Most comfortable in blue jeans and a T-shirt, Peter most loves spending time with his (very patient and understanding) wife and three boys. Self-described as a man with too many hobbies, he can be found coaching others in the financial ministry of his church, facilitating Financial Peace University groups, riding motorcycles, shooting a variety of firearms at the local range, and performing music on stages of some of the largest and smallest churches in Arizona.
Peter considers himself one of the luckiest and most blessed humans on earth, and meets each day with a list that's too big to finish.
Find Peter's books in Kindle format by visiting his Amazon author page.
1. What motivated you to write 100 Ways to Save and Grow Your Money?
I wrote the first draft in 1989, after a failed real estate event and other financial challenges. I set out to compile a list of money-saving ideas, which grew into a book. But I did not publish it for two decades, though every few years I pulled out the manuscript and did some more editing.
After a much larger failed, giant real estate event which devastated our family finances, I rewrote and updated the draft in 2009 to help others avoid and recover from similar painful financial situations.
Bestselling author Scott Alexander actually read the original manuscript in 1990 or so, and encouraged me to self-publish at that time. It took me about 20 years to take his advice, and when I did, he wrote an endorsement for the new version (his words are printed on the back cover). His encouragement was also a motivator for me. I will never underestimate the power of encouragement to another human being.
It was my friend and double Grammy-award-winning professional bassist Mel Brown who pointed me in the right direction on self-publishing. His book From Zero to Sideman in Five Steps, was an inspiration for me to finish and publish 100 Ways. And his encouragement helped me to finish what I had started 20 years earlier.
2. In shaping the book, what experiences of your own (and maybe of your family/friends/colleagues) did you draw upon?
Most of the ideas in my books come from personal experience, or from research that I have done to find and check facts. But some of them come from friends and co-workers, whom I observed making better decisions than me. I'm not actually a financial guru, just a regular person who's made an awful lot of mistakes. I learned from those mistakes, and I learned from smart people around me, and I just wanted to pass along that wisdom. It is absolute misery to be in financial hardship, with creditors calling all day and you wondering how you'll make it to the next paycheck. You wonder if you'll lose your house, your car. I've been there and wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Pressure like that causes stress, medical problems, and marital problems, and sometimes spirals into more bad decisions. I put these books together to uplift and help as many people as possible.
I wrote a short course and taught a small group during two or three short sessions at my home. That course was based, in part, on my earlier manuscript. I love teaching and loved seeing the light bulbs go on. And the epiphany for me was that nobody knows this stuff coming out of a home and a high school. They still need to learn some basic concepts that will make a huge difference for them. The experience teaching the material also motivated me to (a) complete the book and (b) to make it the very best it can be.
3. Why do you think "regular people" are not saving as much money as they could be?
There are several reasons...
(a) The culture around us is so affluent; in many other countries people are content with much less than the average middle-class American can't live without. We experience constant advertising; we're overwhelmed with information and advertisements all day from TV, radio, internet, passing by stores and billboards.
(b) "Keeping up with the Joneses"--our friends, neighbors, and co-workers have defined for us what is "normal" in terms of cell phone, car, house, TV, services, clothing, everything. It's not intentional, just part of the culture,but we've let that define where our money should go.
(c) We were never taught how to manage our money at home or in school, so we learn from the culture and media around us. And what the culture and media are teaching us, leads to the average American spending 10% more than his or her income. And that results in financial slavery, never reaching freedom--even in retirement, for most of us.
(d) Taking (a) through (c) together, most people do not understand the power of a dollar saved. 100 Ways is based on teaching the concepts of a little bit of discipline, a LOT of easy ways to save dollars, the power of compound interest, and the fantastic result that can be achieved just by spending less than our income. $100 not wasted, but saved instead, every month over a working lifetime, is a million dollars. Anyone, at virtually any income level, can do that.
4. With interest rates being so low, the old standby of savings accounts can be slow-going in terms of growing your money. What do you think some "new standbys" should be for people who want to grow their money but maybe have limited resources available to invest?
Great question! It is for this question that I wrote the companion book, Getting 10%: Great Returns of 1%, 5%, 10% and More on Your Money. Traditional savings accounts are great as a temporary, convenient, liquid place to hold money while it grows large enough to put into an account with higher interest. For example, most banks will allow us to set up a regular, automatic transfer of money from our checking account into the savings account. But it shouldn't stay there for long, earning a half a percent or less. The new book Getting 10% shows where to put money for interest-bearing checking, cash-paying debit cards, where to find the best CDs, how to find and choose mutual funds, and where to get 5%, 10% and more--safely.
5. If you could suggest just one tip that people follow to save money, and just one tip to grow their money, what would those two tips be?
Another great question!
(a) The #1 tip for saving money: Spend less than you earn. This sounds simple, but it is VERY powerful. It requires going on a written budget, and spending only cash that you have--no more credit cards. All this means is planning the month ahead of time, and spending only the planned amount in each category. It's not as scary or difficult as it sounds. You can find a lot of budget forms online from a variety of sources--just Google it. Find one that you like, and print it out. The simpler the better: don't get too overly detailed or complex, and don't think that it has to be an electronic form. Pencil and paper are best in the beginning. For the first month, you don't even need a plan. Simply use the budget form to track all your expenses. That exercise alone will bring to light areas where you can easily save money. Use that new knowledge to plan the second month's budget. At the end of the second month, you'll have two cycles of learning, and every budget each month after will get better and better.
(b) The #1 tip for growing your money: pay yourself first. This means putting a category in your budget for savings, with just as high a priority as any of your other bills. And never take that money out--move that money as soon as possible into a higher interest-bearing account, as you can find in the Getting 10% Kindle ebook. (You actually need two places to store money: one for an emergency fund, and one for long term savings.) Later you can also add accounts for kids' college fund, furniture replacement fund, new car fund, etc.