From time to time, we’ll be interviewing folks who are “owning” their money. In other words, they have told their money where to go, instead of their money telling them where to go.
Meet Bill. A 28-year old Product Manager for an industrial automation company, he lives with his wife and dog in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents moved to the States from China when he was a little boy and taught him early on the importance of living within ones means. Bill is debt-free, except for his house.
As a twenty-something, what is your view on staying debt-free? Is it a goal of yours – to be debt-free?
That’s an interesting question because I’ve never had a goal to be debt-free. I was raised up to believe that you should never live beyond your means or never spend money that you don’t have. I remember when I was 18 and got my first credit card, the idea of carrying a balance didn’t even come across my mind until many years later when I started seeing 0% balance transfer offers.
Do you keep a budget?
This is something that I need more work on. I don’t keep a detailed budget but I have been starting small by trying to set an “envelope budget” for groceries. I watch my spending like a hawk and I do it with the help of Mint.com. I’ve got a reoccurring calendar event set up for Sunday night at 9pm to review my Mint account and check my spending, it’s like a family finance meeting.
What tools do you use to keep yourself “within budget”?
Mint Mint Mint! Can’t live without Mint.com. They have a budgeting tool but I’m not meticulous about it. I use Mint as an overall financial health indicator.
How do you think your peers approach money? And, has the recent recession affected that view?
My peers range widely in how they approach money. Overall, I’d say most people have been more careful about spending since the recession. I think a lot of us have found more frugal activities for fun like having pot-luck instead of dining out – actually it’s almost like a pot-luck every time I hang out with my friends.
What did your parents teach you about handling money?
They taught me that money is not easy to come by but it is easy to leave. They also taught me to not be a tightwad and don’t live like a frugal fiend. After all, money is just a means to an end.
How have you been able to stay debt-free save for the house?
I never carry a balance on my credit card unless if the interest is 0%. My brain can’t comprehend how people can walk around racking up debt on 19% interest, that’s just insane.