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 Marc from Vital Dollar
How long have you been blogging?
I started my first blog in 2007. At the beginning I didn’t really know what a blog was. At the time I had a full-time job as an auditor and I wanted to find some clients for web design services to make some extra money. I had created a few small websites for friends and family, and I thought picking up some other clients seemed like a good idea. I added a blog to my site to try to attract visitors, with the hope that some of those visitors would wind up hiring me to create a website for them.
In those early days I spent a lot of time reading about blogging and social media marketing to try and figure out what I was doing. After a few months I realized that I liked blogging more than I liked working with the clients, so I kind of shifted my focus so my blog content was more targeted towards other web designers and bloggers rather than potential clients. The blog actually took off really quickly and within about six months of consistent effort I was getting over 100,000 visitors per month.
In late 2008 I was able to quit my full-time job and focus on my own blog and freelance writing for several other blogs. I actually wound up selling that first blog in 2013 for $500,000. Since then I’ve had blogs in other niches like photography and travel.
I launched Vital Dollar in early 2018 but didn’t have much time for it due to other projects that I was working on. Just last month I sold a photography blog that had been taking up a lot of my time, so now growing Vital Dollar is my main focus
2. What has been your biggest money mistake?
I think my biggest money mistake was waiting so long to start my own business. For several years after college (I graduated in 2002) I had a hard time finding a decent job that I didn’t hate. The auditing job I had for 3-4 years was ok, but I didn’t have much opportunity for growth.
I’ve always been pretty careful with money, but throughout my 20’s I just wasn’t making very much. It wasn’t until I was 28 that I started my web design and blogging business. I left my full-time job the week I turned 30, and fortunately my 30’s (I’m 39 now) have been much more productive financially.
During those years when I was so frustrated with jobs the solution that I was chasing was finding a better job. I never gave much thought to doing something on my own. But fortunately my frustration eventually led me to start my own business, and good things happened from there.
If I had started my business earlier I could have made more money during my 20’s and put myself and my wife in a better financial situation. But then again, that journey that I took was probably necessary for me to get to the point that I was fully committed to building my own business.
3. What is your best advice for recovering from or preventing this money mistake?
My best advice to anyone who isn’t happy with the salary from their job is to consider doing something on their own. It could be improving your skills or learning something new that makes you more valuable to your current employer or to a different employer. Or it could be a business that you work on in your spare time, like I did. I’m more interested in side hustles and starting a business than I am in working for an employer, but I have a lot of friends that have great careers and are perfectly happy in their jobs, so I know self employment isn’t for everyone.
Even if you don’t have any interest in running your own business full-time there are still a lot of possibilities for making some extra money aside from your job. Even a side hustle that brings in a few hundred dollars a month can make a big difference.
One of the reasons I started Vital Dollar was to help people find ways to make extra money on the side. Over the years I’ve had a lot of friends and family ask me about making money online, and so I decided it would be a good topic to cover. Several months ago I spent a lot of time compiling a list of more than 100 side hustle ideas, so I think that is a great resource for anyone who wants to make some extra money but doesn’t know where to start.
4. Favorite quote or money advice and who was the author?
I think the best money advice I ever got was from the husband of one of my co-workers when I was just about a year out of college. I worked at a bank and my co-worker’s husband was a financial advisor. I got to know them a little bit and he knew I was really interested in finances so he took the time to give me some free advice for that stage of my life.
He advised my to emphasize retirement savings even though I was young. He talked to me about the power of investing when you’re young and advised me to open a Roth IRA and to increase the contributions to my 401(k). I remember pulling up a compound interest calculator online after talking to him and I was shocked at the impact of saving and investing in your 20’s.
5. Favorite money or budgeting related book and author?
This isn’t the typical finance or budgeting book, but I’d have to say the one that has had the biggest impact on me is The Hole in Our Gospel, written by Richard Stearns, who is the former President of the humanitarian organization World Vision.
The book looks at the question of what does God expect of us? There are implications in how we live and what we do with our money. There are a lot of statistics throughout the book about poverty that are really eye-opening. There are also a lot of stories of regular people and what they are doing to love others around the world by giving their time or money.
For me, this book has made me re-look at my life and my financial priorities. It’s challenged me to give more and to make that a bigger goal.
6. Favorite money saving website?
Right now I think my favorite website for saving money is Raise.com, where you can buy discounted gift cards. I love that I can save money really easily at most restaurants and retail stores. Sometimes the discount is pretty small, but if you use it for a lot of purchases it really adds up. I also love Ebates for the same reason.
Travelzoo is my favorite site for saving on travel. My wife and I used to travel a good bit before we had kids, but that’s slowed down the past 5 years. Hopefully now that our kids are getting a little older (5 and 3) we’ll get back to traveling more.
7. Favorite money making app or website?
I love the apps like ShopTracker and MobileXpression that are totally passive. There’s something awesome about getting money or gift cards for not doing anything, even if the amounts aren’t huge.
8. Do you have an emergency fund or savings account?
Yes. I’m self-employed and my wife has been a stay-at-home mom since our daughter was born 5 years ago. My income is up and down, especially since I’ve sold several websites in the past. Selling sites is nice for a lump sum of money, but then your income drops because you’re not making money from that site anymore. So my income has pretty wild swings. Because of that, we have more in easy-to-access savings than most people would, in case my income stays down for too long. We try to invest as much as we can in retirement accounts and other investment accounts, but we always try to have enough money in a savings account (now we have it in a money market account) to cover our expenses for 6 months to a year.
9. What is your most successful strategy for saving money?
Prioritizing has been really important for us. We’re pretty conservative with our money and try to save wherever possible, but we also have some areas that are important to us where we’re more willing to spend. Our approach is to save as much as we can on things that aren’t important to us (like getting rid of cable, buying generic groceries, and buying secondhand clothes) so we’re able to spend more on the things that matter most to us.
I want to thank Marc for taking the time to be interviewed. Thank you for sharing your insight and financial tips 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 on friends and finances for another blogger Interview, and an introduction to another great blogger.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/vital_dollar
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/vitaldollar
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/vitaldollarcom
Website URL – https://vitaldollar.com/
If you are a blogger and interested in being featured in an upcoming edition of any of my featured blogger series on Saving Joyfully, please email me with your interest at [email protected]
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