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WiseBread Author Will Chen Shares Practical Personal Finance Tips

Posted on 27 July 2009 by Tim

WiseBread is a community blog focused on personal finances including saving money, living frugal, and career advice. Their mission is to help you enjoy a fun and rewarding life in a financially responsible way. In fact, if you incorporate some of their money saving tips you might not even notice that you’re on a budget. Yeah, they’re that good.

The WiseBread Philosophy:

Too many financial experts focus on the negative aspects of money management. They freely throw around words like “sacrifice” and “responsibility” like there was a fire sale at the Boring Store.

The answer to financial independence isn’t a ramen-eating, vacation-skipping, fun-depriving life. Far from it. In fact, we love to indulge in life’s pleasures whenever we can—just as long as they fit into our budget.

We know the best way to stick to a budget, especially in tough economic times, is to create a lifestyle that is as much fun as it is practical. Are you ready to live large within your means, no matter how small that may be?

I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with Will Chen, one of the writers on WiseBread and a California attorney that focuses on consumer rights and corporate corruption. I’m confident you will find Will’s tips as helpful and practical as I did. When you’re finished reading, let me know what you think by posting a comment below. Enjoy!

For someone looking to improve their finances, what 3 things can they do today?

  • Question old assumptions. Brainstorm about actions that will make the biggest impact on your finances. Take out a piece of paper, sit down in a quiet corner, turn off your inner critic, and brainstorm away. Some common ideas include moving next to work (so you can sell your car), getting a second job, using home equity loan to pay off high interest credit card debt, etc.
  • Simplify your finances. Cancel accounts you’re not using, pay all your bills online, and get rid of ongoing expenses that you don’t need.
  • Join a support group. We are easily influenced by our peers. If your friends are eating out all the time and driving new cars, you are likely to do the same. Start hanging out with savvy, frugal-minded folks who take personal finance seriously. The Wise Bread forum is a great place to start!

What 3-5 posts do you consider essential reading for getting their finances under control?

What was the best part about putting together (or contributing to) 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget?

We had lots of great guest contributors, including Sharon from Frugal Duchess, SVB from the Digerati Life, Leo from Zenhabits, Trent from The Simple Dollar, and JD from Get Rich Slowly. It was a pleasure working with them and learning from their invaluable writing experience.

How have readers been reacting to the book? Any funny, unique or interesting stories?

We weren’t prepared for the torrent of great media attention for our first personal finance book. As a result we’re constantly surprised when people ask us to sign books or give an interview (like right now, for example). When Linsey Knerl (one of the co-authors) held a book signing in her hometown, she received lots of congratulations from old high school friends. That must be a lot of fun — to be able to go back to your hometown and let your old friends know you’re a published author!

Where did you learn your financial skills?

Everything I need to know I learned from my fellow Wise Bread authors! They are a really diverse group. Among our ranks are financial consultants, homemakers, journalists, career counselors, professors, and even professional hobos! Each of them brings an unique perspective to personal finance that I find useful and entertaining.

Who do you currently look to for financial tips and inspiration?

From our Wise Bread readers and the top 100 personal finance blogs.

While it’s not much, I remember learning how to balance a check book and budget a vacation in 5th or 6th grade but I’ve heard schools don’t really teach that anymore. What role do you think schools should play in teaching responsible financial management?

Schools should take very active role. Every high school student should be required to take the following courses:

  • Introduction to Statistics and Accounting Principles: provides a foundation for the following courses.
  • Personal Finance: covers budgeting, credit card use, mortgages, investments, and savings (teach them the magic of compound interest early).
  • Career Building: covers how to write a resume and cover letters, finding mentors, doing mock interviews, and volunteering for local charities to build experience.
  • Financial Policy: covers how the Federal Reserve works, the various regulatory agencies responsible for overseeing our economy, various economic theories, important political financial issues like healthcare and the trade deficit.

Will, thank you for taking to the time to chat with me!

WiseBread Around The Web:

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