Momentum Series Interview – Arrest Your Debt: Financial Passion And Purpose
This marks feature #49 in the Momentum Series – an interview series to share the stories of bloggers from across the personal finance community.
The goal is to showcase their story, the wins, the losses and the actionable advice that others can take value from and insights about their blogging journey. Whether that be conquering debt, maximizing career earnings, the road to financial independence or other strategies for financial and blogging success.
This week I’m excited to welcome Ryan from the personal finance blog Arrest Your Debt. Ryan is a police officer with a passion for personal finance and education, which are key themes across the content on his blog.
In this interview, Ryan shares his financial journey, the role personal finances play in law enforcement, blogging experiences and much more.
If you want to connect with Ryan from Arrest Your Debt:
Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy this Momentum Series Interview – Arrest Your Debt: Financial Passion And Purpose.
Hi! My name is Ryan and I run a blog over at Arrest Your Debt. I am 35 years old and I have been a police officer for 15 years. I am married and have three children all under the age of 10 so life is a bit busy right now! I also am an adjunct professor at a local community college.
My blog is Arrest Your Debt. I started the blog in September of 2018 after I realized the finance book I was writing was not the best use of my time. I have been passionate about finance for a long time and cops are notoriously bad with money. Most of them have lifted trucks, boats, and other toys they can’t afford. Due to this, I started writing a book to help my colleagues but I later changed my direction and now run an easy to read blog instead.
I have an Associate’s Degree in Administration of Justice, A Bachelor Of Science Degree in Education, and a Master of Administration Degree focused on Leadership from Northern Arizona University.
As stated earlier, I am a police officer and have been for 15 years. I have been in numerous positions during my career to include: Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, Child Crimes Detective, Neighborhood Enforcement Team Officer, Patrol Sergeant, Internal Affairs Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant, and Property Investigations Lieutenant.
I have previously worked in undercover positions where I purchased illegal drugs and worked prostitution stings.
Currently I am a lieutenant over our Property Investigations Unit. I oversee 7 sergeants and 31 detectives who investigate animal crimes, pawn/metal theft crimes, and all types of thefts and burglary.
Has taking control of your money and mastering your personal finances always been your mindset as an adult? Can you share the coles notes version of your financial journey?
Mastering my personal finances has not always been my mindset as an adult. When I first started my career, I focused on not spending more than I made. That meant I didn’t go deep into debt, but I didn’t have any savings either. I had about $2,000 in my bank account, a car payment, and a terrible interest only home loan.
When I met my wife, she was the real catalyst behind my financial journey. She taught me that having a car payment was not smart and we should be saving much more than we were. My wife is the one who started a budget for us and really moved us to a much better financial position about 10 years ago.
It’s funny that now I am the financial blogger. However, she is the strength and knowledge behind much of what I write.
What strategies and tactics have you implemented in your to life to best set you up for financial success?
There are several strategies we have implemented but I cannot stress enough the importance of a budget. As boring and frustrating as they can be, budgets are the main key to financial success. When I started a budget for the first time, I hated it. It felt restrictive and took away all my “fun.”
However, after using a budget for quite some time, I now love it. A budget allows me to spend my money on things I actually value in life. Before, I was wasting money at the grocery store, buying that pack of gum in the checkout line, and getting coffee on a regular basis. Now, I go on more vacations because I don’t spend my money on things that don’t really matter to me.
In addition to the budget, we put about 25% of our income away for retirement. This will allow us to live a comfortable retirement and travel frequently.
Our main strategy is to tell our money where to go rather than letting our money control us. We decide what is important and where we spend our money rather than giving it away to credit card companies and lenders.
Have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
By far my biggest financial mistake was buying an overpriced condo in 2004 on an interest only loan. I had just started my career and wanted to buy a house because I thought renting was a waste of money. Due to my lack of financial knowledge and emotional purchase, I bought a 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo at the top of the market with a loan that wasn’t putting any money towards principle. 5 years later when the interest only loan readjusted, I could no longer afford the payment.
I had to foreclose on that property and my credit took a major ding. I had a foreclosure on my record for the next 7 years that kept me from buying much of anything. (Blessing in disguise). I learned from my mistake and later purchased a single family home for less money than I spent on the condo.. I did this by saving up a big down payment and paying attention to the type of loan I was getting into.
The biggest lesson(s) I learned from my financial mess was to avoid letting my emotions control my purchases. I saw that condo and I wanted it immediately. I was willing to sign anything to get it and I didn’t have any idea what an interest only loan was at the time.
Now if I feel the need to make a large purchase, I resist the urge to buy immediately. I discuss it with my wife and we sleep on it. The next day, if we still want to make the purchase and have cash for it, we will do it. Taking time to make a decision usually avoids the regret that comes with emotional spending.
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
I have several favorite books that I refer back to on a regular basis. I love Tony Robbins: Money, Master The Game. It is a great book that teaches many of the ins and outs of investing and money management that truly inspires me. Be warned however, it’s over 600 pages long.
I also enjoy many of Dave Ramsey’s books. I do not agree with some of his investment principles, but he does have great strategies for reducing debt to put yourself in a position to build wealth.
Right now I am trying to learn everything I can about blogging so I have been listening to Pro Blogger as often as I can. I have not started listening to financial podcasts yet.
One of the top money blogs that got me started on my journey was Budgets Are Sexy. J.Money cracks me up with his posts and offers valuable information. I wish I had his sense of humor!
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
Currently my biggest goal is to pay off my house completely. We have about two years left before our house will be paid off so I’m doing everything I can to knock that out quickly.
As far as improvement, there is always room to improve how well we stick to our budget but I think we have a pretty good system in place right now. The trick is to set yourself up with habits and systems that push you towards success. When I have a lack of financial motivation, my wife is there to help point me in the right direction. The same goes for me when she loses motivation. Having supportive family and friends with similar financial goals is essential to success!
If you could send a memo to every 18-22 year old in North America about better managing their finances and understanding money but it could only be 3 sentences long, what would that memo be?
If you stick with a budget for 3 months, you will learn to love it and you be able to retire when you want to. Continue to read financial books and don’t listen to broke people who give money advice. Finally, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is because get rich quick schemes don’t work.
Are there any common financial mistakes or trends that follow members of law enforcement?
At times, cops are so overwhelmed with the stress they encounter at work, they don’t want to deal with the stress of managing finances. Law enforcement is an extremely stressful career and most of us want to unwind and get away from the stress we experience on a weekly basis. This causes many officers to buy boats, lifted trucks, ATVs, and other expensive toys. They supplement their stress with having as much fun as they can on their days off to decompress from the work week. Unfortunately, this decompression comes with an expensive price.
What’s the number one benefit in terms of personal finances that members of law enforcement have available to them?
We have a financial counseling available to officers, but male officers have trouble reaching out for help. We are trained to fix problems on a daily basis and it’s hard to admit defeat in our own lives. In terms of benefits, we have counseling and networking available to us, but we don’t always take it.
Many police officers also receive pensions after a 20-25 year career. If I had I the choice, I would skip the pension and invest on my own. Unfortunately, we are required to put a percentage of our income into the pension. Pension returns have been horrible over the years and I would have been able to make much money over the years if I was in control of my pension contributions.
Are there any financial lessons you’ve learned from being in law enforcement that can be applied to most walks of life?
Absolutely. When we are in control, we can determine where we are going. In law enforcement, to stop a fight or to process a crime scene, we take control. We separate the problems and address issues one by one until the entire case is put together.
By taking control of our finances and breaking them up into manageable parts, we can start to mold the future we want. By creating a budget and a system to deal with our debts in smaller manageable sections, we can start to pay them off. Rather than ending up in our 60’s having to rely on social security to survive, controlling our money and telling it where to go creates the ability for anyone to retire a millionaire.
When did you first start blogging? Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
The true inspiration came years ago when I started to really understand personal finance. The more I looked around, the more I saw my friends were failing with money as much as I was in the past. I wanted to help officers get back on the right track to be able to live a healthy financially stress free retirement.
I mentioned earlier that I was writing a book. However, I quickly realized the younger officers do not read books as much as us old guys so I transitioned into a blog instead. I didn’t want to limit my blog to only cops, so while Arrest Your Debt has a cop theme, I write about applications that anyone can use to become financially independent.
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with Arrest Your Debt?
I truly desire to make this world a better place. I know the sacrifices people make on a daily basis and the lack of financial knowledge handcuffs all of us. I would love to teach personal finance classes in local high schools so people can avoid going into debt from the beginning. That is off into the future but something I would love to do.
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Making Momentum readers to check out, what would those be?
I have a few personal favorites that I think offer a great amount of value:
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
My best piece of advice is to believe in yourself. If what you are currently doing with your money isn’t working, it’s time to try something new. If you give a budget a chance, you will be amazed how quickly you can eliminate your debt. Imagine for a moment not having any debt or car payment. Can you imagine how much extra money you would have?! Money would no longer be a stress in your life.
I have seen numerous people believe in themselves and get out of debt. It truly is a possibility and will happen much sooner than later if you commit to chasing a debt free dream. There is no better day than today to start achieving your goals!
Any special shoutouts?
I do. When I started my blogging journey, it could have been a hard and lonely start. However, Andrea from Saving Joyfully encouraged me on Twitter and has been a great friend and motivator ever since. She inspired me to continue on with this blogging journey and I owe much of my success to her!