27

Welcome Yahoo Readers: An Intro to Man Vs. Debt

in Do What You Love, MvD Updates, Our Financial Journey

Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt.

Last week, I awoke to find several emails and texts saying… go to Yahoo.com now!

Turns out, Yahoo.com had syndicated an interview I did with CreditCards.com several weeks before and had published it – along with a picture of Courtney, Milli, and me – on its front page for most of a day.

Sweet!

The article generated just under 1,800 comments – the far majority of them negative, abusive, or spammy. However, if you’d like a good laugh – just go scroll through them for a while. :)

On the flip side, it brought a huge influx of people into the community here – with thousands of new people deciding to follow along via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

If you are new to the community… welcome!  We are glad to have you. :)

Here’s a brief guide to the site:

In order to catch everyone up (and give old-timers a walk down memory lane), I wanted to answer some of the most frequent questions I’ve received in email this past week.

How did you get started traveling?

I’ve written a lot about our story on this site, but here’s the condensed version:

In 2008, the birth of our daughter (Milligan) really led Courtney and I to examine our life path. Courtney had just graduated from college and was starting her first year as a elementary teacher. I had just started a Real Estate business and was working 80-100 hours per week trying to get it off the ground.

We weren’t struggling to put food on the table, but we weren’t living within our means either. We had all sorts of loans… loans to family, loans for the wedding, two car loans, $55,000 in student loans, and several credit cards at different levels.

Bringing Milli home from the hospital, we were finally given the clarity to understand that our lifestyle wasn’t in line with our true values.

We made the decision to sell everything we own down to two backpacks, pay off our $18,000 in consumer debt (all non-student loan debt), and spend a year living in Australia.

Over the next year we set about that mission – and about 5 months into our personal journey I started keeping track of it online (here at this site). :)

How can you afford to travel around all the time?

We’ve changed the way we afford to travel over the last few years.

Early on, we saved up money – and traveled *very* frugally. After we paid down our $18,000 in consumer debt, we also saved up $17,000 to spend a year in Australia. I chronicled a lot of this in the early days of this blog.

We didn’t end up staying a year in Australia (long story, which you can read about in the archives), but instead ended up for 6 months or so in New Zealand.

While in New Zealand, I stayed at home with Milligan – and made a couple hundred dollars a month (whoo-hoo) on this website and as a freelance writer. Courtney went door-to-door (on foot) to local elementary schools in New Zealand until she landed a position with a school who sponsored our visas.

So we not only saved money beforehand, but we also quickly found overseas opportunities to help with living expenses. We weren’t (and still aren’t) on vacation – we work and travel as a lifestyle.

Lately, Man Vs. Debt has grown in popularity to the point where it has become a full-time business (this took 18-24 months to come to fruition).

Man Vs. Debt and my other online opportunities now fully support our travels. I worked full-time on the road out of the RV when we traveled the US that way; now, I work in our current home base of Portland.

How do you make money on the road? This seems like a scam!

I run an online business. This allows me to work on the road.

Man Vs. Debt is a huge part of this business – helping people through this medium allows me to build an audience based on transparency and trust. I’ve built this community over two and half years.

More specifically, I sell courses and digital guides to solve specific problems related to the content I blog about.

Sell Your Crap is a series of ebooks (digital downloads) that teach people how to maximize the amount of cash they can get from their useless clutter.

You Vs. Debt is a 6-week course that is currently in beta with a trusted group of around 80 people. The first public version of this online course will be available this summer.

Only72 is a twice-a-year bundled deal site for online entrepreneurs and bloggers who are looking to gain momentum online for their businesses.

I’m Fine, Thanks is the documentary we filmed and released in 2012 about living your passions.

Lastly, I occasionally recommend products and services that I personally use or love. This is called “affiliate marketing” and sometimes I’m paid a small percentage of any sales that result from my community.

One example of this is the Travel Hacking Cartel - A membership program that teaches people how to “travel hack” – or earn free flights, get extremely discounted lodging, and rack up bonus points and travel upgrades. Courtney and I actively use this to save money while traveling.

I’ve publicly detailed my income and expenses (down to the penny) from this blog every month since I started earning money from the website.

As to whether it’s a scam – that’s for you to decide. My refund policy is 100% lifetime no-questions-asked and currently sits at .4% of all customers (less than half of a percent). 95% of the content on the site is completely free – and will always remain that way. :)

What do you plan to do when your daughter gets old enough to go to school?

We don’t know, yet.

Our philosophy is simple – we want to be in a position to teach our children in the method that we believe is best for them individually.

We aren’t against public school – Courtney is a teacher – and we both came up through public schools. If we believe that Milligan will thrive in that system, we’ll take that route in a year or so.

We aren’t against private school, either. We aren’t against home schooling, road schooling, unschooling, or any other type of schooling that may be out there.

We are continually learning and exposing ourselves to options – and if we think one will be best for Milligan’s personality and learning style – we’ll embrace that one.

What we *don’t* want to do is to put her in one form of education or learning just because that’s what everyone is suppose to do. She won’t be in public school because that is our only option – if we choose traditional schooling, it’ll be consciously.

What’s your plan for the future?

We don’t have a specific plan for the future.

Our plan is to be as flexible and free as possible. This includes working towards debt-freedom, living with a reasonable amount of “stuff”, building a business and income around something we enjoy, and improving our own flexibility and openness (our attitudes mostly).

We are far from perfect, but we constantly strive towards the path that gives us more and more options. We don’t want to go back to when we felt suffocated and trapped. :)

Most importantly, we just want to ensure we are conscious.

That means not living in a house with a white picket fence because that is what we are “supposed” to do. But that *also* means not traveling around every week just because that seems like a “cool” thing to do.

As long as we are living a lifestyle that we really want – we are content with that.

Maybe we’ll choose a city and never move again soon… Maybe we’ll spend another year traveling overseas.

We’re trying to build our lifestyle to be flexible enough for us to live the life we consciously want. That changes – and we’ll make a lot of mistakes – but it beats the alternative for us.

*****

I’m glad you’re now along for the ride!

And wherever you are in your own journey towards flexibility – stay in touch. Introduce yourself in the comments or interact with the community on Facebook or Twitter.

I can’t wait to hear more from you! :)

xoxoxo,

-Baker

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy June 8, 2011 at 3:34 PM

It was great interviewing you, Baker!

Glad the Yahoo pickup resulted in many new readers that can be inspired by your family’s success and adventures! :)

-Jeremy

Reply

Rachel June 8, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Congrat on the Yahoo love!
This was actually a great post for a long-ish time reader. Excellent to see a time line of your debt, work and lifestyle changes and progress. Very motivating. It’s been 15 months of hard work and we’re almost debt-free, almost. I’m predicting we kick the last of it to the curb by January 2012.
Keep going! I’m always delighted and surprised to hear what you do next.

Reply

Jon -- Free Money Wisdom June 11, 2011 at 8:48 PM

It was encouraging to read this for me too! Congratulations! It is neat to see the diligence you and your family has to stay debt free and have fun doing it. I hope to also inspire fellow bloggers, as you have, to remain on the debt-free road. Frugality should be valued!

Reply

Clayton June 8, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Reading those comments was funny, I’ll admit. It seems to be the consensus that you’re homeless and either mooching off the government or independently wealthy.

Funny that most people seem to gloss over the part about how you own a business :)

Reply

Anna June 8, 2011 at 4:20 PM

EXCITING! Congratulations on making the front page of Yahoo!

Reply

Elle June 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM

So happy about the interview and Yahoo feature! Building a debt free life takes time and you’ve done some incredible work. Best wishes with your family’s continuing journey :D

Reply

Ruth June 8, 2011 at 5:35 PM

I first heard about you via the yahoo.com headline article they posted. Needless to say, you are just another example of inspiration of people thinking outside of box. I also was in over my head with $12,000 of credit card debt and now today I am completely debt-free. I cancelled 2 out of three cards I had and I have money in the bank to boot for any emergencies. You do get that sense of relief…

Reply

Jay June 8, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Baker – Congrats on the traffic!! The lesson to be taken from all the comments? – Ignorance is blustery! Having met to you, and talk with you and your lovely family at length – well, the naysayers can go jump in the lake – and as often as needed. You guys are three of my heroes – so don’t stop forging ahead and making the life you want. And of course keep us posted!

Reply

Amy June 8, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Baker … I am one of those who saw you on Yahoo last week and was totally inspired. Changing my lifestyle and my relationship to money has been on my radar for well over a year or two now but reading about your family and project has lit the spark that was dying out. I have found myself in the cycle (once again) of having to work too much in a job that is not my passion to pay for stuff I don’t need and only bought to fill up the void that not following my passions seemed to create. A lovely, vicious cycle that I am learning to look at with space and humor. You have totally inspired me to stop complaining, stop moaning and start making a plan to get my freakin’ life back. Thank you!

Reply

Jared June 8, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Hey Adam,

I saw that. Kelly opened up Yahoo and was like, “Is this that ManvsDebt guy?” Congrats!!!!

TRUST me, I saw those comments and I was like, “OMG. What’s wrong with these people? Ugh.” Some of those people just don’t get it – but that’s ok. There’s many people who do! :)

Like cigarettes, I think on every credit card statement it should say…

WARNING: THE BORROWER IS A SLAVE TO THE LENDER.

Then perhaps they MIGHT just “get it.” LOL!
*J

Reply

Stacy June 8, 2011 at 7:04 PM

I just found you through the Yahoo! article as well. It was a surprise and a thrill to see someone living out a dream I have had for a long time. Thanks for putting the why’s and how’s out there for everyone to see. What an inspiration to see that it can be done! Better go start working on my plan now…

Reply

Rachel June 8, 2011 at 10:05 PM

I’ve been a regular reader of your site for a bit, and I found it interesting to read the yahoo comments.
I think most of the negativity comes from people who just don’t get it.
Some people were simply ignorant – they are wondering about the schooling of your children – unaware that you have a single toddler.
Others don’t understand a world outside their own – they hear you have a business, but can’t think of anything that a person could do without being there in the flesh at an office every day. They don’t understand how a child could possibly get worth out of travelling rather than sitting in one place. And they don’t try to understand either.
Some are just dumb – the ones who assume you must be loaded or on the dole since you couldn’t possibly be funding it yourself. These ones seem to assume that travelling is necessarily a vacation on which one steadily loses money, rather than a steady way of life paid for by a mobile business.

But there’s another sort that are pretty reasonable, but get rankled by your story – the responsible users of credit.
I think you tend to go too far in your vilification of credit and glorification of the credit-free life.
Yes, it absolutely works for you. No, you don’t *need* credit cards. Yes, if you tend to be tempted to use them irresponsibly, you should not possess a credit card.
But you go to the extreme with your blame of credit card companies and your opposition to cards. For the people who don’t depend on their cards, but find them a useful and practical way to pay for things, paying them off in full every month, you come across as very hostile.
I wonder whether you really consider credit card companies evil and users supporters of evil and need to push that theory, or if your point is really debt freedom, and people who get there in other ways might be acceptable partners as well…

Reply

Brad Chaffee June 8, 2011 at 10:57 PM

Baker,

The yahoo comments were hilarious! It shows what type of mindset people still have. That mindset is enslaving them to a life of jobs they hate, stuff they don’t need, and keeping up with the Joneses’, and when you do that day after day it’s hard to look at how someone else is killing it doing something he and his family does love. Congratulations Baker! You deserve props my friend! I admire your efforts and ability to do what you do without being trapped in a life of monthly payments, hyper consumption, and mediocrity. Keep doing your thing Baker! There’s a lot more of us out there that are inspired by your journey! To the people who ignored the “negative nancies” on the yahoo post, congratulations for seeing something for what it is — INSPIRATIONAL AS HELL!! If Baker can do it, SO CAN YOU!

Reply

Sunday June 8, 2011 at 11:03 PM

congrats on the Yahoo! page; so glad it’s bringing more people to the wonder that is your blog; hooray!

Reply

KK June 9, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Oh Geez I feel like a sheep now. Baa! But seriously I first came across your site through The Simple Dollar and would read your blog every once in awhile. But I did decide to sign up for regular updates after reading the interview picked up by Yahoo. Good for you and your family to pay off your debts and lead a non conformist life style. Debt free is the new American Dream!

Reply

elaine June 9, 2011 at 12:59 PM

I am SOOOOOOOOOO stinkin’ proud of you! Way to go, man! Keep up the good work — for your family’s sake, and the rest of us will follow your example to the extent that we are able. Thank you for sharing the good news about the Yahoo exposure. Excellent!

Reply

Jeanie June 9, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Adam, Courtney, Milli + 1 :)

You know that your story, transparency, honesty, sincerity, and lots of other “itys” are what drew me to this site and to your family?

Your traveling with a young child was the first time I’d heard of such a thing…combined with Karol’s lifestyle…and WOW! I can do this too?!? I can “have it all” and travel with a family, sharing the deepest bits of me with someone who cares to do so…and fully instruct a fearless child in the ways of the world?

What.A.Revelation! I wasn’t “stuck” in a lifestyle anymore…being the “good little girl” and nodding and smiling as the teachers’ pet.

You guys are very real, and have effectively mastered terror of unknown territory to live life your way. I’m thrilled and blessed to know you even a little bit. :) {hugs}

Much love from the hyperactively happy Jeanie

Reply

Ross @ Go Be Rich June 9, 2011 at 10:35 PM

Wow, sounds like you caught a big break of sorts, way to go. I scrolled through the comments… fairly entertaining, I must say. It seems like people love to put down the success they don’t have and the experiences they only wish they could have… it’s kind of sad really.

Reply

Martyn June 10, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Oh man! You really got creamed in comments on that Yahoo page. Well, your numbers grew, and I’m glad for that.

We support you! ;)

Reply

Sarah Russell June 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Congrats on the article – what great publicity! Sorry you had to deal with the trolls on the comments, though. They’re so bad I’ve stopped reading comments on major news sites…

Reply

Steven @ The Debt Solution June 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Congratulations for staying on your path! The press is good but I believe its more important that you and your family stay committed to your work and forget the negativity. Remember no one really believes in you more than you do. Regardless of what you say. Your actions speak louder than words.

Some of the questions they asked you were formulated from the mindset of protecting the traditional ways of earning money, having debt, credit cards, etc.

After working with over 1,000 families and 100,000 downloads of my information I’ve came to the realization that most people don’t have the capacity to BELIEVE in themselves anymore.

Reply

Kay June 12, 2011 at 10:16 PM

I learned about your site via the Yahoo link! And I spent the next few days devouring the ‘Best of’ and Archives of your blog, and sharing them with my FPU classmates. My fav so far is the line about how society had set its trap and you could smell the cheese from a mile away. We are at a point like that in our lives right now! We’re about to have our second kid, but instead of moving into a house we can’t afford or even staying in our expensive apartment, we are going to sell our crap, move into a smaller place, and buckle down to pay off our debt. Dave Ramsey might have taught us some of what we need to do, but you guys seem more real and really do inspire us. Good luck with your online endeavors!

Reply

Jay July 6, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Congrats on the interview and being featured on the front page of Yahoo. It’s funny how depending on the traffic source the comments change greatly.

Reply

Susan July 7, 2011 at 12:41 PM

I discovered this blog through that Yahoo article. I am very glad that I stumbled upon this blog, and have gained some very interesting insight. Congrats!

Reply

Kim August 5, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Wow, you’ve really developed a thick skin regarding comments! (Reader since 2009). Of course the comments are ridiculous; some people are simply negative.

Reply

Michelle August 11, 2011 at 12:39 AM

I saw this article when it first showed up on Yahoo. It was on the front page! Great work.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }