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J. Money on Going Broke in the Big Apple

In the final portion of his three-part interview, J. Money explains how his financial challenges center around trying to make a living doing things he loves and avoiding work he hates, and his experience of going broke in the Big Apple.

What is an area where J Money can personally improve on his finances? Tell us about it.

The biggest problem I’m having right now is not wanting to do something I hate for money. Even though I need more money because I keep popping out kids and would like to retire early. Over the last 3 years of self-employment I’ve been fortunate to work on projects I love and am passionate about, but some months don’t pay the bills. So you’re left with the option of either taking on something else simply for the money, or continuing to hustle hard on our own stuff even if it means a drop of income that month for whatever reason (y’all business owners know what I’m talking about). My fear is that the internet will explode one day and I’ll be left to start over in “the real world” and I won’t want to do any dirty work because I’ve been spoiled all these years online. I’d still do it because I’m a hustler at heart and of course need to provide for my family, but I’d be quickly scheming for ways to get back on top and avoid doing work purely for the money. I think we’re all a lot more productive at something when we enjoy the crap out of it.

Tell us about a time when you were “broke” and how you made it out of said “broken-ness”?

Oh man, probably when I moved to NYC after college with 2 suitcases and $2,000 in cash. I had no idea what I was doing other than wanting to “make it” in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and I lasted almost two years partying and having tons of fun before finally running out of money. I was naïve to think I could afford such a crazy lifestyle, but that’s exactly when you need to go after such big dreams sometimes because we’re so good at holding ourselves back.

But while I did run out of money completely (other than said 401k money that was hands off – rule #2 of Dad’s!), I eventually realized that I preferred financial stability more than wild times. I still made a lot of mistakes years after that (*ahem* buying our house on a whim), but it all helped get me to where I am now and wouldn’t change it for the world. You need to fail big time before you can win big time, and hopefully I got most of that out of the way by now.

You were recently named one of the most 30 influential people in personal finance and wealth management. Tell us about the experience and why it is (or isn’t) a big deal? What does it mean to you?

HAH! I was just telling my wife the other day that I thought it was a complete “marketing scheme” at first to just get us to promote their stuff. Infographics like this pop up all the time – usually from shady companies – to get you to market them for them, but I actually got on a call with these folks and was pleasantly surprised to hear this list was stats-driven and not strategic. That was pretty incredible to hear – there are some HUGE people on that list! I mean, Dave Ramsey and Robert Kiyosaki? Who built the whole Rich Dad, Poor Dad empire? They’re no joke… Now don’t get me wrong, the marketing part around it still holds true (no one puts out theses lists for nothing), but it became much more exciting for me when I learned it wasn’t all fluff. I’ll proudly take 30th place all day, every day!

What would your greatest piece of financial advice be to anyone reading this piece?

Sit down and really think about how you want your life to be. Not how you’re going to get there, or what type of job or amounts of money you need and all that, but how you want your life to be RIGHT NOW.

How different would it look without money? What would you have done this morning when you woke up? Would you even be reading this interview right now?

The answers to these questions should be the stuff we focus on when thinking about money as it sets the groundwork for what we should be working on these days. The answers will be different for everyone, but the method to reach them will all be the same: smarter money management. As I mentioned above, money is only a tool. But we have to pay attention to it if we want that freedom. How long it takes you to get there is totally up to you.

As James W. Frick once said, “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are. “

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