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April 28th Features

 

 

 

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Full Time Finance – Know Your Blogger Series

Know Your Blogger Series

Full Time Finance

Come read about Full Time Finance, a blog about helping you succeed with your finances as a corporate professional.
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, Full Time Finance.
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 Full Time Finance, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips from Full Time Finance to help you improve your financial situation.
A big thanks for Full Time Finance for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.

Tell us about Full Time Finance

Full Time Finance started in September of 2016. The goal was to write for higher income corporate professionals and those hoping to become one. I love reading and writing about financial topics. My wife however hates the topic. As such we decided the site would be a great outlet for me. She came up with the name actually. Basically it is the combination of working full time in the corporate world while managing one’s finances.

What makes you and your blog unique?

So many in our space focus on getting to retirement or out of debt. I try to write about enjoying the ride as a corporate professional in a somewhat higher income role. The middle step in life where you look for optimization and/or how to get to that middle step. In addition I sprinkle in some stories about our experiences as foster care parents.

What does “being good with your personal finances” mean to you?

The number one most important thing for your personal finances is to define your goal. Once you decide a direction take definitive action to hit those goals. That’s it. But so many people either never define their goals, are afraid to take the first step, or don’t stick with the action.
The actions and goals actually are unique to the individual. Which ones chosen in many way’s matter less than that you plan them out and take action consistently. Not everyone wants to be the next Bill Gates or Retire at 30. But everyone needs their financial house in order in some way to live their desired financial life without finance strife.

What are some habits you practice to keep your personal finances in order?

Simplify, Automate, Plan.
Studies show that the more complex you make things, the harder it is to make decisions. They also show that making decisions in the heat of emotion leads to worse outcomes. I’ve taken this information, which I have also found true about myself, and applied it to my personal finance habits.
Wherever possible I simplify things. As few accounts as possible. I automate the saving in those accounts which reduces questions around budgeting or investment in the heat of the moment. And finally, I plan ahead for down turns and other major actions so I can adapt to changes without having to make sudden emotional direction changes.

What’s an area of your life which has benefited from improving your personal finances? Have there been any areas of your life which have suffered?

In general, I practice a balance between finances and other aspects of our life. As such I cannot say our life has suffered. I will say the main benefit is a decrease in anxiety.
I grew up in a lower middle class household, always living paycheck to paycheck. I felt the anxiety and strife that caused. Part of what has driven me to where I am today is avoiding having those feelings in scenarios in my adult life and that of my family. I’m happy to say, these days finances are not a source of anxiety for our household. I guess you could say that financial acumen is what removed my suffering.

In your opinion, what’s better? Renting a place or buying a house to live?

Like everything else in life it depends on your goals and situation. If you plan to live in the same area for the next 10 years, or want to customize a place to your liking, then buying wins hands down. If you want to move around regularly, and have someone else responsible for home upkeep, then rent. For us, we currently prefer customization and 10 year plus stays. But I could see that changing depending on my phase of life.

In your opinion, what should you do first? Pay down debt, or invest?

I believe the answer is both. All investors should have an asset allocation plan defining what they are willing to invest in both low risk and high risk investments. High risks investments drive your return while low risk investments keep you from doing something stupid like selling low.
Debt pay down is in essence a low risk investment. I.E. it does not matter what the market does, the debt you pay off still increases your net worth. If you have liquidity issues handled, then you should pay down debt in lieu of buying additional low risk investments. Doing so, at the same proportion you’d say buy bonds, captures both the security of paying off debt with the benefit of still increasing the risky investment elsewhere. Doing so aligned with your AA aligns your choice with your risk tolerance.

In your opinion, what’s better? Focusing on increasing your income, or focusing on decreasing your expenses?

As with anything else it depends on where you are in life. If you make a lower income or are just starting out then increasing income should absolutely be your focus. If you are later in your career, or near the top of your potential pay, the answer is decreasing your expenses.
The example I give is when I was 25. I put maybe 8-10% of my income into savings. As I increased my income and got married we kept our spending relatively similar to then. These days that 10% is more like 50%. But my income is nearly 3x what it was 14 years ago. Conversely, I’d be a fool to expect that my income will be 3x what it is today 14 years from now. Especially not if I’m unwilling to abandon my work life balance to obtain that number. As such today my focus needs to be on continuing to keep my expenses in check.

What is your favorite investment class and why? (stocks, private business, bonds, real estate, crypto, precious metals, etc.)

I am not really a fan of precious metals or crypto. I tend to prefer investments that have some sort of income component based on the belief that other things are speculative in nature. I currently actively invest in stocks and bonds.
Conceptually, I prefer bonds. I have done academic research on the subject and really understand the fundamentals. But mathematically I maintain an 80-20 split stocks to bonds. Having sufficient risky assets in my portfolio makes sense at my age and investing stage.
Recently I have begun experimenting with real estate investing. Our percent real estate, beyond publicly traded REITS (included in stocks) is currently a rounding error. This is not my area of expertise so I am proceeding with caution.
While I have interest in private business investing, my time is currently limited so only passive investments really work for me at this time.
So I guess you could say where it fits my lifestyle I prefer to spread our investments around.

Do you have any financial mistakes you’d like to share, and how have you grown from these mistakes to improve your personal finances?

When I first started investing I did so via individual stocks. This was during the Dotcom Bubble so everyone thought they were going to retire and be a day trader. My first stock I purchased was Nvidia, during the IPO. I was 17 and used almost all $1K of my summer earnings. The stock shot up about 10 dollars a share and I sold.
I invested the earnings in a company called Inktomi. A search engine company, they were selling at the time for $15 a share. Less than a year later Inktomi was bought by Yahoo, for less than $1 a share. The dot-com crash has arrived.
I lost all my gains and all my original investment. I was left with pocket change. Had I stayed with Nvidia that money would be worth nearly $115K as of this writing. The key learning? Even if you are right once by buying the right stock, you have to be right twice by selling that stock at the right time. The data shows no small investor does that consistently so index funds are the better investment.

Why do you believe learning about money and caring about personal finance is important?

Money is the one universal topic. No matter if you want to be rich, retire, or even just go to work every day, you still need money to get the things you want. Removing the anxiety around money by learning about how to manage it likely means the difference between achieving your goals in life, and not.
It’s very easy to sabotage your dreams with poor personal finance habits and lack of knowledge. Resolving any potential gap should be everyone’s priority. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Personal finance knowledge brings a layer of protection against that surprise that can be achieve no where else.

How You Can Contact Full Time Finance for More Information

You can learn more about Full Time Finance at https://www.fulltimefinance.com, and follow them on Twitter at @fulltimefinance.

Thank you for reading this interview, and thank you, Full Time Finance, for providing us with some great personal finance tips!

About the Know Your Blogger Series

Each week, Personal Finance Blogs features a personal finance blogger for you to learn more about who is behind the different blogs in the personal finance space.

These interviews also provide different viewpoints and tips for improving your financial situation. Check out a couple other recent interviews below, or see them all of the past blogger features here.

It’s Not Your 9 to 5
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.
Have Your Dollars Make Sense
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.

April 27th Features

 

 

 

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April 24th Features

 

 

 

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April 23rd Features

 

 

 

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April 22nd Features

 

 

 

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April 21st Features

 

 

 

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The Frugal Engineers – Know Your Blogger Series

Know Your Blogger Series

The Frugal Engineers

Come read about how you can achieve financial independence as an engineer from the blogger behind The Frugal Engineers.
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, The Frugal Engineers.
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 The Frugal Engineers, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips from The Frugal Engineers to help you improve your financial situation.
A big thanks for The Frugal Engineers for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.
Editor Note: As of July 2020, The Frugal Engineers has discontinued their blog. We have removed any links to their blog.

Tell us about The Frugal Engineers

I started my blog in 2019 to make friends and to help people. I noticed a lot of my colleagues and friends were experiencing the same dissatisfaction with their professional careers after they started having kids, but they didn’t know what other options were available.
I’m an engineer, and most engineers are great with math, but not necessarily great with money. When we spend all our time and mental energy focusing on engineering (or other professions), there’s little brain bandwidth available at the end of the day to come home and check how your net worth’s grown.
I came up with the name The Frugal Engineers because it captures our personalities. My husband and I are both engineers, and we’re both known as the frugal ones in our friends and families. I write each post with my friends in mind, thinking “what could I write today to help them solve a particular problem they’re facing?”.

What makes you and your blog unique?

I’ve been writing for a year now, and some of my views on early retirement have changed after living through it. I like to use the term WATER: Working After Trying Early Retirement. Reaching financial independence was the catalyst for me to say “no” to the types of work I didn’t love, and to make room to say “yes” to the types of work I’ve always wanted to do.
I also write a fair amount on parenting topics, including how to afford college while also retiring early, the importance of raising kids to do chores, and changes I’ve noticed through my volunteering with young adults.

What does “being good with your personal finances” mean to you?

It means being conscious of where your money is going. Knowing how much you’re paying for services, and taking the time to look up how much something costs before you decide to purchase it. It also means knowing what you’re actually earning from your job, in terms of your “real hourly wage”.

What are some habits you practice to keep your personal finances in order?

Every week, we have a family meeting where we reconcile our transactions in Personal Capital. Once a month, we set our budget for the next month, and we do a mid-month check-in to plan social activities & travel with what’s remaining.
Another habit I have is filling up our family’s social calendar with free activities FIRST. Events at the library, free community events offered by the local university, or free adventures like hiking make it onto the calendar before events that cost money.

What are your three articles people should read to get to know you and your message better on your site?

Start Here explains how we retired from full time work at age 35.
My first blog post, Financial Independence: REWIRED, not Retired, explains our philosophy on being REWIRED, Not Retired. Although we’re financially independent, we still enjoy working on our own terms.
FIRE as a Family: Our Plan to Retire at 35 explains how I taught myself how to invest so that we could retire from full time work at 35 (even with a kid!).

For someone looking to improve their financial situation, what’s your best advice?

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so the first step in getting finances in order is to track your spending, debts, and assets. If you’re married, look at all the accounts combined (with both of you present!). When you have a list of all your financial obligations, you can start to set some realistic goals.
It’s also important to make a commitment to understanding your finances the same way you understand other forms of self maintenance (like diet and exercise). No one else is going to value your money as much as you do, so it pays to educate yourself on how money works. For about a year after discovering FIRE and committing to the goal, I spent 30-60 minutes/day online reading everything I could about investing, index funds, Roth IRA conversion ladders, tax minimization, etc. That was time well spent, while my peers mostly watched Netflix.

In your opinion, what’s better? Renting a place or buying a house to live?

I’ve made and lost fortunes from owning homes, and I still continue to own. However, I completely understand why folks choose to rent. If you’re in an uncertain phase of life, like if you’re single and willing to move to be closer to your future spouse, then owning a home doesn’t make sense.
I don’t know if I’ll buy another house after this one (our third) because we do want to explore the world more after our daughter grows up and I like the flexibility of renting. We also plan on moving to wherever she lives with her own kids, which may be our current hometown or somewhere far away. Being mobile certainly has its advantages.

In your opinion, what should you do first? Pay down debt, or invest?

Pay down debt, because the mental weight of debt can not be underestimated. I didn’t sleep through the night for years when I carried credit card debt, student loans, and a car payment. I like to think of it like this: debt is what you owe the past, investing is what you owe the future. I can’t imagine planning for the future without reconciling the choices of my past first.
Also, I think it’s dangerous how comfortable our culture has become with carrying any form of debt (even a mortgage). Setting up your lifestyle based on minimum monthly payments is tenuous and stressful, especially when your employment situation is in the hands of someone else (your boss).
When I was paying off personal debt during my first job after college, I dropped my 401K contribution down to the minimum amount to get the free employer match. I paid off all my debts in 1.5 years, then maxed out my 401K most years since then. When we had our first mortgage (for 2.5 years), we still maxed out our retirement accounts while paying extra on the mortgage.

What are your favorite personal finance books?

Your Money Or Your Life and The Millionaire Next Door were the first two money books I read in college, and are my go-to recommendations. Many of the books written afterwards say the same thing in a different way.

In your opinion, what’s better? Focusing on increasing your income, or focusing on decreasing your expenses?

Decreasing your expenses, since you don’t always have control over income stability. I graduated during the recession and experienced a 10% pay cut at my first job. At the time, the opportunities to increase my income just weren’t there. However, by living like a college student, my husband and I were able to base our spending off one of our jobs and build wealth even in a down market.

What is your favorite investment class and why? (stocks, private business, bonds, real estate, crypto, precious metals, etc.

I’ve found the best ROI is when I invest in myself, in terms of education and personal development. I spent almost $2,000 on a life coaching package that was truly transformative.
In terms of traditional investments, I’m a big fan of stock index funds.

If you received a $5,000,000 windfall tomorrow, what would you do with the money?

I’d buy my mom a house and set up an annuity to pay for the maintenance costs, insurance, property taxes, and utilities. I’d choose a house big enough to host the rest of our extended family too. With the rest, we’d donate some to causes we care about and take time off from school to try world-schooling as a family.

What’s a non-money related interest you have and what do you love about it?

My main hobby is teaching dance fitness. I started doing this after my daughter was born and the local dance studio was the closest exercise facility to my house that offered childcare. The ladies at the studio welcomed me (and my baby) with open arms and after a year, I began teaching my own classes. I’ve been doing this for years and love it because I never miss a workout! It keeps my brain sharp, provides a social outlet and gives me a break from technical tasks like engineering consulting.

Thank you for reading this interview, and thank you, The Frugal Engineers, for providing us with some great personal finance tips!

About the Know Your Blogger Series

Each week, Personal Finance Blogs features a personal finance blogger for you to learn more about who is behind the different blogs in the personal finance space.

These interviews also provide different viewpoints and tips for improving your financial situation. Check out a couple other recent interviews below, or see them all of the past blogger features here.

It’s Not Your 9 to 5
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.
Have Your Dollars Make Sense
Come read about the great personal finance blog, Have Your Dollars Make Sense.