A fellow financial blogger / professional economist who goes by the pseudonym, Financial Libre, was kind enough to agree to an interview with Top Money Hacks. He shares in-depth articles about financial independence at his blog and here is what we learned about his life, blogging adventures and thoughts about money.
A short bio before we begin…
My name is FinanciaLibre; friends call me FL, but if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, you can call me His FLness, or uh, Financia Luchador, or El FinanciaLibrerino.
I’m either one of the very youngest Gen Xers alive, or I’m one of the very oldest Millennials around. I definitely am not a Digital Native. My cohort’s been called the Oregon Trail generation, and that kind of feels right most days. I can usually make and receive phone calls on my cell and I have an email address but I still don’t really know what Snapchat is and I do most of my reading on printed paper.
A bit about Financial Libre’s profession
My education comes mostly from free public schools, right up until those last few years. I’m an economist, and I’ve got a top-5 MBA. My professional focus is competition/industrial organization, and specifically business strategy. I’m the author of an economics and business strategy textbook and a bunch of research papers in the field, and I ran a consulting firm in that space for a while before I retired.
I’ve lived in Europe twice, and I plan to move back someday. I’m married to Lady Libre, whom I met in Europe. Little Libre’s our baby son, and Lobo Libre’s the dog.
How did you get into blogging, Financial Libre?
Two things motivated me to start the FinanciaLibre blog.
First, lots of us ‘Mericans make stupefyingly bad financial decisions every day and I thought it might be helpful to provide a resource that could reduce the incidence of that. Even a tiny improvement could make a world of difference in people’s lives.
Second, lots of popular personal finance resources out there are garbage. They’re dangerous or plain old wrong or both, and they can get well-meaning people into trouble pretty quickly. So I thought I’d try to add a voice to some discussion areas that did its best to not be dangerous and wrong.
Now, let me be clear that there are lots of great PF resources as well. Many blogs and writers do wonderful work. But my feeling is there’s at least one dangerous voice for each good one.
I’ll add that my experience with the textbook helped motivate me to use the blog platform because oftentimes it’s the people who are least in need of good resources that are most likely to have exposure to things like textbooks, and vice versa. Blogs have really helped democratize access to valuable information.
In the blogging realm, what has worked for you so far and what hasn’t?
I think taking a look at common personal finance and financial independence questions through an economist’s lens has worked out fine so far in terms of generating some useful content.
But I don’t think I’m reaching all the people who might benefit from some of that content. So I need to start finding ways to increase exposure or else risk being a tree falling somewhere in the forest that nobody hears.
Is blogging a part of your financial independence plan?
I reached financial independence a couple of years ago. I earned money being really good at something that’s highly valued, which is old-fashioned and boring and extremely powerful.
What is your money philosophy?
Money’s a tool. It’s incumbent upon each of us to use that tool for maximum benefit. I think “happiness” is a pretty good measuring stick in this regard, and so I like to think of money as a lever to modulate happiness. But, like any tool or lever, money can work for and against happiness and so it’s got to be wielded carefully.
What financial goals have you set in life?
Hmmm… I’ve never really been a “goals” guy. I believe in establishing a core philosophy or strategy and then executing as well as possible against that framework. Goals can be kind of dangerous if they’re not part of a cohesive philosophical orientation, and I think they’re arguably unnecessary as long as that cohesive philosophy’s in place.
What are your top 3 personal financie tips / hacks that you’d like to share with our readers?
One: Get really good at something that’s highly valued and earn lots of money from your expertise.
Two: Get really good at something that’s highly valued and earn lots of money from your expertise.
Three: Don’t spend most of that money. Invest it and leave it alone. Sip a daiquiri.
Any financial mistakes you’d like to share?
I don’t know if I’ve made any, just as much as I don’t know if I’ve really done anything all that well. It’s hard to tell what’s wrong or right before there’s been a pretty long stretch of time afterward to examine the results.
A parable: A poor Chinese farmer has a son. A neighbor comes by and says, “How fortunate you are!” The farmer replies, “We’ll see.”
The farmer’s brother dies. The neighbor says, “How unfortunate you are!” The farmer replies, “We’ll see.”
The farmer inherits a beautiful horse from his deceased brother. The neighbor says, “How fortunate!” And the farmer says, “We’ll see.”
The farmer’s son eventually learns to ride the horse, but one day falls and breaks his leg. “How unfortunate!” and “We’ll see.”
Shortly afterward, all the healthy young men in the village are recruited for battle by the army. The son can’t fight because of his broken leg. All the other boys are killed, including the neighbor’s son.
Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether things are bad or good. But, as of right now, I feel like I’m at least batting .500 on the financial front. Then again, it’s still only like the third inning.
Thank you for your unique insights, Mr. Financial Libre. I wish you best of luck in your attempts to spread financial wisdom.