FRIENDS AND FINANCES FEATURING ARREST YOUR DEBT

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Welcome back to friends and finances my featured blogger series that introduces you to some amazing bloggers. The biggest reason I decided to start this new series, is because I believe in getting different perspectives on handling your finances. I also believe that the bloggers featured here each week have a lot to offer the world and deserve recognition. Some of the blogs featured will be other personal finance related blogs and others will not be. The reason I chose to include some other blogs that are not related to finance is simple, we all have a financial story no matter who we are. I believe money is not the only focus we should have when traveling our road to financial freedom, and I think discovering some fun blogs that share something different can be a welcomed break from over focusing on money. So today I welcome Ryan from Arrestyourdebt.com

Ryan and his wife

What is the goal of your blog?

I have a few main goals with my blog.  I originally started writing a finance book geared for law enforcement.  I have been in law enforcement for 14 years and it has been painful to see how terrible cops are with money.  Cops have a difficult time trusting strangers – especially with their money, so I thought I could offer a unique perspective to my brothers and sisters that they could trust.  Well, writing a book was taking way too long so I decided to start blogging instead. (And I found out not many people read books anymore)  

After I get more established, I would love to develop a common sense money management training program for new officers coming out of the academy and for anyone else that could benefit from the training.  I also broadened the focus of my blog from law enforcement to everyday people in the private sector that could benefit from the information.

1. How long have you been blogging?

I have been writing about finance for over a year, but blogging specifically started in September of 2018.

2. What has been your biggest money mistake?

If you ask my wife, there are several big mistakes!  If I had to narrow it down to one, I would say buying my first home, but a close second is not investing for retirement sooner.

I bought my first home right after I started my career and I bought at the top of my preapprovalamount.  It was also 2004 when the housing bubble was getting ready to burst.  In addition to buying at the top of my limit, I didn’t have enough cash for the 20% down for a conventional loan so my real estate agent “assisted” me in getting a 5 year interest only loan for 80% of the total purchase price, with a separate 20% loan to cover the down payment.  

After the crisis and recession of 2008, they no longer allow these types of loans – but in essence, the 80% interest only loan was paying only that – just the interest on my home and no principal for 5 years.  While I was a “home owner”, I really was just a renter because I wasn’t paying any of the principal.  Well, after the 5 years, the interest rate of my loan shot up and I could no longer afford my home – which resulted in a foreclosure and a black mark on my credit for 7 years.

3. What is your best advice for recovering from or preventing this money mistake?

My best advice would be to educate yourself with all the fine print before you make any large contractual purchases, and control your emotions.  When I bought that house at 21 years old, I had no idea what I was doing.  I saw a house I wanted and I was blinded by my wants which led to me signing ridiculous contracts that I didn’t understand.  Fight your emotions and don’t let them control your spending!  Educate yourself on how a large purchase will affect your finances immediately, and later down the road – and sleep on your decision before signing any paperwork.  If you don’t fully understand everything you are signing, don’t sign it!

Education and emotional control would be my two best pieces of advice that I failed to do when I was younger.

4. Favorite quote or money advice and who was the author?

I love this quote by Thomas Jefferson, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”  I directly relate this quote to money management.  Most people stress and fight over money yet they are not willing to stop their poor spending habits – which leads to all the stress!  In order to change your current stage of life, you need to make significant changes that propel you in the right direction.  We get stuck in our ruts of, “this is how we have always done it,” because it is comfortable.  In order to break the mold and take control of our life – we need to try something different.  We need to control our money instead of our money, (or lack of it) controlling us.

5. Favorite money or budgeting related book and author?

I absolutely love, “The Richest Man In Babylon” by George Clason.  It is in story format from the times of ancient Babylon and covers the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth.  It is a short but extremely powerful read.  I highly recommend it!

6. Favorite money saving website?

There are too many to list but savingjoyfully.com 😁 and Mint.com are two of my favorites.  As far as Mint, it is the website my wife and I first used when we started tracking our spending with our budget.  It has many free tools to assist with budgets and financial planning to keep you accountable for your monthly spending.

7. Favorite money making app or website? ( You can give more than one)

I have not had much success with money making apps – they all seem to pay little to nothing, or want you to buy only certain items for cash back.  I have tried survey sites and other similar side hustles, but I have never had much success.

If I had to pick one, I would choose Ibotta.  I think I have a whole $20.00 in my account right now after 8 months of purchases because I don’t change my spending habits based on what the app wants me to buy.  But hey – 20 bucks is 20 bucks!

8. Do you have an emergency fund or savings account?

Yes, we have both.  In fact we probably have too many accounts.  We have separate savings accounts for the following categories: vehicle expenses, vacations, fun money, my wife’s school fund, and our emergency fund.  Our emergency fund is funded with 4 months of living expenses in cash and another 4 months of living expenses are in mutual funds for a total of 8 months of living expenses on hand for a worst case scenario.

9. What is your most successful strategy for saving money?

You need to know where your money is going each month.  That is most easily accomplished by creating and sticking to a budget.  If I know the minimum I am going to make this next month is X number of dollars, then I budget it out each month.  A limit on groceries, a limit on gas, a limit on entertainment etc.  I always budget in a certain amount for savings and I protect it!  If I do a budget and I have $400 left after expenses – my goal is to cut back during the month on other categories so I can increase my savings to even more than $400.  Too many people say, well I really want to see that movie and I have an extra $400 – so why not?  This slippery slope leads to spending too much and then you end up over spending.

I could go on and on about money saving strategies, but the most basic principle is to create a monthly budget each month and stick to it.  Plain and simple.  

Ryan and his child

Twitter  @arrestyourdebt

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Website URL  https://arrestyourdebt.com

I want to thank Ryan for taking the time to be interviewed. Thank you for sharing your insight and financial advice with all of us today. Thank you everyone who took the time to read this post, please stop by his website when you have a chance and let him know Saving Joyfully sent you. See you next time here on friends and finances for another blogger Interview, and an introduction to another great blogger.