This is our 12th “Better Know A Blogger” interview. We’ll be posting two per day, except on Saturdays and Sundays, leading up to the 2012 Financial Blogger Conference next month. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to some excellent bloggers from all across the web who are able to shed light on topics ranging from debt to saving money to investing. (Each interview is conducted via e-mail and then published here)
Today’s interviewee is Miranda from PlantingMoneySeeds.com. Enjoy!
Your experience is unique because while you have your own blog, you do most of your writing for other personal finance blogs. How did you become a ‘freelance’ personal finance blogger?
My deep, dark secret is that I used to write on Associated Content. I posted regularly, though, and Robyn Tippins, the founder of Sleepy Blogger, and someone who has worked with Yahoo!, Current TV, and ReadWriteWeb, noticed. Robyn (I co-authored a book with her) saw that I was consistent, and a decent enough writer. She introduced me to blogging in general, and the idea of blogging for others. She brokered a couple of deals with corporate clients, and I started writing for them.
Those blogs provided me with some practice, and to samples of work to point to. I started applying for other blogging jobs, including for AllBusiness and b5 Media. Pretty soon, thanks to my work with those sites, a little social media promotion and interaction, and my involvement in niche bookmarking sites like Tip’d (RIP), other blog owners began approaching me with staff writing offers. My own blog is less than a year old; until November 2011, all of my writing was for others.
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Wow, that’s amazing! And the fact that you’re now able to be featured in all these different personal finance blogs is impressive. With that experience in mind, what are some of the most common misconceptions or mistakes that people still make when it comes to managing their money?
I think the idea that investing is complicated is one of the biggest misconceptions. We think that you have to have a “system” or be good at stock picking, or know how to work with the “right” broker. Investing doesn’t have to be that complicated, though. There are a number of tools that you can use to get started, and there are simple, low-cost investments that you can begin with. Plus, you don’t need a lot of money. In some cases, $25 is enough to get started. It’s important to invest, because it is one of the best ways to build wealth for the future.
That’s a really good point. Many of our readers are working to get out of debt – what key pieces of advice would you give them, based on everything you’ve learned about personal finance?
You have to make a fundamental change in the way you deal with money in order to get out of debt. Yes, you need to pay it down, but you also need to address the reasons you’re in this situation in the first place. Adjust your spending priorities, and look for ways to improve your income. But, really, the most important thing to do is make a change in your money habits so that you don’t just end up back in the same position.
If you look back on decisions you made prior to learning about personal finance, are there any that you’d laugh about now?
All of them?
Really, I took the max in student loans, even though I had a scholarship and a part time job. I maxed out credit cards. My husband and I got whole life insurance policies. I started my IRA with a managed fund. I didn’t set aside money for quarterly taxes when I first started my business.
I could seriously go on and on with my financial stupidity. Things are much better now, though.
It is comforting to know that someone like you has made mistakes just like all the rest of us (before learning the right approaches)! What was your strategy for paying off your student loans? Did it seem to work?
Well, we’re still paying off student loans. I consolidated mine to a little below 2% when I finished my MA, and I just consolidated my husband’s loans, since he only recently finished his Ph.D. The lower federal rates help. We make regular payments, and also send extra payments. We hope to be completely finished in the next 5 years, now that my husband’s pay can ramp up our repayment efforts.
Very nice! That is an exceptionally low interest rate. Okay, last question(s): Did you attend FinCon last year and if so what was it like? Also, what are you most looking forward to this year and do you have any advice for a first-time attendee?
I did attend last year. It was great! I loved meeting all of the people I had associated with online. It was like attending a family reunion with people you actually like. This year, I’m looking forward to catching up with friends, and looking forward to being a part of the Plutus Awards. I’m on the planning committee, and it’s been fun to see it take shape. For the first-time attendee, I recommend that you get out there and meet as many people as you can. It’s a lot of fun when you just go for it.
Great! I’m looking forward to meeting you in person at the conference. Thanks again for talking with me today!
Have questions for Miranda? Post them in the comments below.