For the first interview in my new series, I talked with Mike Greig. Mike started the awesome personal finance site, Ninja Budgeter in 2016 and has quickly started gaining a following. It’s easy to see why. His posts about budgeting and reducing debt come from this own experiences. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
Fill the readers in on your background.
Well I’m a father to three beautiful mischievous children, and a husband to a beautiful and patient wife. When we were married in 2009, we came together with more than 40k in personal debt, which we were able to pay off completely by the summer of 2014.
I’ve had three completely different careers. I started out as an automotive mechanic, only making it to my second year of apprenticeship due to low pay and poor working conditions. After that, I began a successful 11-year career as a truck driver transporting heavy equipment. I moved large machinery (excavators, bulldozers, loaders etc.) all over British Columbia, Alberta and a little bit into Washington State.
A year and a half ago, a lot of hard work mixed with some luck landed me a new career as a Digital Marketing Manager for a small robotics company. Shortly after, I decided that I wanted to start a new blog to put my newfound marketing skills to work. That’s how NinjaBudgeter came to be.
I have been experimenting with websites since about 2010, with some of my more embarrassing examples being a failed affiliate blog about vacuum cleaners, a travel blog (I’m a full-time employed father of three who rarely travels), and a Seinfeldian personal blog about, literally nothing.
What’s the most interesting or useful financial advice you’ve ever received?
I can’t remember where I got this advice but here it goes – don’t bother earning more money until you’ve learned to manage what you have. If you’re broke on 60k per year, you would probably be broke on 120k per year. The principles of sound financial management don’t change when you have more money.
What’s one piece of financial advice you didn’t listen to, but wish you had?
Like most kids, when I was in high school we had the investment adviser come in a tell us that if we invested a couple hundred dollars per month starting right then, we’d be millionaire’s by 65. I really wish I’d known how valuable that advice was at the time. Now we’re just getting started investing in our 30s and we’re decades behind where we could be.
What’s the best book (can be non-financial) you’ve ever read? Why?
I’ll do one of each. My favorite financial book is The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. My favorite non-financial book is Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett. It’s historical fiction, and it’s amazing.
You write a lot about budgeting and reducing debt. What’s your #1 tip for getting out of debt?
My best tip to get out of debt is to have a written plan for how you’re going to make it happen. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, debt snowball, highest interest first, start with companies who’s name rhymes with yours. The point is, have a plan. Track your progress, learn from your failures and celebrate your wins.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
As an internet stranger, I don’t know what people would be genuinely surprised about, but I’ll list a few of my more interesting points.
- In 2013, I converted a Geo Metro to electric. Total cost was less than $4000
- I’m a licensed pilot.
- My social circle doesn’t know about my blog. I wanted to grow it organically without putting it out there for my friends and family to see. A select few know, but I’ve never shared it on my personal social accounts. I’m waiting for the day when somebody I know in real life finds it and says something haha.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to save money?
That would have to be riding a motorcycle year-round in Canada. Even though I’m on the West Coast (the warmest place in Canada), it gets way too cold here to ride a bike year round. I was getting 75mpg though, who can argue with that? Here’s proof!
I like to use the Personal Capital app to track all my investments. What’s your favorite personal finance app? What’s its best feature?
Honestly, I don’t use any personal finance apps. I’ve wanted to try Personal Capital for a while, but our system of using a simple Google spreadsheet has served us well for so long, I’m reluctant to switch to a more high-tech solution that will undoubtedly result in more time spent looking at our phones.
Want to read more of Mike’s work? Check out Ninja Budgeter!