Personal Finance Interview with Lauren Bowling on Building Your Own Money Tree



Meet Lauren Bowling, the creator and primary writer behind L Bee and the Money Tree, an award-winning personal finance blog.

Some of these awards include being voted as one of the top 25 blogs for Personal Finance, out of 200,000 blogs, at Shareaholic. Futureadvisor.com has also rated the site with its "Unbiased Personal Finance Award."

Bowling started off her career in New York City as an actor but went broke, eventually landing a job at Wall Street which is where she started gaining an interest in personal finance. She now lives in Atlanta with her puppy Murray. She also enjoys wine, the color pink, and karaoke.

Tell us a bit more about your site, who you are and why you do what you do.

I like to call my site a lifestyle blog with a finance theme because I cover topics that aren't strictly finance and best practices. It's very much my experiences and mistakes with money, how money makes me feel, and how money affects everything else in my life. It touches everything! That is what my site is about.

While in New York City pursuing an acting career, I took a job as an administrative assistant for a hedge fund and there I learned a lot about money. Not necessarily about investing, but other savvy things my colleagues were doing to grow their wealth. I wasn't allowed to have a blog while I worked there because of compliance issues, but after I left I started a blog because I wanted to encourage others to have daily conversations about money and finance like the ones I used to have.

Unpack your slogan for us, "Positive self worth. Positive net worth. Positively fun."

For most of my time in college I was spending money to make myself feel better. Money and self-esteem go hand in hand. I didn't really feel empowered as a person until I starting taking my finances seriously, but added the part about fun in because finance can be really tiresome if you aren't approaching it in a fresh, lighthearted way.

How can we remain positive about money?

It doesn't take a lot to feel positive about money. Just sitting up and paying attention made me feel more in control.

What are some of the keys that you think help us to focus on our money tree and not look at what others have got?

This one is tough because it is nearly impossible to look at others in real life or in the media and not desire something. For me though, it's not about being the richest person on the block, it's about having security and security means different things to different people. For me, it's having an emergency fund and knowing that if something truly extreme were to come up, I'd be covered.

I also would like to pay off my house so even if times were truly hard, I'd always have a place to live and not have to go live with my parents. Ha!

How do you think tools like Mint help people to take control of their finances?

I think having access to software that aggregates your historical financial data so you can track your spending and habits over time is so powerful. My favorite part of keeping my finances online is being able to see where I've gone wrong and break bad spending habits.

Why do you think so many of us get into unnecessary debt?

I don't think people are getting into debt anymore because they desire a flashy, consumer-driven lifestyle. "The Great Recession" cured us of that. I think people are in debt because they're trying to get better opportunities for themselves or their families: School, career, starting their own business. I recently went into debt because the expenses during my home renovation got out of control. I'm trying for something better on down the road.

The problem is that after working hard trying to attain something you paid for on credit, people spend because they feel like they've finally earned the ability to splurge. The unfortunate answer is no, not yet.

Is money everything?

My boyfriend would tell you I think money is everything because I'm always talking/writing about it. I think the phrase "money isn't everything" is something rich people say because they don't have to think about money day-to-day.

Of course, you should always cherish your friends and family first, but taking control of your finances can be the key to happiness, and isn't that what's really everything?

Hear more from Lauren at L Bee and the Money Tree or follow Lauren on Twitter, circle Lauren on Google+ and like Lauren on Facebook.