Jeff Rose, a Certified Financial Planner, knows a thing or two about money. That’s why he has thousands of fans reading his blog, Good Financial Cents. His posts offer helpful advice about how to budget, manage investments, and learn to become financially secure. Check out our interview with Jeff for great tips on dealing with your finances.
You used your background as a Certified Financial Planner to start your blog, Good Financial Cents. What gave you the idea to create the site?
In December 2007, I became an independent financial advisor, so I had the ability to market myself a little bit differently than other financial advisors. I knew I wanted to do something different; I just didn’t know what it was. That’s when I eventually learned what a blog really was. When I realized the potential reach that a blog could have, I was hooked. I’ve always been passionate about educating others on personal finance, and a blog where I could potentially reach hundreds, if not thousands, of people was very exciting.
As the CEO of Alliance Wealth Management, you’ve definitely earned the right to call yourself a financial expert. How has helping clients manage their money influenced how you look at your own financial situation?
The irony of me being a financial advisor is that in my younger years, I was horrible at managing my own finances. I wasn’t a good saver. I liked to buy things I couldn’t really afford, and investing was not my forte. When I had the opportunity to start working with clients who were two to three times my age, and to see their shortfalls, i.e., they didn’t save enough, that lit a fire underneath my butt to get going. Because of the experience of helping those clients in my younger years, and learning from those clients’ experiences, my wife and I carried little to no debt, and we are very adamant about how much we save.
You’ve developed the Money Uprising Movement, a program which is comprised of financial rules you follow. What do you think is the most important first step towards becoming financially comfortable?
I think the number one first step anyone must do is recognize where they are and how they got there. For example, if you are in debt, it’s important to know exactly how much debt you have, but what is even more important is to understand the reasons that lead to you getting into debt in the first place. If you have $20,000 in credit card debt, but you have not recognized the problem, trying to pay it off as fast as you can will get you nowhere. You first have to fix the behavioral habits or instincts that lead you to use the credit card when you know you shouldn’t.
One of the rules of the program focuses on the importance of staying educated on personal finance. Are there certain media sources that you follow for financial guidance?
Since I am a certified financial planner and take pride in that designation, I look to my fellow CFP®s for the resources or articles that they find interesting. I get this information by following other CFP®s on Twitter to see what the latest investing or personal finance trends are that I should be staying up on.
You have more than 10,000 (!) followers on Twitter. Has this interaction with readers ever allowed you to receive some helpful or surprising money-saving tips?
I think one of the most interesting tips that I’ve learned about by following personal finance types on Twitter is credit card reward point hacking. A few months ago, I happened to catch a tweet that talked about a blogger who was able to take his family of eight to Hawaii for a 10-day vacation, all by using his credit card reward points. If it wasn’t for Twitter, I don’t think I ever would have known that strategy even existed.
You wrote a book called “Soldier of Finance” to help others get their finances on track. What do you think is the most challenging aspect of sticking to a budget for most people?
I think the most challenging aspect of budgeting is people think that a budget will restrict what they could spend their money on, but in reality, budgeting can be very liberating. Why? Because when you actually take the time to budget, most people discover that they’re spending money on things that they could care less about. By recognizing that they’re wasting money on what is essentially crap, they can then redirect that money towards things that they actually want to spend their money on, and that could be new clothes, entertainment, travel; you name it. I think the other challenging aspect of budgeting is that people think that you have to do it day in and day out. My wife and I do budget, but we do what I like to call tactical budgeting. That means every so often, if we have a major life event coming up, we’ll really get down to the meat of our budget and make sure that all our I’s are dotted and our T’s are crossed, but on a day-to-day basis, we’re a little bit more loose because we recognize that we’ve got a decent automated savings plan set up, and our budget is pretty well intact.
You’ve written several articles for USNews about retirement planning. What’s the easiest way to begin saving for retirement if you’re just starting out in the workforce?
The easiest way to start saving for retirement is to sign up for your 401(k). Is that what I necessarily suggest? Not quite. I actually suggest that people go out and open a Roth IRA before they start the 401(k). The logic behind this is that most people who sign up for a 401(k) rarely do any research on what they’re putting their money into. By opening a Roth IRA, whether that be online or through a local investment firm, you now have to do a little bit more research on what you’re going to invest your money into. By taking that little extra time to do that research, you’ll be so much better prepared when you have even more to invest as your income grows.
The Resources page on your site has tons of great recommendations for getting your finances in order. What is the most valuable site or app you use to keep track of your money?
Right now, my favorite app is through Personal Capital. Personal Capital is like Mint.com in that it aggregates all your investment accounts all in one place. For example, if you have a 401(k), 529 college savings plan, IRAs, an online brokerage account, you can sync all these up with Personal Capital to see them all in one place.
In “70 Super Easy and Practical Ways to Save Money,” you put together an insanely helpful list of ways to save some cash. Were there any things you were skeptical to try that actually worked?
I don’t know if I was skeptical in this strategy, but I’ve never been a big fan of couponing. Ha-ha, pretty funny since I’m interviewing for CouponPal.com. I’m not sure what the issue is, other than probably an ego thing, but my wife is very big about having coupons anytime we go shopping, or anytime we go out to eat. If it were not for her, I never would have thought that we could save as much as we have, just by taking a little extra time to find the coupons, which are usually available online.
It was so great for you to take the time to answer our questions! Any last words of advice for the CouponPal readers?
Just remember that no one can invest for you. You must invest for yourself. I see too many people that procrastinate in getting started saving because they think it takes way too much to get going. News flash: it doesn’t. Start investing in yourself today.
Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with a Savings Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #SavingsExperts to @CouponPal!