Couple Money

Sustainable Personal Finance Interview

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As a member of the personal finance community, I’m amazed at how many people are a part of it. Unfortunately that often means that I can’t always keep up with everyone. It’s a shame because there are some wonderful bloggers with their stories and advice on handling finances responsibly and with fun.

To counteract that and get the word out on other bloggers, I’ve started the Sunday Blogger series. It’s my hope that you’ll discover some new voices in the series.

Today's interview is with SPF from Sustainable Personal Finance. I'm excited that SPF agreed to do the interview and I love reading their blog every chance I can get. I enjoy seeing couples blog together about finances.

Sustainable Personal Finance Interview

Why did you start Sustainable Personal Finance?

Mrs. SPF and I both have an interest in doing the green thing and at the same time we both enjoy writing.  As we got engaged and then married our discussions about our personal finances increased as we realized we were always evaluating our financial decisions with our goal of sustainable living.   When do we buy locally, or choose the local food option (usually more expensive)?  What are the benefits about not having items shipped across the world.   How much value to we place on supporting the earth and fellow man and how do we balance these choices with our financial reality?

I started reading a lot more about personal finance as Mrs. SPF and I were to be wed.  I was no longer solely responsible for my own situation.  We were responsible for OUR finances.  I knew I was doing a lot of things inefficiently, and Mrs. SPF, who is 9 years younger than I, was just starting to earn income after graduating.  We needed to be smarter about our PF reality.

So I read personal finance articles – many from blogs.  After a while I started to think, hey – we have our own spin on dealing with personal finances, I wonder if we could share it?  This led to more in depth research about how our decisions actually impacted our financial and real-world lives.  I quickly learned that while we pay a bit more up front to live this sustainable lifestyle, our bottom line wasn't impacted much and many time we'd save money long term.

Now that I'd validated we wouldn't just be talking sideways if we wrote about Sustainable/Green/Ethical Personal Finance, I posed the ideas to Mrs. SPF.  Timing couldn't have been worse.  We were in the midst of a 4.5 month reno/prepping/selling our house marathon (think every day, 3-10 hrs a day for 150 days).  She thought the idea was interesting but shelved it.

After we moved into the new house I brought the topic of writing together up again.  We could both write (and we both missed writing) for a site.  I explained my plan/strategy to Mrs. SPF and what I thought her commitment would be to the project would be.  I came up with a good name and ran it by a blogging mentor (Frugal Trader) and we were close to ready to launch a site.  I figured out the technical side of things and got a half dozen articles written and then we launched.

What we both wanted was a project we could work on together.  I researched the car purchase, she researched the baby purchase, she works on the garden, I fix the stuff in the house and put stuff together.  But we don't do these things together.  We wanted a common project.  To meet common goals and to work together husband and wife writing about what we are passionate about.

How long have you've been blogging?

Seems longer, but a short 9 months.  Yea, we've been around for only 9 months.  Somehow I think people will be surprised about that.  I've been uber active in the blogging community and the awesome Yakezie Network for some time so we may seem “older”.  I sure have learned a lot.  Elle is one of many people who has helped us.  It is very cool we're experience being new parents with Elle – we're very happy about that.

You must have some favorite posts that you’ve written on Sustainable Personal Finance, which are they and why?

For this I'll answer 2 for each Mrs. SPF and I.

Mrs. SPF is most proud of:

  1. Using a Midwife – A Personal Choice – Mrs. SPF loves this article as she shares her personal experience and opinion with using a midwife during this adventure/journey that has been her pregnancy.
  2. Baking Your Own: Make Your Wallet and Your Sweet Tooth Happy – This was an article where Mrs. SPF was able to discuss her love of baking and how she can bake quality goods, frugally, without having the devourer of her efforts taking in less than healthy ingredients.

I'm most proud of:

  1. Mom Knows Best – Financial Advice by Example.  A very personal look at my life growing up in a single parent household which includes the valuable lessons Mom taught me about personal finances.
  2. Making Money Online – 4 Decades of Deals.  The story of how i've made money online since the late '80s.

How do you handle your own finances? Do you have a formal budget or a more informal system?

A lot more informal.  We have a budget, and a plan, and we talk about things.  But we've had so many unexpected expenses.  I find it interesting that you can read about babies, or housing costs, housing improvements, using the car less … but when it comes down to it, these things are hard to predict without some base data.  Which we need to develop.

That being said, we keep paying off debt aggressively and investing in our RRSP and TFSA while maintaining an emergency fund.

For us the big thing is not over extending ourselves in debt.  We pay 40% more than our minimum mortgage payment (bi weekly) and plan to increase this to 60% Jan 1 when we can again.  We got rid of my remaining student loans this year.  Less debt means less monthly, and hopefully not so far out, yearly payments (house).

What's the biggest financial mistake you've ever made? What did you learn from it?

During university I ran up a credit card bill using cash advances.  I learned to use credit cards wisely and to never carry a balance.

What are your goals this year with Sustainable Personal Finance?

We've had a very good 9 months – much more success than we ever imagined we would have.  We were nominated by our peer Preet Banerjee who writesWhere Does All My Money Go and appears on our national newscast regularly for the Globe and Mail for top blog in Canada – when were just 5 1/2 months blogging.  More recently we were nominated by our blogging peers for 2 awards as top 5 finalists in the Top Green / Sustainability blog and Top Canadian blog as well!

So where do we go from these early highlights?  Just continue to produce quality content, build relationships with other bloggers and try to expand our reach.  We feel that you can act in a sustainable manner while doing the best thing for your personal financial situation and we love to write about it, so that is what we'll do!


I hope you take the chance not only to visit Sustainable Personal Finance, but to them out on Twitter and Facebook.

Joining the Sunday Blogger Series

If you’re interesting in being interviewed as part of the Sunday Blogger series, I have a few requirements.




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