Brian Fourman is a former private school personal finance and Bible teacher now turned stay at home dad and blogger, based out of Atlanta. He started his blog in July of 2012, and helps individuals and families navigate the challenges of managing their money so that they can grow wealth and live with greater peace of mind. In his down time, he loves hanging out with his four kids and hearing his wife talk about all the cool things CPAs do at work. You can check him out providing encouragement and inspiration on his blog at Luke1428.com or by connecting with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
What is your professional background? Do you make blogging a full-time career?
Initially when I started my blog I had a full-time job in education. I spent 17 years being a teacher and principal at a private school. However, my wife and I went through a family transition in 2011. She went back to school to earn a Master’s in Accounting and an MBA and to obtain her CPA license.
Once her new career was established, it allowed me to quit my job and become a stay at home dad. I spend my time managing our four kids and taking care of the household responsibilities. In August of 2014, I finally devoted myself to full-time blogging and freelance writing about personal finance.
Why did you start the blog?
In 2008, my wife and I started listening to Dave Ramsey. His thoughts about money didn’t click with me right away but over time I became intrigued by the message. In the summer of 2010 I decided to lead his Financial Peace University class at our church.
In the middle of one of the lessons Dave made an offhand remark regarding financial principles found in the Bible. He said that you could get a degree in finance just by reading the book of Proverbs. “It’s in there,” he said, and then moved on with the lesson.
I don’t know why but that comment stuck in my head. I couldn’t shake it. I decided to read a chapter a day for a month to see what I could find.
As I began to read there seemed to be verses on every page and in every chapter. Verses about money related to debt, spending, saving, working hard, being generous, and planning ahead.
That month of reading set me out on an exciting journey. I decided to read through the Bible in a year and record all the Bible verses about money I could find. On that reading journey, I became convicted about my use of debt and how I was recklessly spending money. That’s when our financial lives began to improve by leaps and bounds.
The conviction I felt led to great change for our financial lives. It was also was the reason I started blogging - to share what I had found on my reading journey.
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?
My purpose for writing is threefold:
- to inspire, encourage and support people into lasting financial change
- to offer tangible, practical advice to help in the process of change
- to expound on the Bible’s teachings related to money and personal finance
To that end, Luke1428 does have a religious tone that speaks to those who are interested in the blending of faith and finances. But the site is much more than that and is open to all who desire to handle their money in a more responsible way.
I wouldn’t say I highlight one demographic more than another. However, I am a middle-aged family man with four children. So you can guess that my life circumstances are often reflected in my writing.
As previously stated the main difference is that I have spiritual focus to my blog. Of my three weekly posts, I write one faith-based article a week.
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?
I have been surprised how easily it has been to come up with topics to write about. One would think that after awhile the topics would dry up. I’ve found that not to be the case.
The most important way to generate ideas is to expand your horizon. Writers often get too focused on a niche and then end up exhausting all they can write about. Expanding your horizon into related subject fields helps find new topics to write about.
When I first started my blog all I was writing about were the verses I had found in the Bible related to money. I quickly realized I had more to offer my readers than just this content. So I adjusted my strategy to include more general topics related to personal finance. This opened up a whole new world of ideas on which to draw.
Secondly, I look within to generate ideas. I’ve developed the mindset that my life is a show for viewers to watch. We are all interested in watching stories unfold and more importantly, we love learning from stories. But no one will learn from my story unless I publish it.
Stories happen everyday. So I’ve come to think about every life situation as a potential blog post. Once my mind started thinking like this I was amazed at how easily ideas would come.
It’s also important to continue to read and feed your mind. As someone who writes everyday, I’m extracting a lot of information out of my brain. By reading books and other blogs and even listening to media outlets in my niche I’m able to fill the reservoir with new ideas.
Finally, I reuse and recycle my old content. This may seem lazy that I’m not coming up with original content. I don’t view it that way because:
a) new readers are always coming to my site who have never read what I’ve written before and…
b) my regular readers have most likely forgotten what I wrote about six months or a year ago.
When looking at old content I either:
1) Republish it as is (noting when it was originally published).
2) Reword it, using the same main idea but with new examples.
3) Expand on it. Find a particular point in an old article and develop a new post around that.
What are the biggest struggles you have and what is your personal financial goal (both short term and long term?
My wife and I really never had any significant debt issues to overcome. There were minor college and grad school loans we had to pay off but those were taken care of by the time we reached 30.
The biggest challenge we faced - mostly I faced - was a spending issue. I simply spent too much each month. We were routinely dipping into our savings account to pay off our monthly credit card bill. Consequently we could gain no traction with starting an emergency fund, funding college or building for retirement.
Once we started budgeting consistently our financial path changed for the better. We have been able to pay off all our debt including the mortgage. Our focus now is on building wealth and giving to charities and causes important to us.
What do you see as the biggest impediment to most people achieving their personal finance goals?
Apathy. I’ve seen too many people who really don’t care about change. They cannot envision a different way of living that’s better than what they are currently experiencing.
What are some steps that readers can take tomorrow to begin improving their financial situation?
For my wife and me, it revolved around four things:
1) We started consistently budgeting and actually following it. When we began to focus on and care about what we actually spent, we ended up not spending as much. This made us feel like we got a raise.
2) We began to communicate our values. This was big step in not only improving our finances but also in improving our marriage as a whole. Sharing our values helped us understand one another on a deeper level.
3) We switched from using a credit card to using a debit card. This forced us to only use money we had available in our bank account.
4) We began to dream. Imagining a life without debt and what opportunities that might open spurred us to action.
What tools or resources do you rely on to keep your own personal finances in order?
I’m a little old school when it comes to managing my financial records. I’ve avoided using online software and rely solely on an Excel budget spreadsheet I developed along with Quicken’s personal finance software.
Do you think there is an area of personal finance that there aren't enough resources on?
There are so many more resources now than there were even 10 years ago. It’s not difficult to find tools to help with all areas of personal finance.
One area that needs developing relates to kids and finances. We need to reach kids at an earlier age and help them develop good money habits.
What other websites or blogs do you read regularly?
Of course I am actively involved in the personal finance space and routinely read the blogs of my colleagues.
However, most of my reading is focused on personal growth and development. To that end the favorite sites I like to frequent include michaelhyatt.com, jonacuff.me, and goinswriter.com.