In this episode of Motley Fool Answers, Budgets Are Sexy founder J. Money joins Motley Fool personal finance expert Robert Brokamp to tell the tale of how he became a successful financial blogger (and millionaire) and also discuss his latest project, All-Star Money. Budgetsaresexy.com and AllStarMoney.com are Motley Fool properties. Plus, host Alison Southwick provides the ABCs of NFTs.
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This video was recorded on March 23, 2021.
Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers. I’m Alison Southwick and I’m joined as always by Robert — gosh, I forgot to think of something to call you ahead of time — Brokamp, personal finance expert here at The Motley Fool. Hello, Bro.
Robert Brokamp: Well, hello. I think that’s as good as any. Actually, that’s very dramatic. Thank you very much.
Southwick: [laughs] Well, in this week’s episode, we’re joined by J. Money. He is the founder of Budgets Are Sexy and All-Star Money. I tried to make sense of non-fungible tokens. All that and more on this week’s episode of Motley Fool Answers.
Brokamp: Alison, what’s ludicrous?
Southwick: [laughs] It’s not that ludicrous. There is nothing ludicrous about it.
Brokamp: Convince me. Persuade me, actually, I think is the right word.
Southwick: Yes. Well, Bro, if you’re like me, when you first saw the acronym NFT show up in your tweets, you got as far as Not For, and then you realized you were quickly going down the wrong path in trying to decipher it. NFT stands for our non-fungible tokens. Now, from there, if you’re like me, you thought it had something to do with mushrooms, maybe Mario Brothers, [laughs] I don’t know. Then you read a paragraph of an article, got bored or confused, and moved on with the knowledge that all of your assumptions were wrong, but then you didn’t actually replace it with any real knowledge. That was fine until you started seeing NFT everywhere, and you realized that maybe you should learn what it means. Also, you have a podcast taping coming up, so here we are. It’s not that ludicrous, Bro, stay with me. All right, let’s go.
Brokamp: We’ll see.
Southwick: [laughs] Mitchell Clark wrote a delightful article on The Verge explaining NFT. I’m largely relying on that. Also WIRED, New York Times, and a few other places. Let’s go. Non-fungible tokens are essentially a way that you can claim ownership of a digital thing, think music, art, tweets, yes, these are all reproducible, but so is a postcard of the Mona Lisa. Non-fungible tokens exist on a blockchain at this point, mostly Ethereum, but others are getting on board. There are online marketplaces like OpenSea, wearables, and Nifty Gateway where you can buy and sell the official ownership of the digital thing. Again, we’re talking music, video, art, animated GIFs. For artists, this provides a new way to sell your work. You can also set it up so that you get a little kickback every time the NFT changes hands with a new owner. That’s nice. Right now, you’re like, Bro, why would someone pay millions of dollars for an animated GIF when you can just download it for free? Again, why would someone buy a Monet painting from millions when you can get it on a mug from the gift shop for $15?
It all comes down to the basic tautology that some things have value just because someone decides it has value. Now, for some people, the value might be bragging rights. To that end, you get to buy an NFT for a digital drawing of a cat because you are looking for a new way to show people you are wealthy. For others, the value might be about your fandom or support of an artist or musician. Kings of Leon, Grimes, Deadmau5, and many others have released NFTs for music and art. For others, the value might be purely speculative. You’re buying the NFT for a digital drawing of a cat because you think it will rise in value as many other people agree they want that authentic digital drawing of a cat. You’re like, “Seriously, digital cat drawings?” Yes. 10 years ago, a guy named Chris Torres created the animated meme Nyan Cat. You know it as the flying cat with a pop tart for a body and it’s leaving a rainbow trail behind. As soon as you Google it, you’re going to be like, “Oh, yeah, Nyan Cat. I totally know what you’re talking about.”
In February, Torres created an NFT version and put it up for auction, and it sold for nearly $600,000 [laughs] following a last-minute bidding frenzy. Other NFTs out there, William Shatner’s dental x-ray, digital-baseball cards, photos of Lindsay Lohan, and the first tweet by Jack Dorsey just sold for $2.9 million. Don’t feel too bad because the proceeds are going to go support a charity, so there’s that. NFTs are definitely booming right now with probably more speculators than collectors and fans driving up prices. But experts looking beyond the boom see a great opportunity for a new way to guarantee authenticity. For example, Nike already has a patent to create NFTs attached to shoes to guarantee their authenticity called Cryptokicks. When you consider that a pair of Air Jordan 12 Flu Games are worth more than $100,000, yeah, I think I want an NFT with that purchase, please. Maybe you’re still skeptical, like a bunch of people in the comments of the articles [laughs] I read. But seriously, how is this all that new and different? It’s not like people buy sneakers, art, or baseball cards for the value of the materials themselves, they buy them for the aesthetics, the design, the rarity. As the New York Times quoted Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, “A $200 pair of sneakers is like $5 in plastic. You’re buying a feeling.” Right now, the feeling that NFTs offer is similar to one a stamp collector, or baseball card collector, or art collector, or someone in fashion, or even a speculator might feel. It’s that feeling that you are special because you own something someone else wants. That, Bro, is what’s ludicrous, or really is it? Come on.
Brokamp: J Money, not his real name, founder of the offbeat personal finance website, BudgetsAreSexy.com. J Money, welcome to Motley Fool Answers.
J Money: Hello, I love that intro. I’m going to record that, take that everywhere with me. I love it.
Brokamp: [laughs] Let’s start with some biographical info. Ready? You are a military kid, your dad was in the marines.
J Money: Yes, sir.
Brokamp: You studied graphic design in college, tried to make it in the big apple, New York City, for a while, returned to DC, and you had all kinds of oddball jobs, customer service, working in a stamp factory, I think waiting into the exciting world of ring tones or something like that. But then in 2007, you and your fiancé, who’s now your wife, began looking for an apartment. Why don’t you take the story from there?
J Money: We started to look for an apartment because we were going to live together and took a wrong turn one day and we saw this nice townhouse that was near water and was for sale. Of course, you know what you do and you’re looking to rent if you go and look for a house for sale. Called the realtor, he was amazingly good at his job. He came, showed us the house, and then in a nutshell, within 48 hours, no money down, no real plan, we literally spent $350,000 on a house when we went to rent a two-bedroom place. That really was a crazy spur-of-the-moment thing you don’t usually want to do, but that really opened my eyes to like, “Wait, maybe I should pay attention to my money.” I went Googling how to budget, all that good stuff, and I came across all these blogs, all these people talking and sharing real-life numbers, and real-life budgets, and net worth. That was mind-blowing for me to see real numbers.
Brokamp: That inspired you to form a website called BudgetsAreSexy.com. Obviously, the name is catchy. By the way, when I was looking at the definition of sexy, I saw synonyms were bodacious, so I don’t know, [laughs] budgets are bodacious was [laughs] something also you considered. [laughs] But how did you decide on the name of the site?
J Money: At the time, Justin Timberlake’s “I’m bringing Sexy Back song,” that’s how long ago, it’s 12, 13 years old now. I loved it. Money, when I started reading for about six or seven months online, I thought people were interesting, but it was the boring stuff over and over again. I’m like, “You know what? If I’m going to start writing, I want to be fun, edgy.” If you have sexy in it, you are going to be all these people from Google come in. I was trying to gain the market a little bit, gain the system. But really, I just thought it was fun. To me, at the time, like once I got my budget going, I realized it gave me confidence. Budgets give you confidence and what makes you sexy is confidence and I just did it for fun. Now some people it’s blocked at work, you can’t even get to it. That was my grand scheming, didn’t even work in the end for that.
Brokamp: [laughs] Well, also, probably because you used some colorful language here and there every once in a while.
J Money: I do. Yes.
Brokamp: But that’s fine. That’s fine, it’s part of the character of the whole thing.
J Money: Well, I find, for me, as I learn, talking to someone at a coffee shop or just a friend, and you try and you are real because you’re talking in real life. For me, I do that online, it resonates with me and I feel like I’m there in the room. I try to not monitor myself with that as best as I can, at least.
Brokamp: One point you alluded to is that you found these other bloggers out there basically opening their monetary Kimono and showing their net worth, [laughs] which is something you do, which is, I assume why you have a pseudonym because J Money is not your real name.
J Money: Yes, right.
Brokamp: Tell me about that, that takes a lot of guts in my opinion.
J Money: Yes. Well, I will say it’s a little easier when you don’t have money. At first, when I first started, I was in my mid-20s, I’m now 41, 42, who knows? I started tracking and at the time I realized I had about $40,000 or $50,000 in 401(k) and some cash, money, but not a drastic amount. I was never really worried about, I didn’t get nervous sharing it at all. But I was nervous because I talked about work a lot on my blog. I decided to be anonymous there and then I knew in a perfect world, hopefully, the money would grow. I started sharing from the beginning what was my savings, investments, debt, car payment, mortgage. Once I had that now. That really helped me to really track over the years and see what I was doing good and bad, and ultimately, it’s blasphemy for me to say, but I stopped budgeting about five or six years ago and now all I do is track my net worth. That number alone keeps me on track, keeps me motivated. Again, you could see your transformation over the years when you publicly publish it like that.
Brokamp: I think you’re comfortable with me sharing with the world that you’re a millionaire at this point.
J Money: Excited. Yes. No one cared when that happened. I was like look how fun it was. Actually, it would be a celebration, but no.
Brokamp: [laughs] But that is your net worth. It’s about $1.1 million, $1.2 million at this point, something like that?
J Money: Yes, and I published all the way up until basically, I sold the blog to a wonderful company you might have heard of, called The Motley Fool. Yeah, that was my last hurrah, we crossed a million. I think after that, I would start feeling a little weird sharing because the numbers get higher with COVID and everything, just a whole brand-new world.
Brokamp: I think you were doing two things that I think are probably helpful, and that is, first of all, the tracking and the sharing of your net worth because they involve a little bit of accountability. Do you feel like that helped you at all? Like, when you put it out there, you’re like, OK, I actually have to take this seriously?
J Money: Oh, 100%, because especially if I broadcasted all around the world, I know I have to back it up or at least just say, “Hey, I did something stupid.” Every time I had the credit card or I was thinking of a big decision, I always thought immediately, what was going to happen to my net worth report. It’s stupid and nerdy, but at the same time, it really did stop me from doing a lot of crazy things at that time that I was interested in doing. Yeah, help me keep accountable, help me keep on track. The net worth was what got me interested in the financial blogs, in general, was the real-life transparency from real-life people. I just loved that.
Brokamp: Besides Budgets Are Sexy, you built up at one point a mini-blog empire. Tell us a little bit about that experience of, I mean, you are essentially like an online landlord in a way.
J Money: Yeah. It’s interesting. I didn’t really know about making money online. I knew people had ads, but I didn’t really understand, I’m not an entrepreneur by heart, it is all accidental. I started the blog for fun to be accountable and then all of a sudden, an advertiser will say, “Oh hey, here’s $50 if you want to put up an ad.” I was like, this is great, I’m doing it for free. This is wonderful, money. Then as we got going I realized there was more to it, and one day a blog friend of mine said, “Hey, I can’t blog anymore, do you want to buy my blog?” I thought you can’t buy a blog, it’s your diary, how can you buy that? But in a sense, he was making money, $200 or $300 a month. It was technically a business, he said, “Look, we’ll just hire a writer. You just manage it, you own it and you know, whatever the difference from the income and expenses is your profit.” I said no. Then finally, he was like, look, I think, I don’t know, maybe he wanted $10,000 for it. Then I think I got it for like $3,000 or $4,000. I think maybe I was making $400 or $500 a month. I remember making a lot of sense.
At that time I said, “You know what, it’s worth the risk. Let me see what happens.” I bought it and then I realized, wait, that blog gets advertisers. My blog gets advertisers. You can cross-promote the advertisers, double the real estate right online, and then like a light bulb came on, I was like, “Wow, this is great.” Then I started looking and even asking bloggers, “Hey if you’ve ever done blogging, I’d be interested in buying your site.” In about five years I had about 12 or 13 sites I was managing. I only wrote for mine, Budgets Are Sexy, and the rest they were just side properties. That was great until I started having kids and I was working 60, 70 hours a week, and I thought this is not like the lifestyle you want as a blogger. This is not what they think, and so I ended up phasing that out. But yeah, that’s how it all got started. It really opened my eyes, just to the online world and making money.
Brokamp: I’m curious about one other thing that you tried during this period, and that is being a money coach. What does that involve and how did that work out?
J Money: Over time, people would say, “Hey, can we hop on the phone, or can I ask you questions on money?” I would do it. What I’ve realized was that it is about money. But at the end of the day, it was always about their dreams and always about what people wanted out of life. When I started doing the coaching, I started offering coaching A, because it was fun and people were asking for it. Then I realized you’re like a financial therapist, you were talking about money, but it was more about what you wanted to get out of life and your dream lifestyle. I did it for about two or three years and eventually, it was just so emotionally draining, because you just talked about life and dreams and goals and failures. I would charge $50, $100 a session, and helped people to realize their dreams over the course of a few years or at least get started. It was a lot of fun, but really draining.
Brokamp: I don’t know if you know this, but I actually have a graduate certificate in financial therapy.
J Money: That’s a real thing?
Brokamp: That’s a real thing. It’s a budding thing. It’s only been around since maybe the late 2009-ish or so. Because both people in the counseling profession and people in the financial planning profession realized that money and emotional well-being and happiness are so intertwined that you have to know a little bit of both.
J Money: That’s fascinating.
J Money: I love it.
Brokamp: People often think of personal finance bloggers and they put them into camps like there’s FIRE, minimalist, maybe family finance experts, maybe side hustle experts. Where would you put yourself?
J Money: [laughs] I guess I would put myself, I’m a go with the flow type of person. Even though I’m a finance guy, I’m very bad at planning, but I’m very good at figuring out how I feel about things and I’m in tune with my emotions, maybe a little too much. I am into minimalism and I’m into the concepts of FIRE. Those are the two that I’d probably pick. I have no plans on really retiring, but the financial independence part of that FIRE to give you freedom and options, I think is huge. Then with minimalism, of course, the less stuff you own, the less you maintain. I’m realizing as I get older, that all the stuff I thought I cared about growing up and stuff, fancy cars, big houses, and everything, I just don’t, and it actually weighs me down. Even buying that house all those years ago, that was probably one of my biggest financial regrets because I was tied and emotional regrets. But at the same time, it opened me up to talking to you and building blogs. It’s interesting, a lot of people, there is a financial aspect and then there’s an emotional aspect. But you have to figure out where you fall, and then there’s different solutions depending on your personality and your comfort levels.
Brokamp: You talked about your house, you just mentioned cars and in the typical American budget. The house is the No. 1 item, car is the second item. CNBC just published an article that cited stats from Experian which found that the new average monthly loan payment for a new car is near $600.
J Money: Wow.
Brokamp: Yes. A lot of people are devoted a lot of their budget to cars. Now, you on the other hand, had the Franken-Caddy, tell us about the Franken-Caddy.
J Money: Yeah, I miss her, man. [laughs] Yes, she was a ’93 Cadillac DeVille. I bought it from a mechanic who had bought it from an older person that really drove it. I think it had like 80,000 miles on it. It was only $3,000. This was right where I started getting into money and paying attention and challenging what do I have, what do I need, what I actually care about? I had an SUV at the time that I paid, I think $23,000 for. At the time, I was like, wow, I can just sell that, buy a Beetle car that I actually happened to love, and not have to worry. The SUV was more new, I was worried about rocks hitting it, I was just worried, again, going back to the emotional state. I realized that you can be, and I’m a car guy to a degree, but what I know is I could be happy in a lot of different cars. I could be happy in a hooptie, I could be happy in a Rolls-Royce, I could be happy in a lot of different ones. Whatever one fits me financially is probably the one I should choose. If they’re equal happiness, then I revert to the lower one and the Cadillac was great, so I bought it, drove it around for many years. It kept getting in car accidents. People would hit me. It’s even parked and people would hit it when it was parked and every time, the insurance, it wasn’t worth anything, right? But the insurance is like, “That’ll cost $1,200 to fix.” I’m like great, “I will just take the check, I will not fix it.” [laughs] Over the years, I think it earned about $2,000 or $3,000 and basically paid for itself. But it was great. It kept adding character over the degrees where I just called it a Frankenstein car, because it was just bent up and it had a mishmash of different parts in it, I had to get it street legal, at least. Yeah, it was a great car and I miss her.
Brokamp: I suppose, was kids one of the reasons why you eventually had to get rid of it?
J Money: Yeah, that’s it, man. I’d still be driving her right now, but it wasn’t safe all the way. Some of the seat belts in the back weren’t working, and the safety stuff wasn’t updated. Once I had the kids, I had to make the decision, and of course the real-life babies come before non-real life babies. That started the descent into being an adult and being a father. Actually, a lot of the last five years is really of me coming to terms with looking for other people and not just myself all the time. [laughs]
Brokamp: Ain’t that the truth? I’ve got four kids and mine are older than yours, but it just keeps going. [laughs] I’ve already pointed out that you are a millionaire. One of my all-time favorite books is the Millionaire Next Door, which found that real-life millionaires are not what you would think with the big house and fancy car. They’re basically people who just find ways to live below your means. I think you’ve completely fit that profile. Also, I know from other interviews you’ve done, on another podcast, you said that your wife is super frugal, and one of the findings of the Millionaire Next Door was that the wife tends to be more frugal than the husband. What are some good practices that you and your wife have put into place, or maybe you’ve seen from other couples when it comes to managing finances as a couple? Because I know, for many couples, they’re not on the same page.
J Money: Yeah. I think we play with different rules and different things that we first had our money separate from the first few years of dating and marriage. Then when getting into minimals and trying to figure out the best strategy, we started combining. I know there’s certain things that she is good at and enjoys and then vice versa. One thing that she hates is dealing with money. Lucky for me, I love it. I said, “Well, let me take control of some of the stuff you don’t like and I’ll do it.” Then some of the stuff that I don’t like that she’s good at or enjoys, she took over. Trying to figure out where our sweet spots in the beginning was really helpful.
Then of course, yes, it’s good if you can marry someone frugal. I think a lot of us too, especially when you’re younger, you don’t really care or think about that stuff. I did it. I did not care about money whatsoever when I met my wife. It’s more about the connection. But as you get older and you pay attention to this stuff, of course, that is good if you can figure that out early on. As far as different things we did, we had two things in the beginning that I’ve done and I’ve seen other people do. We have a blow money, where it’s just like, “Hey, this is your account.” I think we had like $50 a month or $100 a month that we each got and we can spend it no questions asked on whatever stupid thing the other person thinks it is. That saved us from budgeting everything and asking permission and all that kind of stuff. It was just pure independent money.
Brokamp: Is there anything that you had trouble letting go of or sacrificing and be like, “Man, there’s no way I can live without that?” But then you did it and you’re like, “You know what? This wasn’t so bad after all.”
J Money: Yes, iPhones. I thought there was no way you can pry one of those things out of my hands. Over the years, again, going back to challenge, I’m big into experimenting and challenging myself. One month, I was like, “You know what? What do I use and do I need it, and what do I like about it? What I don’t? Can I swap it out?” The iPhone was the big thing. I love it but I was like, “What do I really love about it?” Taking pictures, texting, calling people, Internet, and obviously, with smartphones, you could do that with any phone. It does not have to be the iPhone. So over a month or so, I started really thinking about looking at other plans, and then I switched and I think we are paying for my wife and I both about $150, $200 a month on cellphone plans. We switched to a public wireless and at the time, I think it was like $20 or $25 a month. Right now, actually, even today, we spend $50 a month for a phone that takes pictures. You could text, you could get to the Internet, and it’s $150 saving every month. That really, A, it’s really hard to do is to switch subscriptions, of course, and especially a phone because it’s annoying. There’s no fun switching and adding numbers and doing all that good stuff. But what I realize is that it’s continual money, and if you do one hard thing first and then it continues to save you, A, if you put it in the bank account right away, you’re actually literally saving it for the rest of your life in theory. That’s the trick, is not to start spending it somewhere else and then which case, you break even.
Once I did that, I was, “Oh, I’m feeling good.” Then I later canceled cable, which nowadays is very common. Back then, five or six years ago, it was starting to go and I started breaking out some parts of the cable bill. Then finally, I got rid of that altogether and haven’t looked back, and I think that was about $50 or $60 in savings too. That right there was $200 every month and I’m not doing a thing. It’s thousands of dollars now. That was my experience. Now, that’s what I do when I look at subscriptions, especially like, what can I kill? Even stuff that I like sometimes, I try and challenge myself to kill it, and then you can always add it back later if you really miss it.
Brokamp: I’ve mentioned your site many times over the years, BudgetsAreSexy.com, because it has a great page for free budgeting templates. Last week, we talked about tools on the show and we mentioned Mint and first of all, Capital, and all those. When Slacking with you, you mentioned a couple of others that maybe folks don’t know so much about. So, I thought if you could take some time and talk about them, that would be great. They are Digit and Acorns.
J Money: Sure. Digit is basically an app that you sign up, you connect your account with. It’s a little freaky sounding, but it’ll basically analyze your spending and see what you can actually save. Instead of just alerting you or telling you, “Hey, you can save this,” it literally pushes the money into savings for you. Again, still freaky, they go and analyze, push it in there, but it actually takes action on your behalf. If you are horrible at saving, that’s really good. People that are good at it like us, it doesn’t really make sense for. But for people that just want to save and even temporary, let’s say you’ll save for a trip, it’ll push $15 here, $17 there. Sometimes, they even push like $2.30. It just analyses your stuff. I really like Digit.
Then Acorns is a little different. It rounds up all of your spending that you’re doing. Let’s say you bought a $5.30 coffee, it would round up the $0.70 up to the dollar, and then drop that into investments. That’s an easy way to invest without doing anything, all automated. Again, mainly for people that aren’t that good at it, that want to do it, but don’t know how, it gets you going. Then usually, when you get good at that, you can do it yourself because all these apps cost $1, $2, $3 a month, minimal. But at least get you go on, at least you’re saving and investing right away versus thinking about it all the time.
Brokamp: Got it. As you referenced earlier in the show, you no longer own BudgetsAreSexy.com.
J Money: Crazy.
Brokamp: You sold it to some crazy company called The Motley Fool. [laughs] You’ve been writing the blog since 2008. What was behind the decision to make that transition?
J Money: A number of things. Over the years, I realized that I no longer am motivated by money, or empire-building, taking over the world. I realized where happiness is for me. It’s in waking up, working on something for a few hours I enjoy, and then with the rest of my time, just doing whatever I want to do; hang out with the kids, read, go visit a cemetery, collect coins, which I do for fun. Again, as an entrepreneur, you’re always building and building, and so even going back to owning 12 or 13 different sites, I realize that is not helpful for a lifestyle. It’s great for money and business and stuff, but not if you want to not work as much, right?
Over the years, I started selling a blog or other projects I have, and Budgets Are Sexy, it was my baby in my online resume and so that was really hard, and with minimalism too, I wanted to get freedom and I really wanted to challenge myself, can I still enjoy what I do for a living and still be in the personal finance space without owning anything? I was waiting for the right company, I almost sold it a few years ago, but more out of wanting money and more desperation than anything else. There were a few years in my life in blogging, and this is all in the blog where I started losing money. I started not wanting to work as much and so I started losing money and depleting my savings. Again, that was a pure lifestyle choice, but it has consequences. Anyway, when you guys came along, you just naturally fit, the cultures are really nice and I thought, you know what, now is the time to do it and you guys said hey here’s money to buy it, we will even pay you to continue writing for it. I thought this is perfect, this is great. I don’t have to worry about marketing, business, accounting, all the stuff, growth, that comes with being an entrepreneur. Like I said, blogging, but there’s all these other stuff people don’t think about. Freedom, No. 1 was challenging myself, No. 2, with the minimalism stuff.
Then ultimately, it’s over a fourth of my life, I’ve been a blogger. My identity is so wrapped up in there. What happens when you sell something? You know, do I go away? Do people not talk to me anymore? It’s so weird to think about. What I did is I kept my Twitter, because that’s like what I love, and so I still have Budgets Are Sexy and I sold and then nothing really happened. I was still writing for it, but I’m still around. That was like, wow, I can still do what I want to do, but I can release all of the responsibility of ownership. Same way with owning stuff. Like, it’s a different mentality, and I love that. I’m big into no responsibility even though I have like a million kids.
Brokamp: [laughs] That you know of.
J Money: That I know of, yeah.
Brokamp: One aspect of your new life is another Fool property. Somebody has to say it, I guess, and that is All-Star Money, allstarmoney.com. Basically, you’re scanning more than 1,500 personal finance blogs and highlighting three great posts every day. Tell us, first of all, a little bit about why the financial blog community is so interesting and compelling.
J Money: Yeah, I mean, it goes back to just real-life people talking about real-life money and sharing their stories and their ups and their downs. It’s just such a fun, entertaining way to learn. You learn accidentally, you start reading about the people, about their situations, you relate to it. Some things you’re like, “Oh, you’re an idiot, you shouldn’t do that,” other times, like, “Oh, that great, I’m going to steal that idea from you.” Versus a lot of corporate sites, they all tell you what you already know. Like how to save money, make peanut butter jelly sandwiches, cut insurance. It’s all the stuff we all know. Everyone knows how to save money, but what gets you to actually take action? For me, and a lot of people, it’s people telling different stories and anecdotes and stuff until something clicks.
The community is great and also, 1,500 blogs, and there’s probably another 500 out there. We’re not tracking yet, we keep adding daily, but they’re all around the world in all different types, right? We’ve got people in the U.K. talking, you have different FIRE groups. There’s a whole group for physicians and money, people that make a lot of money, that spend a lot of money, how did they reach financial independence. You have FIRE, you have LGBTQ+, you have all these different niches. Women, men, gay, straight. It’s just amazing, different cultures. Anything with money all around the world, people are writing about it for free, they’re just doing it and some make money. Anyway, years ago, I had a site called Rockstar Finance and I thought, I read articles. I love sharing. I’m just going to share my favorite three every day and that way people can say, “Hey, here’s the breadth of everything.” Find a blogger that you love and start following them, and you don’t have to search all the Internet. You can just come here every day and see what you like and you don’t like in different perspectives. That was a germ of it years ago, and I bought that and we sold it and it crashed and burned. When you sell something, you don’t really think what’s going to happen after the second or third person owns it. It crashed and burned, and everyone missed it and I missed it. I’m like, oh, man, that sucks. I enjoyed reading it even when I sold it. The Motley Fool team came and we talked, and so let’s rebuild it, let’s add it to the community. Here we’re now, it’s awesome.
Brokamp: That’s great. Let’s close with a reading recommendation or a few, can be a book, a blog, a specific post, maybe it was written by you or anyone else, or all three or whatever, but it could be something that maybe had a big impact on you, or something you’d recommend for people who want to be better with their money.
J Money: Yes. So, something that’s changed me a lot with mentality and just the hustle nature, if you just tend to hustle a lot and want to do everything at once was a book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown, something like that. It really helps you take stock of what you’re doing in your career, if you’re building something, and funneling out all the nonsense that we do and just focusing on the 20% that makes 80% sense and growth. For me, I realized there’s money, there’s time, there’s all this stuff that paying attention to finance does. But I wanted time. Time for me is like the No. 1 thing. How do you have more time? So everything I do now structures around having that ideal lifestyle and Essentialism really helped me narrow that down.
There’s a lot of other great finance books, you mentioned The Millionaire Next Door. The Automatic Millionaires an interesting one. I think all this stuff depends on your mentality. Do you just want like steps, or do you want to have stories and be entertained? Richest Man in Babylon is a really good storybook. Again, with the personal finance community, anything you’re looking for is being talked about online. So, it’s so nice within that to be able to find everything so fast, and people that are generally helpful and nice and not much of chaos and toxicness, which exists in other communities online. [laughs] It’s hard to get mad at budgeting. I do get hate mail. That’s not how your budget, I’m never reading again, right? You still get hate mail, but it is a little different from others like a political blog. You know what I’m saying? The community is generally warm and welcoming, which also helps the pie.
Brokamp: Well, folks, our guest today has been the pseudonymous J Money. You can learn more about him at jmoney.biz, read his past writings at BudgetsAreSexy.com and read what he thinks are the best personal finance blogs published every day at allstarmoney.com. J Money, thank you for coming on the show.
J Money: Thank you. Do you know that you and I met 12 years ago?
Brokamp: I was trying to find email to determine when it was, but it was at that ARP event that I was leading some round table, right?
J Money: Yeah. You’re on the first people outside of the blogging community that reached out, and it’s so funny that we’re here a decade later talking and that you guys bought budgets, it’s amazing.
Brokamp: We’re colleagues or something like that. [laughs]
J Money: There you go. We’re both a decade older now too, unfortunately.
Brokamp: That’s true, but you still have more hair. It’s more white hair, but it’s more hair. Anyway, it’s great having you on the show.
Southwick: All right, that’s the show. It’s edited non-fungably by Rick Engdahl. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, of course, we do have a Mailbag episode coming up soon, so send in some questions, we’ll try to answer them. For Robert Brokamp, I’m Alison Southwick. Stay Foolish, everybody!
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Alison Southwick owns shares of Slack Technologies. Robert Brokamp, CFP owns shares of Slack Technologies. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Nike, Slack Technologies, and Twitter. The Motley Fool recommends Experian and The New York Times. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.