Q&A with John Schmoll Jr. of Frugal Rules

Personal Finance World - meet John Schmoll Jr., of Frugal Rules. John started blogging close to three years ago, and Frugal Rules was his first site. He has since added a few others - Sprout Wealth and Wise Dollar. Located out of Omaha, Nebraska, John has been dishing out some great advice since 2012.

What is your professional background? Do you make blogging a full-time career?

John Schmoll Jr. smiles at the camera

I worked in the financial services industry for about 12 years, with the last five as a stockbroker. I left my job three years ago to run the business my wife & I had started two years prior full-time. Blogging was simply something that I began as a way to still have an outlet to talk with people about money. Frugal Rules took on a life of its own and is now a full-time gig on top of our business.

Why did you start the blog?

I was looking for a way to still talk with people about money. The business we run is not in the finance space and was missing out on helping others so Frugal Rules was born out of that.

What is the area of finance that your blog is particularly strong on (a particular demographic you focus on, etc) and how does your personal finance blog differ from others in the space?

I would say investing and debt management. Those are the two areas of finance I have dealt with the most in the past, thus it's somewhat natural for me to talk about. While seemingly not related, I believe they're intertwined as many allow fear to hold them back from investing and many fear what changes might be necessary to kill debt for good. With the number of personal finance blogs out there, it can be difficult to be different. I think what helps Frugal Rules is it being a multi-author site that has voices from different angles and stages of life.

How do you generate ideas and choose what you want to write about on a daily basis/what helps you generate materials on a consistent basis?

Thankfully, I have an awesome team of writers on Frugal Rules that help out with those efforts. Beyond that, I just try to find real-life ways of sharing some of the basics behind financial literacy. I also read financial news quite a bit to see what's being talked about as well as add in real-life examples of what I've seen to add some flavor to what is going up on the site.

What are the biggest struggles you have and what is your personal financial goal (both short-term and long-term)?

My biggest struggle currently is having the time to manage things. I love investing but have little time to really manage it the way I would like. Thankfully I keep our investments fairly tame with low-cost index funds and a small handful of dividend stocks so it doesn't hurt us in the long run. Our long-term goal, well more of a mid-term goal, is saving for a new house as we'd like to move in the next 2-4 years.

What do you see as the biggest impediment to most people achieving their personal finance goals?

Believing they can't reach them. I know that I was guilty of that before I began paying off my debt and before I really started investing. We think that whatever we do won't change things or get us closer to what we want - but that's a myth. You very much can reach your goals, but you have to want them bad enough. The other issue I see is that we live in a NOW culture. Meaning, we don't exercise the practice of delaying gratification. Impulse, on one level, can be fun but when you live a life of that with your finances it's only going to end in problems.

What are some steps that readers can take tomorrow to begin improving their financial situation?

They can do two things - find one thing to cut and find one way to make extra money. We all have things that we could easily cut that we may not really be using. Whether it be cable, data plans, magazine subscriptions, things we don't need on insurance, you name it there is something you can cut. Find one thing and either cut it or find a way to reduce it. That'll only take you so far though and you need to add in a way to make extra money too as the combination is where the power is. Find a skill you can monetize and find a way a place to utilize it. If you're not highly technical then look on Craigslist, look in the paper, etc. and find things that don't require skill - dog walking, cleaning houses, etc. If you're at a dead end there then find stuff you're not using and sell it on Ebay or Craigslist. I promise you, there is something you can do if you look for it and want it bad enough.

What tools or resources do you rely on to keep your own personal finances in order?

I'm a big fan of spreadsheets so I use a number of those to keep track of things. I also use

Personal Capital quite a bit to stay on top of our investments and spending - to a smaller degree.

Do you think there is an area of personal finance that there aren't enough resources on?

I think the main thing there isn't enough of are basics of financial literacy. There is a lot of ignorance out there, and we're all ignorant about something, about basics like credit score, what it takes to start investing, compound interest and so forth. I think we'd do well to have more of that available.

What other websites or blogs do you read regularly?

I read a lot of different sites fairly regularly so it's hard to narrow them down. But, some of my favorites are Budgets Are Sexy, The Frugal Farmer, and Club Thrifty.

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