Should You Listen to Me?

The other day I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast and his advice to the caller was to stop taking advice from broke people.  Instead find yourself a financial mentor or someone who is rich and replicate what they do.  He mentioned the Millionaire Next Door as an example of what rich people do with their money, he also chimed in with a Forbes article mentioning that the billionaires surveyed on the list said the number one wealth building strategy is to be debt free.  This got me thinking about writing a personal finance blog, who am I to write about money and give advice?  I’m not naive enough to think that I post something on my website and thousands of people follow my instructions to the letter.  I am not Mr. Money Mustache or JD Roth, those individuals in many cases have created a cult following.  If you read any Early Retirement blog you will find MMM etched somewhere on their website and usually the inspiration behind many of us writing or changing our philosophy on money.  I can say both MMM and JD Roth have inspired me and in some cases followed their instruction to the letter.  Selling my car had some JD Roth and a little Dave Ramsey, using Republic Wireless for my cell phone was partially contributed to MMM, just a few examples of what I’m sure is a long list.  This is not to say I read what they suggested and immediately buy or do as they say because if that were the case I would be riding my bike to work every day and practicing credit card churning, both practices of MMM are quite far away from my actual day to day practices.  So I enjoy reading many personal finance blogs as I’m sure many of you do as well, but what makes you listen to other bloggers?  The more important question for me, why should you listen to me?

I think their are two types of people we should all listen to when it comes to personal finance.

  1. The person who has learned from their mistakes and continues to improve each day by learning more and sharing with others on how to improve and avoid mistakes that they have made.
  2. The person who learns from others whether it be in education, a financial mentor, or from an investment adviser who helps and learns from wealthy individuals.

I fall into category number one, while I have a finance degree, I don’t think my education alone makes me someone who you should listen to rather than someone with a management degree, I think experience really teaches the best lessons.  I am able to say I have made many financial mistakes and each day I am improving my financial life, education, and knowledge to overcome these.  Let’s run through some of the financial mistakes I have made and surprisingly some of the very reasons you should listen to me.

  • I have been in credit card debt.  I received my first credit card in college, spending money on anything and everything.  I have done balance transfers, paid off the balance and started over with new debt, I’ve made a late payment, I’ve asked for my rate to be reduced, I think the only thing I have not been apart of is having my credit card get sent to collections.  I paid off my credit card in 2013 and have not used one since.  My name is Even Steven Money and you should listen to me.
  • I am paying off my student loans.  I don’t think I really knew any other way than to pay for college than to use student loans.  I worked in the summer caddying for Michael Jordan but that alone won’t pay for your tuition.  I have paid the minimum payment for years, I have been on forbearance, income sensitive payments, graduated payments, I think one student loan service actually told me I had reached my limit on changing the type of payment plan, I have refinanced, I have paid off an entire loan, once again I think the only thing I have not been apart of is going into default.  I am currently working on a hyper aggressive plan to pay off my student loans in approximately 2 years, I’m 2 months away*.
  • I have no car payment.  No car payment is the result, but buying a $17,000 Mercedes Benz on a $30,000 salary was the start.  I bought a car right before I moved to Florida where I did not have a job lined up, which led to me getting back in credit card. I could not afford the $323.95 car payments, $100 car insurance, and insane amount paid for car maintenance, gas, and everything else despite what the bank said.  I put my car on Craigslist and sold it for a small loss, around $1200, which I was able to break even in 3 months.  I have not personally owned a car since and have no future plans of owning one in the next couple years, but if I do I will follow my 10% rule on cars, as we currently do today.

Unfortunately for me I have more examples of making mistakes with money, these are just a few of the major mistakes that are part of my life and the lessons I have learned.  Like many of you out there I may have made the mistakes but I have learned from them and continue to share my story, financial lessons, and give examples of what I do this very day with my money.  I believe for that reason you should listen to me, but make sure when you are listening to what I do with my financial life that it fits yours.  I mentioned above MMM has a credit card advice/churning section and for me that is the furthest thing away from what would work with my financial plan and in this case I’d argue against this plan for 98% of the general public, that does not mean his advice is neither good or bad, it just doesn’t fit my current financial plan.  Lastly, while I have made some financial mistakes I am proud we have made a huge turnaround with our financial lives, so I really want everyone to know it’s possible and it can be done.

I’m closing in on Financial Independence and Retiring Early.  I know the above mentions make it seem like I’m just climbing my way out of debt trying to survive and in some ways that is true.  However, we are less than 2 years away from paying off one of our rental units, so the income will for all intensive purposes go from $0 to full amount of rent paid(minus taxes, insurance, maintenance).  This alone would bring us fairly close to financial independence and in line with my early retirement blueprint, which is heavy in real estate as we will be working to pay off another rental unit next.  As of today we are 5 years and 5 months away from early retirement or July 2020.  If I can go from over $60,000 in student loan debt, thousands of dollars in credit cards, a $500/month car related payment, thousands of dollars in a personal loan(I left that one out of the mistakes for another day), and starting out making just over $30,000 to less than 6 years away from early retirement in my early 30’s, maybe you should listen to what I have to say, I just might be on to something.

*  My goal is to pay off my student loans by the end of April, as time draws near I might need an extra month or two, I am not admitting failure, instead I am keeping the hope alive.

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18 Responses to “Should You Listen to Me?

  • Hey even Dave Ramsey falls into category #1. He made some HUGE financial mistakes! I think you can find takeaways from many personal finance blogs whether they are rich, broke, or somewhere in between. Sometimes I learn more from the people who are financially imperfect than the ones who aren’t. I think, “what are they hiding?” anyway! 🙂

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Haha I have thought the same thing. I thought wait you have never had debt, what can I take from you about paying off debt? Although the plan to not get in debt from that same person does give some insights.

  • Honestly, I would much rather learn from those who have made mistakes than those who haven’t. After all, making mistakes is how we truly recognize the pitfalls that lead to disaster. The more pitfalls that we recognize, the fewer disasters that will occur.

    I think each and every one of us has an interesting perspective on the world of saving and early retirement. When taken as a collection of viewpoints, all these early retirement and financial independence blogs make up a gold mine of information that can be used to design the perfect strategy in almost any circumstance. Because people are all fundamentally different, no one person is going to have the answers to everything. Even Dave Ramsey.

    I think you’re right – people should listen to you. That doesn’t mean they have to adopt your lifestyle to the letter, just like neither of us, while inspired by MMM, adopted his lifestyle to the letter. But learning from others is how we all grow as a society.

    You are putting your money where your mouth is, and that’s all that anyone could possibly ask.
    Steve Adcock recently posted…Why are people so busy? Slow the hell down!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Thanks Steve, nice of you to say people should listen to me, it does give others the opportunity to learn and grow.

  • You’re forgetting an important element. Most of the big PF bloggers (I don’t think MMM, but most of the rest) started blogs because they were nowhere near where they wanted to be financially.

    But people still listened to them. Also, they advised the bloggers when they had information the writers maybe didn’t.

    If no one ever listened to broke people, most major PF bloggers wouldn’t be as big as they are.

    Also, screw Dave Ramsey. Besides the fact that he’s made plenty of money mistakes, who is he to assume that broke people don’t know how to handle their finances?

    My mom got big on MSN Money because she was living on $12,000 a year. Which means she absolutely knew how to manage money.

    When I was in debt, it was because I was waiting on my SSA disability application, and my individual insurance wouldn’t cover antidepressants. Didn’t mean I was unclear how to handle money.

    In fact, I’d been doing desperate juggling acts just to keep my head above water, given my health issues. It’s a miracle I wasn’t mired in debt by the time I was finally approved.

    My husband was a financial mess, but we got right on a track for repayment while our income was less than $40,000. Then we had to add medical debt to the mix. But we were able to pay it all off — just a lot more slowly than most. If someone looked at our finances and said I didn’t know how to make good money choices, I would have gone off on them.

    Some people truly are broke due to bad habits. But for a lot of folks, it’s a mix of bad luck and maybe a few bad habits. To assume they don’t have any financial skills is to minimize their experiences and struggles.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I love the strong opinions Abigail. I’m like you I think some of the best advice that we actually listen to comes from those who are in our situation. It’s difficult to listen to someone who is wealthy tell me to invest here and don’t spend here because they may have not went through it like me.

      Your situation sounds difficult and I applaud you for just keeping your head above water. I’m sure we will eventually break down our bad habits to win in the long run.

  • Wait…all I heard was that you use to caddy for Michael Jordan. Guess I am going to have to go read that post.

    But you bring up a good point. And actually something I plan to write about in the future. And that is “Why do financial bloggers exist” and why do people like them so much.

    To me its all about the human element. Its a part of my mission:

    To Humanize Finance, Build Wealth, and Reach Financial Freedom.

    I think financial bloggers exist to bring the human element. And like Steve mentioned above, people want to read advice and stories from real people with real examples.

    People should listen to you because you are teaching by doing.

    Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…Everyone Has a Number – Mine’s $10M. What’s Yours?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah MJ is my guy, haha.

      Agreed Gen Y, I much more prefer to listen to someone who has lived a similar goals and challenges and has defeated a challenge that I am facing or will face in the future. Listening to someone talk about paying off student loans, my ear is to the ground. I have also read many intelligent blog posts that I simply don’t relate to at that moment, but I know with time it will fit me perfectly, but at that time it has made me more knowledgeable about finances and building wealth.

      Teaching by doing, I like it.

  • I enjoy hearing the different POV on money from others who are working their way out of debt, have worked they way out of debt. It’s real life experiences that are most valuable to me. Hearing other people’s debt free screams on Ramsey’s show was so motivating to me when were we working on paying off our debt. I have taken so many bits and pieces from the books, blogs, podcast I have read and listened too and make it my own, So hell yeah I’d listen to you. 🙂

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Thanks Brian. Yeah its amazing how much can be learned from some of the great people out there.

  • I definitely think people should listen to you Even Steven – you’re looking at retiring early in 6 years, plus you’re entertaining and have a unique style!

    When I started my blog I thought I’d write about ‘technical valuation’ and investing content, but it’s far more rewarding writing about your journey, mistakes and learnings, and I believe far more useful for others.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I enjoy sharing the good and bad of my financial life and your right that’s what makes it interesting.

  • I’ve noticed that a lot of things that Dave Ramsey says seem to fall into extremes as he tries to make a point. In general it is sound advice – why not listen to the guy/girl that has made a ton of money? The broke person has a much higher chance of being irresponsible with money.

    But then sometimes extremely successful people will not look at different solutions and realize that there ARE other ways to approach a problem. Sometimes they might focus a little too much on their way that originally got them there in the first place.

    I personally enjoy reading advice and information from all types of people and situations, you can always learn something else!
    Debt Hater recently posted…Stop Carrying A Balance On Your Credit CardMy Profile

  • Have to ask – what inspired this post?
    Evan recently posted…March 2015 Dividend Watch List UpdateMy Profile

  • I definitely am keen to “listen” or you could say read what you have to say haha!
    For me there really isn’t any one guru who knows everything and it’s simply about perspectives that match up with what a person wants to achieve

    Love reading through your archives and watching your progress 🙂

    • EvenStevenMoney
      1 year ago

      True probably don’t hear me on the radio/podcast very often. Agreed there is so much great information and stories out there, I think getting different prospective along the way especially as they apply to you is a smart course of action.

      Thanks Jef, I know it brought me back a little on some of the articles you commented on, even I said WOW a couple times from where I was till now, so THANK YOU!

      • You’re welcome ESM (even given you a nickname there).. I’ll keep reading through your catalog until I catch up, may not comment on all although I’m certainly reading 🙂

        Hopefully we get to hear more of you then 😉 haha

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