From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series – Invested Wallet
Today, I am excited to share with you the fourth 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 Todd from Invested Wallet. His financial story is eerily similar to mine, with the exception being he didn’t cosign for an exes car loan.
He shares his story of how he went from being $50,000 in debt to being on track to have over $100,000 saved/invested this year!
Introduce yourself. Where do you blog? What are some of your interests outside of financial independence?
Thanks for letting me do this awesome series, great idea! My name is Todd, I’m 31 and I run the personal finance and investing website Invested Wallet. I started the website in June 2018 for beginners and beyond, those looking to elevate their finances as well as to share my journey too.
Outside of financial independence and investing, I’m into travel, adventuring/hiking, exploring new restaurants, working out (again), and discovering some latest music gems.
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?
Ah, it still feels like yesterday, but from 2010-2014 I call this my “financially depressed” area. However, I will say, my situation was mostly my fault and I was fortunate to have what I did. Many people are in far worse situations and I know I was lucky to experience everything in that time period.
So yes, i went to college, got a job when I graduated in 2010, moved out of my parents house, and a year later got a brand new car. Sounds pretty good, right?
Let’s look at how it was behind the scenes of those things:
- I had about $1,000 saved when moving out. Not terrible, until most of that rent to buying things for the apt and towards getting a new car.
- My job paid $30,000 pre-tax, most I made by 2014 was $36,000.
- I had $28,000 in student loan debt. Not as bad as some, but debt is debt.
- I had over $1,000 in credit card debt
- Bought a new car in 2011, add $23,000 to my debt
- From 2010-2012 I was able to save a little here and there. From 2012-2014 I was living paycheck to paycheck, in an apartment I could barely afford.
At my lowest point, I was about $50,000 in debt between student loans, car loans, and my credit card. Not the worst, but not great either.
Living paycheck to paycheck was a scary feeling. One bill. One emergency. One job loss could be even more debilitating. Yet, I was also mad at myself. By the time I ended up paycheck to paycheck I realized how most of what happened was my own doing.
I was too complacent in a mediocre job going nowhere (I was laid off in December 2014 then), paid know attention to my expenses, didn’t bother to learn how to save or invest, etc. By the time I was laid off, I had just started learning, making changes, and working on my career.
What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?
Where to begin, well pretty much everything I did prior to 2014 would be a financial mistake. Including:
- Moving out of my parents house too soon without building an emergency fund.
- Being complacent in a job and career that wasn’t going anywhere, in a company that was known to let go of employees for no reason.
- Buying a new car too soon when I wasn’t financially ready.
- I didn’t bother to learn how to budget, save, or invest.
Yet, those mistakes were some of the best lessons of my life and I don’t know if I’d be so financially literate today had I not experience those things. I wrote about my personal finance mistakes more in-depth and why I no longer regret them.
Describe your upbringing. Where did you grow up? What did your parents or teachers teach you about money?
Again, very fortunate to have two awesome parents in my life who worked hard to ensure I went to college. I’m the first in my family to attend and graduate college. I grew up middle-class as an only child.
My dad taught me the basics about saving and having a credit card to establish a good credit history. Also about the importance of paying bills. This was enough to really get me started and have great credit score that I’ve maintained well since turning 18.
Yet, I had no other learnings in school or in college. Everything else has been self-taught from books, blogs, and just researching on my own.
How important is becoming financially woke to you? What steps have you take to increase your financial knowledge?
It’s incredibly important to me and it should be to everyone. It’s equaled less stress, more freedom, and just made me generally happy.
Increasing your financial knowledge is literally on YOU. You should not expect anyone to hold your hand or for you to learn it in school. That said, in order to change my status financially, I had to educate myself.
I did this by reading books (still do), read blogs, talked to trusted people who had experience with finances, listened to podcasts, etc. This took time, but you’ll quickly realize how much you learn.
What are some of the key principles you have used to improve your financial life?
- Don’t get complacent in your career, learn more, develop your career work, and make more money. It might not be discussed as much but you do need to make more money to save and invest more.
- Live below your means
- Sleep on big purchases for a day or two before actually seeing if you need it
- Patience is necessary and required
- Always Be Learning
How often do you consume personal finance information? Name 3-5 of your favorites sources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc.).
- I read personal finance blogs daily. I have a huge list of people I check out, so I won’t listen them all here. However, many of them can be find on Rockstar Finance.
- I re-read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The Millionaire Next Door every year. Simple, ready powerful information worth drilling into your mind.
- I recently started listening to podcasts, I like Grant Sabatier’s Financial Freedom podcast
Where are you on the path to financial freedom now?
Right now, I’m working on saving and investing my first $100,000. It took me almost 5 years to get to $70,000+ and this year I will pass $100k. I recently wrote about my journey and how others can potentially save $100k too.
I’m also working on making extra money through my blog as well. It’s a passion, but I’m also treating it as a business.
Is there any advice/encouraging words you can give those who are struggling to escape Broke Phi Broke?
- Don’t give up, be patient. Even if you only save a little bit at a time, you have to start somewhere. You’ll look back in a year, two years, and will be surprised how much you can do or save.
- You need to dedicate 1-3 hours per week to learning about finances, investing, money, etc. It will greatly impact your mind and how you can escape being broke.
- Don’t’ compare yourself to others. It can be discouraging or make you worry about the wrong goals. Most people do things for a perception, but behind the scenes their finances are a mess. Stick to what you are doing and focus on your goals.
How can the readers contact you?
Readers can find me writing the latest and greatest on my blog, or can email me directly todd [at] investwallet [dot] com. I also am quite active on Twitter, Rockstar Finance Forum, and FinCon Facebook group.
Questions to Ponder
- How much money do you have in your emergency fund?
- Who is responsible for teaching you to become financially literate?
- Have you ever purchased a car you could not afford?
- Would you like to share your story of how you escaped Broke Phi Broke? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!