Welcome to another installment of IonTuition’s Q&A series with personal finance bloggers. We have Debt Discipline’s Brian Brandow, sharing his personal finance advice with us today.
Brian is the founder of the personal finance site Debt Discipline. He is a coach and speaker with the goal of educating others on financial literacy, getting out of debt, and building wealth.
What’s the best piece of financial advice you ever received?
I really did not receive any good advice along the way. Because of it my family and I accumulated $109,000 of consumer debt. We self-educated and began to build a plan for our money. We learned to budget, prioritize needs over wants, and save money. We became debt free in 2014, after 50 months of debt repayment. We remain debt free today and are educating our three children as they begin their financial lives.
What’s your advice for those who already have student loans?
Continue to live like a college student and pay it off as soon as possible. Any type of debt will cause stress in your life and hold you back from building wealth. You want it gone as soon as possible. It may take sacrifice to pay it off, forcing you to cut back on things for a period of time, but after the debt is gone you will be left with a surplus of cash each month.
If you could go back in time and give your 18-year old self a piece of financial advice, what would it be?
I’d talk my 18-year old self’s ear off about personal finance. I’d tell myself to have a plan for my money in a form of a budget. If I knew that at 18-years old, I may have never accumulated over six figures in debt. I would tell myself to learn about compound interest and learn about the power of savings.
Would you go to a different school if you knew what you know now about student debt?
I wish I was better prepared at an earlier age and understood the relationship between a major, a degree, and the job market. I believe that if students and parents begin this research while in high school, they will make smarter financial choice as it relates to colleges. I believe high schools give students the details on the process of applying to colleges, but not the reality of the job market or career choices. This is something that needs to be included in the discussion when considering college.
Any other financial tips for our readers?
They call it personal finance for a reason. What will work for me and my family, may not for you. There is no one–size-fits-all solution. Build yourself a plan that’s right for you and your family. Life happens, so your plan will need to be reviewed periodically as things change. The math part will be easy, it’s the behavior piece that will be your biggest challenge. Talking about money doesn’t have to be taboo – if you get stuck, ask for help!