From Broke Phi Broke to Financially Woke – Debt Discipline

journey from broke to financially woke

Today, I am excited to share with you the latest interview in the From Broke to Financially Woke series!  The purpose of this series it to give hope to those struggling to escape from the not so secret group Broke Phi Broke.  A group whose chant is, “We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke! We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke!”

To help me accomplish this goal, I have invited the best and brightest of the financial independence community here to share their stories.  As you read their interviews, pay close attention to the mistakes they made.  Take mental note of the success principles they used to turn things around.

When trying to apply these principles to your own life, realize that success in life is rarely linear.  You will encounter some struggles.  But stay persistent.  Keep moving forward.

Our special guest today is Brian from Debt Discipline.  At his lowest point, he and his family accumulating $109,000 in debt and were unable to afford a family vacation.

That’s when Brian knew he had to take action. What did he and his family do to turn things around? I’ll let him tell you.

Introduce yourself. Where do you blog? What are some of your interests outside of financial independence?

I’m Brian, and I have been blogging over at Debt Discipline for the past six years. I’m not pursuing financial independence per se, just looking to continue to grow my wealth.

I’m a husband and dad of three children. I enjoy helping others and volunteering my time. I enjoy spending time with my family and our two dogs.

Tell us about a time where you were a member of Broke Phi Broke. How did living paycheck to paycheck make you feel as a person? At your lowest point, how much debt did you have?


journey from broke to financially woke
Broke Phi Broke

My wife and I did not have a plan for our money for the first 11 years of our marriage. We thought managing minimum payments was a financial plan. This lead to a lot of stress in our lives included any time an unexpected life event occurred.

In 2010, we had accumulated $109K worth of debt and were unable to afford a typical family vacation. That was a good and bad feeling all at once. Bad because I never realized how big of a debt hole we had dug for ourselves, and I felt like I let down my family. Good because we had back ourselves into a corner, and fixing the problem was our only way out.

What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?

Following the herd, and not thinking about our money for ourselves. I was really naive to personal finance. I never really went looking to improve my knowledge on the topic. I just followed along thinking everyone had debt, and it’s okay we have it too.

Describe your upbringing. Where did you grow up? What did your parents or teachers teach you about money?

I’m the youngest of five children. My family and I grow up in Long Island, NY. My parents were both hard workers. I remember and when I was old enough helped my dad make extra money on side jobs. He was a side hustler before his time.

My parents taught me and my brothers and sister the basics of how to manage and balance a checkbook. I do recall that they didn’t have credit cards for a long time, but eventually had them and often carried a balance.

I don’t ever recall being taught about personal finance in school or college.

How important is becoming financially woke to you? What steps have you taken to increase your financial knowledge?

We use money for all of our lives. Without a basic understanding of it, you will most likely fail miserably at it. It’s something I believe every young adult needs to know and understand. I’m making sure my three children understand money and do not duplicate my mistakes.

Once we hit our rock bottom with our money, I turned to blogs, books, and podcast to increase my knowledge on the topic. Dave Ramsey’s debt-free screams on his radio show were super motivating.

I’m also working with my local school district to help develop a personal finance curriculum, and hopefully this year we make a half-year class a local requirement for graduation so that every student has formal financial literacy education.

What are some of the key principles you have used to improve your financial life?


journey from broke to financially woke
Success Principles

Creating a budget was the first step we used. Having your numbers down on paper really helps you understand where your money is going. Using the spend less then you make philosophy and have cash for emergencies have been the basic but life-changing principles for my family and me.

How often do you consume personal finance information? Name 3-5 of your favorites sources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc.).

I consume personal finance information daily. It’s one of the main reasons I started to blog to have a connection to the community often.

The books I often recommend are “The Total Money Makeover” and “The Millionaire Next Door.” There are many great blogs and podcasts, and I always suggest someone find ones that resonate with you and read and listen.

Where are you on the path to financial freedom now?


journey from broke to financially woke

I’m not necessarily pursuing financial freedom, but my goal is to continue to build wealth. My goal is to be able to retire shortly after my three children graduate from college. My target is within 5-8 years.

Is there any advice/encouraging words you can give those who are struggling to escape Broke Phi Broke?

I believe no matter how much you make or how much debt you have, it’s possible to turn your situation around. It will be tough and take hard work, but it can be done. The good news is that there are plenty of people in similar situations, and will to help you.

How can the readers contact you?

They can find me at my blog Debt Discipline or on twitter @debtdiscipline. It would be my pleasure to answer any questions or help someone in need. 

Have you seen Brian’s Good Morning America debut? Check it out below!

Read more interviews in the From Broke to Financially Woke Series.

Please share this From Broke to Financially Woke interview on social media!  Include the hashtag #frombroketofinanciallywoke.  

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Author: Jerry

Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.

If you are having trouble saving, he recommends that you join the SaverLife Savings program where you can get a $60 reward after six months (no income requirement). All you have to do is put a minimum of $20 a month into a savings account. Easy, right?

For a fun read, check out his article 10 Signs You’re a Personal Finance Addict to see if you are a personal finance nerd.

Before you go, check out the new From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series.

Also, please subscribe below if you found his content valuable and want to continue following him as he documents his own journey from Broke to Financially Woke!

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