Today we have the 4th in a series of interviews. During this series we will be show casing other Freedom Fighters from around the world. I am excited to introduce you to our fourth guest, John (and David) from Debt Free Guys. Read John & David’s story below. And if you would like to be featured in the Freedom Fighter interview series then be sure to check out the Guest Posting page for more information (it’s open to anyone that is willing to share their fight for freedom: Time Freedom, Location Freedom, and Financial Freedom).
Now I will turn it over to John (and David)…
1. Who are you and what do you do? What is your story? How are you fighting for your Freedom? Where did you start,where in the journey are you, and where do you ultimately want to end up?
David and I (John) are a couple from Denver, CO. We’ve been together for 11 years. After our first year together, we realized we weren’t happy with the results we were producing in our lives. At that time, we were living in a basement apartment with combined credit card debt of $51,000 and combined tenure in financial services of thirteen years.
We were helping others manage their money and couldn’t manage our own. One night, we decided enough was enough. We made a plan to pay off our credit card debt and achieved that goal in two and a half years. Over that two and a half years, we documented what we learned and turned that documentation into a book.
By September 2013, my boss was unnecessarily difficult and we decided to use that as an opportunity to put the finishing touches on and finally publish our book. We started our blog, www.DebtFreeGuys.com, published three e-books and then finally published 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life, in January 2015.
We’re currently transitioning our websites to a new host and changing our business model. Our goals are “time freedom,” “location freedom” and “financial freedom” with the financial help we provide others through Debt Free Guys. Debt Free Guys success is our passion.
2. What is your favorite Quote or Mantra that you live by?
“No one drifts to success.” – Napoleon Hill
3. Where in the world are you from?
David was born in Landstuhl, Germany to a military family. He and his family moved to Denver, CO when he was three years old. When he was twelve, he and his family moved to Dublin, Ireland for a year and a half.
By the time he was fifteen, he and his family returned to Denver, where we currently live. I’m from Philadelphia, PA and moved to Lebanon, PA (twenty minutes outside of Hershey, PA) when I was thirteen. A college friend called me about a year after we graduated and asked if I would move to Colorado.
I had never been to Colorado, but knew I needed to leave Pennsylvania. I moved to Denver in 1999 with the intention of staying for a couple of years. I’ve been here for 16 years.
4. What is the worst financial decision you have ever made?
After I graduated college, my grandparents gave me $5,000. When I moved to Denver, I spent all $5,000 on temporary and unimportant things rather than invest it. I often think about the wasted opportunity to make the most of that gift.
5. What is the best financial decision you have ever made?
Our best financial decision was buying our 1,000 square foot condo for four times less than we could afford eight years ago. Our realtor made every effort to get us to buy as much as we could afford.
Having worked hard to pay off our credit card debt and learning from our mistakes, we knew that being house-poor was not our goal. Our goals were and are traveling, saving and investing. Buying our cheap, little condo has allowed us to achieve or stay on the path to achieving those goals.
6. Are you a morning or a night person? What time do you wake up and go to sleep?
I’m a morning person. David is a night person. We both wake up at 4:30 AM and try our best to go to sleep by 9 PM, no later than 10 PM.
7. What is your definition of Financial Freedom? And what is your FREEDOM number?
Our definition of financial freedom is to independently make enough income from our investments to subsidize our lives. We got this from Robert Kiyosaki. Our goal is to earn $500,000 annually, as of 2014, indexed to inflation.
8. What is your favorite Asset Class to invest in (i.e Real Estate, Stocks, Bonds, Peer to Peer lending, etc)? Why? And what platforms do you use (i.eTD Ameritrade for stocks, Realty Shares for Real Estate, Prosper for Peer to Peer lending, etc.).
Our favorite asset class is stocks because stocks have the best potential for growth. We’re both in the growth and acquisition phases of our lives. Once we have more income, we’ll add real estate to our investing mix.
We’re both buy and hold investors, but David dabbles in trading, including options trading. Most of our accounts are with Charles Schwab.
9. What is your favorite online financial resource, paid or free (i.e.Mint, Personal Capital, blogs, podcasts, Tasty Trade, etc.)?
Barron’s, both its print and online editions. A boss of mine once told me that she didn’t know how anyone could work in finance and not read Barron’s. I now know what she meant. Barron’s is well written and the writers and editors have their fingers on the pulses of the world’s stock markets and economies.
We use this and other resources to help us help others be money conscious. Being money conscious includes a lot of things, such as knowing your true income and cash flow and understanding how the economy affects us personally. This is, in part, how we help others.
10. When it comes to building wealth, do you spend more time figuring out how to cut expenses or increase income? Why?
In our writing, we talk about maintaining both sides of our balance sheets. We actively manage both our expenses and income regularly. We control our spending and don’t acquire debt so as to allow us to more easily become financially independent.
This financial management is what allowed me to tell my former boss that I didn’t need to put up with her anymore. It will be what allows us to retire from our day jobs sooner rather than later.
11. How many hours a week do you watch TV? What’s your favorite show?
We watch anywhere from two to five hours of TV a week. We usually watch TV one or two nights a week when we need a mental break from our day jobs and side hustle. Bob’s Burger is our favorite show right now.
12. If you had to recommend 1 book, what would it be? And why?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is our recommendation for everyone. If you want focus and drive, especially in collaborative environments, this is the book for you.
7 Habits is what laid the foundation for our belief in the Law of Attraction and that we are the architects of our own lives. $51,000 worth of credit card debt didn’t happen to us. We made it happen.
13. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received or what advice would you give to the readers?
We all have the power of choice. If we don’t like the direction of our life, we can choose to change that direction.
14. What does living life by design look like to you? A typical day, week, month, year, or whatever?
We love to travel and love Debt Free Guys. We want to travel the world and do our Debt Free Guys’ work while we travel. We love Puerto Vallarta. Someday we will wake up in Puerto Vallarta and drink coffee while we write, blog and do our podcasts.
Then, we’ll workout, have lunch and hit the beach for a few hours before we take a siesta. Afterwards, we’ll return to our Debt Free Guys work and have a late dinner. The location may change, but our day-to-day itinerary will be similar.
15. What is holding you back from living life by design?
Our independent income is what’s currently holding us back from our life by design. We’re fixing this.
16. Where can we find you online? If you’re a blogger, this is the perfect plug to talk about your blog and why it’s great :)
Our website is www.DebtFreeGuys.com, our Twitter handle is @DebtFreeGuys, our Facebook page is facebook.com/DebtFreeGuys and we’re on Pinterest and Google+.
We use both our personal and professional finance experiences to help others reach their financial goals. While we write personal stories, like most personal finance bloggers, we also write about investing, economics and politics as it relates to investing and economics.
We’re also a gay couple. While many straight individuals and straight couples have personal finance experts with which they can easily identify with, many gay individuals and gay couples don’t. Gay individuals and gay couples have some unique considerations when it comes to personal finance. We can help them.
Bob’s Burger! I love it!
Once again, a great interview. Thanks!
John & David,
It’s so great to learn more about your background, journey & what you envision for the future for Debt Free Guys! I think it’s wonderful that you utilize both your personal & professional experiences to paint a holistic picture of finances, investing, and the economy to help people become more money conscious. Great interview, thanks Debt Free Guys & GYFG!
Very inspiring success story, David and John. Congratulations for the good work done to pay off your $51,000 credit card debt and thank you for recommending a book i little knew about, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” I must read this!
Thanks for sharing, David and John. It’s always nice to learn from other PF bloggers’ stories and experiences.
Thanks for featuring a gay couple. The financial issues for gay and straight people are similar in many respects, but there are some important differences and there don’t seem to be that many gay PF bloggers out there, so thanks for this!
My pleasure Mysticaltyger. They can definitely provide a perspective that the market needs.