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PFB Spotlight: Young And Broke

When I wrote that there weren’t many female personal finance bloggers out there, I didn’t realize how badly off-base I was. Today I’m happy to introduce you all to Amanda who is the author of Young and Broke [3]. You may find her blog interesting especially if you plan on getting married soon because she’ll be tying the knot next June, congratulations!

This is the third article in the Personal Finance Blogger Spotlight [4] series – if you’re interested in being interviewed, drop me an email [5].

jim: Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Amanda: I live in downtown Chicago and work for a financial services/software development firm in the electronic futures trading industry. I’ve always had a minor obsession with saving and investing which I picked up from my father, who is a former accountant and instilled the “value of a dollar” in my mind at a very young age.

I have a BA in English Literature from Miami University of Ohio and have recently begun taking classes towards my MBA at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. I also got engaged fairly recently and am getting married in June 2006, which brings a whole new element to understanding personal finance!

jim: Are you excited that the White Sox won the World Series or are you not originally from the Chicago area?
Amanda: Actually, I am originally from Chicago, but am ambivalent about the White Sox win, as I am a rabid Cubs fan!
jim: You mentioned you worked for a financial services firm, any hot stock
Amanda: Well, I would’ve told you to get on the CBOT IPO bandwagon had you asked a few weeks ago…
jim: When and why did you start a blog?
Amanda: I started this blog fairly recently, in August 2005. I did so mostly because I feel like there is a kind of financial ineptitude among people my age (twenty-somethings) and that most of them are careless with their spending habits. However, I believe very much that this is due to simple financial ignorance – it’s not a common practice in our society to educate our children and even college students in this area. I think that most people just need some simple advice and explanations to help get them started towards financial independence and wealth.
jim: Is there anything that makes your perspective unique?
Amanda: Yes, I think that the topics I focus on are primarily of interest to recent college grads and people in their mid-twenties. Basically, people in their first jobs with no real responsibilities (such as having a spouse, mortgage or kids). Most personal finance blogs I read go deeper into these topics and have a broader, older reader base.
jim: How large is your emergency reserve and how’d you decide how large it
needed to be?
Amanda: Mine is currently 3x of monthly expenses – I keep adding to it from time to time, even though 3 months was my initial goal. Basically, when I graduated from college, my Dad has pounded it into my head that building an emergency cash reserve that would last me 3-6 months should be a first priority, since I didn’t have any debts at that time (credit card or student loan).
jim: What’s your favorite personal finance book and why?
Amanda: I like Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke [6]. I mimicked her title for the name of my blog. I think it is the most relevant for the people I am trying to reach. It focuses on the basics.
jim: What would you say if I told you I think Suze Orman is annoying?
Amanda: I would say that I agree with you! Most of the time I find her a little self-righteous and know-it-all, but I think that ultimately, her advice is solid, and she is one of the only “celebrity” personal finance gurus that has approached the “young and broke” phenomenon…
jim: Which of your posts do you think are must reads?
Amanda: I’ve written a number of posts on credit and debt. I think that those things are at the forefront of my reader’s minds. A lot of them probably have racked up credit card debt in college. They also are likely to have a large amount of student loans to start paying off at this time as well.
jim: So tell me about your car… how long have you had it and how long do you plan on driving it?
Amanda: I actually don’t have a car of my own – living in the city doesn’t really require it. When I need one, I either borrow one of my parents or my fiance’s, which is a 1995 VW Jetta that has 215,000 miles on it! I think he plans on driving it until it dies.
jim: What financial “mistake” bothers you the most?
Amanda: Not budgeting! It is so easy to stick to a budget once you actually sit down and draft one up. Living within ones means and recognizing what one can and cannot afford is essential, especially right out of college. It sets up invaluable long term spending and saving habits.
jim: What was your best financial decision to date?
Amanda: Deciding that the most important thing to do first is to build an emergency reserve. Its so tempting to spend that money on other things, but making a commitment to my personal security is so much more fulfilling in the long run.
jim: What is your favorite personal finance blog and why?
Amanda: I like the blog Free Money Finance [7] a lot, just because its become such a great resource. He puts so much material on his blog, that I know I can find information on what I’m looking for very easily.
jim: If your blog ended today, how would you like people to remember it?
Amanda: I’d like people to remember my blog as simple, concise advise that helped them change a small part of their financial lifestyle. I’m not trying to come up with any great money-making investment schemes or trying to talk beyond my personal experience or knowledge – just trying to share what has helped me and proven to be effective.