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As part of Financial Literacy Month (#FLM2017) I will be featuring interviews with fellow bloggers to get their take on the subject. Please join me in welcoming The Money Wizard from My Money Wizard.com to the blog today.
The Money Wizard is the 20-something writer behind MyMoneyWizard.com. His site focuses on his journey towards early retirement, and his posts focus on saving, investing, and challenging the status quo.
He’s been interviewed by Forbes, featured on the front page of Business Insider next to Donald Trump, written for over 2 million readers in Grow Magazine, featured next to millionaire Shark Tank entrepreneurs in four different CNBC stories, and published on the front page of Yahoo Finance and Yahoo.com. He finds all of this pretty crazy, and also slightly terrifying.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your blog.
The Money Wizard: I’m a 20-something financial analyst, reader, writer, skier, bicycler, documentary addict, and make-believe home chef. I started MyMoneyWizard.com about a year ago, after I made the surprising realization that I had saved over $100,000 by age 25. A little more than a year later, I’m now over $160,000 and closer and closer every day to my goal of retiring in my late 30s.
Like Brian, I publish monthly Net Worth updates, where I get financially naked for my readers every month and expose all the nitty gritty details. (How’s that for some imagery?) Unlike Brian, I’m less than four years into this whole real world thing, so if you’d enjoy a front row seat into someone just starting their savings journey, I’m your guy.
I also run a pretty popular Go Figure series, where I highlight and comment on personal finance’s wackiest stats. (Did you know that Americans spent $7 billion more last year on lottery tickets than sporting tickets, books, movies, and music… combined!?)
What financial literacy education did you receive in school? If none what do you believe could be done to change or improve that today?
The Money Wizard: One of the three financial moments that changed my life was the day my high school algebra teacher explained the power of compound interest to me. I vividly remember him standing in the front of the room, goofy tie and all, showing how anyone earning a certain rate of return can eventually become a millionaire.
I still remember his exact quote to this day. “Instead of buying a few CDs with your money, you could be a millionaire.”
I later learned he was actually going outside the curriculum by teaching us this, and he was facing pressure to stop this lesson from the higher-ups. What a shame.
I find it ridiculous that we all graduate school having finished our required reading of Huckleberry Finn or The Great Gatsby and are left with a wonderful understand of history and cultural insight – or something – yet have no clue about the difference between stocks and bonds.
It’s a huge reason I was inspired to start my site.
After watching a lot of my friends start down the quick path to financial destruction, I decided I wanted to spread the word about a common sense approach to finance that will (hopefully!) resonate with a younger crowd.
We all receive financial advice from people in our lives. What’s the most interesting or useful financial advice you’ve received?
The Money Wizard: The best advice was whoever encouraged me to find an index fund and dollar cost average over a lifetime. Looking back, I believe Mr. Warren Buffett gets credit for that one. Coupled with the big impression my math teacher left on me about the reality of becoming a millionaire, this is what really set me on the wealth building course.
On an unrelated note, the worst advice probably goes to a coworker, who was trying to convince me to dump my perfectly functioning 12-year-old vehicle and instead take out a $30,000 car loan. And I quote, “just get it man. What good does saving your money do for you anyway?”
I have several personal finance books I regularly gift. What are your 3-favorite fundamental personal finance books you often gift or recommend to others to others?
The Money Wizard: What good timing for a question! I just posted a book review of The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias, and I actually called it “the best introductory book on investing I’ve yet to come across.”
I expect Mr. Tobias to place that testimonial right on the back cover any day now…
April is Financial Literacy Month, what are you doing to help promote financial literacy?
The Money Wizard: Continuing to blog away, but with even more motivation!
So far the site has been really successful, which makes me ecstatic. When I see how interested other young people are in becoming financially literate, it makes me really hopeful.
What financial advice would you offer to a college bound teenager?
The Money Wizard: Most importantly, compound interest is amazing and time is your best friend. Start investing just a few bucks during your high school years, keep it going where you can through college, ramp it up once you get a job, and you’ll soon have more money than you ever imagined. If you would have told me I’d be a 26-year-old with $150,000, just from steady stock market investment, I’d have accused you of being crazier than Britney Spears with a shaved head.
Second piece of advice: For the love of god, get a degree that pays. This means Engineering, Computer Science/IT/MIS, Nursing, and Business (employers are most interested in Finance and Accounting). Stray too far from those majors and you risk graduating with poor job prospects and crushing student loans. I’ve seen it firsthand with a lot of my friends who graduated with obscure degrees.
I know, maybe not the most exciting career fields, but don’t worry. You can enjoy your passions after you have enough money to be completely financially independent, which, if you start early and play your cards right, will be much, much sooner than you think.
What resources, app, blog, tool, etc. would you recommend as a starting point for someone wanting to organize their money for the first time? Why?
The Money Wizard: DebtDiscipline and MyMoneyWizard.com, of course! 🙂
For me, tracking my spending was far and away the most important step in managing my money. I originally did this manually every month using Microsoft Excel, but now days there’s really fancy tools like Personal Capital which make it much easier.