Subscriber Swap Saturday: Tough Money Love

by Kevin on December 6, 2008

This is the second edition of Subscriber Swap Saturday. I highly encourage all of my readers to subscribe to Tough Money Love for one week and see if you like what you find! Read more about Subscriber Swap Saturday at the link above.

Mr. ToughMoneyLove is a not-yet retired engineer turned attorney who has been writing the “hard truth” about money and personal finance for four months at his Tough Money Love blog. After 31 years of marriage and raising three sons (one still in college), he has a lot of experience and no-holds barred opinions that he likes to share with baby boomers and others of all ages. You can subscribe to his blog by RSS feed or by email.

Now, for my short interview with Mr. Tough Money Love:

Q:  You’ve probably seen a lot of changes in your lifetime with finances. My first question is three-fold:

What is the biggest societal personal finance change you have witnessed?
A:  This will not be a big surprise to anyone but the biggest societal change has been the increasing reliance on credit-driven consumption.  The use of credit has been transformed from something to be wary of to being no big deal at almost any age and for any type of expense.  When I was in high school and college, it never even occurred to me that I should own a credit card.   We just used checks and cash for our expenses.  (Yes they did exist!)

How were you taught about personal finance? Did you learn at a young age from your parents or was it a post-college epiphany?
A.  I watched how my parents used money and credit when I was growing up but it was not really discussed.  When I entered the workforce after college and bought my first home almost immediately after graduating, I started reading about personal finance so that I could understand what I was getting into.  I remember that one of my co-workers (also a brand-new engineer) had over-extended himself financially and was forced to take a second job at the mall to meet expenses.  That embarrassed him and shocked me.  I decided that was not going to happen to me.

How have you taught your three sons about financial matters? (And have they listened?)
A.  My wife and I have tried to teach our sons mostly by example, periodically explaining the why and how of various financial decisions we were making.  I did preach to them often about the perils of consumer credit and the folly in borrowing money to purchase depreciating assets (e.g., cars).  We  gave them an allowance but required that 1/2 of it go immediately into a savings account.  To their credit, none of them touched that saved money until they went to college.  For the most part they have listened and followed our example, with a couple of slip-ups now and then.  I am pleased to report that today each of them is debt-free and only one even has a credit card but he pays the balance every month.

Q.  How has your background in engineering and law benefited and/or hindered you in understanding personal finance?
A.   I think my engineering background has helped me in applying logic and discipline in my analyis of personal financial issues.  My legal training has helped me understand how government functions, how businesses are structured and operated, and how income taxes work.  On the other hand, being an engineer turned lawyer has probably hindered my ability to appreciate the human behavior aspects of personal finance.  In other words, I am probably deficient in the empathy area when it comes to people who use poor judgment in using money.  You can probably figure that out from the writing on my blog!

Q.  Why did you start blogging back in July? Any sort of monumental life change or did you just decide to catalog your advice to all to see?
A.   As my sons grew up and my wife and I started looking at the next phase of our lives, I began to dedicate even more time to studying personal finance and investing.  I manage all of our investments which is nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time.  I started lurking around personal finance message boards and reading a lot of the many excellent personal finance blogs (including yours.)  I discovered that most of the bloggers and writers were much younger than me and therefore approached personal finance from a different perspective.  I also observed that there was a lot of personal finance writing that I would characterize as affirming and sympathetic, even when confronting people who were doing amazingly stupid things with their money.  I decided that having someone (like me for instance) offering opinions from an older generation might be helpful, particularly if that person was not afraid to speak the “hard truth” about personal finance.  So I decided to start my own blog to speak that hard truth, without being concerned that I might hurt a reader’s feelings.

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My thanks go out to Tough Money Love for being the second blogger to step up to the Subscriber Swap Saturday plate. You can read his interview of me on his blog.
Readers — use the links in this post to subscribe to his blog for a week. Bloggers — interested in being featured? Check out the schedule.

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