10 Questions with Mapped out Money

This is the 78th edition of our guest post series called 10 Questions. It also will be one of the last. Everything must come to an end and 10 Questions will say ‘”Good bye!” soon (two more to go!).

Today’s answers come from Nick True over at Mapped out Money. Nick is one of the 10 Questions participants who I’ve met in real life. We chatted for a while at a blogging conference in San Diego last year. Like almost everyone else I’ve met through the blog, Nick was someone who I’d invite over for dinner on a regular basis if he lived closer.

After dinner, we’d probably sit down for a game of Monopoly. There would probably be heated moment, but I’m sure we’d get past it. Or maybe we wouldn’t. Maybe one of us would lose our cool and throw a hotel at the other. The one who got smacked in the face with the Park Place hotel would angrily stomp out and we’d never speak to each other again.

Just kidding! Maybe…


Tell me about your blog and why it’s greatnick-pics-11-26-2016-053-small

Over at mappedoutmoney.com, I focus on 2 main things:

  1. Mapping out your money (my way of saying budget/planning)
  2. Self-Awareness about money <— I’ll touch on this in a minute

Investment strategies, tax planning, credit card churning, manufactured spending, and debt paydown are all fantastic things to learn and study. But the problem is that most people never even make it that far. The vast majority set themselves up for failure because they don’t have a realistic plan and they don’t understand their own biases around money.

My goal is to help them change that.

What makes you think you’re qualified to blog about finance anyways?

I’m not. None of us are… And yet all of us are… Let me explain.

Blogging is just a form of story-telling. It’s your story. It’s my story. No, I don’t have any formal financial training or letters after my name. But I have a money story and I intend to tell it. The reason I blog is because I’m not qualified to blog about finance.

My story is that money is actually pretty freaking difficult. Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s actually very hard for us humans to do money well. Yet all these financial gurus want to tell you that it’s easy. Ever been in class and the teacher does this:

Class Really Easy Problem

When a teacher tells you a problem is easy, but you don’t understand, it makes you feel like an idiot. Then you’re afraid to ask questions because it’s supposed to be easy. A lot of people are doing that right now in personal finance. They’re talking about how easy it is to retire early and live the dream. All you have to do is save more money than you spend. See. Easy.

The problem is that practically doing it is extremely difficult and emotionally exhausting. But people are told it’s easy. Then they won’t asking questions or talk about real issues out of fear of embarrassment.

That’s why I blog. I do it for the people like me who are tired of hearing how easy it is and want to learn how to actually do this finance thing.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).

I’ve always been a teacher at heart. I’ve tutored math, taught ACT prep courses, taught piano and guitar lessons, and even enrolled in a mathematics education program during college. But teaching wasn’t going to allow me to reach my other life goals… which required making real money. So I switched majors.

A year after getting my engineering degree, I realized that a good job and making money wasn’t going to be enough to make me happy. I needed more. I needed meaningful work.

My goals with the blog are two-fold:

  1. To make an impact on real people with real problems, and help them learn personal finance so they can get on living their life.
  2. Earn a full-time income writing and teaching personal finance.

I’ve got a lot of big dreams with the blog and plans on how to grow it as a business… But hey, I’m 23 and things are just getting started :).

1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?

Immediately after graduation, I stumbled across blogs like 1500days and MMM. While I went down the FIRE path for a little while, I couldn’t make it work for me. I was too drained at my job and wanted something more.nick-and-hanna-airstream2

Luckily, my wife did too. We made some big plans nearly 2 years ago and will finally see them come to fruition in 2017.

Over the course of the next year, Hanna and I will be hitting the road full-time. Hanna will be taking a travel physical therapy position and will be stationed at different cities across the U.S. for 13 weeks at a time. I’ll be quitting my day job and taking my freelance and blogging work full-time.

Like my buddy, Steve from Think Save Retire, Hanna and I just recently bought an Airstream and will be living in it full-time come September 2017.

I share a lot of the same views and goals of the early retiree movement like wanting to travel before you’re too old, and not working a terrible job for 40 years.

Hanna and I will be saving a lot of money while traveling full-time and don’t know exactly when we’ll officially “retire.” But my guess is, like most on this site, much sooner than most 🙂

What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?

Hands down, the prize goes to YNAB. I’ve used Quicken, Mint, Personal Capital, and even built out my own spreadsheets. But nothing compares to what I can do with You Need A Budget (YNAB). I’m a super nerdy guy and an excel junkie. As such, I tend to need some specific features and I’m very picky about my finance software.

You would think I owned stock with YNAB the way I talk about them, but I’ve been using it for about 6 months and just absolutely love it. It’s purely for budgeting, so no investment analysis here. But when it comes to making a plan and mapping out your money, you won’t find a better tool out there.

Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?

I grew up very middle class. My mom stayed at home and my dad owned a small business building houses. I didn’t go to private schools or drive BMWs, but I never wanted for anything and always had more than enough.

Young Nick True

I think the biggest influence my money situation had on me was the importance of hard work. My dad didn’t go to college, but he built a very successful business that he loved and made more than enough to support his family. My parents always told me that whatever I wanted in life, I could get if I worked hard enough. This influenced me from a very young age and I worked extremely hard to get scholarships, land a good job, and now build my own business in the personal finance space.

I definitely wouldn’t think about money and its relationship to hard work like I do without my father.

Maybe that’s why my all-time favorite article on 1500days is Normal Sucks.

Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?

My parents focused on money management and budgeting for expenses, savings, and giving. They don’t know much about investing and chose instead to teach me about working hard.

Although they didn’t teach me about investing, they gave me a great foundation. Then in college, I started reading a lot of investment books to fill in the gaps in my financial knowledge. But back to my parents…

When I was a kid I worked for my dad every summer doing construction between ages 12 and 19. Even before that, as an elementary school kid, my mom helped me make home-made bread and sell it to the neighbors so I could buy my computer games. She even made me account for my ingredients expenses and figure out what my actual profit was.

They taught me a lot about hard work and money, budgeting and saving. I was definitely blessed.

We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?

Oh, good grief… There’s too many to name. I’m a HUGE board game guy.

I’ll always have my favorites like Twilight Struggle, Through the Ages, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride. But I go through phases and lately, I’ve been enjoying Codenames and 7 Wonders.

And of course, I can’t forget Monopoly. I was practically raised on that game.


That picture may or may not have been taken when I introduced my roommates to how one plays i-dont-always-play-monopolymonopoly during my first weekend in college.

What’s the worst financial decision you’ve ever made?

This goes back to the point I made earlier about self-awareness around money.

I think something that isn’t talked about nearly enough is how everyone relates to money differently. For example, I have a very low tolerance for the unexpected. When major unexpected expenses come up, I freak out. I stress, I worry, then I take it out on those around me.

This is how I ruined my honeymoon….

I won’t get into the full story here. If you’d like to read it, check out this article on How I Ruined My Honeymoon.

That headline isn’t hyperbole and I’m not exaggerating. My wife and I had a horrid honeymoon and fought the entire time. Long story short, we had some unanticipated expenses come up on the trip and I freaked out. It put me in a bad mood and I took it out on her. It was terrible. And I have already promised her a re-do.

The one good thing I learned about myself though is that I don’t handle unexpected expenses well. And while I’m working on that and constantly getting better, my wife and I also set up a budget that compensates for this. We keep a larger than normal unexpected expenses category in our monthly budget. This keeps me sane and helps me rest easy. If we don’t use it all at the end of the month, that’s perfectly fine, we just transfer it to savings.

But that’s something that helps me and is very specific to me. You may be different and need to figure out what works for you. If you’re interested in talking more about this concept of self-awareness with money, you should check out my free email course on Choosing Financial Freedom.

When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?

While I like this question, a much more interesting question to me is what I hope to not regret. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to accomplish, but I already know plenty of things I don’t want to accomplish.

I don’t want to work a meaningless job I hate for 50+ years. I don’t want to be away from my wife and kids all of the time for work. And I don’t want to regret not taking risks and trying new things.

Regret sucks. And I don’t want it. So I spend a lot of time thinking about what I could try and what I should do that I may not get another chance at.

But if you had to push me to answer the question I would say these 3 things and in this order:

  1. Serve and give thanks to my Father God
  2. Serve my wife and our children with all that I have
  3. Make a real impact on people in my generation through my business


Thanks so much to Mr. 1500 for putting on this 10 questions series and letting me be a part of it. I’m honored and humbled to join the ranks of so many great bloggers before me. And if you’d like to hear more from me or check out my free course on Choosing Financial Freedom, you can go here.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.

*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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17 Responses to 10 Questions with Mapped out Money

  1. Nick True says:

    Mr. 1500!! Thanks so much for putting this series together! We will definitely have to play monopoly next time we meet and we’ll avoid any table flipping that might come 🙂

  2. Awesome interview!!! I just picked up 7 wonders and Codenames and can’t wait to play them. So hearing that you’re just getting into makes me hopeful that I’ll really enjoy them.

    Good luck on your travels sounds like you are about to embark on an amazing experience.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Will Real Estate Suffer Under Trump?My Profile

    • Nick True says:

      Thanks! We are really excited. And yes, codenames is really fun group game. We’ve enjoyed it the couple of times we played so far. It’s so nice to see fellow boardgamers in the finance community 🙂

  3. Jax says:

    Twilight Struggle is my all time favorite board game. My partner bought me Settler’s for Christmas 2015, but we have not been able to scare up a 3rd person to play yet, which I am pretty disappointed about.

    It sounds like you will have a pretty exciting year-what an awesome opportunity to travel/work!

    • Nick True says:

      Thanks man, yes we’re very excited! Glad to hear another Twlight Struggle fan!
      I hate that you haven’t found a third to play settler’s with yet 🙁 that is sad.

      Hopefully you can find someone soon. It’s a good one my friend.

  4. Great interview. Good luck on the Airstream adventure!

    Also a recent Twilight Struggle fan here. Oh – and tried Game of Thrones Risk last weekend. Pretty cool actually. Takes a great classic game and adds a number of new twists to speed up play and make it more interesting.
    Freedom 40 Plan recently posted…Consolidating Brokerage AccountsMy Profile

    • Nick True says:

      Thanks! I love that there’s so many Twilight Struggle fans here! Game of Thrones Risk sounds awesome! I definitely would love a Risk game that could speed up play. The original can get old after awhile. I’ll have to check it out!

  5. Divnomics says:

    Nice interview! This is a very good way to get to know more about new people 🙂
    Love that your still young and having a clear goal in mind with what you want to achieve.

    We’re currently having some boardgames laying around at home, but can’t get my so to play them as well 😉

    Wishing you all the best on your awesome journey!

    • Nick True says:

      Thanks Divnomics! Yes, getting others to play board games with you can definitely be difficult.

      I’ve had my fair share of that over the years!

  6. Cool interview! I just played codenames with some friends a couple of weeks ago. Tons of fun!
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  7. The airstream folks seem to be multiplying. Pretty soon we’re going to need a sub category of personal finance blogs 😉 In all seriousness good luck with the airstream adventures. Us older folks with kids wish we could go back and do such a thing (Airstream with 2 kids under 5 sounds like torture). Then again in a few more years I have a built in set of players for board games…
    Full Time Finance recently posted…How to deal with Child Care CostsMy Profile

    • Nick True says:

      Nowadays with how the internet is, fulltime RVing/Airstreaming is definitely on the up and up 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement.

      Having kids under 5 definitely seems tough while living in an RV, that’s why we’re trying to get it done before kids. I totally understand… You are right though… We will for sure struggle to find boardgamers on the road compared to having our own haha 🙂 That’s awesome

  8. SMS114 says:

    Great post! Love hearing about you young whippersnappers having your financial shit together – – or in process!!! (yep, I’m an old fart @ 54 – retired 6 yrs, & living the good life w/my hubby!). Keep up the great work! I’m assuming you’ll be blogging about your travel adventures in the Airstream? Hope so – I’ll be following!

    • Nick True says:

      Well good, cause I love hearing from the old farts 🙂 You have a ton of wisdom I can glean!

      And yes, definitely have some Airstream adventures up. Glad you enjoyed the interview 🙂

  9. Awesome interview!

    My favorite board game is Settlers of Catan! Maybe we can all play it together some day! I might also be good at Monopoly too, I think.

    Have fun on your Airstream adventure!

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