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Have questions? Email Send your question to jbarnash@smartasset.com

J. Money: Financial Expert Profile

J. Money is a professional blogger who’s risen to fame over the past decade for his personal finance blog, Budgets Are Sexy. He has helped people understand their finances by talking openly about his own. He’s received numerous awards along the way and his blog posts have been featured in several publications. So let’s find out if J. Money can help you to take more control of your own personal finances.

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Top Financial Advice From J. Money

J. Money recommends putting yourself on the path to financial success by tracking your net worth. He says calculating your net worth will give you a picture of your overall financial situation and it will help you to know where your money is at all times. In an interview with SmartAsset, J. Money said, “Tracking my net worth is by far the best thing I’ve done to keep… on track and motivated. And it’s helpful in all situations whether you’re paying down debt or investing more or buying up homes or hoarding Bitcoin.”

Knowing your net worth isn’t just about having a concrete number, though. According to J. Money, it’s also about getting your mind right.

“You can’t help but remember it every time you swipe that card out shopping, and psychologically it’ll help you far more than any other random tricks or hacks people are peddling,” he told SmartAsset.

So how exactly do you track your net worth? First you need to calculate your net worth. The basic formula is to subtract all your liabilities from all your assets. In simple terms that means subtracting what you owe (liabilities) from what you have (assets). The best way to calculate net worth is probably in a spreadsheet. J. Money uses a simple Excel sheet because it lets him easily change values and it does all the math for you.

Assets include all the money you have saved or invested. Assets also include the value of the things you own. It’s up to you exactly how much you want to include in your net worth calculation. The value of a few DVDs probably isn’t worth including but the value of a car is likely significant. Make sure to only include things you actually have. For example, you shouldn’t include the full value of your home unless you’ve already paid it off. You can include any home equity you have because that’s the amount of your home that you have actually paid for. Add all your assets together and you have one half of the equation finished.

To calculate your liabilities, look at everywhere that you owe money. This could include your student loans, credit card debt and your mortgage on a house. Add all your liabilities together and subtract that number from your total assets. Voila! You have calculated your net worth.

When you calculate net worth, you might have a negative number. This is especially common after someone gets a mortgage or a big loan. Don’t worry though. Now that you know how to do the calculation, you can track your net worth simply by doing the calculation at regular intervals. If you want an example of someone else who tracks their net worth, check out Budgets Are Sexy. J. Money has been calculating his net worth every month since February 2008. His calculations are right on his website so that you can see his journey as he works to reach his financial goals (like reaching a net worth of $1 million). You can also download a copy of the Excel spreadsheet that J. Money uses.

J. Money also extols the virtues of budgeting. As his blog’s name implies, J. Money finds budgets pretty sexy. A budget is a good tool for keeping you on top of your spending. One key is to tailor your budget to your individual lifestyle. What does that mean? Well we asked J. Money and here’s what he had to say about it:

“I’m all about spending money on things you love and prioritize, so if you want to spend $500 on shoes or drink Starbucks every day, go for it and adjust your budget accordingly. Just don’t max your spending on eating out and large homes and TVs and fancy cars all at the same time. As my good friend Paula Pant from AffordAnything.com likes to say – you can afford anything, but you can’t afford everything. Spend on the stuff that’s important to you and save on the stuff that isn’t.”

A Brief Bio of J. Money

J. Money is a respected professional blogger who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. However, he wasn’t always the money guru that he is today. Like many of us, personal finance wasn’t something he focused on when he was young. Growing up, he was told to save money and to be frugal (his mom was and is an avid fan of yard sales). But his focus was mostly on getting good grades and going to college. It wasn’t until years later that personal finance became important to him.

In 2007, he learned a money lesson he still carries with him. He was looking for a two-bedroom apartment but on a whim decided to buy a house for over $350,000. This was at the peak of the housing bubble and he put no money down. While the house didn’t lose him a ton of money, it wasn’t until after the fact that that he says he realized buying a house was not the best decision for him. (Trying to decide if renting or buying is the right choice for you? SmartAsset’s rent vs buy calculator can help.)

J. Money explained that he fell victim the same narrative that gets many of us: “I just did it because I thought it was what you were *supposed* to do. I saw all my friends doing it and just followed their lead without really thinking about what was inherently best for ME.”

After buying a house, he started looking more closely at his finances. He tracked his expenses and he created a budget. In 2007, he discovered the blogosphere, around the time he bought his house. He was immediately hooked on blogging. As he says it, “People were just sharing their REAL LIFE stories and tips and it was so raw and fascinating that I couldn’t help but to want to be a part of it all.”

Budgets Are Sexy was born a few months later as a way to have some fun and to hold himself accountable with his finances. He turned his blog into his full time job a few years later and he hasn’t looked back since.

J. Money’s Financial Focus and Philosophy

J. Money: Financial Expert Profile

J. Money once wanted to be a millionaire. Why? It seemed like the goal that a young person was supposed to have. It wasn’t until years into his blogging that J. Money figured out the philosophy that he now tries to share with his readers: Money is just a tool.

It’s helpful to have a lot of money, but money shouldn’t be the goal itself. Instead, J. Money advocates using money as a tool to set up your ideal lifestyle. Work toward being happy in your lifestyle on a daily basis and you’ll find yourself focusing less on money and more on the rest of your life. And make sure to enjoy your life. Take it from J. Money: “If you can remember to live in the here and now and be content with yourself no matter your finances, the rest of life will be much smoother.”

Where You Can Find J. Money

You can find contact information and links to his social media sites, like the official J. Money Twitter account, at his business website, jmoney.biz. There you can also see some of his many accolades, the projects he works on and some interesting facts. Don’t forget that you can also find his writing on the blog that started it all, BudgetsAreSexy.com.

Current Projects

In the past few years, J. Money has launched RockstarFinance.com. The site is a directory to help people share and discover blogs about personal finance. There are helpful articles and reviews of finance books. There is a tracker of finance bloggers (the list is constantly growing) and there is a forum for people to talk honestly about money. The site was named one of the best sites for money advice by Business Insider.

Philanthropy is also important to J. Money. He has started multiple projects that help him give back to the community through micro-giving. One current project is the Rockstar Community Fund. People donate money to the fund and then RockstarFinance gives out $20 #GivingCards so that people can go out into their own communities and give money to the people who truly deserve it.

The Takeaway

J. Money: Financial Expert Profile

J. Money has been writing about personal finance for almost a decade. His blog, Budgets Are Sexy, features a lot of useful information, advice and product reviews. More than all that, J. Money uses his blog to talk openly and honestly about his financial journey. So if you’re someone who is having a hard time managing your money and you want to know that someone else has made all the same silly mistakes you have, you should check out Budgets Are Sexy.

Tips for Budgeting and Tracking Net Worth

  • A budget is a great tool to help you stay on track financially. SmartAsset can help you figure out your budget with our free budget calculator.
  • Keep in mind that a budget will only help if you actually stick to it. If you’re having a hard time staying within your budget, here are five reasons why your budget isn’t working.
  • J. Money highly recommends calculating your net worth. What if you know your net worth but it isn’t as high as you want it to be? Here are seven ways to increase your net worth.

Photo credits: Walter Tyler and BudgetsAreSexy.com

Derek Silva, CEPF® Derek Silva is determined to make personal finance accessible to everyone. He writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, serving as a retirement and credit card expert. Derek is a member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®). He has a degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has spent time as an English language teacher in the Portuguese autonomous region of the Azores. The message Derek hopes people take away from his writing is, “Don’t forget that money is just a tool to help you reach your goals and live the lifestyle you want.”
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