I started Vital Dollar in February of 2018, so it’s a little over two years old. I had been wanting to start a personal finance blog for several years but never had the time to make it happen due to other priorities. My purpose with the site is to help people who want to improve their own financial situation. Although I cover a wide variety of topics related to personal finance, I have a bit of an emphasis on content related to making money and increasing income. Check out our Q&A with Vital Dollar here.
Come read this interview about Vital Dollar, a blog all about trying to help you improve your financial situation.
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, Vital Dollar. During these weekly features, we are hoping to provide a way for you to interact and learn more about different blogs in the personal finance space. Below, you can read more about the story behind Vital Dollar, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips from Vital Dollar to help you improve your financial situation. A big thanks for Vital Dollar for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.
Tell us about Vital Dollar
I started Vital Dollar in February of 2018, so it’s a little over two years old. I had been wanting to start a personal finance blog for several years but never had the time to make it happen due to other priorities.
My purpose with the site is to help people who want to improve their own financial situation. Although I cover a wide variety of topics related to personal finance, I have a bit of an emphasis on content related to making money and increasing income.
What makes you and your blog unique?
In my opinion, what makes my blog unique is the fact that the reader I’m writing to is basically me from about 13 years ago. At that time, I was really frustrated with my job, I wasn’t where I wanted to be financially, and I didn’t see how things were going to improve.
The short version of the story is that the frustration with my career led me to have serious dedication with a blogging side hustle that I saw as a potential way out of my job. After about a year and a half of working on my blog, I was able to leave my job.
My financial situation since that point has been completely different. Self-employment allowed me to significantly increase my income and over the past 11+ years of full-time blogging and internet marketing, I’ve made pretty good progress toward my financial goals.
With my blog, I’m hoping to use my experience to help other people who might be in a similar situation.
What does “being good with your personal finances” mean to you?
To me, it means making the most of what you have and being disciplined.
I would say someone is good with their money if they actively manage their money (they know where their money is going), they’re planning for the future and not just living in the moment, and they know their priorities.
I think we all have different priorities and the things that are important to us should impact how we use our money.
What are some habits you practice to keep your personal finances in order?
One of the most important things is that I have specific goals, short-term and long-term. I know what I want to achieve financially, so I have something to work toward. Those goals also help me to stay focused and to use my money wisely because if I don’t, I won’t reach my goals.
I also keep track of my finances and specifically my net worth which is a great way to get a good big picture view of your finances.
What are your three articles people should read to get to know you and your message better on your site?
How I Turned a Photography Hobby into $1,138,610 is an article that shares some details about my experience with websites that I developed and sold. I’m a big advocate of using your hobbies to make money and also creating online businesses, and this article shows why.
I don’t write that many personal articles on my blog and I’d say the most personal article I’ve written is probably this one that was published at Budgets Are Sexy: 40 Money Lessons I’ve Learned in 40 Years.
For someone looking to improve their financial situation, what’s your best advice?
For quick results, I’d recommend tracking your expenses to see exactly where your money is going. Right away, a few areas will probably stick out because you’re spending more than you thought. You can usually identify where you need to cut back just based on your current spending habits.
For long-term results, I think you need to establish some goals and then develop a plan that will put you on the right path to reach those goals. That may involve getting the help of a financial professional, or if you’re comfortable with it, you could create the plan on your own.
In your opinion, what’s better? Renting a place or buying a house to live?
This is an interesting question for me because I’m currently renting (temporarily) for the first time in 13 years. My wife and I sold our house last year and we’re renting for a year while we’re having a house built.
To answer the question, I think it depends on your situation. If you plan on staying five years or more, it usually makes more financial sense to own a home. If you think you’ll move in less than five years or if you prefer to have the flexibility to move around, renting is probably better.
There’s also a lot of responsibility that comes with being a homeowner. One of the main reasons we sold our house was because it took a lot of time to maintain the house and the yard. I was spending most of my weekends doing yard work, and with two young kids that wasn’t ideal for our family. We’re really enjoying our time renting and having very little responsibility.
In your opinion, what should you do first? Pay down debt, or invest?
Again, I think the answer may be different for different people. I don’t like having debt, so I would prioritize debt payoff for myself, but I wouldn’t argue with someone who was prioritizing investing, as long as they’re also working to pay down high-interest debt.
Even though I would prioritize paying off debt, I would still invest for retirement through a 401(k) and IRA if possible. But outside of that retirement savings, I would pay down debt instead of saving for other goals.
In your opinion, what’s better? Focusing on increasing your income, or focusing on decreasing your expenses?
Assuming you have reasonable spending habits, I think you can have a greater impact by focusing on increasing your income. There are only so many ways you can save before you eventually run out of ways to save, or the added savings becomes very small. But you can always make more money.
I’ve always managed my money well and looked for ways to save (thankfully, my parents taught me good habits). But it wasn’t until my income increased that I started to make any real progress with my finances.
If we’re talking about someone whose spending habits are out of control, then I would say learning to decrease expenses would be more beneficial.
Do you have any financial mistakes you’d like to share, and how have you grown from these mistakes to improve your personal finances?
I consider my biggest financial mistake to be not starting my own business sooner. Throughout most of my 20’s I bounced around a few different jobs and never found anything that gave me the potential that I was looking for. My response was always to look for a better job.
When I was on my fourth job after college, I realized that maybe another job wasn’t the answer. I started a side hustle and worked to see if I could turn it into a full-time business, which it did.
I wish I would have started my business earlier rather than wasting several years in jobs that were going nowhere, but at the same time, I need that frustration to motivate me to start the business.
What’s a non-money related interest you have and what do you love about it?
I enjoy hiking and landscape photography. I love it because I get to see and experience new places (sometimes) and just enjoy being surrounded by nature.
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