Probably one of the newest (started at end of March 2009) but most totally fired-up additions to the personal finance blogspace, I’m glad to have had the chance to talk to Baker from ManVsDebt. Baker’s exciting story is that he and his wife (and their daughter!) are going to be moving to Australia in June, and they were able to save up all they needed for it months in advance! It’s amazing that they’re living out the fantasy that so many just dream of. As he says below, it’s all about “adjusting your mindset.” Be sure to subscribe to his blog’s feed for free updates here.
What got you started blogging?
Well, the first blog I was exposed to was Zen Habits. This was a couple years ago when Leo was aggressively eliminating debt, so his content was saturated with how to save money and simplify your life. Since then I’ve been regularly following close to a hundred blogs in areas of finance, debt, simplicity, and personal development. One day I just thought to myself, “Hey, I could probably do this. It seems like a great way to connect with people and would be fun, at the very least.” I wasn’t prepared for how much work it really was, but now I’m kicking myself for not jumping in earlier.
What mistakes did you make starting out – any tips for other bloggers?
Haha, well I’m still really new, so I’m constantly making some mistakes. I started off with a theme that was built for adsense and frankly was fairly ugly. I spent way too much time thinking about where I’d put the ads and trying to tweak this theme and that box. It was the biggest waste of time in the world. Luckily, I found the Thesis theme and talked to some probloggers who advised me away from adsense, altogether. My advice is to find a simple theme and not to worry about a million widgets, gadgets, and special links. Don’t worry about monetizing up front… instead spend your time focusing on building relationships and genuinely supporting other bloggers in your niche.
Secondly, I would have spent more time on content BEFORE launching. My first couple weeks I scrambled and pulled several all-nighters to get posts ready. Looking back I would have created 5-10 posts and started posting them one at a time, while still writing new content. Luckily, I am extremely passionate about what I talk about. If you aren’t truly passionate, I can’t imagine that you’ll be able to sustain this long-term.
What makes your blog unique, and/or what is your own vision for your blog?
Well, I’m very passionate about psychology being greater the mathematics when it comes to personal finances. I’m motivated by extremes, which is why I like to view my journey as a “War on Debt.” My wife and I have not only cut up our credit cards, but have canceled them. We’ve also “frozen” our credit reports from being pulled. We simply don’t need or want to be anywhere near debt, right now. Although I am confident we could maintain a high degree of control over credit, we personally find the industry disgusting. The only thing I can even imagine borrowing on in the future is a house and even that I’m 50/50 at times.
In addition, we are currently in the process of selling all of our possessions and moving to Australia. We plan on traveling and living very frugally. When I’ve wrote about this topic, I’ve received a ton of great feedback, as well.
Do you maintain other blogs, if so, why, and how is this going?
Not at the current time, however I have several ideas that I’m working on. I’m thinking about creating a site specifically about how we are trying to enter into a Vagabond lifestyle. In addition, I have another project (non-blog) that I’m really excited about, but will be keeping it to myself until I flush out all the details.
On Personal Finance and Escaping the Rat Race
Where would you like to be in the next 2-5 years?
First, we will be debt-free. Secondly, I hope that we are living a very frugal, but location-independent lifestyle. I imagine us moving every year or two and experiencing many different areas. I hope to be blogging, launching online projects, consulting, and coaching. In addition, I’d imagine us having another child within that time frame.
What’s your own vision for escaping the rat race?
We are doing it! The first step for us was downgrading our lifestyle. We live extremely cheap and have made sacrifices in order to adopt a traveling lifestyle. The second step is making sure we have diverse skills. My wife is a teacher, which is a profession that is usually higher in demand wherever we may find ourselves. I hope to be able to build a couple of smaller sources of revenue that can help support our basic needs. Escaping the rat race is really just adjusting your mindset. Sure, we will have to work for many more years, but it doesn’t have to be a rat race if you’re willing to step up and take control.
What kind of an investor are you?
None. Right now my wife and I have prioritized several things over retirement. Most importantly is that we will be debt free before starting our efforts there. We currently have $50,000 of student loans left, so in a year or two we plan on getting pumped up about investing.
Do you believe in retirement?
Actually, not really. I’d like to achieve financial independence in the next 15-20 years, however I don’t see either my wife or I “retiring.” I would like to be able to work hard because I want to and not because I have to. A lot of people get trapped into inflated lifestyles, which makes sustaining them in retirement seem nearly impossible.
Where do you see the U.S./world economy in the next 5-10 years?
Although I like the idea of traveling around, I’m a proud American through and through. I think we have the most resilient and durable economy the world has ever seen. I expect that the housing market will lead us out of our current problems in the next 3-5 years. My biggest concern is 50 years down the road. If we don’t reign in the spending we’ve done over the last 10 years, I don’t want to think about what’ll happen over the next several decades. It should also be noted that I know absolutely nothing about economics, so my opinions are pretty worthless.
Anything else you would like to share with readers?
Not really. I love feedback and conversing with other readers and bloggers. Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, I’d like to thank you for the thought-provoking questions. It was awesome to do this and I’ll have to return the favor in the coming weeks! Thanks!♣
Be sure to check out some of the other great interviews in this series. Next up we’ll be talking with the SuburbanDollar, Neal Frankle (The Wealth Pilgrim) and MyLifeROI.
Catch up on the interviews with other bloggers here:
How To Think Like An “Almost” Millionaire (The Almost Millionaire, May 1, 2009)
The Four Pillars of Wealth (Four Pillars, May 8, 2009)
The Crisp, Clean Feel of 1,000,000 Suburban Dollars (Suburban Dollar, May 22, 2009)
In the meantime, if you liked this post, why not sign up (it’s free!) for more updates like this one so you won’t miss any posting of mine – just click on my RSS feed here. [And if you'd like to be interviewed here yourself, let me know by email (see my contact page) or just follow me on Twitter @MoneyEnergy and give me a shout!]Related Posts
- Getting the Best Return On Life: A Conversation with the Founder of MyLifeROI
- Nouriel Roubini Says US Recession To Be Worst in 50 Years
- The Four Pillars of Wealth - A Great Job, Family and Two Successful Blogs: A Conversation with Four Pillars
- What I Learned About the Economy From Watching Food, Inc. (dir. Robert Kenner, 2009)
- How Many Economists Does It Take To Build A Successful Blog? One, if it's The Weakonomist