Catching up with…. CleverDude
In this edition of “Catching up with….“, our interview series, we have a chat with – CleverDude:
You originally had around 20K of credit card debt, right? How did get to 0? Any tips you could share with our readers?
I could talk for days about my credit card history, but obviously I can’t right here so I’ll give you the brief rundown. I graduated college with about $15,000 in CC debt, then accrued another $5k throughout the years while still paying some down. Technically, at one point I had a $25,000 total balance. I carried that balance for about 6 years after college, but almost never paid interest on it because I was able to keep transfering the balance to a 0% offer on another (often new) card every 6-12 months, at the cost of about $40-75 each time.
It wasn’t until last year that I looked at that debt, then looked at our budget, and realized we could pay off the whole debt in about 10 months if we focused on it. I committed about $2000 per month (pretty much most of our discretionary income) to paying down the cards and eventually paid it all off last September, which was 2 months early. Overall, we paid down $41,000 in existing and new debt last year because we made a plan and committed ourselves to it.
You go by “cleverdude”, yet often it seems you downplay your “cleverness” greatly. Maybe you should be “humbledude”! What do you think?
Well, the name Clever Dude was picked almost randomly by a domain name selector when I first decided to get my own domain. The name stuck, but like you said I downplay my cleverness. I don’t consider myself humble, but I also never liked being boastful for one big reason: It has always seemed that whenever I patted myself on the back for doing something well or right, that something surely comes along to ruin the moment. I’m basically a pessimist, especially with myself, and I guess it comes through in my writing. Also, I don’t like people who brag in general and I don’t want to be seen as one of them. I like to be open to listening to any viewpoint and I see pride as an inhibitor to learning from others.
What are the biggest financial mistakes you see our generation (mid-late 20’s) making?
Getting caught up in marketing. We seem to think we need the latest and greatest thing without sitting down, looking at what we already have and accepting it. I’m guilty of this too as you may have read about my problem buying a new car almost every year.
But this isn’t just corporate marketing (of stuff), but also societal marketing. Society says we need to own a house instead of rent, that we need to have kids before we’re 30, that we need a college education at the finest institution. However, I’ve often wished I still rented instead of owning our home. My wife and I are postponing plans for kids indefinitely because just don’t think we’re ready for them. And my public college education has landed me a very fine paying job.
(follow-up) How can we change that?
People just don’t sit down and take the time to think about the big decisions in their lives. We need to be more patient and block out all the marketing hype from corporations, friends, family and traditions and just listen to our gut to see what’s right for us.
What made you start your blog? How has blogging about financial issues helped your own finances?
I have Nick from Punny.org to thank for the idea of starting a blog. Before he came along, I didn’t even know what a blog was, how to start one, or how to monetize one. I didn’t really have a purpose for the site early on, which you’ll notice from my archives, but eventually I began focusing on personal finance. I began having an audience and the idea that I could help others through my own experiences has been the biggest push and motivation for my site.
Blogging has kept me accountable for how I spend money, whether on stuff, debt, investments or donations. I’m honest in everything I write, and my conscience gets to me if I made a big purchase and didn’t write about it. Those debt scales in my sidebar, well they’re a big motivation. I want to see a big fat ZERO in each one soon.
What are your thoughts about Peer to Peer lending? (be honest. LC is all about the honesty) Do you think investors should be allocated a % of their portfolio in this new arena?
Ahh, I knew it would lead to this sooner or later. To be honest, I haven’t ventured into P2P lending myself because I’m still trying to grasp concepts of basic investing. I do see P2P lending as having a place in people’s portfolios, just like stocks, bonds, and other low or high risk investments, but I don’t know what % should be allocated. I think only time will show how risky P2P lending is and thus its appropriate place in a portfolio. Personally, I don’t plan on getting into P2P lending in the near-term until I get a better plan for my investment portfolio (no I don’t have much of one right now).
What does the future look like for you and cleverdude.com?
Well, I never had a plan for the site from the beginning, and I don’t see one coming anytime soon. I’ve found that work and school have taken a big toll on the time I can spend on the site, but I’m still posting daily. I’ve considered posted only 3-4 times per week, rather than 5-6, but I feel guilty when I don’t post on a weekday. As for content, I’d like to begin doing more “basics” articles, and then move into intermediate topics, both to help my readers and to help me understand the concepts. I’ve also been slacking on linking out to other bloggers, so I’d like to add more of my own commentary on others’ articles as well as current events. It all takes time though, and I just need to commit to a plan.
Any last words?
Willow, Xylophone, Yuca, Zebra
Saturday, February 23rd, 2008 at 7:24 am