This is our 16th (and final, at least for now) “Better Know A Blogger” interview. We’ve been 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 Philip from PTMoney.com, who is also the founder of the Financial Blogger Conference. Enjoy!
When you were 10 years old would you have ever imagined not only that you’d be a financial blogger but that you’d be a famous financial blogger?
Ha ha. No. I think at 10 years old I wanted to be Walter Payton. It’s been a fun ride these last few years, being a part of a community, improving my finances and connecting with so many others, as well as building my own business. I feel mighty blessed.
I think I wanted to be Jerry Rice at that age, so I understand the football dreams! Do you remember the exact moment or day when you decided to start a blog? What was your reason for starting?
I actually started my first blog back in the early 2000’s. It was a private blog which I used to capture random thoughts and to track weight loss, fitness, things like that. I started reading other financial niche blogs around 2004, about the same time I became really interested in Dave Ramsey’s message. Then, in 2006 I got married and I took my devotion to a whole new level. I started reading financial blogs daily and reading a lot of financial books as well. It all came to a head on tax day of 2007. I decided I’d put my passion into productive mode and start creating vs. just consuming. I felt I had my own unique message to share and I felt my technical/Internet skills were up to par. So I went for it and wrote my first post on April 18, 2007.
And the rest is history, as they say. At the beginning, when you were working to get out of debt, what strategies did you use – and did you learn any crucial lessons that could help our readers?
My debt reduction efforts were two-fold: 1. reduce my interest rates on existing debts as much as I could, and 2. pay off all of my debt as fast as I could starting with the debt with the highest interest rate (not the Dave Ramsey approved approach, but I liked the math better). One lesson I learned was that the temptation will always be there. I’ve watch loan interest rates hit rock bottom over the last 5 years. It’s easy to get into debt if you have the credit score. Keep resisting. It’s just not worth it in the long run. Delay gratification and wait till you have the money to pay for it outright.
That is great advice. I’m sure your site has helped a lot of people get out of debt by explaining these strategies! So you eventually paid off your debt and at the same time, your blog became more and more successful. Did that change your financial goals or your approach to blogging?
Sure. I don’t talk about debt as much. If I do, it’s in reference to my mortgage or my rental unit mortgage, both debts I’m going to continually pursue payoff on. My financial goals have definitely changed. You have to keep putting something out there to go for. For me it’s creating a sound retirement account and building a business that can sustain us, help us to retire early, and help our kids with college. There’s never a shortage of things to say when it comes to blogging, as long as you’re sharing what’s going on in your life. Our financial lives just keep on going. There’s always something else to strive for.
And then last year you gave yourself an additional challenge – organizing the first-ever financial bloggers conference. Who was the first person you told about that idea, and did they laugh at you?
I think I told my wife first. We were expecting our second child in a few weeks and I knew I would need her blessing to take on a second project. I think she underestimated (as did I) how much effort it would be. Looking back, had we known how much work it was, we might not have pursued it at such a level. But the conference was great and proof to my wife that I do more than just “play around on the Internet” as she used to say about my blogging.
Haha, yeah, it must have been fun to finally meet all these people you’d only talked to online. And I can only imagine the amount of work required to pull it off. Has it gotten easier or harder the second time around? And how do you organize your days leading up to the conference without going crazy?
It was a blast. It felt like a homecoming or reunion in many respects. These are my people. It’s been a stretch to learn to be an event organizer and learn to delegate responsibility. Blogger’s are typical solo entrepreneurs by nature. But I’ve gotten better at that and have some really great people helping with the effort this year. But there is a certain pressure to make year two better than the first conference. So, I’m still driven by that and I manage it all by pouring every last hour I have into making the event special and error free.
Like many others, I’ll be attending this year for the first time (and am very excited). What advice would you give to a first-timer who might be overwhelmed by the amount of opportunities for networking, socializing, and professional development at the conference and wants to make the most of it?
I’m glad you’ll be there. My advice would be to get to know as many people as you can before you arrive. Visit the forums (Wise Bread, Yakezie, etc.), follow the hash tag #FinCon12, and connect with people you see on the attendee list. This will give you confidence going in that you’ve got friends waiting for you. But the FinCon audience are a friendly, unpretentious bunch, so just meet as many people as you can at the conference too. Be prepared to share the following information: 1. why the heck you are at FinCon, 2. what you would like to achieve (be specific), and 3. what you can offer someone else. If you can answer those three questions before you arrive in Denver then you are prepared to have a great, and effective weekend.
I will try to keep this advice in mind when I get to the conference! I look forward to meeting you in person too. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
Have questions for Philip? Post them in the comments below.