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In 2007, J. Money from Budgets are Sexy was shopping around for a new apartment. But, as fortune would have it, he ended up buying a $350,000 house with no money down 48 hours later.

How on earth did that happen? J. Money says, “My fiance and I went looking for a 2-BR apartment to rent in the D.C. area, but we got lost and found some incredible townhouses. We looked one over and met with a financial person who said, you can afford $400,000 based on your salaries.”

At the time, J. Money didn’t budget — he really didn’t know much about personal finances. “Up to that point, I had always been OK with my money,” says the guy comfortable enough to literally call himself Money. “I had never been in debt that bad, maybe a few hundred, but I wasn’t really saving much either.”

So, he did some online investigation and came across the personal finance blogging world. Things immediately changed for the better as he read the real-life stories of other people. “I couldn’t believe people were discussing personal and real life information and being totally transparent! That motivated me to join this online society.”

Now that he was saddled with a 100 percent-financed mortgage, he quickly realized he must do something. He kept reading blogs for about three or four months and, at the time, started tracking his expenses.

“I tracked my expenses for three months, made a budget, read some books as well as other killer resources, became an ‘adult,’ and quickly realized the following calculation was more than accurate: Budgets = Confidence = Sexy.”

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As J. Money became more interested in personal finances, he hatched an idea in 2008. And he named it Budgets are Sexy. He says, “My goal with this blog is to get people to stop and *pay attention* to their money. Especially you youngins. You won’t find any long in-depth instruction manuals or anything else that bores me to death here, as I really want this to be a fun place to share and interact with each other.”

Yes, a $350,000 “whim” turned into a very successful business. But it wasn’t easy: J. Money worked hard. “I started speaking with advertisers because I learned that they’ll pay you for advertising on your blog,” recalls Money. “I worked my 9-5 job and then also blogged at night and on the weekends and took on side jobs.”

He also invested heavily in his 401(k). He wanted to max it out early in the year. With that in mind, he says, “I’d max it out within a few months and as I did my paycheck shrunk to like $90, and I’d live on the side money.”

The site took off. He registered 20 million+ views and increased his net worth from $50,000 in 2008 to $700,000 in 2017. When people ask him why he tracks his net worth so carefully, he provides three reasons:

  1. It holds myself accountable (numbers don’t lie!)
  2. It keeps myself motivated towards the dream of a Milly
  3. It reminds myself that it’s all a journey. Which is important for someone with ADHD.

I looked over his “dream of a Milly” post and it sounds awesome. As far as tracking expenses, J. Money notes, “There are a billion ways to track it, but I prefer using a plain ol’ Excel spreadsheet that I manually update at the end of every month. This forces me to stop and soak things in before moving on to the next shiny thing.”

The story of when J. Money left the workforce

In 2010, J. Money quit his 9-5 job. It was time. He was working his 40 hours during the day and an additional 30-40 hours on his blog and online projects. His wife warned him that he “was burning out” and he should either quit his day job or the blog.

He says, “The longest job I worked at was maybe two or three years, and by this time, I was doing the blog for nearly three years — and it was successful.” Rather than giving up the blog, he decided to give his two-week notice.

“I wanted to start off the new year fresh, so I was going to give my notice in December,” says Money. “I went into work, and my coworkers were looking at me. I knew something wasn’t right. My boss called me into his office and said, ‘We have to let you go.’ I remember thinking — Wait! I was the one who was supposed to dump you!”

Obviously, things worked out for J. Money, as he also runs Rockstar Finance — a site he describes as “a financial community/platform/directory of tools and resources with 5 million+ views” and named one of Business Insider’s “go-to websites for money advice.”

Speaking of advice, I asked J. Money to give our readers some financial advice and he came through.

  • Care enough about your money to do something about it!
  • Start small by just banking $20 a month.
  • Find a good blog that really resonates with you and see how others are managing their money! (Our directory holds 1,400 blogs you can choose from.)
  • Remember that it’s not about the money, but about freedom in the end. Your goal is to reach the point where you don’t have to think about money again.

I must leave you with the words of “a random passer-by.” J. Money doesn’t think it’s a compliment but he takes it as one anyway: “he’s the Miley Cyrus of finance.

Meet the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

Staff Writer

Bienkowski is a staff writer and is the face of Debt.com's 'By the Numbers' videos.

Budgeting & Saving, Career and Business, News

401k, income, save money, Very Personal Finance

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Article last modified on December 18, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: J. Money’s Financial Blunder Turned into a Success Story - AMP.