From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series – Just Start Investing



Today, I am excited to share with you the fifth 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 Kevin from Just Start Investing. From the name of his blog, you should be able to tell what he is about!  He is a brand spanking new blogger, so be sure to check out some of his other work after reading this interview.

If you are trying to decide whether to purchase a home or rent, his Rent vs. Buy Calculator may help you make a decision.


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


Kevin from Just Start Investing here. I started Just Start Investing earlier in 2019 with the goal to, “make investing easy.”

I have been giving out basic investing advice to family and friends for a few years (open a Roth IRA, use a high yield savings account, etc.) and noticed that advice usually spread to their family and friends too. I guess it was good (or just easy to follow).

Over time, I figured there were likely a ton of people out there (outside of my small network) who needed the nudge and simple advice to get started as well. Not complicated, convoluted advice, but just enough basic direction to get started.

So I started Just Start Investing to offer simple advice on investing and all things personal finance.

Outside of running Just Start Investing, I like to stay active, cook and travel (specifically to National Parks and Public Land).


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?


Broke Phi Broke

Luckily, must of my broke phi broke days were in undergrad. I was stingy and remember thinking Noodles and Co was a 5 star dinner. I didn’t understand how (or why) kids could buy drinks at the bar every night – even with those college deals.

I splurged occasionally, but having no money really helped me understand the value of a dollar.

Most of those broke phi broke habits continue to live on today, which helps me save and make smart money decisions. Except for when…


What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?


I bought a new car just after graduation before starting my full time job. Hey, I had a full time job and needed a way to get to work – I earned it.

So I thought.

It was a huge expense and ate away at my finances for 4 years. In hindsight, I 100% wish I bought an old, used Honda Civic.

The cherry on top was that my employer moved from the burbs to the city a few months after I started. I went from driving to work to taking public transport. Mistake number 2 was that I let the car sit idle for a year before selling it! I should have sold it immediately and not let any more value slip away, obviously.


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


I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. My parents taught me a lot about money. My teachers, not so much.

That is one thing I want Just Start Investing to become: the best high school finance class you never had.

I think there is a big void in middle school and high school curriculum that could be filled with basic investing and personal finance advice, tips and overviews. Next on my to do list is to build out what some of those courses would look like… stay tuned.

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


Extremely important.

I have read 5+ financial independence and investing books in 2018 and plan to read even more in 2019. I know 5 does not seem like a ton, but I’m a slow reader…

Plus, I think quality over quantity matters. I got more from Bogle’s The Little Book on Common Sense Investing than I’ll probably get from the next 20 books combined.

Beyond reading, I’m constantly looking at blogs and websites to stay up to date.


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


From Broke to Financially Woke Interview
Success Principles


I have optimized four key principles of personal finance:

  1. Investing: moved from picking stocks to investing in index funds for the long term, and have no intention of going back.

  2. Credit Cards: I found the perfect everyday credit card and am strategically “travel hacking” on top of that.

  3. Banking: I have a the most convenient checking account and one of the best high yield savings accounts.

  4. Budgeting: I have an understanding of multiple budgeting strategies and apply them at difference points in my own life. Have a firm budget is not for everyone, but having a firm understanding of your finances is.


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


Almost every day. Some of my favorites are:


Where are you on the path to financial freedom now?  



Pretty early on compared to some FIRE folks, but well beyond most “average” Americans.

I’m 4 years into my working career and have multiple years of expenses saved. Though, still have a quite a few years to go to get to FI.

My focus right now is on expanding income to help me get there faster.


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


Just get started.

Start with $1. Then $10. Then $100. Once you start saving, it will become addictive and snowball from there. The hardest part is getting yourself to save (and invest) that first dollar.


How can the readers contact you?


Find me at Just Start Investing (website). Or hit me up on:

Or follow me via my mailing list, you’ll get a free every day credit card recommendation when you do:


Questions to Ponder

  • How can holding on to some broke phi broke habits help you?
  • How much money do you need to have in order to start investing?
  • If a Just Start Investing course were offered when you were in high school, would you have taken it?
  • Would you like to share your story of how you escaped Broke Phi Broke? Email me at

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!

Subscribe to be one of the first people to get updates as I continue to document my journey from broke to financially woke 🙂

2 thoughts on “From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series – Just Start Investing

    1. Hey Kevin! You’re so welcome. Thanks again for contributing to the series. You and other members of the FI community have submitted some amazing responses. I couldn’t have created this series without you!

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