Let's Talk Money - The Series - With Jason

I am thrilled to announce this week's Let's Talk Money guest. This week's interview is with Jason from the very popular personal finance blog known as WorkSaveLive. Follow along as Jason introduces his family to you, and shares his personal and professional points of view on money, including his interesting experience with penny stocks.

Please provide a brief introduction about yourself and your personal finance blog including when you created your blog. If comfortable, please share if you are married and how many children you have.

My name is Jason Larkins. I’m a Financial Advisor and coach: I primarily help people with retirement planning and asset management, but up until a few months ago my primary job involved coaching couples on a 1-on-1 basis through the Dave Ramsey program.

I started my blog, WorkSaveLive, in November of 2011 after finally succumbing to the peer pressure of one of my close friends. Given that my passion is to teach people how to properly manage money, starting a blog gave me the ability to expand my platform and reach more people than I could have ever imagined.

I have been married for 2 ½ years to my wonderful wife and we don’t have any kids as of this moment. However, whenever I do these interviews, I always feel the need to throw some love out to my BIG baby, Gunner (a 160 pound Bullmastiff).

Gunner the Dog

How did your mom and dad spend money and how did that affect you?

I certainly believe that the responsibility to teach children how to manage money solely falls on the parents’ shoulders.

There is little doubt in my mind that if YOU struggle with money, then it’s highly likely your children will do the same.

I love my mom dearly, but growing up as a child I was never taught a single thing about managing money. There was never a mention of a budget or being financially responsible. We never had conversations about the economy, investing, or saving for retirement.

In-fact, any time that I saw her spend money it was typically by using a credit card. I know she had large amounts of insurmountable debt and did have to eventually file for bankruptcy.

Obviously I’m aware my financial problems weren’t solely because of my upbringing, but I do believe they attributed to my lack of understanding of how (and why I need) to balance a checkbook, live on less than I made, save for emergencies, and plan for retirement.

Do you think joint or separate checking accounts are appropriate in marriage?

Having coached quite a few people, I don’t think there is any way you can have a truly healthy marriage and completely keep finances separate.

In reality this comes down to how you view marriage though: do you view it as ‘you are now one’ as the pastor often says?

Or do you view it as two sole proprietors that simply live under the same roof?

There is a reason finances are the #1 cause of divorce in this country and that’s because we’re all different. We have different values, upbringings, goals, and ways of managing money.

However, marriage is about compromise and working together (in all regards) and if you can learn to do that with your finances then I believe it only enhances your relationship.

lets talk money with jason

Have you ever lost a large amount of money in investments?

A large amount of money is a relative phrase, but I have certainly lost a lot of money (in my terms and where we’re at in our lives).

In my more careless days, I used to trade penny stocks – like many people, I always wanted the “get rich quick scheme.” I failed to understand how you truly build wealth and I thought the only way to get there was to hit the jackpot. Maybe I didn’t fail to understand it, maybe I just didn’t want to build wealth the old-fashioned, proven way…you know, working hard, living on less than you make, and investing properly. (Who wants to do that?)

About 4 years ago, when I was 23, I rolled-over an old 401(k) into an IRA and started choosing my own investments. I was invested in some good mutual funds with a long-term perspective, but then a few friends told me about this “AWESOME” penny stock.

Well, I invested in it and turned my $3,000 into $30,000 over the course of a few months. Since this is a question about losing a large sum of money, it’s needless to say, but I held onto the stock (hoping to make more) and ended up losing all of the profit within 2 weeks of its high.

How important is planning for retirement to you?

Even before I became an advisor I realized the importance of planning for retirement; frankly, one of the main reasons I became an advisor is because I’m extremely concerned about my generation and their (in)ability to save for their own retirement. Pensions are long gone and relying on Social Security (which is projected to deplete its reserves by 2037) is just a bad idea.

For fun, let’s look at a hypothetical example:

Assume James, a 30-year old single guy, made $36,000 per year after taxes. Let’s also say he doesn’t start saving for retirement until age 30 and he’d like to retire at age 60.

Without relying on any trusty old pensions and not planning on Social Security being around, James would NEED to save $1,151* PER MONTH ($416 into a Roth IRA and $735 in his 401(k)) to be able to retire at age 60 and maintain the lifestyle he was use to living!

*Assuming 9% average rate of return, 3.5% inflation, living off 5.5% of his nest egg, and a 20% tax bracket in retirement.

That is over 30% of his gross annual pay!

Understanding that these numbers aren’t just make-believe, yes, I do place retirement planning at the top of my priority list.

If you had a friend or a co-worker that was in debt come to you for financial advice on how to get out of debt, what are the first 3 steps you would suggest for them to work on?

Considering this is what I do as part of my job, and knowing how I personally was able to get my financial life in order, the first step that I would tell them to do is GET ON A BUDGET!

It’s impossible to get a grip on your finances without knowing how much is coming in each month, how much is going out, and how much is left over.

Once they’ve determine what their TRUE disposable income is, then I’d encourage them to increase that number by doing the only 3 things that any person can do: increase income, decrease spending, or sell things with payments attached.

After they’ve decided on the sacrifices they’re willing to make (or that may be necessary), then I’d tell them they should:

1. Get $1,000-$5,000 in a small emergency fund before paying extra on debt.

2. Use Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball method to pay down debts as quickly as possible.

Thanks for the awesome opportunity, Sicorra! I’m thankful that you allowed me to take part in this series you’re doing and I hope your readers enjoy the Q&A!

Jason, It was a pleasure to publish your interview today! Thank you so much for sharing personal aspects of your life, as well as your professional knowledge in regards to personal finance. I have no doubt that many people will find this helpful.



    • canadianbudgetbinder

      canadianbudgetbinder 04/11/2012 8:57 a.m. #

      Another great post by tackling our debt! Great to get to know you Jason.
      One part of your interview which I absolutely agree with is that learning about money and finances starts at home. Parents need to lead by example and if you don't think you can budget or teach your children because you don't have alot of money that's a load of phooey (is that a word :-))

      I believe and agree with you that if parents struggle with money potentially their children will UNLESS.. they break from the pattern.

      I'm sure there are many financial bloggers who had parents that were rubbish with money and somehow they said "that's not going to be me".

      All I can say is.. they made the right decision!


    • AverageJoe

      AverageJoe 04/11/2012 9:42 a.m. #

      Wow! Who did you get to model for that picture, Jason? That's a good-looking couple.

      Reading Jason's story about his mom, it's amazing how many bad habits our custom of talking money = inappropriate has created. I wonder how things would be different if everyone were more open about their financial pictures.

      I think people don't talk money now because they're afraid they don't know enough. I'm sure Jason has seen that we're all in the same boat: nearly everybody is quiet about their money and they're clueless. It's created an ugly cycle.

    • Anthony Thompson

      Anthony Thompson 04/11/2012 10:41 a.m. #

      This is a very powerful interview. Jason is a real standup guy, and I always enjoy reading his posts. Needless to say, I'm now thrilled to read his interview.

      His honesty about his parents' lack of money management skills is very enlightening. It's sad that they didn't teach him personal finance strategies, which naturally resulted in him having money problems himself once he became an adult. Fortunately, he has gotten himself out of the financial rut, and is doing much better with his savings and investing.

      My response to this is that a good number of us grew up in loving households, but were not so fortunate as to learn how to responsibly manage money from our parents. The reason could be that our parents weren't taught by their parents. As a result, bad money managing gets passed down from one generation to the next until someone breaks the vicious cycle.

      This is why I've been saying for awhile now that a personal finance education needs to begin in middle school. The sooner we learn about it, the better financially prepared we will be.

    • Michelle

      Michelle 04/11/2012 11:05 a.m. #

      I love your bull mastiff! He's soo stinkin cute! I also love what you said about marriage and finances!! Why don't you guys live closer? I think we would be great friends! You could get your dose of baby fever too with our adorable children. ;)

      I really admire how level-headed your advice is. There's never any quick money-making schemes over at the appropriately titled blog "Work Save Live."

    • WorkSaveLive

      WorkSaveLive 04/11/2012 11:39 a.m. #

      Hey everybody! I'm glad you checked out the interview; this series that Sicorra is doing is pretty awesome!

      @Mr. CBB - I wish I was smart enough to see my parents financial mistakes and immediately break the pattern. Unfortunately I think most of us are so stubborn that we have to fail on our own before we learn the lessons. Of course there are some (few) that have enough common sense not to do so, but I certainly wasn't one of them! ;)

      @AJ - I so stinkin' busy all of the time that I get my neighbors to stand in pictures for me. I have this whole lineup of pictures they allow me to use! Pretty nice of them.

      You are right about the PERSONAL aspect of finances. I'm not sure if I've developed the belief from coaching or if I had it prior, but I FIRMLY believe much of our issues with handling money is because NOBODY TALKS ABOUT IT! You don't hang out with friends and discuss economics, business adventures, investing, or spending wisely.

      We all want to live with the outward appearance that we know what we're doing and it causes everybody to hide what's really going on (because nobody wants to be a failure or judged).

      @Anthony - Glad you liked the interview. Your thoughts are right in line with what I replied to AJ with, but I will say that I don't feel bad that my family/parents never taught me to manage money. I firmly believe that life's lessons teach us, mold us, and make us stronger. If not for my personal struggles with money I'm 99% sure I wouldn't be doing what I do today. I'm thankful for what I've gone through (well...except the fact that I'm still paying for the stupidity and have a long way to go to be debt free!).

      @Michelle - Our dog is pretty awesome. I don't think I could have asked for a better one. I've trained him well too! He doesn't bark, jump up on people, and he knows not to go into our kitchen (or any other area in the house with tile). Yep....he's a badass.

      I'm surprised you'd still be willing to be friends with us even though we posed in the Jayhawk tees. I actually wondered what Jefferson would have thought when I sent that picture to Sicorra! lol.

      It would be pretty sweet if we lived closer, you'd just have to move to KC! I grew up in StL and have no interest in going back! Wayyyyyyyyyy to big of a city and the traffic is ridiculous. KC is awesome! Let me know when you decide to move and we'll meet up! :)

    • From Shopping to Saving

      From Shopping to Saving 04/11/2012 11:45 a.m. #

      I love WorkSaveLive!!!! I totally agree with him about combining finances in a marriage. Love his dog and his recipes too.

      Great interview!

    • CultOfMoney

      CultOfMoney 04/11/2012 11:19 p.m. #

      What a great interview! Jason, you've got some great advice here, and I think you've got a lot of great ideas about how parents and kids can both learn better financial skills. And I think you and I think similarly about retirement planning and the vast sums required for a comfortable one. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kari @Small Budget Big Dreams

      Kari @Small Budget Big Dreams 04/12/2012 8:06 a.m. #

      Another great post in the series. Love Work Save Live and the sound advice Jason offers there (particularly all the retirement savings posts, which I know little about).

      My dad is a mess with money, so I completely agree about parents passing on bad financial habits (or terrifying their children into making good ones, as the case may be;-))

      Oh and I love Gunner! Brooklyn says he can come play if he's ever in the neighborhood.

    • WorkSaveLive

      WorkSaveLive 04/12/2012 9:40 a.m. #

      @Kari - I soooooooooooo wish Gunner liked dogs. We want a puppy really bad but Gunner is pretty territorial. It's frustrating...

      He grew up with a dog so I'm not sure why he doesn't like them any more.

      Keep coming back for the retirement series! I think it will be really helpful.

      @Cult - I think you're right! There is no doubt people will need a HUGE sum of money to be able to completely support themselves in retirement.

    • Shilpan

      Shilpan 04/19/2012 8:19 a.m. #

      Excellent interview Sicorra. I like Jason for his candidness. In many ways, Jason and I have similar view about money and life. I am proud that he has gained this wisdom at a much younger age. What's important for anyone to take away from this interview is the importance of learning from experience. Jason learned that trading penny stock isn't the surest path to riches. He took action to change the course.

    • MoneySmartGuides

      MoneySmartGuides 04/20/2012 4:14 p.m. #

      Great interview! We learn our money habits from our parents. If they are bad with money, we tend to be just as bad. This needs to change by teaching personal finance in school.

    • Karunesh @ chase-a-dream.com

      Karunesh @ chase-a-dream.com 04/23/2012 5:03 a.m. #

      I would say that you have learnt a lot from your mistakes. From the guy who made financial mistakes to the guy who is a financial adviser, you sure have traveled a lot of distance. Way to go Jason!!

Comments are closed.