Blogger Showdown #5: Matt Jabs vs. Adam Baker

Matt Jabs vs. Adam Baker
Get excited for PF Blogger Showdown #5: Matt Jabs vs. Adam Baker! What I love about these guys is that they’re both so inspirational AND down to Earth. And if you haven’t been following the PF circuit lately, they’re everywhere! haha…You’ve got them messaging like crazy on Twitter, blogging out their hearts on Debt Free Adventure and Man vs. Debt respectively, and even moonlighting for heavy hitting blogs on top of it! (Five Cent Nickel or Get Rich Slowly ring any bells?) Needless to say, these guys are good. What’s more, they’re quick to help their friends out.

So sit back, grab your coffee, and watch ’em spill it all out on the table! (the honesty, not the coffee) It doesn’t get more sincere than this, my friends.

Matt JabsMatt Jabs
725 Readers
Debt Free Adventure
Adam BakerAdam Baker
2,457 Readers
Man vs. Debt
How long have you been blogging for?
I started a personal/tech blog in 2007 but did not step onto my personal finance soapbox until January 4th, 2009. I started my blog in the last week of March of this year. I wish I had some cool story about how I’ve always wanted to do this from a young age, but it’s not true. I’ve always hated writing in any shape or form, but somehow managed to find myself blogging. Who knew?
What’s so great about personal finance?
I think gaining control over money is sexy. Also, because our culture has largely starved us of the knowledge to manage our personal finances properly, taking this issue on is beneficial to me and hopefully to those reading DFA. Oh yeah… and I’m a total math/money/numbers geek. Personal Finance is one of a handful of topics that everyone has to deal with. There’s a million different sub-topics and a million different opinions, haha. Keeps things fresh. Most importantly, though, getting a grip on your finances unleashes a ridiculous amount of potential for freedom.
What are the first 3 sites you check when you wake up?
Crap. I knew you were gonna ask this question. I am going to honest and say: Gmail, Adsense (there… I said it), and either Analytics or DFA. 1) Gmail
2) Man Vs. Debt (moderate comments, trackbacks, and check for major links/mentions)
3) TweetDeck (so effectively

Does it get any more boring than that? I don’t think so ;-)

You two seem to be BFFs on twitter. Are you guys really pretty close?
To any who know him this will come as no surprise. Adam Baker is a winner. Period. And I love to surround myself with people are bound to succeed. Beyond that, I prefer friends who are brutally honest and who push me to succeed. I have definitely found that person in Adam. We chat nearly every day in an effort to motivate, encourage, and keep each other on track. I highly value his friendship and am a huge fan of what he is doing. As far a e-friends go, I’d say we are fairly close. I’m a huge believer in what Matt is doing and have absolutely no doubt in his long-term success. His resolve towards his goals is very addictive to be around. Not only that, but he’s been a huge supporter of me from very early on and is constantly pushing me towards bigger and better things.
What’s your all-time favorite article you’ve written?
Ha! Nickel is gonna love this. Ironically enough… my all-time favorite post does not reside on DFA, but on It is a post title, “Is Personal Responsibility Dead?” It is my favorite because it embodies so much of what I believe and stand for, and really gives readers a solid perspective of where I am coming from. If you haven’t already read it… check it out. That’s really, really hard actually. I would have to say the Debt Tsunami post I wrote. When I read back through it, I see that I was just starting to find my ‘voice’ in the post. It’s still my second highest traffic post ever, and was one of the first to be universally linked to by many other pf blogs. The success of the message/tone really fortified my resolve to put myself (and my passion) out there and people would connect with it. It changed the direction of MvD.
On a scale of 1-10, how big of a role does religion play in your writings?
Religion? 0. Bible? 10. I strive to filter everything through the judicious principles of the scriptures – and that definitely includes my writing. I fail miserably because I am human, but I try hard to judge myself, my views, and my advice against its matchless wisdom. Heck… I figure any book that has sold over 6 billion copies can’t be all bad… right? 2. I would say 1, because I never ever think about it when writing, but I know that spirituality in general effects ‘everything’ we do. So, I’ll go with 2 ;-). To be blunt, religion (or spirituality in some form) just isn’t a priority in my life right now. Hopefully, that we change soon. :-)
You both have “debt” in your blog title – What’s the damage at now?
Around $10,000 at Lending Club. Around $65,000 in student loans. Around $160,000 in mortgage debt. Despite these high numbers my wife and I have incredible peace in relation to our finances. Why? Because we have a plan. Having a plan to eliminate your debt and build wealth is almost as peaceful as having no debt at all. Now, the only thing standing between us and debt freedom is time and patience. Approximately $52,000 in student loans left. We’ve destroyed all of our ‘consumer’ debt and live without credit cards. Right now we decided to spend a little time on long-term travel and income generation. I’m itching to turn back up the heat and kick out the rest of these loans in the coming year.
Do you use any form of budgeting?
Though I am a computer technician, my wife esteems computers about as highly as PF bloggers do credit card debt! So – because I need her on board – I accommodate by using the old school pen and paper method – which I know Adam and Courtney favor as well. I have tried many budgeting programs and while some are very cool, for us nothing beats the simplicity, thoroughness, and flexibility of individual spending journals and hand written budgets. Budgeting took about 8 months to really “take hold” in our lives, so those who are just starting out need to be patient and have fortitude. Yep, we track every penny we spend (publicly actually on MvD) and normally do a simplified budget by hand every month. When budgeting by hand, we round to whole numbers, use very few categories, and shoot for zero-sum budgeting. We concentrate on ‘discretionary’ spending the most, but also regularly review our subscriptions and fixed monthly bills. Lately, we’ve began using PocketSmith (in order to share everything online) and I absolutely love forecasting my spending using their calender system.
What’s the stupidest financial mistake you’ve ever made?
Buying our current home. We put zero down and are now upside down. The bright side? We do have a fixed 30 year rate and our payment is only 21% of our NET income – Phew! Would love to hear any solid advice from the commentators about ways to sell when you’re upside-down. Becoming addicted to gambling. I spent a couple years in the industry. I dealt poker, ran a local poker room, and even played professionally for awhile. Ultimately, though it’s a losing game. Even though I was ‘making’ more money than I ever had, my spending was ridiculous. I gained 50 pounds, became depressed, and squandered any dollar I made (even though I didn’t go into debt for it specifically).
Which is worse: Not blogging for a month, or losing $1,000 in cash?
Not blogging for a month would cost me more than $1,000 and then I would have all kinds of pent up financial geek speak that would fall on the ears of my beautiful wife. She wouldn’t appreciate that – so I’ll go with losing a $1,000. While losing a $1000 dollars would have much more of an immediate impact on our finances, over the long haul not blogging for a month would probably end up costing me more. If I was given the choice today, I would lose the $1000 and keep pouring myself into the blog. That either makes me crazy or genius… I’m not sure which.
*BONUS* Who would save more money, Batman or Superman?
Oh this one’s easy. Though it would appear Batman has much more… Superman has lived simply and below his means for many years. While Batman was busy buying every gadget that came through the bat-cave, Superman was keeping the peace with nothing more than a cape and a public phone booth – stashing money away in the safest place he could find… the Fortress of Solitude! Are you joking? Wayne Enterprises could have Superman on the payroll and not even notice it. Bruce Wayne rulez, Clark Kent droolz.
So who are you voting for? I realize I may have given Baker a head start here w/ the duplicate insertions of his baby, but do your best to look at the content ;) Although there really aren’t any scientific methods for voting here – just pick the one you like the most! They’re both bad asses in my view, so I commend each of them for their continued support in spreading the good financial word. Keep on rockin’ it out guys.

Previous Showdowns:
Showdown #1: J.D. Roth vs. Trent Hamm
Showdown #2: Stephanie vs. Squawkfox
Showdown #3: Lazy Man vs. Silicon Valley Blogger
Showdown #4: Flexo vs. Jim Wang

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