Personal Finance Interview with Julie Mayfield on Family Finance for Mint.com
We asked family finance blogger Julie Mayfield what her favorite penny-pinching tips were and, surprisingly, she said she didn't have any.
"I'm not a penny pincher," she says. "The Internet is full of people trying to out-frugal each other and I've since realized that is not my scene. What does work for me is being very intentional about our money."
If her family finds they're spending money on something that doesn't bring them a lot of value or doesn't fit with the lifestyle they'd like to lead, out it goes. That leaves more room for the places they do want to spend money.
Here the woman behind The Family CEO talks about her blog and shares more advice on getting your family's bank account on track.
Tell us about the Family CEO. What inspired you to start the blog?
Back in 2006 I decided to hire myself to make more of our family's finances. We were doing fine, but I knew we could do better. I wanted to pay off debt, start saving for college and retirement, and basically be more intentional with our money. The blog was and is where I keep track of the things we're doing and how they're working for us.
Who should be reading your blog?
Anyone who wants to pay off debt and save more. Whether you're a family of 10 or a family of one. People in my demographic (soon-to-be empty nesters who are paying for college and getting more focused about retirement) will probably relate the most to it, but the ideas will work for anyone.
Why are you so passionate about family finance?
I'm a numbers nerd at heart. I was a business major in college but finance and accounting were my favorite classes. But - numbers aside - family finances are a way for you to create the life you want to live and that's what I'm most passionate about.
It seems every other finance blog touts the importance of creating a budget, but you say you hate budgets, so how do you balance the books?
To be honest, I like making budgets (numbers nerd), I just don't like following them. So, to compensate, I've done things like developing a found money strategy where I take small streams of income and give them different jobs to do. I write about that a lot on the blog. I've also found that creating more margin in our cash flow by paying off debt has helped a lot.
What's been your proudest moment or biggest success story in managing your family's budget?
Our daughter is a senior in college and she'll be graduating debt free. Even though we didn't have a lot saved when she started college, as a family, we've been able to work together to make that happen.
Would you mind telling us about a low point for you in regards to your family finances and tell us how you dug yourself out?
We haven't had a real low point. We've always been able to make our payments and our credit scores have been great. But we realized we wanted to stop using our income to qualify for payments and start using it to build wealth. That was the real turn-around for us.
What are some of the most unique/surprising ways you've found to make some extra money?
Blogging has been a surprise. My Family CEO blog has reached the point where it generates a small stream of income each month. I recently started a second blog around lifestyle and decorating and I'd love to do the same thing there.
Can you name a couple things everyone can do today to save money on monthly bills?
I highly recommend calling your cable/internet provider and negotiating a better deal. That's something I do annually. And everyone has something around the house they could list on Craigslist or eBay today. If you don't know how to sell online, that's something I recommend. At the very least, donate a sack of clothing and document it/keep the receipt for the tax deduction.
What advice do you have on helping kids manage their money smartly?
Start early. The summer before your son or daughter leaves for college is a bad time to start talking about money.