Expert Interview with Jason Cabler on Personal Finance

Jason Cabler is a full-time dentist, and he's also a full-time financial expert with a degree from the School of Hard Knocks. Cabler and his wife had to work out, from scratch, how to manage their finances as a newly minted couple, a journey discussed in Celebrating Financial Freedom. Jason laid out for us what it takes to manage personal finance and get out of debt.

You actually started out not as a financial author, but as a dentist. What changed the direction of your life?

I am actually still a full-time practicing dentist. Blogging and teaching personal finance is a sideline that I do in between patients during the workday, and in my off time at night and on weekends. Obviously, it keeps me extremely busy, but I absolutely love it! I got interested in personal finance many years ago when I was learning how to manage a new practice and deal with a new wife who had a completely different money mentality than I did.

You talk about about the personal problems managing finances can create. Why do you think people fight so often about money?

I think people fight so often about money because we all have different views about money. Married couple especially have to deal with the differences between male and female perspectives, as well as any attitudes and beliefs that were instilled in them at a young age. Communication about anything can be hard in a marriage, but money seems to be one of the most difficult because it's an emotionally charged issue.

That's why I recommend that married couples should do the finances together. That means agreeing on a budget every month, having all money deposited to a central account and distributed from there as agreed to in the budget. Both partners need to know what's going on, have access to all accounts, and stick to the plan. I know from my own experience that if a married couple can develop these good financial habits, the fights about money will end, period!

How did you develop the budgeting forms you have on your site?

I based the budgeting forms off of different forms that I had seen in other places. Most budgeting forms that I've seen are similar, but not very detailed. I believe that the more detail you have when it comes to budgeting, the better. Most people just write down their bills and call that a budget, which doesn't work very well. When you can account for every dollar and spend it on paper before you spend it in the real world, you're being proactive and making sure your money is going to all the right places, instead of wondering where it all went at the end of the month.

What are some misconceptions you see many people carrying around about personal finance?

I see so many people who say they want to get out of debt, and they complain about their debt, but when I suggest that they cut up their credit cards and actually make a "get out of debt" plan, they look at me like I have two heads. The notion that they should have no credit cards and no car payment is so foreign to their way of thinking that they have a tough time wrapping their brain around the concept. So I guess the biggest misconception that I see is that too many people believe that being in debt is necessary to live in today's society, when in reality it's one of the worst things you can do financially. According to what I teach, being debt free is one of the best things you can do to live a low-stress, prosperous, and free life.

What are some tips you have for new couples to talk about personal finance and debt?

My suggestion for new couples is to start discussing finances and have a plan even before you get married. Once you become engaged, it's time to find out exactly what each person's financial situation is, and come up with a plan for combining the finances and paying off any debt once the marriage takes place. Doing this helps to get the marriage off on the right foot, and helps to eliminate future money fights because they learned to communicate about money early on, and made a financial plan instead of flying by the seat of their pants like so many couples do when they get married. I know if my wife and I had done this before we got married, we could have avoided years of stress and money fights that almost cost us our marriage.

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