Today is the 50th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.
Today we meet John from 60 Minute Finance. John is a CPA in Virginia, who writes about educating and empowering individuals and couples to make well-reasoned decisions regarding their personal finances, by spending 60 minutes per month on personal financial management.
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My blog, 60minutefinance.com, was born from the idea that most of us over complicate personal finance and investing. We convince ourselves that surely there is a magic formula that would lead to instant wealth if only we knew it. Truthfully, there is no formula, of course. It’s been my experience that wealth building (for most of us anyway) is really a series of a many little decisions made over many years.
My premise is that all we need to spend on our finances is about an hour – just 60 minutes – a month to win with money. Initially it will probably take longer than an hour, but I believe most people can get there. If they accept that premise, I hope it will be an encouragement to stick with the process while they’re getting more efficient.
The posts on the site focus on helping others get to that sixty minute goal.
Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
In all honesty, I’m not trying to change the world, just help families control their money instead of spinning their wheels. I do believe that controlling our cash, paying off our debts and gaining flexibility in our lives can lead to some incredible things. Think what you could do if you weren’t tied to working 40, 50, 60 hours a week! More people with that kind of flexibility are how you change the world!
What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
At this point my goals center on building readership. As new subscribers sign up, it inspires me to keep writing! The accountability is really important to me.
What post are you most proud of and why?
I really enjoy the teaching process and my recent posts have been about teaching sound (in my opinion!) financial principals. Some recent posts were about emergency funds, sinking funds, and uses for Roth IRA’s.
Of course I still write time sensitive posts like a recent one on bad financial New Year’s resolutions.
1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
I am “retiring” this year, at age 49, from my full time freelance CPA work. My goal was to do so by 50, and I made it! I’ve been self employed for 17 years (and a CPA for a total of nearly 29 years) and have been slowly giving up work over the last couple of years. As projects ended I didn’t seek out new ones.
I put retire in quotes because I imagine that I’ll continue to do odd projects here and there, as long as they interest me and fit into the flexible schedule I’m looking for going forward. I’ve taken a full week’s vacation just once in my 17 years of self-employment so I’m looking forward to a lot more freedom in my life!
Of course I hope to continue to write for 60 Minute Finance and pursue what I enjoy the most – coaching personal finance! I’ve been blessed to work with a number of families over the last few years, but it was more ministry related as I had my full time accounting work. Now I hope to grow the coaching opportunities, and I should have the time now to do so.
Some may say I’m not really retired, but having the flexibility to pursue your passions, whether they pay you or not, sounds like a good definition of retirement to me!
How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people
Outside of the coaching process, I don’t get into money with people. It’s their cash – if they want to blow it on some piece of junk, fine. Live and let live.
When it comes to coaching, I try to get them to focus on their goals and the opportunity cost of their decisions. Sure, you can buy a new car every couple of years, but doing so may require you to work another XX years. Which would you rather have – a new car or to retire early? I know what I’d choose, but they have to decide for themselves. At least they know what it’s really costing them!
Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?
I grew up solidly middle class. My parents graciously paid for my college, but I had to take it from there, as it should be. Even though I passed the CPA exam before I graduated college and went to work at one of the largest international CPA firms, I didn’t know anything about managing money. And I made every mistake in the book! Lots of seemingly little – but BAD – decisions! Too much debt, trying to duplicate my parents lifestyle immediately (the one it took them 25 years to build!), worrying about what others thought of my car/house/furnishings. It created a lot of pressure on my first marriage and, not surprisingly, it ended in divorce.
The financial lesson I took from it was to never again allow others (ie, my creditors) to control my future. I was buried in debt but slowly worked my way out of it. I bought a house priced at what I wanted to spend, not the largest for which the bank would lend me money. I started to invest. And while I made some bad decisions there, too, I guess the bad decisions were really just tuition I paid to learn how to invest wisely.
I think this is what led me to write and coach. I don’t want to see others make the same mistakes, or if they already have, I’d like to help them clean it up as fast as possible.
What are the best financial moves you have made?
I’d list a couple of things as the key moves:
- Deciding with my wife to adopt a monthly spending plan. I tend to be a saver by nature and if left to my natural state, I probably would have saved just about everything I made! I actually found creating a spending plan (or as some would say, a budget) made it EASIER for me to spend, not harder as most would assume. By seeing the income and outflow plan at the beginning of the month, I was able to relax and spend money since I knew the savings goals were also being met.
- Creating an Investment Policy Statement (IPS). Basically it’s just a Word file I created that detailed the things I would – and would not – invest in. It has saved me from emotional investing decisions when it’s easy to get nervous (or greedy!) about our investments.
Bottom line, whether it’s about your spending or investing, have a plan! If you just wing it, you’re setting yourself up for failure!
What do you do for exercise?
I’ve run for a number of years, but now (with the new flexibility) I work out six days a week. I now have time to join our local gym, so I lift weight several times a week and still run regularly.
I have to admit it’s a real chore, but I appreciate how I feel when I’m done. I’m still waiting for that runner’s high I keep hearing about!
What kind of car do you drive?
My primary car is 2010 Ford Mustang convertible, bought slightly used (only 3,000 miles on it) and with cash! On rainy days, I drive a Ford F-150 pickup. I had a convertible in my twenties (pre-kids!), so now that the kids are older, I enjoy having a fun car to drive around in again.
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.