Momentum Series Interview – PF Geeks: Finances, Food And Frugality
This marks feature #47 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 stoked to welcome Richmond from the personal finance blog PF Geeks. Rich is a 25 year old youth pastor and personal finance junkie. On the blog, Rich shares content to help young people save money, make money and take control of their finances.
Rich also has some great advice on food and frugality that we will explore below in the interview.
Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy this Momentum Series Interview – PF Geeks: Finances, Food And Frugality.
Hey y’all! I’m Richmond, but most people call me Rich. I’m a 25 year old youth pastor, aspiring theologian, and blogger. I’ve been married to my wife for three years now and we’re the proud parents of the cutest dog in the world.
My blog is PF Geeks! I launched my blog about a year and half ago on a whim. I’m passionate about helping young people save money, make money, and take control of their finances so that they can support their families and reach their financial goals.
My focus has been on helping people minimize their expenses through budgeting and frugality. At some point penny-pinching isn’t worth the effort and the I’ve realized that SO many people need advice on increasing their income.
I graduated in 2015 from Texas A&M with a degree in finance and I’m working my way towards earning a Masters in Theology with an emphasis in biblical Greek from Dallas Theological Seminary.
I’ve been serving as the youth pastor of a church for four years now. I absolutely love what I do and the impact I get to have on the next generation. Most of my time is spend equipping volunteers and preaching.
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?
Absolutely! For as long as I can remember, I’ve been incredibly motivated to make and save money. Growing up I would find ways to negotiate with my parents to earn extra money and I hardly ever spent a dime of it. On hunting trips and car rides my dad would teach me money lessons on investing and compound interest.
When I graduated college, I was generally frugal and money-minded but I didn’t have the knowledge that I do today. I wasted time researching penny stocks when I should have just been dumping money into index funds.
My wife and I spent the first year of our marriage and post-grad year spinning our wheels with our finances. I think we saved around $4,000 in our first year of marriage which was hardly anything on our dual-income.
We had a hard time figuring out how to budget together and compromise on spending & saving. Once we got on the same team though, our finances took off like a rocket.
The ironic thing is that the more we’ve learned about money, the simpler it has become. We stick to a budget, track our spending, and put all of the surplus into our retirement and savings accounts. We’ve found ways to save money that work for us and we spend on the things we value! We have our money-saving systems in place and now we’ve turned our focus towards increasing our income!
What strategies and tactics have you implemented in your to life to best set you up for financial success?
I think it’s really ease to get caught in the trap of chasing tactics without really building a solid foundation. Cashback apps, side gigs, stock-picking, and credit card rewards are fun things to play with, but they don’t build real wealth for most people.
I’m not saying they’re bad. I still do all of that. But that’s the 1% of stuff you do when you’ve got everything else in place.
Here are the four things that have set us up for success and could readers out there!
- Zero based budgeting: This is BY FAR my favorite way to budget for beginners. It takes a bit of time and effort, but I think the only way to truly know your finances inside and out is zero based budgeting. This is how we allocate every dollar we make to be used in the most efficient & the most enjoyable way!
- Tracking our spending: If we don’t track our spending then we aren’t sticking to the budget.
- Automation: If you can set-up things to work without you, then they aren’t dependent on your memory, discipline, or consistency. We automatically save for retirement, build our emergency fund, pay off our credit cards, and set aside our estimated tax payments.
- Job Performance Reviews: This one is a little different… Most people hate job performance reviews, but I personally love them. My boss and I have a great working relationship and I get regular feedback from him. We have dozens of informal sit-downs each year that have helped me prove my worth and improve at my job. My salary has increased about 25% in the last year.
Have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
I’ve been privileged to have an abnormal amount of coaching and counsel with my finances throughout my life. I’ve been able to avoid major pitfalls while also having major support that many people my age don’t have.
I feel like I have to start with that because it would be dishonest to say that my successes are all my own doing.
The biggest mistake is one we could have just made.
We bought a house that is way out of our price range. We absolutely love the house and it is in a fantastic, growing area! We have no problem affording our monthly payment today, but if my wife decides she wants to stay home once we have kids, then we’ll be in a tight spot.
But to me, this just means I need to rise up and increase my income.
I’m well compensated for the work I do, but if I’m really going to boost my income it is going to have to be through outside means! The compensation ladder in ministry is slow and doesn’t have a high ceiling.
I recently started freelancing for DollarSprout as a way to make some extra cash now to invest into my own site!
If our family planning holds strong, then I figure I have a couple of years to really boost my income, ideally double it! We did some renovation work before moving in and made $25k in equity off the bat, so worst case scenario, we end up selling the house for a profit if necessary.
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
A few months back I picked up a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear and it has rocked my world! I’ve been reading 30-40 books a year since 2015 and this is at the top of the list for productivity/self-improvement.
Atomic Habits takes a deep dive into how to create good habits and eliminate bad ones.
Once you have your financial plan in place it all comes down to executing it. No budget works unless you stick to it. I know our biggest weaknesses when it comes to spending so I’ve been put good habits in place that curb our spending!
I’ll be totally honest here–not a huge podcast listener, but the first and only money podcast I’ve really listened to is ChooseFI!
The only podcast I’m a regular listener of is Do You Even Blog. It’s not a podcast about money or finance, but it has helped me grow my blog to where I’m actually earning money off it! So that’s a win!
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
The one thing I desperately need to figure out is how to put a plan together for my wife just in case I ever die.
My wife and I talk a lot about our finances and financial planning. We make decisions together, have shared goals, and celebrate our money wins! She knows the general strategy we have, but doesn’t care to know the nuts and bolts. That’s fine, but God forbid something happened to me, I want her to be prepared and for money to be a non-issue.
Saving money on food looks to be a strength of your household. Has that always been the case or how did that come to be?
Saving money on groceries is definitely one of my budgeting superpowers! I’ve been cooking since I was in high school and as a former-wrestler and one day powerlifter, I eat a ton of food.
About a year ago, my wife and I got serious about sticking to our budget and after running the numbers I realized that we were spending more money on food than we were on rent!
That was a punch in the gut and I knew I was the one to blame for our high food costs. I love eating out and the food I make at home tends to be more expensive because of my protein intake (250g+ a day). My options were either to totally change my diet or find ways to cut costs. I’ve had to do some of both!
Is it possible to eat clean and live a healthy lifestyle while still maintaining that controlled spend?
I will argue tooth and nail that eating clean is totally possible on a tight budget. You have to be more creative and disciplined, but it is doable.
The reality is that cooking & eating healthy meals at home will get your food costs WAY down compared to the average person who spends $3,000+ a year eating out. The key is to not only keep an eye on the unit price per food, but also to find food that is cheap on a per calorie basis! (More below!)
Instituting some meatless meals has been one of the easiest ways that we’ve lowered our food spending. I recently put together a list of vegetarian meal prep ideas that we’ve made or plan to cook!
Are there a handful of surefire tips you could share on optimizing spending for people looking to improve on their food budget but don’t know where to start?
Tip #1: Calories Per Dollar
My number one tip that most people don’t take into account is identifying foods that are cheap on a per calorie basis.
Examples (based on national averages):
- Blueberries are 10x as expensive as bananas.
- A cup of carrots are 1/10th the cost as asparagus.
- Cheerios will cost you 4x as much as storebrand oatmeal.
- You can get 3lbs of all-natural chicken breast for 1lb of sliced deli turkey.
- Quinoa is healthy, but did you know that is is 6x as expensive as jasmine rice?
Making some small changes and substitutes like these can add up to huge savings over time.
Tip #2: Reduce Food Waste
The average American throws away over $600 worth of food every year because it goes bad. Want to instantly save $50 a month? Eat all the dang food that you buy.
Tip #3: Find A Few Ultra Cheap Meals
I have a list of 45+ meal prep recipes you can make for less than $2 each! Put a couple of these in your rotation and you’ll be saving money for sure. Meal prepping has been the #1 habit that has helped us actually kick our bad habit of eating out.
Those are my 3 surefire tips that go beyond the typical advice you read like buying in bulk, shopping at cheaper stores, and not eating out.
When did you first start blogging? Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
I stumbled across the world of blogging when I was disgruntled at my first job out of college. I was looking for ways to make money on the side and I found myself reading every article on Startup Camp, which used to be run by Dale Partridge.
Months later I was binge-listening to Smart Passive Income episodes and knew I had to start a blog.
I ended up leaving that first job and while unemployed started my first blog. It was a personal site that was all about ministry and books I was reading. I wasn’t consistent and I let the domain expire. During this time I also discovered the online world of personal finance!
A year later in I got the itch again to start blogging after seeing success stories! I nearly started a site that was devoted entirely to meal prepping, but then decided to launch a personal finance blog and make meal prep be one of my key content niches! I officially launched PF Geeks in October of 2017 and it’s been a wild ride with plenty of ups and downs!
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with PF Geeks?
I’m still figuring this part out. I know that’s a blogger faux-paux, but it’s the truth.
Here’s what I do know…
I love helping people take control of their finances so that they can provide for their families and give generously to causes they care about. I think I’m uniquely gifted to help people who are Christian, married, and younger, but I don’t know if I want to make that my whole focus.
My dream would be to see marriages saved, nonprofits funded, neighbors cared for, kids adopted, and families supported because of the financial advice I write. I plan to use a portion of any income I make from my blog to support adoption related causes because that’s a very personal passion of mine.
Do you have any specific goals with your blog over the next 12 months? What tactics are you planning to leverage to accomplish these?
I’m a serial goal-setter. I’d rather sit down with a cup of coffee and make new goals than watch a movie.
I’m approaching my blog as strategically as possible by starting with the end in mind. Unlike a lot of bloggers, I have no desire at all to quit my 9-5 job. I don’t want to quit the rat race to become a full-time blogger. I love what I do and ministry is way more important to me than blogging.
My goal with blogging is to create as passive of an income as possible while helping as many people as possible. My specific goal is to build my blog into a source of residual income by time I graduate from seminary.
My specific goals for this year are:
- $500/month in income by the end of 2019
- 50k SEO sessions a month in Jan 2020. This is a reach goal for sure!
- Publish 180,000 words this year
- Create a crystal clear mission statement
Tactics To Reach Those Goals:
- Daily writing: My #1 blogging habit right now is consistent writing. I’ve been writing an average of 500 words a day for over 90 days now! If I can keep that going this year, I’ll have written over 180k words! I’m trying to create an incredible bank of content so that when people show up on my blog a year from now, they end up binge-reading 5-10x posts.
- Make friends: The most unexpected positive from blogging has been the network of friends I’ve made over the last year! They’ve been by my side to encourage, support, and hold me accountable. I love getting to connect with people and I’d love to really get to know my readers and other bloggers this year.
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Making Momentum readers to check out, what would those be?
I would love for some Making Momentum readers to check out these posts! They give insight into how I approach money-management and the kind of resources I create for meal prepping.
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
The best advice I feel qualified to share is to just keep working towards your goals. Whether you’re trying to save money, lose weight, build your blog, or read more books – keep at it! The only way to make progress is to keep taking steps each and every day.
Any special shoutouts?
This is cheesy, but my wife is my #1 supporter. There’s no way I could be doing what I’m doing without her by my side.