Be Happier With Lesser Wants - Advice from R.J Weiss

The Zebra
Feb. 1, 2019

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What inspired you to start a blog on financial management? How do you think The Ways to Wealth is different from other blogs?

The Ways to Wealth is my second personal finance blog. The first I started in 2009 to write about what I was learning while studying for the CFP exam. Little did I know, I would fall in love with writing. While I ended up selling my first blog around 2013, I continued to take on freelance writing gigs.

Fast-forward to 2016 and the financial services firm I worked at was being acquired. While I had a position at the new company, I also knew it would be a perfect time to take a chance and start something on my own. As I understood the content marketing space, I decided that the new thing for me would be a personal finance blog.

While there are dozens of great personal finance blogs out there, my goal is to make The Ways to Wealth not only very informative but engaging. I do this by tying in real-life stories of my own, as well as others, into my content.

 

How did you decide on your guiding principles?

I’ve always used principles in my decision making throughout my life. The right set of principles make it much easier to make good decisions. The four I list are my own principles in how I handle my personal finances.

 

You talk a lot about the positive relationship between money and being happy. Can you talk a little bit more about those two things and why you think they’re so connected?

I'm a believer that one of the best things you can do to improve your financial situation is to learn what makes you happy.

It's easy to think that a new wardrobe, a new car, or a bigger house will make you happy. Yet too often pursuing these things makes your financial situation worse. So not only did these things not help, but they actually decrease life satisfaction. Instead, it's important to uncover what's important to you and put those things first in your life. Ideally, you want your calendar and what you do with your money to be a reflection of your values.

 

What advice do you have for someone who’s just now looking to invest?

Don't make investing more complicated than it has to be. It can be as simple as putting your money into a good, low-cost index fund or target date retirement fund. From there, focus on your savings rate (the percentage of your income you're putting away).

 

How has your life changed since starting The Ways to Wealth? Do you live your life differently because of it?

The biggest change for me has been being my own boss. Specifically, the challenge of supporting my family solely from The Ways to Wealth. Leaving a salary I've had for ten years, to run a website full-time wasn't exactly the easiest thing to do. But I knew that opportunities like this in life are few. I've since gotten a lot more conservative with my own finances. I take a modest salary and keep a good gap between my income and my expenses.

 

What do you see for yourself and the blog in the upcoming years?

Long-term planning when you're running a media company is difficult. Things change so fast. Google or Facebook can make one change that wipes out your current business model. When planning long-term, I like to think of what will change or become more important. And in content, I'm betting on quality of the message to become more important. So, for me, that means continuously improving my own and my team's skills in creating and marketing content.

 

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about personal finance since starting The Ways to Wealth?

I've always been interested in rewards travel. Specifically, using credit card rewards to travel for nearly free. But, I didn't realize how expansive the subject is. I wrote an entire series on the topic and learned an incredible amount while doing so. It's also a topic that changes frequently. It's fascinating to me keeping up with it all.

 

Got a quote about financial management? I’d love to hear it!

My favorite quote is from Epictetus, which says, "Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants."