Thursday, July 15, 2010

Introductions...Frugal Dad

Revisiting the Introductions series in my blog, my intent to introduce you to bloggers whose stories and/or advice I have enjoyed or found most helpful. Frugal Dad is one of my favorite PF bloggers around. His advice is wise and sound, but really hits home with a lot of topics that are interesting to me and many other everyday people. His posts focus not just on finance, but on the real life applications of the decisions involving finances.

I recently exchanged emails interview-style with the Frugal Dad. This is the story (did you just hear the Law & Order "dum-dum"? I did)...

Me: Please tell my readers a bit about what Frugal Dad is all about.
Frugal Dad: started nearly three years ago as a sort of catharsis - a chance for me to get years of financial frustrations off my chest. I used to work in the financial industry and saw first-hand the pain caused by being buried deep in debt. Despite those examples, I followed a similar pattern, borrowing debt to go back to school, living a spendthrift lifestyle, and basically wasting away my twenties. Fortunately, my wife and I survived, financially, had two kids and decided at 30 it was finally time to grow up.

Me: You mentioned your work in the finance industry, you have an interesting perspective on debt since you once worked there. Can you give my readers a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes?
Frugal Dad: Most people think that credit card companies are essentially soul-less entities whose primary mission is to make as much money from customers as possible. They're right. Actually, that's not entirely true. Some credit card companies are worse than others. I worked mostly in back-office operations and software development, but my interactions with marketing and other executives affirmed my belief that 90% of the company's mission was to dream up new fees they could legally add to cardholder's statements. Yes, I happen to have worked for a particularly lousy credit card company, and the predatory practices, fees bordering on usury, and general lack of a corporate moral compass caused me to quit the company - the entire industry, in fact.

Me: Wow...I cannot imagine working in that type of environment. You also mentioned your personal debt story. Did you have a big uphill climb out of debt or was it relatively painless?
Frugal Dad: We had a relatively small climb to get out of debt, compared to others, but it was still plenty painful. During our journey to debt freedom we had our second child, changed jobs, relocated, I lost my mom at 53 after a year-long medical and financial crisis following a stroke, and of course there was the Great Recession. At times, things got pretty lean. But we fought, we clawed, and we pulled it off.

Me: It seems that everyone's story of debt freedom has some of Murphy's Law involved. Based on your experience, what method of debt elimination do you recommend personally?
Frugal Dad: I personally recommend the 80-hour workweek method. The fact is, it doesn't matter whether you snowball debt, tsunami debt, make two payments a month, or tackle the high-interest debts first, the most important thing you can do is increase your income. Easier said than done. During our journey to debt freedom I wrote freelance articles, started my own blog, answered surveys, mowed yards for friends and family and tried (unsuccessfully) to land a part time job. Actually, I'm glad the part time job thing failed because it left me more time to pursue becoming an entrepreneur.

Me: really hit on the root of the solution. Do you find people feeling pity towards you since you are not suckered into the debt-dependent life that so many in our culture adhere to?
Frugal Dad: Five years ago, yes. Now, being frugal is all the rage. Actually, I think attitudes have shifted such that people tend to feel sorry for those out collecting material items to fill some void in their personal lives. Internal happiness and contentment are the new envy. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced it will last.

Me: I know...maybe people (including me!) will learn and stick with it, but that's really not human nature, is it? On Frugal Dad, what types of posts do you find elicit the most responses from readers?
Frugal Dad: Kids and money posts are always popular for getting the lurkers to join us on the comment threads - particularly anything related to allowances. I never realized people had such strong opinions on allowances!

Me: That's funny! What do you personally enjoy writing about most?
Frugal Dad: I especially enjoy writing about family preparedness and self-sufficiency. I'm not a Chicken Little by any stretch, but I do think it is prudent to take some actions to better prepare your family for emergencies. To what extend you take that advice is up to each individual family. Some will save a couple hundred dollars at home and maybe put up a few cans of vegetables. Others buy thousands of dollars of dehydrated foods and build a bunker in their backyard filled with gold bullion and gallons of water. Like everything, there's a balance somewhere in between that works for most families.

Me: What's next for Frugal Dad?
Frugal Dad: I used to have grand visions of quitting my day job, blogging full-time and writing a book. Then I realized that blogging was still fun, and if I had to do it for several hours, every day, to put food on the table, that it would start to look too much like work. Besides, since my wife is a stay-home mom, having two income streams helps keep us more diversified. I still kick around the book idea, but it’s a lot of work, and for now I’m content sharing ideas at the blog.

Me: That's quite practical and well thought out! Who are your favorite bloggers to read? Where do you draw inspiration from?
Frugal Dad: The first blogger I read in the personal finance blogger space was Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar. While recovering from rotator cuff surgery one December, I stumbled upon The Simple Dollar and was immediately hooked. I think I spent the better part of two days reading every single post available in the archives. Since then, I've discovered several other great bloggers that I read almost daily including J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly, Brett McKay over at The Art of Manliness, and anything Philip Brewer posts - but mostly his stuff over at Wise Bread. I’m also lucky to be part of two blogging networks with a number of skilled writers, The Life Skills Network and The Money Writers. I’m the junior member of that latter group, which tells you a lot about the quality and longevity of the other eight member bloggers.

I am sure that the Frugal Dad would love to see you over at his site. You can add some comments about allowances if you want. =) Of course you can always bookmark him or search for him, but once you visit and find the great posts there, you are likely to subscribe like I do! You can choose email or RSS feed. Also, don't miss reading his e-book, The 7-Day Turnaround: One Week to Change Your Family’s Financial Future. You can also follow him on Twitter or Facebook. If you want to totally stalk him, you can do all of the above. Now stop reading here and go check him out!

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