Interview with Kelly Whalen of The Centsible Life

January 11, 2010

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Our continuing, albeit erratically paced, series of interviews with other bloggers sends reporter Scoop Chevelle to the wilds of Philadelphia in search of Kelly Whalen of The Centsible Life.

Scoop: Hello, folks. I’ve just flown to Pennsylvania and boy am I tired. Being chased by an angry mob can really wear you out. Apparently the Liberty Bell is only for decoration and is NOT to be actually rung. What’s the point of having a bell, then? Well, I digress. Today, I come to you from the Steel City, home of the reigning Super Bowl champion Steelers.

Guy on the street: Dude, Pittsburgh is the Steel City. You’re in Philadelphia.

Scoop: Oh. Is Philadelphia a suburb of Pittsburgh, then?

Guy on the street: Are you crazy? Philly’s bigger than Pittsburgh – and Pittsburgh’s clear on the other side of the

Scoop: OK, then. Today, we come to you from Philadelphia, which is famous for not being the home of the Super Bowl champion Steelers.

Guy on the street: (grumbling in disgust): Yeah.  That’s what we’re famous for. Not the constitutional convention, cheese steaks, or Rocky. We’re known for not being home to the Steelers. Knucklehead.

Scoop: (completely oblivious): Today, we come to you from the living room of Ms. Kelly Whalen. Good morning, Kelly.

Kelly: Welcome.

Scoop: In the last several months, you have been nearly impossible to ignore in the media. You have been featured on the Today show alongside Jean Chatzky, as well as appearances in local media outlets. You’ve also picked up gigs writing for Consumerism Commentary and Moolanomy, in addition to your work on The Centsible Life. It seems like everything you’ve touched during the last year has turned to gold.What’s the secret to your success?

Kelly: Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Scoop: How did you come up with the name for The Centsible Life? Did you consider the Dollarsible Life, since that name would have 100 times the value?

Kelly: I wanted something that was a play on words. Of course I didn’t think that it might be difficult to spell. Dollarsible isn’t a word, Scoop.

Scoop: With 4 kids and the responsibility of running a household, when do you have the time to write articles for three different web sites? Are you one of those zombie types of people who only need a couple hours of sleep every night? Do you write articles while you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store?

Kelly: I find pockets of time when the kids are playing nicely, or after they go to bed, or occasionally I leave Mr. Centsible in charge and head to Starbucks.

Scoop: Of all the articles you have written, are there a few special ones that stand out?

Kelly: I have 3 favorite articles. This article talks about the balance between being a mom and doing what you love. I wrote a guest post for Bargaineering about daycare from a stay at home mom’s perspective. And my most heavily visited article is Kids and Allowance, where I tackle how not to go broke when you have kids.

Scoop: What lies ahead for you in 2010? Do you have any advice for bloggers who are just getting started?

Kelly: I’m currently celebrating my one year blogiversary at The Centsible Life; with a ton of giveaways. I expect 2010 will be a big year, and have plans to create an exclusive newsletter, and start writing an e-book. For bloggers who are just getting started I recommend following people you admire, basically stalking them. In hindsight I wish I had thought more about my goals with my blog versus jumping in with both feet.

Scoop: They call Pennsylvania the Keystone State, but really, I see as much Budweiser and Miller in stores as Keystone. Also it seems a bit silly to nickname your state after a beer. Hey, I like a beer in a can that tastes like beer in a bottle, but I wouldn’t name my state after it. So what’s up with the moniker?

Kelly: I don’t know. I prefer wine anyway.

Scoop: Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of The Soap Boxers?

Kelly: Thanks for having me!

Scoop: Thank you for your time, Kelly.

Kelly is a long time friend of The Soap Boxers. Be sure to check out her blog at

If you visited The Soap Boxers just to see the interview with Baker, feel free to look around a bit. Browse the archives, subscribe to the RSS feed, or simply come back again tomorrow. We offer a full money back guarantee. If you read us for a week and don’t like the content, we will refund 100% of the purchase price. RSS subscribers gain access to my two fiction eBooks – look for the “free ebook of short stories” link in the RSS footer (just to the left of the copyright information).

Interview with Baker from Man Vs. Debt

November 12, 2009

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In Today’s segment of The Soap Boxers, we travel to the faraway land of New Zealand to chat with Baker from ManVsDebt.  Due to the inherent danger in falling off the edge of the world, Kosmo has delegated this trip to beat reporter Scoop Chevelle. 

Scoop (to camera):  Wow, I just flew in from America, and boy are my arms tired!  I have been sent here to track down Baker.  After failed attempts to locate the correct Baker at six different bakeries, I took a moment to re-check my instructions.  It turns out that Baker is the name of the person I am looking for, rather than the occupation.  I always mess up some mundane detail.  Finally, at long last, I have located the man they call Baker.

Scoop (to Baker):  You have had quite a whirlwind experience, Baker.  You left Indiana for the green pastures of Australia.  You were quickly kicked out of Australia and sent to live in New Zealand.  Where are you headed if you get kicked out of New Zealand – Tokelau?

Baker: Thailand, actually!  But only for a couple months.  After that the sky is the limit.  Well, we probably won’t stay in the sky for long actually.  We might tour the good ‘ole fashion U. S. of A. or explore all Europe has to offer!  Ask me the day before we leave.  😉 

Scoop: In the span of about six months, you have gone from virgin blogger to a veritable rock star in the world of personal finance bogging.  What is your secret?  Is there any truth to the rumor that you slept your way to the top?

Baker: Actually, I didn’t sleep.  And that’s how I got to what you call the “top.”  Haha, seriously though it’s been a lot of work.  My secrets are to try my earnest to put out compelling content (not just a post for posts sake), be as transparent as I possibly can (people seem to enjoy that), and network with as many and as influential bloggers as I can!

Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of hard work, frustrating hours, and wasted time on Twitter.  And that’s just to get to the point I’m at now, which I’ll quickly point out is nowhere close to the top!  I’m just trying to get on the B-list.  😉

Scoop: There have also been allegations that you have been outsourcing some of your writing and violating child labor laws in the process.  Fess up – how much of the content is written by Milligan?

Baker: Haha, actually while Milligan is yet to type anything coherent on the keyboard (she could write for Ezines probably), she inspires a lot of the content.  She’s the reason Courtney and I began our battle against debt.  Staying home with her is the catalyst that led me to start the blog, too.  And she’s our motivation to keep chugging along and trying our best to take advantage of the moment.

So really, she plays a big part whether she knows it or not!

Scoop: You have recently formed a militia at  Are the authorities OK with this?  Are you currently looking for people who are proficient with specific weapons?  I shoot a pretty mean arrow from my crossbow, and I got mad skillz with the slingshot as well.

Baker: We are an equal-opportunity Militia.  Seriously, though, I’m trying to carve out a space for the most passionate members of the community to be involved in a deeper way.  These are the biggest fans and people that actually care about the direction of Man Vs. Debt, which is flattering!

I do my darndest, to find opportunities to give back with special information, book giveaways from publishers that contact me, and by giving them a say in the future decision of the community.  I feel honored to have a special list of people who are ready to fight!  😉

Scoop: As part of your minimalist goals, you keep a list of your possessions on your site.  Some of us have noticed a rather disturbing trend.  You left Indiana with five pairs of socks – but this has been sharply reduced and you now possess only three pairs of socks.  Holy cheese balls, Batman – what’s happening to your socks?

Baker: Are you stalking me?  Haha, seriously though I just threw out a couple pair that were long overdue.  It’s summer now here, so I wear my Keen sandals as much as I can now.  I’ll probably have to buy some more for running though soon!

Scoop: OK, we’ll get serious for a moment.  What advice do you have for someone who is just getting starting as a blogger?

 Baker: This is a big question, but I’ll make it as quick as possible.  First, find a topic that you are so passionate about that you feel like you could write for 4 hours a day for the next 5-10 years. This is the MOST important step.  Doesn’t matter what the topic is …  you can make it work if you are passionate on this level.

Next, write compelling content not just average content.  Too many bloggers think they have to post everyday, 3 times a week, or 3 times a day.  There is no prescription.  Only write as often as you can consistently be compelling, sometimes this is 3 times a month, in rare cases in can be twice a day.

Lastly, network UP.  Pick out the big guys and go after them.  Support their “pet” projects, buy their products and do reviews, respond to them on Twitter.  Once you’ve established a small connection, reach out to them in e-mail.  Send them a fully written, editing, and pre-linked post that you’ve researched and know their audience will like.  Aim high, don’t spend time guest posting on blogs with the same influence as you.

Oh, and cross your fingers and hope to get lucky…  You’ll need a bit of that too.

Scoop: OK, one final question.  If this is New Zealand, what did they do with the old Zealand?

Baker: It’s in name Heaven beside its friends York and Hampshire.


Baker is a long time friend of The Soap Boxers.  Be sure to check out his blog at

If you visited The Soap Boxers just to see the interview with Baker, feel free to look around a bit. Browse the archives, subscribe to the RSS feed, or simply come back again tomorrow. We offer a full money back guarantee. If you read us for a week and don’t like the content, we will refund 100% of the purchase price.  RSS subscribers gain access to my two fiction eBooks – look for the “free ebook of short stories” link in the RSS footer (just to the left of the copyright information).

Interview with Lazy Man

June 25, 2009

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Today, we interview Lazy Man from the personal finance blog Lazy Man and Money.

Kosmo: Lazy, come on in and take a seat. Hey, hey, take those shoes off. I apologize for the condition of the furniture. We’re on a tight budget and got most of this stuff at yard sales. Can I get you something to drink? We haven’t been able to afford a refrigerator yet, so we can’t offer you anything cold.

Lazy Man: It’s good to see I’m not the only one saving money at yard sales. A glass of tap water would be fine, save your drink money for a fridge.

Kosmo: You definitely have an interesting nickname. How did you acquire it? Were you a Lazy Boy when you were younger? Do you spend countless hours in your hammock in the summer? Have you found yourself watching hours of C-Span because you’re too Lazy to change the channel? Are there piles of dirty laundry in the middle of your bedroom? Spill the beans – America wants to know!

Lazy Man: So many questions in one question, here goes… As a child I certainly was Lazy. However, I wouldn’t call myself a Lazy Boy as that’s a registered trademark of another corporation. I actually don’t have a hammock. I’ve been in negotiations with the wife to get one for about 4 years now. She’s worse than Scott Boras! I go out of my way to avoid C-Span at all costs just to stay clear of that issue. I tend to put the pile of dirty laundry to the side. I have also have a pile of clean clothes.

I chose “Lazy” after a principle in Software Engineering, my career at the time. It’s generally considered smart programming to delay computation until a result is required. When I preach the “Lazy Way” of doing things, it’s more about the efficiency. I always say that if necessity is the mother of invention, laziness is the father of efficiency.

Kosmo: What made you take the plunge to become a personal finance blogger? Do you also disperse personal finance advice to your family and friends, or are your blog readers the sole privileged recipients of your vast knowledge?

Lazy Man: I was at the dentist and read a Business Week article about how anonymous bloggers are sharing their networth on the web. One person in particular caught my eye, Boston Gal’s Open Wallet. Having lived in Boston all my life at that point, I gravitated towards anything Boston-related. After reading her site for a couple of months, I figured that I should document my quest to acquire all the world’s wealth.I pretty much reserve my financial advice to readers. It turns out that people don’t often like to receive advice on how they should handle their money from me.

Kosmo: You have been blogging for 4 years now. You have a fairly large audience and are able to earn a decent amount of cash from blog related activities. Did you have a particular moment or event when you knew that you had crossed the threshold from novice blogger to successful blogger?

Lazy Man: Whoa, don’t make me old, I’m only at 3. You presume that I’ve crossed the threshold to successful blogger.  Success can be measured in a number of ways. I presume you mean financially successful. I think when I had my first $1000 month from blogging, I realized I was on to something.

Kosmo: What sort of advice do you have for bloggers who are just starting out? What are some pitfalls they can avoid or obstacles they will encounter along the way? What steps can they take to increase their likelihood of success?

Lazy Man: I have about 20 posts of blogging advice already written. I’m just afraid to publish it because I’m not sure I can maintain another blog. For now, I invite everyone to contact me about any specific questions they might have. I hope a lot of people do because it will kick my ass in gear to formalize and publish what I already have written. I aggregated some other bloggers blogging tips at Advice for New Personal Finance Bloggers.

Kosmo: Much of the subject matter in the personal finance blogosphere seems to center around good financial advice. On the other side of that coin, people should also make an effort to avoid really bad decisions. What are some of the worst personal finance decisions a person can make?

Lazy Man: I’ll give you a couple of bad ones:

  • Reach into your wallet or purse. Pull out all money you have in there. Set it on fire.
  • Buy as many depreciating investments as you can… especially expensive ones like boats and cars.
  • Subscribe to as many services as you can. Never use them.
  • Start smoking. Do I get bonus points for the bad health advice

Kosmo: OK, now that we’ve covered the serious stuff, let’s get the scoop on the man behind the blog. What’s on your iPod right now?

Lazy Man: It’s been about 3 months since I’ve seen my iPod. However, my Palm Pre has The Beatles, Portishead, The White Stripes, Radiohead, and System of a Down.

Kosmo: How do you unwind after a long day of blogging. What are your hobbies?

Lazy Man: There’s time to do stuff besides blogging? Here are a couple of hobbies

  • I spend an hour or two each night acting as my dog’s chew toy.
  • I’m big into wine tasting. My tastebuds are pretty poor and I have almost no sense of smell. That makes me really bad at wine tasting. I also break all the rules and have white wine with red meat and red wine with white meats.
  • I have the world’s largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen some of it…
  • I like steal Steven Wright jokes and pretend they are my own.

Kosmo: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

Lazy Man: I would be a cheetah. I’ve always thought they were cool.

Kosmo: Is there any truth to the rumor about Scarlett Johansson?

Lazy Man: You know, everyone always gives the no comment when situations like that arise. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m just going to say it straight out: It’s true.

Kosmo: You make no secret of the fact that you are a Boston Red Sox fan. Do you consider the Red Sox to be the true 2007 champions, considering that a bevy of bad calls handed them a tainted World Series victory?

Lazy Man: Look, the tuck rule was in the rule book the whole season. In fact it’s still in the rule book today. I don’t know why people can’t understand the basic rules of the game.  Oh wait, you said 2007 Boston Red Sox…

Kosmo: You are an anonymous blogger. You guard the secret of your identity so closely that not even your dog knows about your alter ego. It must be stressful living with such a big secret. It would be a big weight off your shoulders to reveal your identity today, on The Soap Boxers, in front of a crowd of readers …

Lazy Man: I’ve thought about not being anonymous any more. All the biggest personal finance bloggers are not anonymous. I also don’t go into my net worth any more like I used to.You are right it would be a big weight off my shoulders to reveal my identity on The Soap Boxers today.

Kosmo: Thank you for your time, Lazy Man. Reader: if you haven’t had a chance to visit Lazy Man and Money, hop on over – Lazy Man blends insightful personal finance advice with some interesting stories from his personal life. Lazy Man and Money is definitely one of my favorite blogs.

If you visited The Soap Boxers just to see the interview with Lazy Man, look around a bit. Browse the archives, subscribe to the RSS feed, or simply come back again tomorrow. We offer a full money back guarantee. If you read us for a week and don’t like the content, we will refund 100% of the purchase price.