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This week’s Sunday Blogger interview is with Ben from Money Smart Life. Ben’s been blogging about personal finances and more for 4 years now! He’s seen quite a bit over the years and his site has some wonderful and informative posts. Catch him on Twitter to ask him questions or share your thoughts, I think you’ll find him open and friendly.
Why did you start Money Smart Life?
You know the Frank Sinatra song, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, well I get a kick out of personal finance. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed reading and learning about. Since how we manage our money impacts so many parts of our life, I guess I’m kind of lucky that I enjoy it!
I notice in your ‘Best Of’ page, you have articles on saving money and making money. Which do you think readers have a harder time with, why?
Saving vs Earning – Saving money is simpler to implement, there’s not as much involved, you simply find ways to spend less money. We’re all experienced spenders so we all can figure out ways to cut back. The toughest part about saving money is the mental challenge of being rational and consistent with our spending decisions.
Earning more money is more complex to put into practice. It requires us to figure out what skills we have and how to turn them into cash. From a mental perspective earning more isn’t as difficult as spending. Once we figure out how to make more money we know we just need to make ourselves do more of it.
You must have some favorite posts that you’ve written Money Smart Life, which are they and why?
Hmmm, that’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite kid. Some posts were more fun to write and some are more useful than others, so I’m not sure which are my favorite. I’ve noticed that some of my more popular articles are ones that have to do with life phases like job changes, graduating from college, getting married, having a baby, and retirement:
- Two Weeks Notice, the Art of Quitting Your Job Gracefully
- Health Insurance for New College Graduates
- Guide to Budgeting & Tracking Money For Newlyweds
- Baby Expense Budgeting
- Reverse Mortgage Disadvantages
What are your goals this year with Money Smart Life?
I’ve been working on some eLearning modules for the site for a while now and I’m in the middle of beta testing the first one. I think there’s a lot of valuable personal finance information available but people sometimes struggle getting past just reading about it and actually taking action. My goal is to roll out some personal finance courses that have not just information but focus on implementing.
What is the best book you’ve read on the basics of finances that you’d recommend to a money novice?
My favorite book used to be “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham because it really lays out the difference between investing and speculating; but after reading “Why Smart People People Make Big Money Mistakes” I can’t get over how much insight it gives into how we can predict and avoid bad money decisions.
Money Smart Life talks a lot about finding the balance between building wealth and enjoying life. What common mistakes have you noticed that people make?
I think the main reasons we pursue wealth are for security and freedom in our lives. Security are things like knowing your bills will be paid, that health care will be available, your family will be safe, and you’ll have people to watch over you when you’re old and grey.
Freedom means different things to different people. It could be the ability to stay at home with your kids when they’re little, like my wife does, or it could be the means to explore the world Tim Ferriss style.
Unless you’re really wealthy, there’s a give and take between security and freedom. Most mistakes seem to center around not seeing that relationship or not realizing it’s magnitude. If you work 80 hour weeks, you might be beefing up your security but you’re likely limiting your freedom. If you spend most of the money you make you might feel budget and freedom to buy what you want but you’re limiting your security.
They won’t always be in balance, I think that’s normal. You’ll have some periods where you’re focused more on freedom and others where you thnk more about security. But if you focus only on one for an extended period of time, the other will begin to suffer.
Joining the Sunday Blogger Series
If you’re interesting in being interviewed as part of the Sunday Blogger series, I have a few requirements.
- You’ve been blogging for 3 months on personal finance.
- You’ve publish genuine content. I want to connect to genuine bloggers, not linking to a spam site. I review all the sites before sending out interview questions.
- You’re willingly to promote other bloggers in the series. I don’t expect you to tweet ever interview, but I would like interviewees to spread the word on their favorite bloggers. By the way, I don’t want others to just promote the posts, please share posts from your favorite interviews. They are some wonderful bloggers out there.