How did the name, Bible Money Matters, come about and how do you feel it stands out from other personal finance blogs?
When I was coming up with a name for my site the first thing I thought about was what types of topics I was going to be writing about. I wanted to choose a focused topic, a niche within personal finance that I could cover. I knew I'd be writing about a broad range of financial topics, so I came up with the idea of my site being the "Bible of Money Matters". At the same time as a Christian I knew that I would also be covering the topics of faith and finance, so the "Bible" part of my name was also related to that. In the end I hope the site is helpful to everyone as a source for financial knowledge that can help people to give more, save more and live more - like our tagline says.
You mentioned both you and your wife struggled with student loans, credit card debt and other consumer debt. Which did you tackle first and why?
Thankfully we never had a ton of debt, but there were student loans and a small amount of credit card debt that we had to deal with when we were first married. We tackled our debt using Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class - using the debt snowball method. With that you pay off the debts from smallest balance to the largest balance, so you can build some positive momentum in your debt payoff journey. There are other methods that work well, it's just a matter of finding which one is right for you.
What advice do you have for someone whose spouse has significant debt?
My advice would be to make sure that you're working together as a team, realize that when one spouse has debt, you both do, and you need to work together as a cohesive unit to get rid of the debt. If you need to, have a family budget meeting where you lay all of the cards on the table, talk about your goals as a family, and work together to set a budget and find ways to improve your financial situation. In some situations there may also be a need for some counseling with a neutral third party as well, especially if one spouse is not on board with debt reduction.
If you had to summarize God’s teaching about personal finance, what do you think His message would be?
That's a tough one as there are literally hundreds of verses in the Bible that can relate back to how to live, the importance of being a good steward of what we've been entrusted with, and the importance of generosity and good ethics when it comes to handling money. But it also speaks of the importance of putting too much trust in money or things. If I were to summarize many of the teachings, the following verse might be a good one:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
So in other words, put your trust in God, and not on the uncertainty of wealth and riches. Be generous to a fault, help others when you are able, and focus on your relationship with God.
How has your life changed since starting Bible Money Matters? Do you live your life differently because of it?
Bible Money Matters was started at a time in our lives when we were thinking about starting a family, and one goal for the site was for it to help provide a second income so that my wife could stay home with our kids. Since then we've had two kids, a boy and a girl. It has met the goal and then some, serving millions of page views to readers over the past 10 years. It has provided a nice income that has allowed me to provide for my family while doing our best to help others. I don't think we live differently because of the site, but it has given us a level of freedom that we might not have had otherwise.
Where do you see the blog going in the upcoming years?
In the past year or so our traffic has been doing well and it has allowed me to hire new writers for the site to add to the breadth and width of the content on the site. We're publishing a lot more content on an even wider range of topics from faith and finance. We're now doing more reviews of money saving technology and services, exploring ways to make money online and ways to save. We're going to be covering just about any topic that helps you to make more money, save more money or give more money.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about financial management since starting Bible Money Matters?
I think one thing I've learned is just how personal our financial management is. I used to think that there are certain things that work when it comes to money, and that if you do certain things you'd get ahead. While to a certain degree that's true, I think I've learned that just as people are different, their relationships to money are very different as well. What works for one person, may not be ideal for another person.
For one person Dave Ramsey's debt snowball debt reduction method might be the perfect plan, while for someone else using a different debt reduction method might be more suited towards them. The key is to know yourself, know what will work for you (or find something that works for you) and don't get discouraged if you don't find it right away.
Got a quote about financial planning? I’d love to hear it!
There are a lot of great quotes about money, but one of my favorite is this:
Always borrow money from a pessimist, he doesn't expect to be paid back. – Author Unknown
or on a serious note, on the importance of planning ahead:
The wise man saves for the future but the foolish man spends whatever he gets. – Proverbs 21:20