Boy do I have a treat for you all this week. I’ve only recently met Thias from the site It Pays Dividends but I lie reading his posts.
Let’s talk a little bit about who you are and where you are coming from. Tell me about your money journey? What got you started in learning about personal finance?
Growing up, my family talked very little about personal finance and money. The main advice I was told was that I should save a portion of each check but I never was told where to save it. It took me until my senior year of college to really realize that people didn’t keep all of their money in savings accounts.
Starting in college, I tried hard to take out as little in student loans each year as I could. I have always had an uncomfortable feeling when I owed money to someone so I tried to keep my loans as low as possible. Still, I finished with just over $30k in student loans after graduating with a degree in accounting.
I never really had that breaking point that pushed me to get my finances in order. Instead, my desire to invest in the stock market led me learn more about personal finance. As I searched out stock investing, I began to learn that there was a lot more to finance than just investing.
I started my blog, It Pays Dividends, in 2015 as a way to explore my thoughts on personal finance and to hold myself accountable on our journey to financial freedom. My wife and I just recently became non-mortgage debt free and currently on pace to save 50% of our after-tax income this year. So far, the blog is working well to keep us pushing down the path to FI.
What would you say the biggest money obstacle has been for you to overcome?
The biggest obstacle for me has been creating and sticking to a plan. There are times that I struggle with the balance between learning and implementation. I will try and learn a lot on a subject but then will be very slow to implement it.
How has overcoming that obstacle changed you?
While I still struggle with this obstacle, I have begun taking a lot more action. The biggest motivator to get over it has been creating dashboards showing the current status of my goals that I review on a monthly basis. By utilizing goals and reviewing them frequently, I am forced to face my progress each month so I can keep myself accountable if I end up not taking the necessary actions.
Are there any obstacles you are still working on ?
I still struggle with applying savings in the most efficient manner. Many times, when I save money each month, I will apply the money to whatever category I feel like. Instead of working towards maxing out tax advantage accounts or building up our emergency fund, I will put the funds in whatever account I feel like. I try and fight this by creating an order of saving so I know which accounts I want to apply savings to first.
There’s a moment in the Godfather 3 when Michael Corleone is trying to get out of the “Family Business”, and he says: “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in.” What is one bad money habit you just can’t seem to shake?
While I brown bag my lunch most days, I still struggle with eating out for lunch due only to my own laziness of not wanting to prepare a meal in the morning before work.
If you were to start your money journey all over what would you do differently?
I would have started aggressively saving earlier on. While my wife and I have never been big spenders, I believe we had a lot of leaks in our spending early on. If we treated our finances like we did back then, our path to FI would have been greatly reduced.
What is your proudest money accomplishment?
My wife and I paid off over $55k in student loans within 5 years, with the last $36k coming in 18 months.
Who is your money hero?
My current boss has been the money mentor that I really never had growing up. He took a risk and purchased a business when he was younger and worked hard and grew it into a very successful company. He has taught me tons about how money works in the real world – a lot of lessons that I just never had the opportunity to learn grow up.
What was your worst money mistake?
In college, I carried a credit card balance for months because I fell for the “you need to carry a balance on your credit card so you can build you credit” myth.
What was your first money lesson?
When I was younger, I really wanted a Playstation. However, my parents wouldn’t buy one for me! Instead, they pushed me to save up for it if I really wanted. Since I only got an allowance of a couple dollars every other week and had a modest paper route, it took a lot of time and commitment to save up and purchase it. Looking back, this was the first time I really learned that if you want something, you need to work hard and save up for it. Nothing is given to you for free.
What money habits do you see in yourself (or others if you are perfect) that make you cringe?
It makes me cringe when people (myself included!) justify purchases for ridiculous reasons. There have been many times that I have purchased something just because it was on a great sale, only to find it stuffed in a closet or the basement a month or two later. I have also had times when I have purchased something to make me feel better about something that happened. Surprisingly, the purchase did nothing to actually address the issues behind the feelings.
Would you classify yourself as a Spender or a Saver?
I am definitely a saver.
What’s the one personal finance book that had the biggest impact in your life?
The Millionaire Next Door was the first personal finance book that taught me that there is more to wealth than possessions. It is the book that got me started on my finance journey.
Ok now for some non-money questions. Let’s give our readers a glimpse of what makes you who you really are. These are optional but I really, really, really want to know.
Give me a list of your top 5 foods?
Cheese (I am from Wisconsin!)
What is your favorite drink (alcohol or non-alcohol)?
I love Stone Arch Scottish Ale. It is brewed at a local brewpub here in Northeast Wisconsin and absolutely delicious.
What kind of daily traditions or habits do you have?
I have been working hard so far this year to try and meditate for 5-10 minutes everyday. It has helped put me into a better mindset to begin each day.
Which group do you fall into:
Apple or Samsung? Both! Phone: Android; Tablet: Apple
Coke or Pepsi? I don’t drink much soda but it is Pepsi if I do
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Night owl or morning bird? Before my daughter was born I was a night owl. Since then, I have transitioned into more a morning bird.
I’m a huge music fan, what’s one (or more) of your favorite albums?
Bon Iver by Bon Iver – It is my go-to album for when I am working on something that I need to really concentrate on. And since I work with numbers, I need it just about everyday!
What’s the one movie you could watch over and over again and never get tired of it?
I’m not sure if I have a movie that I can watch that much but I love the TV show Happy Endings and could watch the three seasons a million times.
What book are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading The More of Less by Joshua Becker.
Finish this sentence with the first thing that comes to mind
I would rather ____experience life______, than ___buy things______,
Do you have a favorite quote?
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lock in will.” – Vince Lombardi
Where can people find you online if they want to get ahold of you? (Think social media accounts)
There you have it. Make sure to check out Thias and while you do that I’m going to see if I can find any of that Stone Arch Ale he mentioned.