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PFBlogger Spotlight: Frugal Trader of Million Dollar Journey

When I started blogging I knew of very few personal finance bloggers outside of the United States. Now there are plenty whether it’s plonkee over in the UK or our interview victim participant today, Frugal Trader of Million Dollar Journey. He hails from the great white north, yep, that’s Canada, and he gives us great insight into the great sport we call a “personal finance obsession.” So, I invite you to enjoy my brief chat with FT today.

jim: Hi Frugal Trader, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Frugal Trader: I always find this to be the toughest interview question. :)

Here it goes. I am a married Canadian who was born, raised and currently resides in Eastern Canada. I graduated from University almost 5 years ago with an Engineering degree along with a side degree in personal finance obsession.

From a personal finance perspective, I started saving at a very young age (like 7) and started dabbling in mutual funds while in high school (I was 16).

From there, I continued saving throughout University (with a part time job) and graduated with around $10k in my bank account. Sounds pretty good right? Well, it was pretty good, but unfortunately my fiance at the time (now wife), had a lot of student loan debt along with a brand new car loan. So combined, upon graduation we had a negative net worth.

Today, almost 5 years later, we have dug ourselves out of the hole, have a net worth of over $270k and a goal of a $1 million in net worth by the age of 35.

jim: What’s it like being a Canadian pf blogger in a pfblogosphere dominated by US blogs? Do you find that a lot of the topics overlap (that’s what I would suspect)?
FT: To answer your question, in my opinion US and Canadian personal finance are similar in some ways, but very different in others. The similarities are with portfolio asset allocation, stock strategies and budgeting/frugality. The major differences are with taxation, retirement, and government benefits.
jim: What’s something no one else in the blogging world knows about you?
FT: Hmm.. I have disclosed a little bit about myself already in the post “5 things you didn’t know about me“, but another thing would be that at the age of 28, I’m just starting to learn how to play the guitar.
jim: How did you come up with the name for your blog?
FT: When I was thinking about setting up a website, I had a bunch of domain names in mind. However, the name Million Dollar Journey really suited me best as my financial story is literally that.. my million dollar journey.
jim: What motivated you to begin blogging and how long have you been doing it?
FT: Million Dollar Journey was my first (and only) blog with it’s first post on December 6, 2006. What motivated me to start the site? I was at a time in my life where I wanted to get really organized with my finances to reach my goals. I then thought what better idea than to announce my goals to the whole Internet world to help keep me accountable. It’s easy to set a goal for yourself, but I have a tendency to stop pursuing goals if no one else knows about it. The blog really helps keep me on my toes with regards to my finances.
jim: What do you think makes your perspective unique?
FT: I’m not sure that my perspective is unique. My perspective on building wealth is spend less than you earn, and look for ways to make more money. Simple.

Perhaps what attracts people to my blog is that I started young with good money habits and I have a legitimate shot of being worth $1 million in 7 years.

jim: What are your favorite personal finance books?
FT: I have them listed on MDJ. They are:

  • The Wealthy Barber – for saving and personal finance strategies.
  • Stop Working: Here’s How You Can – for early retirement and dividend investing strategies (the author retired @ age 34).
  • Why Swim with the Sharks – for early retirement
  • The Smith Manoeuvre – A method to convert a Canadian non-tax deductible mortgage into a tax deductible investment loan.
  • One Up on Wall Street – for learning how to stock pick.

I would say that the book that has influenced my financial life the most is ” The Wealthy Barber”. I read this book back in high school and it’s what really got me interested in personal finance.

jim: Which of your posts do you think all your readers should read?
FT: MDJ has a bunch of popular articles listed on the right sidebar. But as to articles that are popular to non-geographic specific readers, they would have to be:

The articles below are Canadian Specific:

jim: What financial “mistake” that you’ve done has bothered you the most?
FT: I’ve written about financial mistakes before. The biggest one that I’ve written about was investing in Nortel when I didn’t know a lot about the market. The result was basically losing all of my $3,000 “investment”. On the spending front, the biggest regret is probably getting such a large car loan upon graduation. In our defense though, we still drive that car and will continue doing so until it falls apart.
jim: How about your best decision?
FT: I’m not sure if there is any one good financial decisions that I’ve made thus far, it’s more of a combination of a few. One would include buying a 2 apt home upon graduation, living in one and renting out the other. Others would be living below our means, making sure to max out our retirement accounts, starting non retirement portfolios in addition to investing in rental real estate (not including our primary residence). The most significant would probably be the rental property as it was purchased at a discount.
jim: What is your favorite personal finance blog and why?
FT: This is probably the toughest question out of the batch! I read a LOT of blogs and don’t have a particular favorite as each has their own unique point of view. As a group though, I read Canadian pf blogs the most, as they relate to my life the most.
jim: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
FT: This year will be a big one for us as we will be moving into our new house along with a new baby on the way. Financially speaking, even with the income setbacks of maternity leave, we hope to grow our net worth by 25% along with increasing our charitable contributions.

In terms of the blog, I hope to keep going strong with the daily posts and hopefully double my readership.

jim: And, lastly, if your blog ended today, how would you like people to remember it?
FT: I would hope for MDJ to be remembered as a site that provided useful information in improving our personal finance lives.

We hope you enjoyed our little discussion with Frugal Trader and Million Dollar Journey. While MDJ is based out of Canada, I think that many topics in personal finance are geographically independent and so MDJ is certainly a site worth putting in your reader.


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