In our fifth interview series, I conducted a Personal Finance Interview with Defeating Normal. We will hit on a number of topics including debt reduction, passive income, personal finance influences and more.
Personal Finance Interview with Defeating Normal
Who is Defeating Normal?
Paul runs Defeating Normal. He considers himself a middle-class, working guy who has a passion for personal finance. As a left-brained thinker, before finding the passion of money blogger, he had a heavy interest in technology. In fact, Paul spent most of his life with a focus on computers and electronics of other sorts. Paul from Defeating Normal currently works as a support representative for a large technology company and, needless to say, logical thinking comes naturally to him.
Let’s get into our money interview questions with Defeating Normal.
Money Blogger Interview Questions with Defeating Normal
Below are our interview questions with Defeating Normal.
Why Defeating Normal? What do you hope to accomplish in the near-term and the long-term to gain financial independence?
Before I started blogging, I always had an interest in finance and personal development. This interest has turned into a passion and this is when I decided to start this blog. While I was brainstorming names for my site, I went through so many and they just didn’t feel right. Then, while at work one day, I wrote down the name “Defeating Normal”. At first, it was “Defeating Ordinary”, but there just wasn’t that ring to it. In today’s society, racking up debt and being stuck in the mundane has become a normal part of our lives.
I hit a point in my life where I realized I was on a normal path to a normal place with normal experiences. To me, this was unacceptable. I didn’t want to be “normal”. I didn’t want to live the life that society expected of me. I want to live the life that I want for myself.
Right then and there, the idea of DefeatingNormal.com was born. I started this website not to share my journey, but to hold myself accountable. I then realized that this could help others as well and this became my mission. If my story and my posts can help just one person, mission accomplished.
What inspired you to create your site? What’s one thing that you didn’t know that you know now?
When I first started learning more about personal finance, I quickly realized how valuable this education can be. Having knowledge in personal finance does not only help us in the now, but it can help us for the rest of our lives.
My site was first started to help hold myself accountable while working toward financial independence. It has now turned into a way to express what I am learning so that maybe I can help someone else. Like I always say, if only one of my posts helps only one other person to improve his or her financial life, mission accomplished. One thing that I have learned during this journey of creating a blog is just how supportive the PF blogging community is. It is absolutely amazing to see other bloggers that are so willing to help others that they have never met or spoken to. I feel like it is a virtual family.
As for accomplishments, short-term is to continue to grow my knowledge in personal finance and work toward becoming debt-free. In the long term, my goal is to teach my children what I learn so that they can avoid the mistakes I have made and live their lives to ‘defeat normal.’
What is the one piece of advice that you’d give to people just realizing that they need to get their ‘financial fitness’ in order?
Finances are something that many people put on the back burner for a long time. I did the same thing myself. When you come to the point where you realize that you need to make a change, remember to slow down. This may seem counterproductive to a lot of financial advice out there today. The reason you want to start slow is to prevent burnout.
Personal finance is all about creating habits that can last a lifetime, not just a quick fix. Remember, the road to financial independence is a marathon, not a sprint. Habits take time to build. The habits you build today can set the pace for the rest of your life.
What are your favorite forms of passive income?
As a relatively new blogger and personal finance life-learner, I am still just getting my feet wet in the great new finance world. As for passive income, I am currently building wealth from interest gains in my investments. In the future, I plan on expanding my passive income by offering e-books and perhaps other products on my site, DefeatingNormal.com.
In what ways do you hope to ‘defeat normal’?
In today’s society, I feel that normal has become living paycheck to paycheck, spending money on things that are not really needed and not planning for the future. I certainly do not mean to say that everyone thinks this way, but I also know many people that do. This leads me to wonder, where is our society headed? What kind of world will my children grow up in? I hope to defeat normal by one day being debt-free, owning a home free and clear and living my life on my terms.
I want to get to a point where I can enjoy life the way I want to live it and not have to worry. Most importantly, I want to help others along the way in any way I can so they can also live their dreams. We live in a world where dreams don’t need to just be dreams, they can be a reality. The question becomes, how bad do you want it?
What have you learned from creating passive income streams? Do you like to take your side income and recycle it into new opportunities?
Although I am currently working on building my passive income streams, I do know that the upfront work can be a lot. There will be lots of planning and organizing. Once things are set in place, the maintenance can be minimal. I am working toward achieving this and will certainly be posting about it along the way.
Do you have any mentors or people that you follow that have influenced you to be financially independent?
My journey through personal finance started with Dave Ramsey. I knew that I needed to make some changes in my financial life and I discovered his show. I listened to it daily for a few months and it had opened my eyes to the financial world. Today, I get my financial information from many sources. It is awesome how much info is out there and how accepting and supportive the PF community is. I follow bloggers such as J.Money of BudgetsAreSexy, Ramit Sethi of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com and Cait Flanders of CaitFlanders.com.
What is your favorite way to attack personal debt?
Personally, I believe in the snowball method. I know there are many out there who think this is the wrong way to go and that focusing on higher interest debt is more important, however, I do have my reasons. Focusing on the higher interest debt first is logical. The problem is that logic is not what gets us into debt in the first place, so why would it be the best way to get you out? People spend money emotionally, not logically.
By using the snowball method, we get quick wins. This makes us feel good and want to continue with the process since we see progress. This motivation has the potential to allow us to get out of debt faster. Debt is much more emotional than mathematical.
What are some things that you wish you would have done as a young professional if you knew what you know now?
Although there were a few years where I saved somewhat aggressively in my 401k, I wish that I knew more about the power of compound interest at a younger age. It is amazing how much retirement savings can grow in such a short time. Millionaire Mob agrees, which is why we created the dividend investing calculator.
My advice to teens and twenty-somethings who are just entering the workplace put as much away in your 401 as you can and never put away less than the company match. As I have written about before, if you do the heavy lifting now, there will be much lighter lifting in the future.
How did you get to where you are today? What are the key areas of focus to be financially free or financially fit?
I still have a ways to go before I am financially free. But the good thing is that I am on the path to get there and no longer wandering. I got to where I am today by the teachings of my parents and other close family members. Sure, I have made many financial mistakes, but sometimes we need to make the mistakes for ourselves in order to learn from them.
Although I am working to pay off debt, I feel like I am light years ahead from where I was just a short time ago. Why? Because now I have defined goals and a plan. I have accepted that it will take time and things will not magically change overnight. It takes work and I am more than willing to put that in. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry had stated, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
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