We’ve decided to nominate one blogger per month as ReadyForZero’s Blogger of the Month. There are some great personal finance bloggers out there and we’ll introduce you to our favorites.
Our Blogger of the Month for May is Peter Anderson, the creator of the popular personal finance blog BibleMoneyMatters.com. He started blogging all the way back in 2008 and has been going strong since then.
On your About page you describe how you and your wife had thousands of dollars of student loan and credit card debt when you got married (which you have since paid off). What was it like to pay that off, and what lessons can you share with our readers who are in the same boat?
I can remember the day that we finally paid off my last student loan. We wrote a check for around $1100 or so and sent it off. It was a great feeling of accomplishment, and we knew that we didn’t ever want to get into that much debt ever again. A weight just lifted off my shoulders.
What lessons can I share? I found that for us setting realistic goals for debt reduction was key. Once we had set those goals we were able to start finding new ways to make second and third incomes, working extremely hard for a short time period in order to get everything paid off. We setup a budget, tracked every dollar coming in and out, and started using cash envelopes to control spending in problem areas. We just became more intentional about our money and made sure we were controlling our money, and not letting it control us.
There are some unique challenges to getting out of debt together as a couple. How did you and your wife approach that successfully?
I think for us one of the toughest challenges was the communication aspect, and getting on the same page as a couple so that we could confront our debt issue together. Coming into the first year of marriage is tough enough without debt, but adding that layer onto it makes things even more difficult. Quite often you’ll find that spouses come into a marriage with different outlooks on money, and it’s important to recognize those differences and work with those differences. So through all that, communicating about money as a couple is important. For us that means having regular monthly budget meetings to discuss where we are, and where we want to go as a family.
What are some of your favorite budgeting tips that have helped you over the years?
My favorite budgeting tip is to use the cash envelopes to ensure you don’t overspend in categories where historically you’ve had problems. For us that means every month we go to the bank and get several hundred dollars in cash for our grocery, restaurant and personal spending categories. Since we’ve started using and paying with cash in those categories, it makes it a lot more difficult to spend more than we should.
Your blog readership has grown significantly since you started it in 2008 – what has it been like to see that transpire?
It’s been extremely gratifying to see the readership of my site grow over the past 5 years because it means that people are finding the site’s content valuable. When I started the site way back then I never thought the site would end up receiving millions of page views over the years as it has. From the emails I receive from readers I also know that I’ve been able to help quite a few people over the years to improve their finances, and to me that’s exciting. I started the site to chronicle my own struggles getting ahead, and in the process I’ve been able to help others, and improve my own situation.
What has been the most interesting thing (or things) you learned from your readers so far?
I think one thing that I’ve really learned over the past few years is that there are a lot of people out there hungering to improve their finances and their financial situations. They don’t want to just be a part of the status quo of being in debt and deeply leveraged. They want to be financially free - and able to give more and share more with others. It’s always gratifying to receive emails from readers who have read one of my articles and used what they’ve learned to improve their own situation.
Your blog and your writing are founded upon your faith. Can you talk about how your faith motivates your writing and your perspective on money?
I’m a Christian and my faith shapes who I am and how I live. The Bible has a lot to say about the topic of money, there are hundreds of verses that talk about money and wise perspectives on money. Even if you’re not a Christian I think a lot of the advice found in the Bible is good common sense advice. You’ll find verses talking about planning ahead for the future, avoiding debt, being generous and about not looking to money for your happiness. The verses in the Bible really have a holistic view of money in that it acknowledges that the financial decisions we make can have a big effect on our lives, and it encourages us to use money as a tool, and not make it an ultimate objective in our lives. If we do it can lead to severe disappointment.
Thanks so much, Peter! We appreciate you talking with us.