Today is the 20th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions and a Pizza Place. (The 1500′s are pizza fanatics.) 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 17. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.
Today’s 10 Questions features Jon from MoneySmartGuides. Some random bits about Jon:
- He is a prolific writer. In addition to his blog, he has written 3 books. Where does he find the time?
- Jon is a fan of John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard and one of the smartest investing minds of our time. Instant cred in my book!
- His worst job is a pretty awesome lesson. I think this was a great idea on the part of Jon’s dad.
- Finally, the GTI is one hot car. I didn’t ask him, but I hope it’s a manual transmission. In my humble opinion, a traditional stick is the only way to drive a fine car like this.
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My blog is MoneySmartGuides. It focuses on getting out of debt and to start investing for your future. It’s a path I personally took. After college, I got myself into credit card debt and had to get out. I hated the fact that my money was working against me and not having my money work for me.
I’ve been involved in investing since college and worked for some great advisers. I’ve learned the true secrets of Wall Street; the ones John Bogle and other passive investors preach about; and how following their advice really does pay off.
What is the worst financial mistake you made?
Buying too much of a house. When I was looking for my first house, I didn’t have much money. As a result, all of the houses I could afford were houses that I didn’t want to buy (and in neighborhoods where I didn’t want to live). I let my realtor talk me into going to a higher price point. Since it was 2007 and anyone could be approved for a loan, I was approved for a house I really couldn’t afford.
My monthly mortgage payment was over 50% of my take home pay. I only survived by bringing in a roommate to help me pay my mortgage. I learned I need have more control over my finances and not let others talk me into things that I can’t afford.
What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?
I’d take $20,000 and pay for a nice vacation for all of my friends and family and then invest everything else.
What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a Volkswagen GTI. It’s a 2013. I bought it new but have an interest rate under 2%. When inflation is taken into account, it is virtually a 0% loan. I know many people discourage others from buying new, but I keep my cars 10 years or more, so am OK with buying new.
Who inspires you?
Anyone successful. I enjoy reading about successful people that overcame their shortcomings to make it. They didn’t just give in and accept their situation or the cards life dealt them. They went out and still made something of their lives.
What is the best financial move you have made?
Starting to save for retirement with my first job. At the time, saving $20 every paycheck didn’t seem like it would ever add up. But I knew the power of time and compounding and stuck with it. Here I am, 10 years later amazed at just how those $20 every other week added up. I have increased my contributions every year since then, but saving a little as a start is key.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
Anywhere that has a beautiful beach, crystal clear water and warm temps!
What’s your favorite tip for saving money?
When I grocery shop, I look at the bottom of the receipt to see how much I saved through sales and coupons. I then take that savings amount from my checking account and transfer it to a savings account. I can save an extra $1,000 or more in a year doing this. It usually goes towards my vacation.
What is your favorite pizza place (I am a pizza nut)?
I live outside Philadelphia and am lucky to be in the Pizza Belt. (If you are familiar with the Rust Belt, the Pizza belt is the same idea, just that if you live within the belt, odds are you are going to find great pizza, regardless of where you go.) I tend to frequent a place called Maria’s, which makes great pizza.
What are your biggest goals in life?
I want to be financially independent. I want to be able to work if I want to, doing what I want to. I don’t want to be stuck in a job just because I need the money. Likewise, I don’t want to not be able to accept a lower paying job because it doesn’t pay enough. As a result, my wife and I save as much as we can and keep our spending in check.
I also want to buy a large plot of land and build my own house.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be (don’t say buy Microsoft, everyone says that)?
Be happy with who you are. You donÕt need to compete with others or seek their approval. Others may have more than you, but many more have less. Be happy with what you have.
What is your favorite movie?
Major League; it’s a great baseball comedy. My parents took me to see it when I was 10 even though it was rated R. I think I’ve seen it over 200 times easily and it stays just as great.
What advice would you give to a 24 year old, just out of college?
Live below your means. Don’t buy a new car and new wardrobe with your first paycheck. Save your money. Also, think outside the box at work. If you want to get noticed and have the greatest chance of getting decent raises, you have to make yourself invaluable to your employer. Make your bosses life as easy as possible. Find out the things he/she hates to do and see if there is a way for you to do it for them or at least make it less painful for them.
Mac or PC?
I’ve always been a PC guy but bought a Mac last year. I like it, but the little differences really tripped me up at first. I love how easy it is to make movies and photo presentations with a Mac.
What are your favorite personal finance websites?
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Make your money work for you and don’t work for your money. In other words, invest and stay out of debt.
Dogs or cats?
I’ve grown up with both, but like dogs more.
Prosper or Lending Club? Please explain.
I never used Lending Club. I liked Prosper, but my state; Pennsylvania doesn’t allow me to be a lender anymore. I had no issues with Prosper when I used it. I had 5 or 6 loans and all were paid back. Ironically, I would get disappointed when the person would pay the loan off early since it meant lower interest earnings for me!
What is the worst personal finance mistake you see people making?
Giving in to the instant gratification society has created. We need everything now. Nothing is a want, everything is a need. When the iPhone 5C came out, the local news was interviewing people waiting in line. The one man admitted it was a status symbol and compared it buying a Mercedes Benz. It was sad. I wish people would step back and really assess if they need something or just want it. This isn’t to say they can’t buy it, but they should delay gratification so that they can buy the item outright and avoid paying interest by going into debt to get it.
What was your favorite job (or worst job)?
Favorite Job: Working as a relationship manager for a high net worth financial planner. It was the first time I got to know many millionaires. It was refreshing to see how nice and normal they all are. Plus, I would have never guessed they are worth the money they are if I saw them on the streets. Hearing their stories about how they made it was exciting too. Very few were born into wealth; most were self-made.
Worst Job: Summer of senior year of high school working in a steel pail factory. Mind-numbing job plus the requirement of jeans and steel toe boots in a factory that was 110 degrees on a cool summer day. My Dad had me work there to show me what my life would be if I didn’t go to college. It worked.
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