Well folks welcome to another blogger interview series. This week we got a good line up of personal finance bloggers including Mike and Mr. Cheap co-writers of Quest for Four Pillars, Trent from The Simple Dollar and the blogger behind Financial Jungle. So without further delay let’s get stared with the Financial Jungle.
Tim: Thanks for your time FJ. You seem to be one of those few bloggers that has learned the art of passive blogging (ie writing when you feel/want to). What made you decide to blog this way and what do you like about it?
FJ: When I first started Financial Jungle, I tried to post more frequently, but came to the revelation that I was simply not as prolific as some veteran bloggers such as Canadian Capitalist, Million Dollar Journey and yourself. I quite enjoy the current pace though. Not having the added pressure allows me to post only when the creative juice is flowing. I hope it shows in my posts.
Tim: I’ll be one of the first people to admit five days a week can be difficult. Yet it has to be difficult for you being one of the few people that rents over owning a house in the personal finance blog world. For you what are the best and worst things about renting?
FJ: Ironically, the best thing about renting is the ability to build equity. The rental rate on our Downtown Vancouver condo is only $1,450, but the mortgage interest on a prevailing 5-year mortgage is $1,850. ($370k x 6% / 12-month) Throw in a minimum $350 for condo fee, property tax and insurance, the total out-the-window expense is an evil $2,200. We save at least $750 per month. That’s $9,000 per year of bonus money available to invest in dividend-paying stocks.
Notes: (a) I’m assuming 100% financing to account for opportunities lost on the down payment. (b) I’m comparing out-the-window expenses in both cases for a fair comparison.
The worst part about renting is being perceived as an under-achiever, although after a while, I learn to grow a thick skin. It’s easy. I’m not a flashy guy to begin with. I drive a 2000 Honda Accord, and don’t own any snazzy gadgets like an iPod Touch. I may not be a proud homeowner, but I’m thrilled about tallying up a basket of the best businesses around the world; businesses that grow their dividends at 2 to 3 times the rate of rent inflation.
Tim: It would be a very different world if everyone could think that way. So what has been the most important thing you have learned from blogging so far?
FJ: Perseverance. The blog is a David versus Goliath story in my own little fantasy. Being a horrendous writer, it was intimidating to blog among the elites. But I didn’t let that deter me. I bought a few writing books from Chapters and Amazon.com and began reading them religiously every evening, and practicing new techniques on my blog.
All the hard work is paying off. When I told my friends about being the author of Financial Jungle, nobody believed me. I took that as a compliment.
Tim: It’s amazing how easy blogging can look, but it’s actually a hell of a lot of work. I personally find one of the most difficult things to determine is what to publish and what should remain private. Do you find it bit disturbing to post some of your financial information on a blog (such as your core holdings in your case)?
FJ: Yeah, I do. For the most part, I volunteer just enough information to convey a point. I’m not an Internet security expert, but if I’m not careful, I can imagine it wouldn’t take much effort for an intruder to hack into my site and steal my identity.
It’s primary a judgment call. If there’s a possibility of me regretting writing something, I won’t post it.
Tim: So to wrap up this interview I have to ask you about some of your own interview posts. What do you like about doing interviews and where do you find your people to interview?
FJ: Chris Gardner from “The Pursuit of Happyness” once asked a polished stock broker, “Man,I get two questions for you. What did you do and how did you do it?”
I’m only human, and like everyone else, I love success stories. But not just any success story though. I want to hear from everyday people. Not Bill Gates. Not Donald Trump. Just people from my backyard. Everyone climbs a different ladder to success, so my intention isn’t to replicate their blueprints. My goal is to sniff out common traits. For example, successful people think a decade ahead, but they avoid day-dreaming today and squandering precious time. They concoct up a plan and they commit to it with utmost patience and persistence until they achieve their goals.
Tim: Best of luck with your dreams FJ and have a merry Christmas. I’ll be back on Boxing Day with another interview.