FBP001: J Money of BudgetsAreSexy.com ⋆ [FinCon]

FBP001: J Money of BudgetsAreSexy.com

Welcome to the first episode of the Financial Blogger Podcast.

This video and audio podcast will feature interviews with today’s prominent financial bloggers. The goal is to learn what makes them tick, and how they do what they do.

This is available in MP3 format as well as live (every other Friday), as well as on YouTube (embedded below) and also transcribed (below).

In this first episode, I interview J. Money of BudgetsAreSexy.com. J. Money has been blogging since 2008. He was selected as Blogger of the Year by his peers in the Plutus Awards.

J. Money and I discuss:

  • Why do you care about money, finance, and what motivated you to share your thoughts in a blog about it?
  • What do you see as key for people to improve their financial life in 2013?
  • What topics/things are you excited to share with your readers this year?
  • What’s up with your coin fetish?
  • How do you generate ideas for your blog posts?
  • How do you get so many comments?
  • What’s your traffic? How do you get traffic to your blog?

Questions for other bloggers:

Agatha K from HeyAgatha.com asked, “What’s your secret to keeping your blogs so “sexy”? AKA how do you stay successful & keep growing without selling out?”

Julia Scott from BargainBabe.com asks, “What is the sexiest thing about money?”

Todd Tresidder from FinancialMentor.com asks, “why add multiple sites? Why not expand the strong base you already have with your current site and add different monetization channels, products, etc.?”

Kerry Taylor of Squawkfox.com asks, “I want to know how J.Money keeps his hair so spiky and mohawky with seemingly so little effort.”

More discussion with J. Money:

  • What blogs do you read? What blogs do you hate?
  • What keeps you going after all this time?
  • What about earning a living from your blog? I see you were laid off a couple of years ago now. How do you generate income from you blog?
  • What do you make?
  • What’s next for you? Projects?

For the full transcript, click the show button below. Enjoy!

How did you like the interview? Who do you want to hear from next? What questions should I ask?

PT Money: Alright. Looks like I’m live. I’m here with J Money from budgetsaresexy.com and the purpose of this hangout and interview is to interview a series of bloggers for the fincon website— fincon13.com. And basically we’re going to be talking over the next few months with a series of financial bloggers who’ve had success with what they do. This will be available in MP3 format as well as live, as well as on YouTube and also transcribed and summarized on the fincon blog itself. Again, if you want to see this— the transcription, it’s at fincon13.com. And, I have with me today, Mr. J. Money of bugetsaresexy.com.

J Money: Hello.

PT Money: Welcome.

J Money: Welcome, welcome to my blogger lair. Hand built Target shelves that cost $19.00 each.

PT Money: I’m totally jealous, man. It looks like you’ve got a lot of reading to do or you’ve done a lot of reading.

J Money: No, I have a lot to do.

PT Money: Okay. Well, J Money, like I said, is at bugetsaresexy.com. You guys know him. In fact, you know him so well and you love him so much that you voted him ‘Blog of the Year’ for 2012. He won the Plutus award last year for Blog of the Year, so congratulations again, J Money, for that.

J Money: Thank you. Actually, I think you can see the trophy right there.

PT Money: Nice, impressive. You know, the only thing about that is I was disappointed I didn’t get to hear a speech from you. Maybe you can give a speech at some point during the interview today?

J Money: Yeah, sure, after I have some beers first.

PT Money: Okay, okay. Alright, so let’s get started. My first question is pretty straightforward. Why do you care about money, finances and what motivated you to really share your care of those things in a blog format? I think it was back in about 2008 when you started, so why do you care about this stuff and why do you feel like sharing it with everyone?

J Money: Yeah, I mean, I care about money selfishly, just like everyone else does. Just so I can have a lot of freedom. In starting the blog— actually, the whole blogging world— I really had no idea what blogs were or what they meant until I started searching for help on how to get my own budget going. I bought a house when I probably shouldn’t have at the peak of the market so I started looking online for help and I kept coming across all these stories from people. And I was, like, “This is crazy,” these aren’t websites, they’re like diaries. And I connected more to those than I did going to Wikipedia or a corporate site that was selling products. So for me, that really resonated. And then I saw MyMoney blog, Jonathan, who had posted out his financials every month and still does, and I just thought it was really cool that you can see someone’s wallet like that. And, every month you would say, “Hey, here’s what I earned, here’s what I, you know, what debt I had.” It really got me motivated and I said, “You know what? I’m going to try it myself. I have a different story to tell.” I don’t know what that is— I don’t know what blogging is… I’m just going to put it all out there and see what happens. And yeah, that was almost five years ago, last month. And so, I guess to answer your question more succinctly, money to me means freedom. Freedom to work for yourself, hang out with your family, babies— whatever it is you want to do, so I want to help motivate people to pay attention to it. I’m not into details, I’m not— I don’t know the best stock to pick or any of that stuff. I just want you to stop, pay attention and at least consider taking action. And that’s the moral of my blog. I try to make it fun and a little bit fluffier to get you to stick around and hopefully not get bored and leave.

PT Money: Right. That’s good. So, kind of along those lines, what do you see for 2013 as important for readers of your blog and people in general, to care about with their finances? What are some of the key aspects you see for people to care about?

J Money: That’s a tricky one, because for me it’s always the same stuff. It’s always saving more money, watching— making sure my expenses don’t go up more every single year as they call it, ‘lifestyle inflation’ or what have you. I don’t really see any new trends or anything. I just think it’s important to at least know where your money’s going. And, to have a goal, whether it’s as simple as saving $1,000 in an emergency saving account or paying off two out of three credit cards. So, I guess for me it’s about focusing, figuring out what you want to do and actually applying it throughout the year rather than a New Year’s resolution that goes away after a week.

PT Money: Right. Good answer. So, what kind of things are you excited to share with your audience this year? You know, topics or ideas or whatever you have going on. When you look at this year ahead with your blog, what kind of gets you excited about what you’ve put together for people?

J Money: You know, this one’s tricky because I’m a blogger that goes on a daily and weekly basis so pretty much whatever happens in my life, I find a way to relate it to money because there’s only so much you can talk about. The beauty about my site is I never know myself what’s going to come out. But I will say, probably a lot has to do with baby stuff since we had ours 6 months ago. So, I talk a lot about that recently, you know, investing for college—stuff for him. And also, we plan on moving so I’ll probably be blogging a lot about traveling and not spending a ridiculous amount of money on a house all over again. Outside of that, it’s just other side projects that have come about that I’m really excited about. One right now— I don’t know if this is a question later on, but one of them is called takeourstuff.com. It’s about me and my partner that I did Love Drop with last year, or a few years ago now. It’s pretty much a give-away site that’s more creative, more about fun and the awesome things we give away. It has people stories and something that’s unique to them that they want to share their passion or hobby in, and we give it away. It’s just a more fun. It’s a give-away site, but it’s more fun and engaging. So that’s one thing that I’m doing. And then I also have blogsexier.com which just talks about my thoughts on blogging. That’s the one thing that a lot of finance blogs talk about, blogging on their site. I know I did a lot and still do to a degree. It’s a different audience. I don’t think a lot of people realize the more you talk about blogging, there’s a lot of people that don’t care. Like, only one percent of people actually blog, so to stick with money more and the stuff that are reasons why people are actually going to your site is better.

PT Money: Well, that’s good man. I agree with you in terms of the content generation and sort of looking ahead at the year. It’s the things that obviously are going on in your life that you’re going to be able to express more articulately or more passionately to people and relate because you’re going to be doing the research already, alright, about how best to move your family or whatever it is, so that’s going to be a natural blog post opportunity for you— or a series of blog post opportunities. I love that approach and I’m definitely with you. I do a little bit of— I did a contact calendar this year, but for the most part I get up and decide what I’m going to write about pretty much that day.

J Money: Oh, cool.

PT Money: So I give myself permission to write on a variety of topics under that general personal finance umbrella and that seems to have been key in helping me do it for this long. I don’t know about you, but…

J Money: Yeah, that’s— Honestly, besides readers leaving comments, because that helps me go on, if you take that aside, the only reason I’m still doing it is that I have to blog about what I’m excited about. It’s hard for me to say, “Hey, this week we’re going to do credit cards and retirement accounts,” when it has nothing to do with my life for that week so I tend to stick with what I’m excited about and I try to do it as soon as it’s on my brain so that way the best content comes out. It’s hard for me to schedule ahead and all that kind of stuff even though… I mean, there’s someone I know that has a year and a half out every single post and they just slip in current events which is just mind-boggling to me. I mean, it’s awesome, but I can’t even fathom that.

PT Money: That’s crazy, yeah. That’s crazy organized. So you’ve got all your— you’ve got sort of a coin fetish, an old coin fetish.

J Money: I do, I do.

PT Money: Now, I know you have all those blog posts written out for a year, right?

J Money: Oh, no, no! Actually, hold on. I’ll show you my box of them real quick.

PT Money: Alright.

J Money: I keep them in a cigar box. Let’s see if you can see these.

PT Money: The secret stash, here we go.

J Money: I don’t know if you can— can you see them? Maybe not.

PT Money: There we go. Oh yeah, there they are.

J Money: That little— that cross I got at a yard sale. It’s like $100.00 worth. I doubt if I could buy that now. But there’s a little gold one way at the top with a black surrounding. That one is a $1.00, way back when they made $1.00 coins. It’s a lot smaller than a dime and it’s from 1873.

PT Money: Wow!

J Money: One dollar gold piece. It’s crazy, man. I love it!

PT Money: What’s that worth?

J Money: It depends on quality, but if I had to guess, anywhere between $300.00 and $700.00. One difference in quality makes a big huge jump when you get to that age. I traded for it and then gave a little side birthday money to get it. It wasn’t in the budget, so…

PT Money: I like it, I like it. So, the next question is about comments. You mentioned comments and the one thing I’ve always been impressed with your blog and your site is how many comments you get per post. And I don’t know— well, I guess I sort of know, but maybe you could expound upon what leads to that many comments?

J Money: Yeah, well, first of all, I think my audience is really, they’re really nicer than I think than a lot of other sites are. At least— like, a lot of sites I go to where people are bashing each other and being real negative. And I think part of that has to do with how I keep things positive on my sites, so I do think people want to chime in and help each other. But, really I think it’s just coming up with content that’s, I guess a little bit— not exciting but just a little bit different maybe, and asking questions. Actually, I think in every single post in the last two years I’ve asked at least one or two questions at the end. And, you automatically— well, I automatically assumed when I first started blogging that people would just comment based on whatever they think or feel about the article. But as you know, only one out of every 1,000 people ever say anything so I find asking a question definitely helps prompt them by saying, “Hey, you can leave a comment and join this discussion.” And so I think that has a lot to do with it. Funny about commenting, just yesterday I guess there’s— in WordPress… I didn’t know this— and it might be new, but I didn’t know that you could have nested comments. So, I always had people leave comments and then when I respond, I have to do, like, one colossal comment 80 times. It takes me literally like an hour to do it.

PT Money: I’ve seen that!

J Money: Yeah, it— I don’t mind it, but it’s just like one of those things that’s hard to do over time. And so I enacted nested comments yesterday and it literally takes me 15 minutes now. I save 45 minutes to an hour every single— well, it’s only the second day, but I find myself commenting faster. Other people are responding to each other in the little nested comments, so if you don’t have that, I’d highly suggest it. I wish I would have done it four years ago if it was an option.

PT Money: Awesome. Yeah, we sort of get stuck in the technology of when we started.

J Money: Right.

PT Money: I’m not sure nested comments were around back then but that’s funny. That’s a funny story. Yeah, I’ve seen what you’re talking about. Now, I’ve loved your dedication to answering everyone’s comments regardless of what kind of comment it is. So, obviously that has a lot to do with your success in getting a lot of comments as well as your style, the style of blogging that you do as well as the topics you cover.

J Money: I think you hit it too, I forgot to mention. Responding back to comments obviously lets people know, “Hey, if I comment, I’m going to get an answer.” I’ve seen a lot of blogs that don’t have 10, 15 even 20 comments and no one every responds. And over time the numbers dwindle because it seems like you don’t care.

PT Money: Yeah.

J Money: And we know that all bloggers care. But what the average person who doesn’t blog, doesn’t know, is that it does take hours every week to do. So I think that does help with getting more, if you want more. Some people don’t really care, but for the most part it’s a good thing to do.

PT Money: Right. So let’s talk about traffic. Traffic can lead to more people on your site, can lead to more comments, more engagement.

J Money: Yeah.

PT Money: So, how’s the traffic on your site these days?

J Money: You want me to give you a number?

PT Money: Sure.

J Money: I get probably— I don’t know, I’m old school back to what I did four or five years ago. I use stack-counter for a lot of stuff over Google analytics. On a given day I probably get about, anywhere between 5,000 or 6,000 page views a day.

PT Money: Okay.

J Money: And, I don’t know, maybe like a forth or a third of that goes to the home page and then the rest are just whatever specific pages they land on. But, talking about traffic again, a lot of times I do a guest post on my site every Thursday to give myself a break and to let other people get a little bit more eye-balls and promote their blog for the day. And I would say one out of every four— so once a month, like, one of them gets big and goes viral. And maybe only once in five years has any of my content gone viral on my site. For example, yesterday Divett and Monk did a guest post on the 10-rule where you add a zero to everything you’re spending. So, like what it’s going to be worth 40 years from now or whatever. I think that picked up in Life Hacker, I believe it got picked up on MSN and Simple Dollar had it on today. So, to give you an idea of the power of A – good content and B- I guess, is other people. The more people that view your site, the more chances there are for something to take off. So even though in yesterday’s post I did not write at all, it took off and yesterday my page views were 20,000 and 6,000 today and the day’s only half over.

PT Money: Wow.

J Money: Just because someone at Life Hacker read my blog. So every now and then they’ll pick one up. It just always happens to be someone else’s. So, good job Divett and Monk.

PT Money: Right, right. In terms of traffic percentage-wise, you mentioned some, obviously some blogs get picked up virally and some people come straight to the home page. What percentage of your blog traffic comes from search engine visitors?

J Money: It’s been going up over time. I think right now I’m at about 58 percent which is all through Google or Yahoo search and then about 40 percent direct. About two years ago they were swapped. Probably only 30 to 40 percent was Google and the rest was direct. But I think over the years I’ve also changed. You always hear about SEO and getting your content easier— better picked for search and higher traffic and whatnot, so I’ve been paying more attention to that. I still am not real good at it but that tells you the difference. The only reason those numbers have swapped is because I paid more attention, so now I am getting more traffic. And, it’s coming from that probably more so versus new people bookmarking or links going directly to my stuff.

PT Money: Gotcha. If you were going to talk to a blogger who’s just getting started, what would tell them about getting traffic?

J Money: I would say, when you’re first getting started after you have some decent content on you site, just start guest posting a lot. That’s one of the things I do and a lot of people still do. I don’t like writing in general so I tend to keep it just to my site, but those who do guest post— I mean, as you can tell yesterday from Divett and Monk, he got a whole bunch of traffic from my site but because it was on Life Hacker, he got tons more. So that just shows you one article he wrote, if he had put it on his site, it would have been completely different than had he put it on the timing of yesterday’s site on mine. So guest posting is number one. Number two would be dropping comments to everyone’s site to say, “Hi” and telling them what you like about their article. You can do it in a sincere way and not, you know, “I’m a new buyer, go check me out,” or anything. I don’t know if Carnival— I used to purchase pane in a lot of blog carnivals. I don’t know if that’s still around as much. I’ve kind of stopped—

PT Money: It is. Yeah.

J Money: It is? Okay, those were— between those, guests posting and comments. Those are the three things I did starting out for at least two years, religiously and that helped propel me. I probably should still do that, I just have to pick and choose what I work on now because now, as you know, the more you blog the more emails you get, the more everything explodes which is both good and bad.

PT Money: Right.

J Money: Those are the three things I’d suggest to do.

PT Money: That’s good stuff. I would agree, definitely. I have a question from Agatha K from Agathak-.com.

J Money: Yeah! I love her.

PT Money: That’s agathak-.com. She’s great.

J Money: Is she on right now?

PT Money: She sent it over Facebook and she said, “J, what’s your secret to keeping your blog so sexy and how do you stay successful and keep growing without selling out?”

J Money: Ah, I like that one! I don’t actually know how to answer it to be honest. I don’t know if this sounds good or bad or whatever, but I literally do, for the most part, the exact same thing as I did five years ago. I think of something to write about and try to make it as interesting as I possibly can and I put it up there. The only difference is, back then I had 10 people reading. Now there are 5,000 or 6,000 people. So the more you get, the faster it keeps growing. I would say just to continue being yourself in whatever you’re excited about. That’s one of the things I get a lot of emails on. Similar questions like that. There’s always the, “What’s the magic formula?” or, “What should I do differently?” I think it has a lot to do with luck and a lot to do with persistence. I mean, I’ve been doing this for five years and I spend now, anywhere between 40 and 60 hours a week. So, the more you spend on it, the better odds and chances, you know.

PT Money: When you say interesting, make a post interesting, what do you mean by that?

J Money: I would say just make it from a more unique point of view because there’s a lot of people that say the same stuff. Save more, invest more, get rid of your expenses. It’s all the exact same thing. It’s just a matter of how you present it and hopefully you do it differently where it catches someone’s attention. That was part of the success of yesterday’s post with the 10-rule. You know, people say, “Oh, this money, down the road is always going to be worth a lot more,” had you invested it versus spent it. Everyone knows that. It’s the exact same thing. He just called it something. He called it the 10-rule. And no one had heard of this 10-rule and all of a sudden it went viral because it’s different. And that’s why I liked it when he pitched it to me.

PT Money: Right.

J Money: So, be creative and just, you know, and maybe— I don’t know, my style is a little bit different because I’ll curse on my site. I’ll do stuff, you know… Like, I said something today on my post. I made up phrase called, “It’s not all tits and glitter,” because that’s how I talk and some people did get offensive. And, my wife told me I should never do that, but that’s my site, that’s the audience. I can’t say, “You go do that” because you’ll probably get backlash and people won’t come to the conference. But if you’re yourself the whole time, only new people have to learn about you over time.

PT Money: Right. That’s good stuff. Alright, another question from Facebook is from Julia, from bargainbay.com and she’s asking, “What’s the sexiest thing about money?”

J Money: The sexiest thing about money? I guess I’m going to revert back to the freedom. A lot of people— actually, two weeks ago someone had said, “People that want more money means you’re greedy.” It means you worship the devil and you’re, like this horrible person because you just want all this money. And I got really upset and actually wrote a post about it. I had to curtail it because I went a little bit over the deep end, but the gist of it was that money is a tool. Money itself isn’t bad. People say, like with guns— that’s a whole politics thing I won’t get into, but, what you do with the money is really important. For me, I want tons of money so I can be free and I can blog more and do more of the cool stuff that doesn’t necessarily generate money. I’d love to have a podcast and do these videos with you and all this stuff, but it doesn’t— at least I don’t know how to make money off it. But, if I didn’t need to worry about money I could do more of this, help more people and donate more. I could have had Love Drop running for another year or two. It just gives you so much power to do whatever you want whether it’s selfish or to help others. For me, what’s sexy about it is, it gives you freedom and there’s nothing wrong with wanting more of it. That’s pretty much my answer.

PT Money: That’s good. So what’s—

J Money: Got me all riled up again almost.

PT Money: What’s that?

J Money: You almost got me all riled up again.

PT Money: Well, that’s what we’re trying to do here, so I’m going to rile you up again. What blogs do you read?

J Money: What, what?

PT Money: What blogs to your read, other blogs, financial blogs?

J Money: Oh, yeah. I read mymoneyblog.com. That was the first one I read, or started reading. I still do. I read Bargaineering a little bit. Freemoneyfinance.com is probably my favorite because he writes in more of a casual tone. And, Me Without Debt I like a lot because Brad’s freakin’ passionate. Actually, now it’s Travis that writes there too, but he’s— they’re both passionate. Those are the ones I read the most. But to be honest with you, I don’t sit down every morning and read a set number of blogs. Another one I like is— it used to be Katherine’s Conversations… Makinsensebabe.com and Katherine with all her crazy videos. I read anything that’s feisty and most of the stuff I get now is from Twitter. A lot of people will tweet me or I’ll just read streams and just click on random links and that’s where I get a lot of my motivation right now.

PT Money: Gotcha. That’s good. Okay, so what blogs do you hate?

J Money: I’m not going to say the names of them, but I will say that I hate sites that talk about blogging all the time and that have lots of comments and never respond to them. That drives me up a wall— and a lot of stuff that is negative or always condescending, kind of. I know, like, this is a hard one because you want to be yourself, so naturally if that’s the way you are, it’s hard to change yourself. A lot of people who are like that get pretty popular. Like Perez Hilton and some of these people that are just freakin’ out there, they become these mega-stars because of their personality. But for me, I just can’t take it. Maybe I’m getting more sentimental in my old age or getting softer or what have you, I just hate when there’s negative stuff on the site. It turns me off. Then again, a lot of people like it. But those are the sites I refuse to read usually.

PT Money: Okay, I’ve got one more question from Facebook and it’s from Todd Tresidder at financialmentor.com.

J Money: Yeah, I love Todd!

PT Money: He said, “Why add multiple sites? Why not expand the strong base you already have with your current site and any different modernization channels, products, et cetera?” In other words, why go wide instead of deep?

J Money: Yeah, that’s a really, really good question and I think as I move on through the years here I’m going to slowly start going back to that way. The problem that I have is two-fold. One, I get bored real easily, so once I hit something at 80 percent good, I usually move on to build something else 80 percent good. But, I never spend the time for the last 20 percent to make it, like, incredible. So, that’s why you’ll see on my site that there are sometimes a lot of mistakes, or plug-ins that are broken or something weird’s going on. Sometimes I’ll focus, then just move on to the next thing to keep my energy up. That being said, I know that there is ‘power in focus’ and that’s actually the term that I’m using this year for myself– to be simpler and focus more. So I am starting to offload all the sites that either I don’t like anymore or that aren’t successful or don’t fall into my mission of compacting in and focusing more. In essence, I could make a lot more money and a lot more success on budgetsaresexy; I just don’t know how to expand it that much farther without putting in less work. And, I do know what does work on sites, but some of it I just can’t— either I can’t or I don’t want to do online. Like products. Products are great, books and, man, even posters or T-shirts. T-shirts I even had going at one point. All those things are fun and good if you know how to, like, kill it, but it just doesn’t excite me much. My brother always tells me I should write a book, like, about how to teach him to be rich which I just have no desire to do because I hate writing. But, with blogging it’s more about getting your thoughts out there and being more like… It’s like the same thing as when people say, “Hey, it’s better instead of blogging once a day, do some incredible masterpiece!” And actually, Todd is really good at those long, crazy in-depth masterpieces and that’s great, but if you do one of those once a week or month maybe you’ll get more success, traffic, money or whatever. It’s just that it’s such a big goal that I can’t— I just lose focus. So I stick with the quick, short ones that are more fun for me.

PT Money: Gotcha.

J Money: But, that’s a really good question.

PT Money: Before we delve into the area a little bit, Cary Taylor from squawkfox.com has a light question for us. She asked, “I want to know how J Money keeps his hair so spiky and mohawky with seemingly so little effort?”

J Money: Oh, it’s not so little effort! You should ask Nate St. Pierre, my business partner. He makes fun of me all the time. Right now it’s down so I have to wear a hat today. But, yeah, I have to use lots of hairspray and a mirror. That’s how I do it.

PT Money: Alright. Percentage-wise, is budgetsaresexy your big earner? Or, is one of these other projects doing well for you?

J Money: Budgetsaresexy is probably my big earner. Sometimes it’s half, and the others make up the other half. Some months it’s less, but for the most part it’s my biggest. And it’s a lot of, you know, Adsense and Affiliates and CPM deals from networks. All my other projects— I mean I’ve got rid of a lot. Like Love Drop. We raised a lot of money but we gave it all away, so it actually cost me money to do that. Takeourstuff, you know, we’re hoping to do— I mean, it’s pretty much all the same thing, good content with advertising everywhere. And that’s why I say to get out of that, for me, is just— I haven’t found anything that excites me yet enough to do that with, like the products and whatnot.

PT Money: Right. So you couple the content with the advertising. Is most of that through Adsense or…

J Money: Yeah, it’s all— most of it is ads outside of the content. I don’t do sponsored posts or any of that stuff, at least not on budgetsaresexy. I do affiliate stuff. Like, I always talk about USAA. So, USAA I’ve been using a lot and I’ve been pimping them out for 10 years, so when I talk about them now— now they have an affiliate program, they never used to, so all I did was switch out my links to affiliates because I love them anyways. But I do make money if people sign up for that kind of stuff and maybe a credit card that I like. Other than that, it’s all the stuff on the outside that you see, the banner ads, links and what have you.

PT Money: You mentioned on you blog that it’s been a couple of years since you were laid-off.

J Money: Yeah, two years, one month and two days.

PT Money: And then your blog— I guess it’s congratulations because your blog has been supporting you this whole time?

J Money: Yeah, my blog and my projects. That’s one thing I don’t really go in-depth too much on the site. One, because I don’t think it really matters. And two, I mean, it’s like blogging versus financial stuff. But, yeah, the last two years I was making money enough that brought me up to almost what I was making at my job. At my job I don’t remember where I ended. I want to say around $70,000, $75,000 a year. And my blog stuff, budgets and other stuff were making about $60,000 a year, two years ago. So when I got laid off I was still missing some, but because I had more time to work on them, I raised it back up. So now I’m making a lot more than I was at the salary or at the 9-to-5.

PT Money: Really?

J Money: Yeah, yeah. And now it’s been two years of 60-hour weeks and whatnot, so now it’s more about, “Hey, work on the stuff you like more and get rid of the stuff you maybe don’t like as much.” And that’s the thing, right? Once you’re doing it full-time you have to, all of a sudden, pay attention to the monetization and the money your site makes. If budgets goes down, God forbid, and makes no money for a month, I’m pretty much screwed. Whereas before I could have fun and not care as much, but I had my 9-to-5 salary so it didn’t matter.

PT Money: Right.

J Money: Frankly, stress-wise that was more fun and better because budgets was a side project. Someone once said, “Always have one side thing that’s really sexy, really fun and cool, you’ll always succeed more.” Then once it becomes your number one, that’s where it gets weird.

PT Money: Right.

J Money: So now I’m at the point where it’s starting to get a little bit weird and that’s another reason I start other sites— to hopefully not make me focus on just one. But, it’s always a balancing act. There are pros and cons to everything.

PT Money: So you’ve also had the pleasure of also staying at home with your little man this year.

J Money: Yeah! He’s here upstairs. Do you want to see him?

PT Money: Let’s see him, yeah.

J Money: Hold on. Honey…? Hold on a second. I’m going to have to go get him.

PT Money: Okay, that’s fine.

J Money: Crap!

PT Money: Don’t run with him!

J Money: No, he’s sleeping. My wife just gave me the dirtiest look…
PT Money: Oh. Hopefully we didn’t lull him to sleep. Well, so that’s been a big part of your life, obviously this year, and we’ve seen you share that in the blog. How has that changed things for you?

J Money: It’s changed a lot. I mean, the first couple months, as any new parent knows, is always really hard. I wasn’t sleeping and I was trying to figure out how to do my blog stuff and all my other projects, and that was hard. After the first three months we’re now into a rhythm but the biggest thing for me… My wife watches him Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then she works at her fellowship so I have him Tuesdays and Thursdays, all by myself. And, you know, you can’t watch the baby and do website stuff so I lose two full working days. I have to check email and stuff on the side which makes it harder and makes for longer nights, longer weekends. But, it’s funny. I thought I was finally at a good place and yesterday— I probably shouldn’t say this, but yesterday I had him on the couch and I went to go make oatmeal… And, the first thing to know is; never leave your baby alone because you never know what they can get into. All I heard five seconds later was this crash and I freaked out. I went back and he was lying on the floor crying.

PT Money: Aw.

J Money: He had fallen off, hit his head on a little table and his nose was all red, and I felt horrible. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had! And at that moment I realized I needed to get myself together… Like, my brain is on my website and I forgot to focus on him. Yeah, yesterday was a hard day, but he’s all fine and good.

PT Money: That’s good.

J Money: Yeah, that part’s good, nothing too horrible. But that kind of woke me up and I said, “Hey, that’s more important.” Granted, it was only 24-hours ago, but I’m hoping that A— I’ll never leave him alone, of course, and B, he’ll help me focus more on life and not make work stuff number one. That’s one of the hardest things about being self-employed as you know, that you’re always thinking about it. If you’re not doing anything, you’re always thinking about it.

PT Money: Yeah.

J Money: And it interferes with a lot of stuff.

PT Money: I can certainly relate to that and I know a lot of parents who either have a job or are running a side business can relate as well. I’m glad he’s okay though.

J Money: Yes, me too or we would not be sitting here right now.

PT Money: Well, dude, I know I’ve kept you a long time here. I appreciate you coming on. I’m sure a lot of the people listening or watching have appreciated your insights as to how you do what you do and why you do it. So, thank you for doing this with me.

J Money: Yeah, this is fun, man. I hope— I liked it when you texted me and said, “Hey, I need you to be on here a little bit.” I had no idea what you were going to throw at me so this is— Now everyone else going forward knows what to expect.

PT Money: Yeah, yeah. Well, thanks so much man, again. And good luck with your projects this year and whatever you have going on with that new baby and everything. So, I’ll see you at fincon this year maybe?

J Money: Yeah, man. Definitely.

PT Money: Alright buddy.

J Money: See you all later.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor