One of my favorite blogs on money and budgeting out there right now is Budgets Are Sexy written by J. Money. The thing that I like the most about his site is that he is an everyday guy (a husband and new dad) that explains money and saving in real world terms. (He was laid off from his job and still found ways to save). His site also offers interactive templates and tips that are really useful. (I still use a budget template of his from like two years ago).
All that being said, I was really excited when J. agreed to offer some of his budgeting tips and tricks in honor of No Buy Month! Check out this great interview, and check out his site!
1. What made you start your blog “Budgets Are Sexy?”
I thought it would be fun to talk about money in a more casual and edgier tone, so I tried it out and here we are 5 years later! I like to be entertained when I read about finance, so my mission has always been to try and be as *real* and passionate as I can so that it hopefully motivates others to pay attention to their stuff too.
2. What do you think is the biggest myth about budgeting?
Hmm… Maybe that it’s “too hard?” I mean, technically it is hard if you make it super complicated and set your self up to fail right from the beginning (which a lot of people do unfortunately :(), but it really CAN be as easy and simple as you want it to be. It’s just a matter of figuring out what works for YOU, and then sticking to it. So you have to know yourself pretty well, and what the likelihood is that you’ll stay on track so you don’t overextend yourself (like, perhaps, by tracking every last category on earth down to the very last penny. That makes me want to vomit just thinking about it, haha, so I group my expenses in a handful of categories and then keep track that way.) Or maybe using a program that automates everything for you like Mint.com will help you keep on track better and just requires some tweaking here and there?
PS: Here’s a handful of budget templates too if you prefer the more old school method of budgeting via spreadsheets
3. What advice would give to someone who has never made a budget before in their life?
To NOT start one right away!!! But rather start tracking where all your expenses and income are going for 1-2 months so you can first get an idea of *where* it’s all going. That’s an important piece right there, because if you try to create a budget with expectations that aren’t even close, you’ll be liable to get pissed at yourself in month 1 when you go over and think you just suck at everything So first TRACK IT ALL and then come up with an average of what you’re spending and where, and THEN assign some target numbers to try and reach for that following month or so afterwards. It’s a lot easier and not as scary to do – rather than creating a huge freakin’ budget from scratch – and you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process… When I did this for the first time and tracked it over 3 months, I realized I was going in the hole by $200 every month instead of SAVING $200 which I thought I was doing!! All because my numbers were up in my head and I hadn’t realized what was going on until I physically jotted down the numbers those first few months – it was crazy.
4. What’s more important? Paying off credit card debt or building an emergency cash fund?
That’s a tricky one because it’ll all depend on who we’re talking about, and what their personality & goals are I’m a huge proponent of using your emotions to your benefit when managing your money, so things like comfortableness and excitement and what makes them super mad/etc all come into play to formulate the best game plan to follow. Even though technically one route may be more financially correct than the other (aka you follow the interest rates and throw your money at the one that makes the most sense). For example, I happen to be someone who likes having a lot of cash around and don’t mind debt as much, so I’d personally prioritize the E Fund first, and then the credit cards afterwards. But perhaps you can’t stand your debt, and you even have a license plate that says so? In that case, it’s all about nixing those dang cards! So pretty much in a nutshell my answer here would be to follow the route that *excites* you the most.
5. You have a really cool column on your blog called the “Side Hustle Series”. Can you explain that and tell us what the most outrageous side hustle you’ve heard about is?
Aww, thanks! It all came from a post one of my readers threw my way on “chicken farming,” haha, and it made a light bulb go off wondering about all the other crazy things people do for money out there Well, I shouldn’t say “crazy” cuz it’s other people’s hobbies and what not, but you get the point. They’re “different’ – how’s that? And from that point forward these different side hustles have been pouring themselves in ever since. We’ve had articles on craps dealing, being a mystery shopper, gun permits instructor, WORM COUNTER (haha..), sample passer outer, and my favorite one by far (which also happens to be the most outrageous) – making money as a “phone actress.” AKA phone sex operator ;) There’s always a way to make money out there! Haha…
“J. Money blogs over at the personal finance site, Budgets Are Sexy, and creates other fun (to him) projects on the side as well. Such as his recent “non-sucky” giveaway site called Take Our Stuff. You can learn more about him at his one-pager here: jmoney.biz.”