We are visting with Jeffrey Strain, Founder of Savingadvice.com. Saving Advice is a community built around the notion that saving money is good. We offer free articles and information on all aspects of personal finance including debt reduction, how to save money, how to make money and how to invest.
Fatherville: What motivated you to create a site about Saving Money? In other words tell us a little bit about your vision.
Jeff Strain: I realized that one of the top things that keeps most people from gaining the happiness they desire is not being comfortable with their money situation. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you know that you’re only an unexpected bill or emergency away from serious trouble. I wanted to build a site where people could feel comfortable talking about their finances, share their thoughts with others and get answers to their questions. We now have a community where someone can list out their budget and they will get multiple suggestions from members where they may be able to find a little extra room in finances to save for that emergency fund.
FV: Advice about saving money seems like something that would appeal to a lot of people especially these days. Have you noticed an increase in traffic to your site since 2008 when the economy took a nose dive. If so can you talk a little bit about what people are doing to save money? What new financial trends do you see?
JS: Yes, as the economy soured there was definitely a bigger interest in personal finances. People seem to be taking their personal finances more seriously even today. I think that the biggest change is that people are taking more time to consider their purchases and whether or not they really need them. A lot more people have stopped to figure out what is important to them in their lives. This may not seem like something that has to do with personal finances, but knowing your goals and what makes you happy enables you to spend your money on the things that are important instead of chasing the happiness that advertisers promise.
FV: How long has the SavingAdvice.com site been online? How has it changed over the years (new features added, social media, etc.)
JS: SavingAdvice came online in 2004. The site has evolved with the ever changing Internet, but the backbone of the site is still its forums. Although forums may seem old-school to many people, it’s actually a pretty vibrant community that works well with giving financial advice and helping people work through their money questions. There are a core group of members who have spent a lot of time in the forums that are more than willing to help people out with any questions that they have. There are also areas where members can create their own personal finance blog to help them stay focused on their personal finance goals, as well as plenty of articles that explain easy ways to save money and get your finances in order.
FV: In a perfect world what would be the ultimate outcome of your website? Would it become a full-time undertaking? Is it only a hobby? A passion?
JS: In a perfect world there would be no need for my website at all. That would be the ultimate goal although it likely won’t happen in my lifetime. I would love it if most people had their finances in such good condition that they only needed the site to share new ideas rather than learn money basics, and I hope the site is doing its little part to get more people to that level. The site is currently my full time job which I started doing a few years back.
FV: How/why did you decide create a site about saving money?
JS: It really happened by accident. I was living in Japan at the time and had been writing articles about how expatriates living in Japan could save money because Japan is such an expensive country to live in. I realize that a lot of the articles I was writing for expatriates in Japan could also be used for people living in the US with some minor changes, so I started to rewrite my backlog of articles towards an American audience and placed on the Internet.
FV: Who are you targeting as your main audience?
JS: We have never had a target audience for the site. We simply hope to be a helpful resource for people who want to figure out better ways to save money and get their finances in order.
FV: Fatherville’s audience is mainly dads but moms tend to frequent the site as well. In your opinion what are some of the biggest challenges that parents face today when it comes to teaching kids about money?
JS: I think the biggest challenge that many parents have is becoming confident in the way that they handle money. If they can become confident, they won’t be afraid to share their budget and budgeting decisions with their kits. When parents aren’t confident, they try to protect the kids when they are younger from seeing what’s going on. This is ultimately detrimental because the kids have no concept of how to budget. My advice is actually to let the children run the family budget when they are old enough and reward them with bonuses for saving money in the household budget.
FV: Jeff, I see you have a business partner that you are working with (Nate Sanden)? Has Nate been a partner since inception? What expertise does Nate bring to your organization?
JS: When I first started putting articles on the Internet, it wasn’t nearly as easy to do as it is today. In order to do so, you really needed to know computer programming languages to build websites. I quickly figured out that I was not patient enough to do this on my own, so I partnered with Nate to help build the site. He’s in charge of all the programming and behind the scenes work while I’m in charge of all the content. It’s a relationship that has worked very well and I feel very fortunate that we became business partners.
FV: Based on your experience with the site and the information you have gathered in your discussion forums have you considered writing a book about saving money?
JS: I have, but I’m not sure I ever will. Personal finance isn’t rocket science and there are already a lot of quality books about it out there. If I do, it will be about how I have come to think very differently about money than the average person rather than tips and tricks that have already been written about a million times.
FV: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your outside (away from work) passions, hobbies, goals for the future.
JS: I am currently a digital nomad (I travel full time and do not own a home) and spend most of my time hiking and exploring national parks across the US (I work on the website in the evenings in the hotel room). I love it and hope that I can continue to do it for years to come. Most people assume I make a lot of money to be able to do this, but I actually make less than the national average. I just have figured out what I love to do and what is important to me, and I make sure that I spend the limited resources I have in doing those things. My ultimate goal is that everyone can similarly do the things they love even if they are living on a limited salary.
Jeffrey Strain is the owner and operator of SavingAdvice.comTweet