn’t put no money down. I didn’t have a budget. I’ve never been good with money. I was never bad. I was kind of even road. I was just like breaking even all the time. And I bought a house because all my friends were doing it, which is the wrong reason to buy a house. And I realized I needed to learn and I just googled how to budget or something like that.

J. Money: And I came across the blogging world, which was so transparent, and people show like, “Hey, here’s my net worth, here’s my savings, here’s my debt.” Like regular people talking about regular stuff. I loved it. I just connected. I saw I’m going to start my own blog, it’s going to be fun. And I tried to be funny and share my story. And really from documenting it every day for almost 11 years straight, really forced me to be better with money and enjoy money. And that’s where it kind of all began.

Scott: Awesome. So what was the kind of circumstances leading up to your home purchase? What were you doing? We kind of got a very high level picture from it, but could you be more specific and tell us what you were earning, what you were saving?

J. Money: Yeah, so I was probably earning at that time, around 45 or $50,000. I was a customer service director. I had just met a girl who I proposed to. We are engaged, we’re looking to get married, and we actually went to look for a one or two bedroom apartment to rent. I’m a big fan of renting. I really enjoy it. And we actually was looking for a certain place and got lost and turned down the wrong street and found this amazing, dream home for us at that age. It was on a Lake, it was beautiful. And of course there’s the sign call me up if you’re interested in this house. So we totally did just for fun, just to see what happened. And 48 hours later we signed away the biggest purchase of our lives kind of just on a whim really. And again because all of our friends at that time were doing it. And so that’s really kind of what led us there. It was totally accidental really.

Scott: What impact did this have on your financial position in the months or years following it?

J. Money: Yeah. So interestingly, like our salaries combined, I forget what my wife’s was at the time, it was probably around 30 or 40 like we could afford the payments, we weren’t going to be going into debt with it, but I had no idea of the upkeep or the maintenance or the psychological effect it would have. I didn’t really know anything, but because I got into money and stumbled across the financial blog scene, I was really focused in and I started paying attention to everything super fast. So it actually, even though for me, it’s kind of my biggest financial regret, it really opened up my eyes to what is possible and the reasons why you do stuff and don’t. But I ended up selling that house about seven or eight years later, we rented out for a few years and then we sold it and I think we ended up even having to come to the table it’s like 15 or 20 grand. So it was a big loss financially for us and it also catapulted our wealth because we started paying attention, if that makes sense.

Scott: Wow. But yeah, I think this is an awesome starting point on the money journey here. So what were your expenses for living prior to buying the house and what were they following the purchase? Do you have a notion of that?

J. Money: That’s a good question. I have it on my blog somewhere, but yeah, we are probably spending around $2,000 a month at the time and we were in our late twenties, we were going to bars and stuff and didn’t have kids or anything at that point. And then probably I remember our mortgage starting out at around like 2200 and this is right outside the Washington DC area. And then it kind of dropped I think because everything was based on interest rates and they were going lower. And I think we were paying like 16 to 1700 a month just on the house. So I would say it probably upped our expenses by maybe a thousand a month, which at the time because of our lower salaries, it was a huge impact lifestyle wise. And then whenever stuff would break and all that good stuff, which what’s your crowd knows about?

Scott: Yeah, I think this is fascinating. This is a concept that I think a lot of people don’t understand when they purchase a home for the first time is, I mean, I imagine that since you were saying you’re basically break even at the time that you purchased the home. When you incur an extra thousand dollars in effective monthly expenses to upkeep your house, that’s got to have a major impact on your social life. Right. I think the term is house poor. Were you experiencing some of that?

J. Money: Yeah. You’re starting to bring back a little memories now. Yeah. Kind of stored them on the side. Yeah. I mean I totally remember not going out partying as much or trying to convince people to come to my house now and have drinks there and stuff. You know? And again, because there was in our journey of opening up our eyes to finances, I started reading blogs and once I started my blog and even that I didn’t realize what turned into my career and changed my life. That started bringing in some income and I started side hustling with other things. And so I think that kind of quickly rebalanced me and then we started earning more because we started making all these changes in our life. But those first few months I was pretty shocked. I didn’t really think that went through all the way.

Scott: Awesome. So, maybe could you kind of walk us through that journey of the next couple of months of how you were able to earn more money and start building things back up?

J. Money: Yeah, so mainly I started the blog and after a few months had started to really take off, I started getting readers and didn’t really know you could make money online or anything. And then advertisers through email, Hey, can we put an ad in your sidebar. And sidebars were really important back then. I thought, Oh, this is cool. Yeah, I’m doing this for free. And I quickly found out that the more traffic you get, the more money you can make. And I’ve never over monetized it to the point of, I guess that I personally don’t like that kind of kills the community.

J. Money: But I did enough to bring home extra money and then I kind of accidentally stumbled… Once I realized you can make money online, I found out that other blogs, obviously made money and people would be done with blogging after certain times. So they’re like, Hey, like would you want to buy my blog? I thought, man, like you can buy a blog? I’ve never been heard of that. It’s just so crazy. And one thing led to another, I started buying blogs and expanding my advertising network footprint online. And that kind of really snowballed stuff and, and then from there you can do freelance writing all that kind of good stuff.

Scott: That’s good. So could you walk us through the first of these, how does someone begin going after that concept of buying blogs or building income in that manner?

J. Money: Yeah, so back then I don’t think there was really a place like that. Like flipper wasn’t around or if it was, I didn’t know about it. There’s some websites that you can buy sites and blogs for sale, but really it was really about knowing people and tapping your network. Once people found out that I was buying blogs, I got the emailed all the time and I just kind of let it known like, Hey, if you ever want to sell your blog, I’d be interested kind of thing. And with everything is, who you knew, how long you were doing it for.

J. Money: And so over the years I’ve kind of built up my own email list like right now if anyone wanted, I don’t buy blogs anymore, but I help people broker them or I show them how what to watch for, what kind of value stuff. And so people even now could email a nice shoot out a message to everyone, Hey, here’s a blog for sale, here’s some stats on it. And it runs similar to other businesses out there that the general stuff but it was all about networking to be honest with you.

Scott: Oh, okay. Got it.

Mindy: So about buying a blog, I guess, how do you value a blog? Let’s say I want to buy budgets are sexy. I know you just sold it so I can’t.

J. Money: I did. That’s a good example.

Mindy: I want to buy your blog. Do I reach out to you personally? Do I look at like how do I value that? It’s just a website.

J. Money: Yeah. And so it’s like a other businesses, they’re valued on a number of things. Number one being how much the site is making. And usually there’s like a general rule of thumb, at least from everything that I’ve seen, that’s about two to three times your yearly profit of your blog or your site is what they can generally sell for. If the contents crappy or you got lucky or there’s like a big ad deal that kind of skewed in, you lower it. If the content is high, like my blog, like I said, I’ve always monetized, just take, have a nice lifestyle business out of it, but the potential studes to do more if you wanted to. And so potential factors in, community factors in whether the person’s going to stay on, like I still blog there every day. It’ll change if I were to leave the blog.

J. Money: What happens is, the community go away? Do they stay on, does that affect negatively, positively the blog? So all these kinds of factors in, but you know the evaluation of what a site brings home every year is important. And there’s sites that’ll sell for $1,000. I think I used to buy and sell some for three or 400 up to 20, 25000 and then mine, I’m not allowed to say how much technically I got for it because it’s in my NDA or whatever it is, legal stuff. But it was in the low to mid six figures. So that’s… And then there’s some other bloggers in our space that people seen this sold for one to $3 million. So really ranges and it depends on how it’s set up and traffic and all that good stuff.

Mindy: Okay. So let’s say a general basic rule of thumb is two to three times what bringing in initially to get them-

J. Money: Yeah, as a starting base. Yep. Exactly. And you would just email, I mean honestly the best way is if you find a site that you love or like, Oh, I love that site, I think I could take it over or improve it. There’s the wild wild West, the stuff online, there’s no rules or anything. You just emailed them right up or email 10 different ones and just start talking. And I’ll tell you, everyone loves thinking about the idea of selling their sites. So even if they didn’t do it, they will respond to your email. Because it’s exciting as a creator, to have someone that wants to buy your site, it’s an exciting thing.

Mindy: It’s flattering. I think that if you have a blog and somebody offers to buy it, that’s a nice thing to hear but you don’t always have to at the sell it?

J. Money: Yeah, no. Yeah.

Mindy: So your blog is called budgets are sexy. I wouldn’t know where you got that name. Did you create it all by yourself or did you buy into this blog?

J. Money: No, no, no and I’m someone, so I like, I like building and community is always first for me versus the, again the money and everything was kind of secondary and accidental. So I built it from scratch. I wanted to be more productive with my time. I had a couple of hours at work that I was found myself on, like I am in my space before Facebook was really you know Facebook man, I thought there’s got to be a better way to be productive. I’m reading all these blogs. Let’s just start one. Justin Timberlake’s, I’m bringing sexy back, was hot on the radio and I thought, ah yeah, I’m going to bring sexy into this space.

J. Money: Because at the time, there’s a lot of good informational finance bloggers, but there wasn’t many like feisty, fun, young. I want to talk about beer and partying and saving money and just stuff more like a normal person. And I don’t have any background by the way in finance or in online publishing, like none of that stuff. I just went to blogger.com at the time, found a name. Budgets are sexy. I wanted, I liked the contrast of it. Budgets to me gives you confidence and sexiest confidence. So that’s kind of how they’re connected. I just did my best, like I didn’t spell check, I didn’t really think things through. I would write on a topic and I’d end on a totally different topic. You can go through my old and archives are all there and they’re pretty crappy to be honest with you.

J. Money: But it was like a real person talking about real money. And I think the turning point of when it really launched like have places like MSN money, Forbes, some of these bigger sites, they were like, we like your stuff but you don’t capitalize, you curse all the time. Like we want to reshare it and send you traffic, but we can’t. And I remember like, F down, I’m doing it my way, like I don’t care because again, it was just purely for me and for fun. And I wanted to better my own money. But something clicked, I was like, well, can you still have your quote voice? Can you still do what you want to do? But if you change it in one or two things, you stop cursing and you actually like pay attention to grammar like that can catapult your business or your site.

J. Money: And so I made that change. It was a conscious one and as soon I did that, they started taking it and sharing it. And that really kind of jump-started like my traffic multiplied by three or four, like overnight. And that really, so I got more people coming to read it just because I agreed to tweak it a little bit. But with all small businesses you have to decide like what is the main reason for this, is it personal, is it business, because they’re two different things at times.

Scott: What did the kind of profile of income look like over the first couple of months and years while you were doing this? Like was it a linear growth, grow kind of consistently or was it kind of exponential where it grew?

J. Money: Yeah, I wouldn’t say the first few months, I say it took me about six months to make anything. Then I started making like $50 to a hundred dollars a month probably for maybe half a year. Then I think it went to… I think by the end of the first year of actually making money through the first 18 months, I think I was making about $1,500 a month extra. And then when I started buying sites that was because I can get one advertiser in and then use that one and advertise across three or four at the same time. And I’d give them a discount. Hey advertise across my whole empire, you get a break, I get more money.

J. Money: And so then it would, I think at the peak of bringing home money after about three or four years, I want to say it was around five or $6,000 in profit a month, which at that stage of my life, my late twenties early thirties it was a big chunk of money and then I would reinvest in and that’s a whole other how I built to be over $1 million was investing it. And even monetization then versus now, like display ads, AdSense, all this stuff it was big. That’s not as big now.

J. Money: So over the years, the money have come from different spots and there’s certain things that I had to decide to like back then like paid links, sponsored links was super-popular, which Google hated. And if they saw you selling links on your site, like they would ban you from Google, which is obviously big. And so there’s times where you had to decide whether you’re going to accept that or not and how that affects your community and your income. And so you do that as times change over the years.

Scott: Okay, so you buy this house in 2007. And shortly thereafter you start this blog, and it doesn’t make any money in a meaningful sense until six months to a year later where you start making a couple hundred to a thousand bucks a month. How are you handling your personal financial position overall through that time? Are you working the full time job? Are you starting to apply principles? Like what are those changes look like?

J. Money: So, the first year and a half to two years, basically once the blog started taking off, I started spending from a half an hour a day to four or five hours a day because of the email or comments or content, whatever it was, modernization, advertising. So I basically had my full time job and then on top of that I had another four or five hours a day, including weekends. And so at some one point, my wife looked at me, “About a year and a half in the blogging, you have to make a decision. You’re just like hustling. You don’t really have a social life, which one are you going to choose?” And I was like, “Well, there’s no way in hell I can stop the blogging. That’s is so exciting. And I’ve never been an entrepreneur. I didn’t know what that felt like. And I thought, well, if I had to choose one right now, it’d be blogging.”

J. Money: And she said, “Well, you have to at some point quit your job and go for it.” And I decided I’m going to do it. The day I went to to do it was right before Christmas. I actually got called into the office and I got fired on that same day before I actually went in and said, Hey, can I talk to you guys? And they said, “We need to talk to you first.” And they fired me and I said, “All right, I’m a full time blogger.” Kind of made the decision right then and there.

Scott: That’s great. Did they give you severance?

J. Money: Yeah. No. So the company I came to found out was losing money. They never even paid me my last month of salary, no severance. It was a big hoopla and I blogged about on and off, but that was really a jumpstart and then and so-

Scott: What year is that?

J. Money: Yeah, so that’s to the end of 2010 I want to say [crosstalk 00:21:45].

Scott: If you started blogging in 2007, this is two and a half years later?

J. Money: Yeah. Maybe it’s 2009 somewhere around there. Yeah. It wasn’t that much farther when I started the blog. But two things. One, when I started bringing the income from the blog, I realized that I had extra and everything I read was like match out your 401K, match out your 401K. And the company I was working with at the time had this ridiculous matching, 100% matching of 100% you put in up to the legal limit and invest right away. And you can put it in whenever you wanted to. So literally the first like once I caught on, the first three or four months of the year, I would just match output… My contribution to 401K was 90% and like my take home paycheck was like $200 or something small.

J. Money: And I just wanted the 16,000 or whatever, 15,000 at the time in there because then I got the match and so that even, so when I was working I was funneling all in 401k, getting double the money, investing it. And this was when the market had crashed. So everything was like on sale in the investing world. I was buying it super cheap. I got fired, I was a full time blogger and that’s when it really hit me. What an entrepreneur’s life, because A, I lost the whole income. It was all extra and now I had to rely on that money and I wasn’t saving anymore. And I had to pay extra taxes and all this stuff so that I kind of started back again to like saving and stuff because I had to, I didn’t have all the extra money coming in and it felt like starting over with my financial growth, if that makes sense.

Mindy: Oh my God, you got a 100% match? That’s crazy [crosstalk 00:23:23] . And what was the limit? Like you said 15,000 so you could put in 15,000 and they put in, they matched another 15,000 that vested instantly.

J. Money: Yes. Instantly yes.

Mindy: Well first of all, no wonder they were going out of business I think after whatever-

J. Money: Yes that’s was the cost of it. They were bad at managing money. Correct.

Mindy: Awesome for you that you read it and figured it out.

J. Money: Yeah. And I was only one of maybe two or three people. Like literally everyone’s like, it’s not worth it. I have this, I have that. And I’m like, you’re getting, you can double your money, cash out, take the taxes and still come up with like 50% more money but everyone was like Nope, Nope. Can’t afford it. They take the paycheck.

Mindy: Oh my God. That’s, so obviously you were married at this time and you lived off of your wife’s salary. I did a similar thing, although I didn’t have that sweet hundred percent match. I think I had an exact opposite match. 0% so, but I still would max it out at the beginning of the year just to grow it the whole time. Yeah. And I remember my HR person was very confused by that.

Scott: I have a question in the period, I’m trying to get this conceptually figured out, because there’s a point in time at which you kind of aggressively began pursuing basic money management and it sounds like it’s in conjunction with starting this blog. Prior to buying your house. Were you doing this full on matching?

J. Money: No, I had I think 5% whatever. My dad always said, “The one thing you do, put money in your 401K.” And so I had like 3% or five whatever the average people put in. And then once I kind of caught on and read over and over again from the finance, [inaudible 00:24:57] really when I started ramping it up.

Scott: Perfect. So you have, you basically break even on your household spending going into buying this house. You buy the house, you assume these extra expenses, $1,000 ish a month, and you start blogging, but you’re not earning really that much income for that blog in the first year or so. What changes about your lifestyle or your situation or how do you cash flow that situation from that point?

J. Money: Yeah, that’s a great question. So a couple of things. One, I started spending less because I started getting afraid and I might’ve had a few thousand in savings, I can’t remember. It was never more than a few thousand. So I remember feeling somewhat safe, but I was on the border of safe. And so I started, especially once I started reading blogs, I started doing things like one of the first things I did to cut expenses, like I needed to figure out where all my money was going because they didn’t know. I didn’t even have a budget. I didn’t really know. So A, I started literally tracking every single dollar and penny that I spent in a spreadsheet-

Scott: You created a budget?

J. Money: Yeah. I created a budget. In month two budgeting, my first go at it. And then what really kind of like psychologically changed me, some blogger was talking about it no spend month. Oh go man, you’re not let us spend any money except for like food and the bills. So, I did it and I remember I, Oh it’s just going to be so easy. And like it was, the first week was like the hardest of my financial life. Because you don’t realize how like all the habits, you don’t realize how you spend your money until you stop and like consciously think about it. And I found out I was driving to like the mall when I got bored and just to go shopping. Like I would spend two or 300 a month on just like clothes and whatever. I just did it like that was my way to have fun during the day. Like before the bars open. And then [inaudible 00:26:45] is all other stories, right?

Mindy: No, I’m laughing because I’ve met you in real life and-

J. Money: You better be nice.

Mindy: It comes from a place of love that you’re close to not look brand new.

J. Money: That’s right. Well I got into minimalism and so now I don’t have the same number of outfits that I’ve worn for six years straight.

Mindy: You had a post or a tweet or something where you were so proud of the fact that you sewed up this huge hole in your jeans.

J. Money: My ripped jeans, yeah.

Mindy: Yes. And then I saw you at fin con not too long ago and I’m like, Oh, still got those jeans.

J. Money: Probably with like five more patches on it.

Mindy: Yes.

J. Money: Yeah. So the no spend month. And then reading minimalism blogs really like changed my shopping habits and just what I thought was important. I stopped spending on stupid stuff and I started to save it or spend it on stuff that I cared about, if that makes sense.

Scott: Absolutely. And when did that occur, relative to this time of the day?

J. Money: So the no shopping band started right around when I started my blog in 2008. So I started like doing what everyone else was talking about in the blogging. Like I was kind of like the Guinea pig for what the bloggers were talking about. So if someone said do a no spending on month, I would do it if like, Oh, I’ll just pack your spending, I would do, I just started doing all these things I kept reading about. And then it was snowball into another challenge or another, you know?

J. Money: So basically I started spending less because I started paying attention, which alleviated that difference from renting to owning a home. And then by the time the blog started making money, it helped top us over the other. I had the good way.

Scott: Awesome. What was the monthly kind of outflow before and after these exercises give or take?

J. Money: Well, I know that the no spend one is, I calculated that I was saving about 250 a month. Like I realized that’s what I was spending. And so every month forward I would save close $250. I started selling stuff, like go in my house looking for things to sell. Like I did this thing a few years later, but I started then to something called challenge everything where I went through all my bills, everything I was doing and trying to cut back on stuff. So example, like I had an iPhone, I was spending $150 a month for mine and wife’s, I switched to Android on public wireless, got down to like 40 or $50 a month. So I started going through like, what can I do to like have my best lifestyle, but like just do it cheaper. And surprise, there’s a lot of alternatives to everything out there that pretty much gets you 80% of what you want for half the cost or less.

Mindy: Okay. I read that article and that was eye opening and I feel kind of stupid saying that because like I’m in this space, I’ve been in this space only since 2013, not since 2008 so I’m a relative newbie.

J. Money: I remember when you guys came on. Yeah.

Mindy: I’ve been in this space and when I read that blog I’m like, Oh my God, I can question my auto insurance. That was the big one-

J. Money: Oh, yeah that was mine yeah.

Mindy: And like I think literally the next day I was listening to Clark Howard on the way home from work and somebody had called in and they said yes, I’ve been with X insurance company forever. And I noticed that they upped my rates and it was really high. So I called another insurance company and they were like a quarter of what X was charging me. So I called X to cancel and they’re like, Oh well we’ll match it. He’s like, why didn’t you match it in the first place? So they don’t value loyalty. So you should not give them loyalty. Shop, all of these but the insurance was such a big chunk of money that you can just renegotiate every year by going to another company.

J. Money: Yeah. And literally just calling and asking. I remember learning that, but I forgot my first credit cards, I don’t know what the interest rate was but I remember being high and someone saying just call them and ask them to lower it. I was like what? You can’t do that. And were like just try it. And I remember calling, I didn’t get the first time and I asked for a manager and then the manager lowered it for me. It was like three or four points, but I remember thinking like, that’s just crazy. I was like a 10 minute phone call. And you can do that with everything in theory and try it. And some times it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And the thing with loyalty too is most of us too loyal, but we don’t really know why or it’s just habit because like the iPhone, I was spending 150 for probably 10 years or eight years or something.

J. Money: It was just normal. And I remember saying, I’ve written it on my blog when I first started, like, there’s no way in hell you’ll ever pry this film from my hand. It was like everything to me. But then I’m like, well, what does that mean? What about it do you care about? I was like, I needed to call tax, I need pictures, I need internet. And then need is in quotes here, right. I need take pictures, internet, like are there other phones that do this? Like yeah, like every phone now does that. And so it was just like you said… And that was probably the hardest one to do because it’s just so annoying to switch phones, transfer all your contacts somewhere. It’s just annoying.

J. Money: And so a lot of people don’t do it. But that kind of sparked like what else do I do in my life that I just do out of habit and I don’t really care. And maybe at the time, when I got the iPhone it was important to me, which is fine. I have nothing against iPhones, but over time we change as people and our values change and so we have to change our spending and the way we live with it, or else there were like two different versions of each other merged and they don’t really go.

Scott: Absolutely. So you’ve got, you have all this extra housing expense and you’re losing a thousand, $1,500 a month, not losing you’re putting that into your 401k to get the match obviously. And so you’ve got a two or $2,500 coal to make up and it sounds like a big portion of it’s made up through this. Was there any other income coming in from you or your fiance’s work?

J. Money: I get bonuses from work. My fiance started going to grad school shortly after, so we lost that income. The blog started taking off, which lot more I would do side things. Like I had some, a friend that did like events in places and you can help set up tables and stuff for 20 bucks an hour or whatever, $15. So I would do like random side jobs like that. But really my main one was the blog and then really trying to figure out other things. Oh I did freelance writing for FinTech companies. Like when mint.com like they had a blog back in the day, they would hire me to do articles, stuff like that.

J. Money: So there was always ways to make money once I caught on like the world doesn’t operate out of nine to fives all the time. Like that was mind blowing to me because again, like I was never an entrepreneur. Like it feels so weird. And so it was all accidental. But when you look around at everything, like someone built everything around us. And everyone has all these different kinds of jobs and it takes all of us to have this world. But it’s really, when you figure that out, it’s really changes your mindset and you can start thinking about other ways to make money.

Scott: This is awesome. I mean, you incur these extra expenses, you get smart about money, you start saving a ton and then you get super creative and you just hustle it sounds like for a long period of time as an entrepreneur because you love it and there’s new stuff. That’s what I’m picking up.

J. Money: Yeah. And I’ll say too, so going back to the different versions of [inaudible 00:33:51] and my friend Kate Flanders who had a book like the no spend year or something like that, she calls him seasons of your life, which I love. But I know for me I was a proud hustler. I’d work 20 hours a day for three or four years and I’m like, yes, I’m the man. Like I’m a hustler. You can’t beat me, I’m whatever. And then it dawned on me when I started making enough, like there’s always that point where like more doesn’t really affect your life as much. And for me, when my net worth got around three, 400,000 I’m like, wow, like nothing extra. Like it doesn’t change. It’s the same.

J. Money: And so I started re-evaluating again my time. Like, why am I spending 20 hours a day? Is that making me happy? Does it make me sad? And then I started having kids and then that changed. And so now I’m at the point where it’s more fun to me to work less or work more productively and actually live a life offline. So I’m on this other stage, like the complete opposite now. But money was… I was eight because of bingo with money for 10 years and hustling for so long. Now I can make those choices in life.

Scott: Yeah. That’s awesome. So when was that inflection point for you? For where you kind of thought, Hey, I’m at 300 what year was that?

J. Money: Oh man, I should have my blog open. So, on my blog I blogged every month, what my net worth is, and I had just stopped last month when I sold it. So it’s 11 years of blog reports. I want to say this is about five years ago because I was having my second kid. I was really like, Oh wow. And there was a time for two, three years or my net worth kind of just got flat because my wife was in grad school. I kept pumping out kids and then I’m like, you know what? I don’t want to make a lot of money off my sites because of the ways to do it. I didn’t want to do, I thought it made my sites worse. And so I started losing money again and we had like a savings of around 50 or $60,000, maybe even $70,000 and I dwindle it all the way down until like two or $3,000 until it finally started going up again. My wife got a new job. I started selling off some of my properties. And so-

Scott: When you say properties, are you saying blogs?

J. Money: All my properties. Yeah, blogs. Yeah. So at one point I owned about eight or nine sites at the same time. Budgets has always been the only one I’ve created from scratch and I write and market. The others were kind of just side blogs I guess. When I didn’t write, I hired people to write for it. They’re like a little separate mini businesses. So I sold off all the sites. I condensed my time and then just two years ago I decided like am I allowed to work on nights and weekends. Like, am I allowed to open my laptop? Because I realized it was just flooding into my life and spending time with kids and stuff.

J. Money: So it was like all these little changes I made over the years that got me to now where I can work four or five hours for fun and it makes money versus back then 20 hours a day, that’s no longer… Making more to make more isn’t as important as when I thought I wanted to be a millionaire because it’s cool.

Scott: When you got to that. This is awesome. I have a million questions. [crosstalk 00:36:51].

J. Money: Go for it. I’ll try and talk, respond faster for you.

Scott: In general terms when you got to that inflection point where you’re starting to feel like, okay I’m over the hump, but now I want to begin decreasing the rate of acceleration that I’m generating wealth and the amount of work I’m doing in parallel. Where was most of your net worth? Was that in these blogs, these online properties you describe it? Or was it in other assets?

J. Money: So a majority has always been investments, stock market and mainly for the last half of decade, index funds, the Vanguard. Which I learned from the fire community, I took me five years to catch on to that, and I would say my assets that were offline or that were, yeah, my assets were the blogs. I sold them off and then I poured the money I didn’t need for living back into investments. In particular 401K, IRAs and that kind of stuff. That’s where a majority of the money is. And then even a few months ago when I sold budgets are sexy, a big chunk of that, it’s currently insane. We’ll probably end up going right back into the stock market. And so for me, everyone has their way and I know you guys are obviously big in home ownership or at least rental property stuff. I found for me that wasn’t my… I couldn’t do it. I didn’t like it. It hurt my head as the stock market felt better for me where I know it’s flipped for other people. So that’s the majority of where all my wealth has been from day one till now.

Scott: That makes sense. What I find interesting is that the number was so low, relatively speaking to many other fire guests that we’ve had and that 300 $400,000 range where you felt like it was time to begin decelerating. We often hear that that’s expense is 750,000 to a million and it’s interesting parallel I’m drawing here is we had Brandon Turner host the bigger podcast, real estate podcast on his show a hundred and he kind of had a similar net worth level when he felt comfortable to begin to kind of decelerate and decline his stuff. And I wonder if that’s an entrepreneurial thing where you just feel like you have lots of opportunities to go after, make more money and I’m wondering if you could walk us through that mentality for you.

J. Money: Yeah, well for me like once I got to the 300, 400,000 range, like I’ve never been motivated by money, which is the worst thing as an entrepreneur, right. Because that’s like the whole point. So, first I had to make sure that I was like solid financially. You’re not going into debt. Okay, good. Got that step down. Now you need to save more. Okay, good. Got that step down. Now you’re on track, right? Like, if I didn’t invest… Most of us, if we don’t invest again, but we have a chunk in the next couple of decades, just compounding alone, it’s going to get us what we need down the road. So once I hit that, I was like, well, what drives me every day? And at first it was buildings sites and flipping sites and stuff. And what I realized, because I started reading minimalism, blogs and fire blogs, just like time, like time to me is important to be able to do what I want to do that day in a nutshell.

J. Money: There are days where I do work way more than others, but having my kids and seeing them play and what they do for fun, like reopened my eyes on what life used to be before being an entrepreneur and I kind of missed that. And so for me the motivation is the least amount of work I can put in but still have the desired lifestyle is like my dream. But you know, us because we’re always building, creating we’re not going to stop that, but I just want the opportunity to do what I want that day, basically.

Scott: Yeah. This is awesome. I could just keep going with all these types of things. [crosstalk 00:40:30].

Mindy: I have-

Scott: Oh, go ahead Mindy.

Mindy: I have a question really quick. You said that budgets are sexy is the only site that you’ve built from scratch. What about-

J. Money: Only blog, yeah.

Mindy: A blog. Okay. I’m just going to say what about whyyourepoor.com, did you hire that one out?

J. Money: Oh, that was pretty complicated, right? The one page, yeah?

Mindy: Www.whyyourepoor.com. Go check it out. It’s pretty mind blowing and eye opening.

J. Money: I just heard notsexy.com is also another one you can go to.

Mindy: Oh, I didn’t know that one. Didn’t you start rockstar finance. Did you-

J. Money: Yes. So I should clarify. So budgets are sex [crosstalk 00:41:14]

Scott: [inaudible 00:41:14] Sorry. You should definitely go look up budgetsaresexy.com and then why you’re poor.

J. Money: Yeah. So I’ve started stuff. Budgets is the only blog that I started. So at rockstar finance a few years ago, and this is also actually the kind of well where do I see myself down the road? Because blogging full is a lot of work. It doesn’t look like a lot of work but it does. I could spend 15 hours a day and not be done every day blogging and building. But rockstar finance was like, look, I’m reading all these articles on money. I really enjoy it. Why don’t I share like my favorite two or three a day and just put it on this one site, like a curation site before curation kind of start to explode. And I did and I put it out there again, it was a total hobby project with the potential down the road to do that full time. Like maybe that’s where I’d see my career later. And it was good. And we did it for a few years and I ended up selling that one too to someone in the community.

J. Money: And it’s since been resoled and shut down basically, but I have started things and then either shut them down myself or they failed. Half of them have failed and you’ve never heard right? And the silly ones, like those domains you’re mentioning just for fun.

Mindy: Yeah, those are great, budgetarenotsexy.com and whyyou’repoor.com

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Mindy: Okay, Scott, I jumped right on top of your question. Sorry.

Scott: No, absolutely. That was great. So this seven, eight year period before you kind of crossed the hump and are working these crazy hours, once you start crossing that hop about, Hey, I’m feeling starting to feel comfortable wanting to start decelerating with this, getting my time back. What was your wife doing for work? Was she contributing income that made the decision easier?

J. Money: No. So she went to grad school for about six or seven years. We started having kids and that kept prolong in as her, she’d have a stipend of maybe a couple thousand maybe like 1000 a month. There were some years where nothing came in. And then kind of at the bottom when I were draining our savings, I refuse to work more because I started telling my wife that I didn’t want to monetize more is when she finally jumped back into the workforce, which is about three and a half years ago. So once you started getting a salary and then we had health insurance again, I said, all right, like now it’s time to full throttle, change the lifestyle of how I’m working more. And that’s when I cut out nights and weekends and started selling off a lot of stuff that wasn’t important to me.

Scott: Awesome. It makes perfect sense there. So what’s next then?

J. Money: That’s an excellent question. The company that bought my site is a division of the Motley fool and I consult with them and they kind of want to build a new financial network that I’ll probably be a part of. And that could be possibly something big. Right now, to be honest with you, I love the freedom. It’s one of the first times in my life where I don’t own anything like a business, at least the first time in the last 10 years. And I like it. And I think again, something I realized is I could still do the stuff I love, but I don’t necessarily have to own it. It was same with stuff, things we’re so used to consuming, but you can use stuff and not own it and still get happiness out of it. And so part of the sale for me was like, you don’t want to stop being a part of the financial community, so how can you kind of get both?

J. Money: Right. And I started not like making decisions. As you know, when you run a company, you got to do everything right? Accounting, marketing, everything. And I was like, I’m just tired of making decisions. All I want to do is talk about money and that’s it. Like how can I set that up? And selling a site for me worked out for that. So I consult a little bit, I blog a little bit and I’m kind of just in limbo until we see what’s next really.

Scott: Awesome.

Mindy: So it sounds like working for somebody else hasn’t been a huge, I don’t want to say disappointment, but like there’s a lot of people who are, you know I’m freelancer, I’m self employed and now I’m going to go work for somebody else. What a let down. I’m such a failure and that’s, I’m like totally screwing this up. But I mean, I don’t look at you as a failure. I like, Hey, you are living the life that you want to live. I’m not saying you J. Money is a failure, but how is that transition? Like it sounds like it’s working out for you.

J. Money: Yeah, I mean, because I think as long as you figure out what makes you happy, like there’s so many ways to get there. And like I’ve told this people like in my first quit and I was a full time blogger, like I was like annoyingly proud. All, I’m full time, I work for myself, screw the man, right? All this stuff. But then as I got older I realized there’s so many ways to be happy. You can do whatever you want. And so I tell people like as long as I am enjoying what I’m doing, I’ll work for someone else or work for myself. It doesn’t really matter to me personally. But again, I’m not in that like need to grow up like there’s some people in our space, I mean, they are insane. They work insane hours. They’re making millions a year, they’re killing it.

J. Money: And I asked him, I’m like, Oh you’re doing so good, what are you going for? What’s the point of all this? And like, Oh, I’m going to get more money and double my traffic and I’m going to take over the world. I’m like, great. Let’s say you’re there tomorrow, right? Let’s say making 10 million a month, you’re doing it. What then? And literally every time I asked that, the answer is always more, they can do something bigger. And I’m like damn, when do you stop? And I’m turning 40 right? So I’m like, death, legacy, what is the purpose of life? And I’m like, you could die tomorrow and then you just build this empire great. But now you’re dead and you didn’t do any, you know, I don’t know. So I’m in this is again, like this life thinking stuff and so I’m trying to whatever, I’m kind of guiding or doing all of my actions based on what makes sense for me and my family, if that makes sense.

Mindy: That makes perfect sense.

Scott: I think it makes perfect sense. And just to like from the perspective of, and by my seat, right at 29 years old.

J. Money: Okay. Oh, you’re 29? Nice men. Oh good.

Scott: Well I looked out and I started a couple of years ago aggressively going after this. And the question is, there’s a big grind for me I’m probably almost still in that component where if those types of hours you are describing right now with my work. And the point of it is so that I can have that discussion with myself later in life that you’re having right now. So a question would you do it again to get back into that position? Be able to have that discussion?

J. Money: Yes.

Scott: Okay. That’s kind of an interesting philosophical one for me and maybe a lot of people in their 20s

J. Money: Yeah, I will say as long as there’s a point to it and a goal you’re trying to reach and because it’s easy when you start making money to like always want more and desire more in the greed factor, and I’ll say especially if you’re young, like if you want to have a family later, like having kids can totally change things. So if you don’t have kids and you’re hustling and you have this like burning desire to like go build something a hundred percent go build. I wouldn’t change what I’ve done before because it helped me get here. I’m just like, I thank God that like I had that epiphany that you don’t need to amass millions of dollars to be happy. And so this is ironic because we’re in the financial space and all we do is want to grow money, but no, no.

J. Money: If you’re in that stage, I’ll say too something that’s also helped me is doing what excites me, whether it is building a site, whether it’s going for a walk. I was at a cemetery today for an hour, like just hanging out, like looking around like it was just, it made me happy. And so I’d say if what excites you is building or buying or growing like totally do it because five years from now something else might excite you. And it’ll suck to always say, Oh, I’ll do this later. And then your values change and you never do it. I guess it’s good to do it. You know what I’m saying?

Scott: A lot of grave considerations too.

J. Money: I love it. I love it.

Mindy: I quit. No, I think that’s important to say. And like you said, there’s these people that always want more and more and more and more.

J. Money: Yeah.

Mindy: What is your number? What is… I don’t, of course, if somebody wants to send me a check for $10 million, please feel free. You can send that to Mindy courtesy of biggerpockets.com but, I don’t need $10 million. That is not going to change my life. I mean I’m a frugal person. It’s not going to change my life. It’s just going to sit in the bank and I’ll look at it for a while or sit in investments not in the bank, but I don’t want $10 million. I’m not going to aggressively pursue $10 million. There are other people who are like 10 million, I don’t even want 10 million.

Mindy: I don’t get out of bed for less than 10 million. Like that’s not even close to enough for them. So I think just knowing what your enough is and then living the life that you live is like, it’s enviable. I made a comment in the beginning, Oh, it’s been a while to connect our schedule so you could get on the show and that’s because I sent you a note and you’re like, you know what? This is my month. I’m not even working at all. Good for you, take that month. I hope you enjoy every minute of that month.

J. Money: Yeah. Sabbatical is actually, it’s someone turned me onto that few years ago and I’m like, I could never leave the blog empty. Like that’s your whole life, that’s your business, what’s going to happen? Life doesn’t revolve around us as much as it seems like it. And like nothing happened when I left for a month. Like a dip in traffic and then I came back and people were excited. So yeah, like having a month off and doing that as a good way to kind of test the waters too, to see if it’s even something you want to do.

Mindy: Yeah. And I will caveat that with saying that, budgets are sexy has been around a while, so you can’t take that off if you start a blog today and then in a week you’re like, I’m going to take a month off. That’s a bad idea.

J. Money: Yeah. And to that point, if anyone does start a blog or I guess anything, like though I only had one rule when I started the blog and it was to blog every day or blog on my schedule, which for the most time was Monday through Friday once a day. And so no matter what, I had to write an article and get it out that day to say consistent. And it’s literally the only job I’ve had for this long, like my whole life. Like it’s, you know. And so it was always a consistency and to your point, it was only in the last few years when I said I’m going to break the consistency and see what happens. It’s a lot harder to go back to it after you take off. But that consistency got to the site to where it was, when I took that first break.

Mindy: Yeah. And either a blog post everyday doesn’t have to be this like 7,000 word, long post. Sometimes Carl will just put up like, we’re on vacation, so here’s seven pictures that we took this year and that works too.

J. Money: Yeah, yeah, totally. No, yeah, yeah. It’s totally an internal motivator to keep going because once you start breaking, like for me at least if I write every day, it’s easy. If I started taking off, it’s harder to write. So if you’re that type of creative person, it’s just good to keep the chain going.

Scott: I love this concept, I love this there’s this like cycle that’s forming in my head is this pattern that I’ve seen amongst a lot of entrepreneurs. The stories that are similar to yours. It’s this, I’m going to grind out, I’m going to speak in optimizing basically on every front. I’m going to keep that up for years and then I’m going to at some point reach this inflection point where I begin decelerating. And it seems like that’s just kind of like a cycle that a lot of people in this entrepreneurial thing go through. And the question is, it sounds like you got to do it, but you don’t want to do it too long. The consequences of going too long can be just as bad as not putting in that initial upfront effort. And it sounds like you have a really good balance to that.

J. Money: I mean, yeah, I read a lot and I practice change in my life and habits. Like I move a lot, I move around a lot. I’m always seeing other people do challenges and then I’m like, Oh, can I do that challenge? And I think again, like consciously seeing what you’re doing and how you’re spending your time every day really forces you to do better or at least ask yourself like is this like important to me right now? And a lot of the stuff we do, even myself, a lot of stuff I do, I shouldn’t be doing it. I don’t know why I’m doing this out of habit or I can’t help myself but by just getting into the rhythm of, is this like, am I doing the best I can for my life and what I want out of it?

J. Money: It’s a really good question to ask and it’s not always easy. And some times it is, but just being conscious of what you’re doing. And same with your money. Why am I spending my money, am I glad this money’s going to this spot? It’s a really simple question. Everyone knows how to save. It’s not that complicated or hard. It’s just hard to do it. It’s hard to not spend when you want to spend.

Mindy: I could not agree more with that. Everybody knows how to save. You spend less. What was that, why you’re poor, lets go back over there-

J. Money: Why you’re poor [inaudible 00:56:27].

Mindy: Yeah. Whyyourepoor.com. Because you spend more than you save. Everybody knows how to save. They just don’t. It’s like, Oh, I know I should be doing this. I know I shouldn’t eat this 17th cookie today. I know I should get up and exercise today, but you don’t.

Scott: Is that for sale?

J. Money: Yeah. Wire.com I’ll sell to you if you decide to go with it.

Mindy: Don’t do anything with, leave it as it is. I love it. Maybe change the color.

J. Money: Yeah, and I’ll tell you this too. Everyone has their Epiphanies at different times. I don’t know how to get your epiphany sooner other than reading and stuff like that. I had someone that was in their seventies the other month email him. He was like, Oh, I just woke up today, I thought I think I need to start saving. I’m like, you’re 70 years old. Right? And I’ve had people that are like, I’m in middle school and I want to learn how to save. I don’t know how the epiphanies come, but I’ll say you can’t really be too hard on yourself until you kind of prioritize it. Like whatever gets, if you can find a way to get you to care enough, because all this stuff, building real estate empires, blogging, whatever it is. It’s people that really care for whatever reason they care and they’re done with her old life and they are just like I’m ready. I want a better life for myself.

J. Money: You have to figure out how to get to that point because if you don’t care… I’ve thought about blogging before and I didn’t care. I knew I should have savings and retirement. I didn’t care. I wanted beers and girls. That’s what was important to me back then. So whatever, if you could figure out a way they start caring and you’re already on a level of listening to this podcast, like you’re obviously already looking to better your lifestyle. But yeah once you have that epiphany, just go all in if you’re excited about it.

Mindy: Okay. One last question before we get to the famous four. You said that you’ve done these challenges like the no spend challenge and the question everything challenge. What was the biggest help to you? What was the thing that propelled you forward the most? Out of all those challenges?

J. Money: The no spend month was the biggest on my finances because I quit spending money just like not knowing all spending money or just for the hell of it. Right. That totally changed. I stopped buying stuff like randomly once that happened. Lifestyle-wise not opening up my laptops on the weekends, transformed my weekends obviously and kind of my life I started reading physical books again. I started reading a lot more. I started taking naps. I started allocating 100% of my time towards my family instead of my brain always thinking about my business.

J. Money: And then one other challenge I did, I came across on Twitter, Benjamin Franklin’s old schedule like when he was around. And one of the big things he always said was he woke up at 5:00 AM every day during the week to start praying or learning, you know figure out what he’s going to do that day. And so 5:00 AM wake ups during the work week also propelled my productivity a lot more. A lot good too. So depending on what stage finances, it’s the no spend month lifestyle and family time was the no laptops on weekends. And then the productivity and efficiency of my job and working was the 5:00 AM wake ups.

Mindy: Oh that’s awesome. That sounds like… I’ve heard the 5:00 AM what is it? The miracle morning-

J. Money: That’s good. I haven’t read it but yeah, [crosstalk 00:59:54].

Scott: There’s like a five minute rise makes man stupid and blind in the eyes. Is the quote.

Mindy: Scott is a 9:00 AM waker upper.

J. Money: Well he’s in his 20s you know. Do you want to tell [inaudible 01:00:06] in your 20s, that’s a good time man.

Mindy: Oh I’m sorry. Scott wakes up at eight o’clock.

Scott: That’s right.

J. Money: That’s still pretty impressive. Yes.

Mindy: Yeah. I can’t sleep late. I’m a get up early kind of girl. I’ve always have been. I passed that along to my daughter who it’s not the best choice to still pass that on to your kids.

J. Money: You got to promote you and your daughter. So it was on my blog like three or four years ago. I remember you guys did a blog post.

Mindy: Yes. We wrote about how we bought stocks for her so she could start learning about stock investing. We would buy her one share of stock and then you own part of McDonald’s I think is what she first bought. And then Costco is huge in our life. Sounds weird. But like if you’re looking for frugal fun, your kids going and that’s trick or treating every time you go, Ooh, what kind of sample is it? Brown yay, Oh, salad great.

J. Money: Good entertaining when it rains outside, we have babies and we always go, walk around when it’s raining. They love going in the freezer to go from hot to cold, hot to cold. And we go in and out, in and out. Free, free, free entertainment.

Mindy: Oh, Costco’s a great place to take your kids. They just think it’s the greatest. Yeah. So I think she’s got to share that too. Oh wow. Good memory Mr. Money.

J. Money: Well, see. And as a rock star finance and re launcher, I got to see what all the financial blogging community was doing and the people that are up and coming. And I remember you guys, I think you started before that, but I remember wanting to feature a 1500 days because it was raw and real. And I think blogging, if you can be raw and real and personal and not start a blog for a business or to make money, number one, as your number one priority, I think really is what the blogging space needs now. I think a lot of businesses are out there and it should be a lot more normal people blogging about normal stuff.

Mindy: I completely agree. And that’s when you’re going to really connect with people is, like you said, you wrote in your voice that you, I have to capitalize at the beginning of a sentence and subject verb agreement that that’s something that I personally need to do. But throwing a swear word in there every once in a while. If you need to make a point then make that point. It’s still a podcast I don’t want PG ratings on or G ratings on. But people connect with that. Matt Giovanisci from money matters. He has a huge audience that connects with him because he’s so like, this is me, this is my podcast. If you don’t want to listen to this voice, then this is not the show for you. But then people get it in their own words. You have like and I don’t mean this in a bad way, but like you have like a homeboy blog, right?

J. Money: Okay. I like it. I’ve been called a Valley girl lots of times on the blog. So if they don’t know if I’m a boy or a girl, they always think I’m a female.

Mindy: Really? Yeah. Maybe it’s because I’ve always known that you’re a boy

J. Money: Maybe. And I do… I think they say because I do lots of smiley faces and emojis and stuff and so like they just assume I guess. I don’t know. That’s a whole other department.

Mindy: Okay. Now all of that aside, it is time for the famous four. Are you ready Mr Money?

J. Money: Yes. Go for it.

Mindy: Jay. Okay. What is your favorite finance book?

J. Money: I’m going to cheat a little bit. I’m going to do a life and business/ finance one. Essentialism by Greg McKeown. That book really kind of got me to focus on what’s important and stop doing the crap that isn’t. Kind of like the 80 20 rule kind of thing, but for whatever reason, the way he wrote it and the time that I needed to hear it really jump-started like my lifestyle and that’s when I kind of started selling off more stuff. And living more. That make sense?

Mindy: I don’t think anybody’s ever recommended that book before.

J. Money: There you go. You can apply it to a whole bunch of things. You can apply it to finances, but it’s more business lifestyle.

Scott: I have to go and check that one out. But have you ever read the book Life and Air?

J. Money: No, I love that name. That’s great branding.

Scott: A lot of what you just described kind of reminds me of that book. I reread it recently and I really like it. Disclosure, there’s a little bit of like a religious component to that, so if you’re not into that, don’t go there. But it’s a really good kind of framework around the concepts you just described I think probably overlaps heavily with this essentialism book. I’ll check that out too.

J. Money: Okay, very cool. Thanks man.

Scott: Awesome. So we’ve probably already gotten over this, but if your housing choice was your biggest money mistake you said, I think you said it’s my biggest money regret. And what was your second biggest money mistake?

J. Money: That’s a good question. There’s nothing that’s really that high other than there’s a couple of businesses that a friend of mine started that I invested about $5,000 into two of them and it didn’t really work out. So I kind of lost money. I probably lost about $8,000 so those are my probably biggest. The hardest investments because you never know if they’re going to take off or not. But financially those are the biggest losses outside of the house, which is definitely the first one. And by the way… So we just moved and I actually bought again.

J. Money: I didn’t want to buy again because I obviously enjoy renting and my wife convinced me to buy like that. It was important to her. So now I’m in this phase of remembering that your family isn’t just you and you have to put other people priorities also up there. So that’s the new stage I am. Usually when there’s something you want and you go after it until you get it. And so this is one I had to back down. I’m learning about how to be okay with a decision I really don’t want, but we do own again.

Mindy: So your first house, what year was that built in?

J. Money: Well, I bought it in 2007 I think it was built in the late eighties maybe. On there I want to say.

Mindy: And then the one that you’re living in now, when was it built?

J. Money: I think early nineties [inaudible 01:06:14].

Mindy: Okay, so there’s [crosstalk 01:06:16] they’re the same timeframe. I’m just wondering if you went like with a new build. I like old houses. I like the character. I like ugly so I could make them look pretty again. And I feel like they’re nice and solid. But I also go into this knowing I am pouring a ton of money into it and I know that there are a lot of people who want to buy a brand new house because then there’s nothing wrong. And if you’re listening to this and not watching the video, I’m doing air quotes around me. There’s nothing wrong because something always breaks. But if it’s a new built that somebody will come in and fix it for you, like within the first year and whatever. So, okay I was just [inaudible 01:06:54] about that.

J. Money: Right, right. Our decision was basically around kids like a yard and school district. Like it’s a weird… Again, because I would never have bought this house for my own, but because of what everyone else’s needs were, we went with that house. And I’m growing to like it don’t get me wrong, but yeah, that that was the decision for buying.

Mindy: Yeah. As somebody who moved around a lot as a kid, good decision. Good decision. What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?

J. Money: I would say again… Oh, are you talking about like fun, like money or entrepreneurship or lifestyle-

Scott: On their money journey. Yes.

J. Money: On their money journey? So a big thing for me that I realized later wasn’t when I put money somewhere that I couldn’t touch, and it sounds stupid, but like the reason I was able to invest so much was because of the 401K and even before the crazy matching. But putting money where there was like bad things would happen if you took it out, like you get penalized like crazy, with retirement. And what happened to me, I always knew retirement was important and I’d always contribute a few dollars, like the 3% or whatever. And when I started seeing that money go up and it never went down for very long. That really… Because before you invest you have a checking account and a savings account.

J. Money: And if you’re anything like me, you put money in savings, but then towards the end of the month you’re like, ah, I need money. You pull it back out and it goes and checking and your savings account that goes up and down and never really goes anywhere. With investing, seeing the money grow and if you’re tracking it, it just keeps going up over time. Like that was mind blowing and the only reason it kept going up, I just put the money in his, I never took it out and when I hit 50,000 in investments I remember specifically thinking like wow, this is the most money I’ve ever seen in my life.

J. Money: And then it keeps going up. Like I was sold. Like I’m just going to keep pouring money in and as long as they don’t touch it, it’s going to be fine. So I guess put money where where you can’t touch it and whatever that means to you. Investments, if you’re easy to pull out that’s fine. Maybe it’s home ownership because you don’t want to resell it. I don’t know. Whatever it is to stash money that you can’t touch was was huge for me.

Scott: I don’t think we’ve heard that tip before so-

J. Money: Because it’s so obvious.

Scott: That’s awesome. All right. What is your favorite joke to tell at parties? Do you have more funeral puns?

J. Money: I have two. The ones that like hip hop. I always say, why does Snoop dog carry an umbrella? Oh, drizzle. And then the ones that are like more family ish. I always say, Oh, a grasshopper walks into the bar and the bartender says, Oh, we have a drink named after you. And the the grasshopper says, Oh you have a drink named Steve?

Scott: The grasshoppers friend, the termite walks into a bar and he’s here and he says. He says, “Where’s the bartender?”

J. Money: The bartender runs a good, good job.

Mindy: Okay, the last question, where can people find out more about you?

J. Money: I have like an online resume-ish. J. Money. Just the letter J then money M-O-N-E-Y.biz. B-I-Z. Jmoney.biz.

Mindy: Oh, on jmoney.biz, it says that you were once called the Miley Cyrus of personal finance.

J. Money: I was.

Scott: [inaudible 01:10:29] Real identity.

J. Money: I think it was a compliment.

Mindy: Can you explain that?

J. Money: Oh yeah. It was some chick that email, it was on Twitter. It was something, because it wasn’t directly to me. It was something like, why does everyone say J. Money is a big deal. He’s like the Miley Cyrus of finance. And so it was kind of like a not a nice thing to say, but I actually like it because Miley is herself. She’s feisty. She’s great at marketing. People know her, whether you like or hate her. And she’s a Hearst, she’s herself at the end of the day. And for me and money and blogging, that’s like always as the core. Like no one’s going to love you. You have your own journey, but just be yourself, [inaudible 01:11:13] as much as you can at least.

Mindy: Okay. So whoever said that, I’m sorry. Do you know how many personal finance newsletters I have subscribed to? There’s my husband’s because I have to be and yours.

J. Money: Really?

Mindy: And that’s it. That’s all that come in. And every time I see J. Money there, I open it up and I read the article really quickly. I love your site. And for her to say that you’re the Miley Cyrus of personal finance, when you explain it like that, she’s 100% right. She’s wrong to make it sound like a negative.

J. Money: Well thank you. I didn’t know that you read it like that. I appreciate that.

Mindy: Oh yeah. Oh, I’m a big fan.

J. Money: Thank you.

Mindy: Okay, well this has been fantastic. I really appreciate your time today, Jay.

J. Money: Thanks guys. This was fun. It’s always fun to talk about money and life and all that good stuff.

Mindy: And by the way, if you need to read any of these websites that we have talked about, budgetsaresexy.com, budgetsarenotsexy.com, whyyourepoor.com or jmoney.biz we will have all of these links in our show notes at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow103.

Scott: All right. That was J. Money with budgetsaresexy.com, whyyourepoor.com and what was the last word Mindy?

Mindy: Budgetsarenotsexy.com.

Scott: Budgetsarenotsexy.com. Yes, that’s right. Those the last two of those are very serious websites. Well, Mindy, what’d you think?

Mindy: I am such a fan of Jay. I have been following his site forever. I think that he is, like he said in his own words, he tells his story in his own words. He talks about money in his own words, his website is about his experience and he doesn’t use formal financial language to discuss money. He just talks about money like your friend at the bar. And I think it really makes financial education accessible and that’s what people really need, is just to be accessible. I love his story. I love that in the beginning of the whole growing budgets are sexy. He cranked it out, he had a regular job. Then he’d come home and work four or five hours a day every single day, including nights and weekends or I guess including weekends, on this site and the day.

Mindy: What we kind of glossed over is the day he decided to go in and give his notice, he got fired. And that’s as somebody who is married to a man who gave his notice and then two weeks later their company’s shut down his entire project. It’s really important to come to terms with it yourself before you just get the axe. But I love that he cranked it out at the beginning and now he can sit back and choose what he wants to do with his time.

Scott: Yeah, absolutely. And I love that, I planned it out in the show, obviously I love that story arc of the entrepreneurial journey, where a person goes and they start hustling and optimizing on every front as maybe they should. They grind it out, they get a very low cost lifestyle or at least whatever. And their income starts to scale. They apply that towards investments and then they reach the point in which they’re like, you know what, I’m over the hump. Whatever that hump was, I’ve passed it. And it’s great that he was able to recognize that relatively early in the entrepreneurial journey because I’ve known other entrepreneurs who have gone on five, seven, 10 years past that hump point probably. And maybe some of whom regret it, where they’ve gotten so far and work so hard that they’ve lost a couple of key years with their families or whatever else it is. So I think that’s a wonderful story arc and a good lesson to take away from this.

Mindy: Yeah. And he’s got a good piece of advice for discovering where that hump actually is for you. So yeah, I’m glad that he was able to pull away, like you said, you know some people that have gone way past that hump. He even talked about how he knows people who are making a million, 5 million, 10 million, where’s the end, what’s enough and knowing that about yourself. Because the journey, I mean if you really like building and creating then continue doing that. But when you only like building and creating because of the money, you’re always going to be chasing something.

Scott: Yeah. And I think it another philosophical question that kind of stems from that is, the goal this is why I think the fire movement is so powerful is because the goal is to replace your expenses with passive income so you can pursue your streams rather than replacing your income with passive income. Because replacing your income is a never ending rat race chasing after the an ever increasing number, especially if you’re an entrepreneur like Jay. But he was able, because he kept the budget and had control over spending and adopted this kind of minimalist practices, he was able to cover that spending again relatively early in the life of his dreams.

Mindy: Yeah. And that’s it. He’s living the life of his dreams. It’s not the life of your dreams, it’s not the life of my dreams. It’s the life of his dreams. And he put in the work ahead of time and now he has all the freedom in the world because budgets truly are sexy.

Scott: It was a shame that we didn’t get to go farther into the grave puns, the cemetery puns. I had a couple that I was going to do that, but apparently that’s an undertaking for another time.

Mindy: Oh God, stop.

Scott: Want to go out of here Mindy?

Mindy: Yes. I want to get out of here because I don’t want to hear-

Scott: She’s dying to get out of here.

Mindy: Oh, I walked right into that one. Okay. From episode 103 of the bigger Pockets money podcast. He is Scott Trench and I am Mindy Jensen, and we are saying a doo cockatoo.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • J. Money’s journey with money
  • How he came across the blogging world
  • What his biggest financial regret is
  • Building income on buying and selling blogs
  • Where he got his blog name “Budgets Are Sexy
  • His personal financial position
  • The moment he created his budget
  • The “no spend month” challenge
  • His net worth
  • What his wife is doing for work
  • His advice on starting a blog
  • The biggest help to fix his finances
  • The reason why he was called the Miley Cyrus of finances
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show:

Tweetable Topic:

  • “You don’t realize how you spend your money until you stop and consciously think about it.” (Tweet This!)
  • “I stopped spending on stupid stuff and I started to save it or spend it on stuff that I cared about.” (Tweet This!)
  • “I can still do the stuff I love but I don’t necessarily have to own it.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with J Money

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.