Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

J. Money's Story - Part 1

Like many financial bloggers, I started to take control of my money after going through a hellish experience which could have been avoided. J. Money, one of my favorite financial bloggers and podcasters, had a similar experience when he bought a home he wasn't ready for, on a whim. Fortunately it led to a greater awareness of what was most important, like family, savings and Craigslist (he's made tons of money selling things on there that I would've considered junk!). Check out his website and podcast M.O.N.E.Y on iTunes for more details.

Here are a few of his tips and suggestions for avoiding your own financial disaster.

MM:  How did you become interested in the topic of money?
J. Money:  I've loved thinking and talking about money my whole life, but it wasn't until I stumbled across the blog world that really got me to stop and get more involved. It's amazing how transparent, and helpful, people are online with finances, so as soon as I learned about the community I had to go start my own blog and it's been a wild adventure ever since.

MM:  What aspect of your personality serves you best when it comes to money? Which aspect serves you least? How do you overcome that aspect?
J. Money:  I'm a big believer in harnessing your emotions to stay more motivated and have fun. Finance itself is very straightforward (spend less than you earn, save and invest your money, never go in debt,) but unless you relate it to WHY it all matters in the end (ie your hopes, goals, dreams) it's just a bunch of numbers and rules. The second you attach it to something that actually matters to you, your first home, a trip around the world, freedom, it becomes much more palatable. On the flip side, if you only pay attention to the stuff that excites you and not the boring stuff like, say, paying bills or getting insurance, your emotions can lead you down a slippery slope as well. So with everything it's a matter of balance and figuring out how best you work with things. There's a reason it's called "personal" finance.    

MM:  What's your biggest money mistake and what did you learn about yourself during that time?
J. Money:  My biggest mistake by far was buying our $350,000+ home on a whim, with no money down or budget, and within 48 hours of coming across it. My wife and I had been looking for a two bedroom apartment to rent in 2008, but we accidentally took a wrong turn (both literally, and figuratively!) and before we knew it we were signing up for the American Dream. Only it turned out it wasn't much of a dream for us and has not only tied us down over the years, but also been a pain point emotionally as well. I wouldn't take it back since it changed the direction of my life - and career - incredibly (my blog and all other projects came out of that bad decision!) but I surely won't be jumping into home ownership anytime soon either. It's not for everyone, regardless of what people say.
MM:  What's your story? How did you get to become J. Money, financial blogger extraordinaire?
J. Money:  You can find my entire story here, but in a nutshell I went online to figure out how to budget better (after buying that house on a whim) and noticed a ton of blogs sharing their personal stories - and tips - on how to be better about money. I got hooked for months and eventually started my own blog - Budgets Are Sexy - to help others (and myself!) as well. Before I knew it my readership started to grow and advertisers came a knockin' (I had no idea you could make money blogging - it was a total accident!) and here we are 7 years later, doing it full-time for a living and having a blast.  It's a lot more work than it looks, but it's also a lot more exciting to do too. So I'm very much pleased with the random twist of fate!

Read more about J. Money next week.

And so it is.