Over the course of the next 8 Wednesdays, I am going to posting interviews with the other members of the M-Network so you can get to know them a little bit better. If you don’t already read these sites, you really should check them out! To be fair I am going in alphabetical order by site name, and next up is Patrick from Cash Money Life.
So Patrick, when did you start Cash Money Life and why?
I started Cash Money Life in March of 2007. I didn’t even know what blogs were until a few months prior to that when I stumbled across My Money Blog. I thought it was awesome that people wrote so openly about money, personal finance tips, investing, etc. I couldn’t get enough and read through Jonathan’s entire archives until I figured out what a blogroll was. After that, I discovered there were literally hundreds of personal finance blogs out there.
I thought I had something unique to offer, so I started my own site. I’d like to point out that my site originally included a lot of information about military money issues; I wanted to be part of a specialized niche. As time went on I realized those articles, while important to a select group of people, began to take on less of a role in my current format. I recently formed a new site, Military Finance Network, and have begun the process of migrating all my old military money articles to that site.
How much time do you spend each week on your site?
Too much! On average it takes at least an hour to write my articles, but part of that is because I am not always the most efficient writer. Too often I try to multi-task and it ends up hurting me. I am working on building a new system that should help me become more efficient at blogging and other tasks.
Beyond writing, there is responding to comments, networking with other bloggers, dealing with affiliates and other advertisers, and messing with the back end of the site. I recently launched my new site about military money which will take up some more of my time. Thankfully my learning curve should now be much less for that site. I have also been in discussion to turn it into a group blog, which would make it easier to come up with great content and lighten my writing load.
For other people contemplating starting their own personal finance sites, what are a few tips you could offer them?
First, determine if this is something you really want to do or a romantic notion of something you think would be “cool to do.” There is a big difference! I thought about having my own site for about 2-3 months before I bought my domain name and jumped in with both feet. I planned a road map of article ideas, wrote a few sample articles to get started, and then hit the publish button. It was, and still is, a lot more work than I thought it would be!
For more info on the technical side of blogging, I recommend reading these sources – Jim’s list of 25 Steps to building a personal finance blog (which I used to set up my site and still reference) and Clever Dude’s list of 50 tips for personal finance bloggers (which was published after I started, but is full of great info I still reference). I never would have been able to set up my site without Jim’s list. I just didn’t have the knowledge.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The personal finance community is very open and helpful. I asked a lot of questions to basically anyone who would help me out when I started. Many of those questions not only helped me grow my site, but turned into friendships along the way. No one can run a successful blog in a vacuum – it takes a lot of give and take.
What are the most essential habits that you’ve formed to achieve your financial goals?
The first and most essential step toward good financial health is to spend less than you earn. I started saving at an early age and have done so faithfully for several years now. I am by no means wealthy, but I am off to a good start so far. I have another very important factor on my side – time. My wife and I also avoid debt as much as possible; our only debt is our mortgage. This will be wonderful for us when we go down to one salary when we have children (no congratulations in order just yet!).
What achievement are you most proud of in the last 12 months?
I got married about a year and a half ago, so that just missed the cutoff deadline I would have to say starting my blog and sticking with it. I’ve never been much of a technical person, so I had to learn run a web site, which for me is an accomplishment by itself. I’ve also benefited in other ways – my writing has improved, I create something of value that can help others, I have my own small business, I learned to deal with advertisers, I am holding myself accountable for my finances, and more. Most importantly, I have met a lot of great people through my blog. Working with the members of the M-Network has really been a privilege and I am happy to call each of you a friend.
What would you consider the single most important thing people can do for their finances?
The single most important thing you can do is to spend less than you earn. There is no other way to get ahead in life. There are a lot of other things you can do to maximize earnings, pay down debt more quickly, (legal) tax tricks, and more. But if you never learn to spend less than you earn, you will never get ahead.
If you had to pick three of your own posts to call your “favorites”, which would they be?
Tough call. There are a lot of them I think offer readers valuable information or are fun to read. I will start with A Penny Saved is More Less Than A Penny Earned. Saving money is more important than earning more because when you earn money, you have to work for it again and it gets taxed. Next, Your Greatest Asset is The Ability to Create Income. Without income, you likely won’t be able to sustain you way of life, pay your bills, provide medical care, etc. Finally, Credit Cards and Guns. Credit cards and guns are both great tools with devastating powers of destruction if used improperly. However, when used properly, they can be wonderful assets.
Dave, thanks for this opportunity to share with you!
And be sure to look for the interview next week with Gather Little By Little!