BIO: Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jacob Merkley. After spending six years in the accounting, retirement, and financial realm, Jacob turned his attention to teaching others about important life skills. He works with clients one on one, in addition to teaching others through his website. Jacob currently lives in Gilbert, AZ with his wife and ten-month old daughter.
What financial hurdles or obstacles have you overcome?
I moved away at the age of 18 and provided for myself all through college. That was incredibly hard… 40+ hours a week of work, 12-15 credit hours of school, and 20 more hours of homework each week. I didn’t have much time to do anything else! It was a huge obstacle.
Learning how to provide for myself and stay out of debt was incredible hard. The good news is that I was able to pay for my lifestyle and I also graduated school debt free. It was a pretty cool moment.
If you could pick only one stock to invest in for the next 10 years, what would it be and why?
I would invest in Game Stop. I used to work for one of their subsidiaries (Spring Communications) and I know that they are really booming right now. I was not very high up in the company, but I got enough vibes from upper management to know that things were really clicking for Game Stop on all fronts. I think they have quite a few years of “plenty” coming their way.
Tell me about your financial journey, where you came from, and where you want to go financially in the future.
Like I mentioned, I moved away from home at the age of 18 (I was a hot-headed teenager…I technically got kicked out). Over the next few years, I had to learn how to pay for everything that I wanted in life.
I made a lot of mistakes and got myself in debt and wasn’t making enough money to get out. I focused on going back to school and while I didn’t pay back the debt I had first accumulated, I was able to pay for school with cash.
Later I was able to get out of debt completely. That paved the way to help me quite my job and live off of our savings while I got my website up and running.
I want to one day have the future that everyone wants…safety in a savings account, a promise of “golden years” with retirement, and I want to do a lot of really cool things with my kids (that will definitely cost money).
What was the hardest financial decision you have ever had to make?
When I was in college, on my way home from seeing my girlfriend at the time, I fell asleep at the wheel and totaled my car. Unfortunately, I was trying to save money and skimped on my car insurance. That meant that I didn’t have comprehensive or collision insurance, so I didn’t get any money for my car since it was my fault.
So here I am…a full-time college student, full-time worker and I need to commute to both work and school which is 11 miles away one way. Every part of me wanted to go get a loan and by a car right after the accident. It probably would have been the logical thing to do.
For me, I didn’t want to go into any more debt, so I decided to forgo a new car and bought a bike. I started biking 22 miles a day to get to work and school. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I am glad that I did what I did…by the end of the summer I had saved enough to pay cash for a car, but I’ll tell you what…I had a lot of butt pain, and body aches that summer.
What was the easiest financial decision you have ever made?
Paying for my wife’s engagement ring! It cost more than I wanted to ever spend on one specific piece of jewelry, but it was easy to pass the credit card over the counter (my wife and I met in an elevator at school…how can I not give her exactly what she wanted?!)
Have you ever been in debt? If so, where are you with your debt journey?
Yes, I married my wife with $5,000 of debt and over a few years (and more school and a baby) we accumulated $11,000 more in debt. Over the next year, we really buckled down and came up with a plan to get out of debt…we called it our “Debt Destruction Plan”. We focused all of our efforts on getting out of debt and we accomplished it in about 7 months. Being debt free is the best thing we have ever done!
What is an area of finance that you wish you knew more about?
I really wish I knew more about investing. I got my degree in accounting, so I understand the accounting side of business really well; however, I lack knowledge of investing and general finance. I know there is a ton to learn with investing. Someday I hope to have the time to learn about it all.
Is there something that you can’t give up…your weak link, financially speaking?
I can’t give up Netflix. I know it’s silly, but who doesn’t like binge watching Netflix, right? The problem with subscriptions like Netflix is that they are automatic each month. Once you set them up, the money comes out of your account without you feeling any emotion about it. It’s different when you hand over cash to the cashier at the grocery store…it’s painful to hand over your money.
Subscriptions are not painful. In fact, they often come out of your account without us really even thinking about it. That’s dangerous. If you have Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and others, they really start to add up.
What gives you focus when it comes to money?
Honestly my wife and daughter. Knowing that I am providing for the necessities of life makes me be really serious and focused when it comes to money. I want to provide a good life for them and hopefully give them more than just the necessities. I don’t know many things or people who are more driven than a man trying to put food on the table for his family.
Any financial advice you would like to pass along to your fellow finance readers?
Yes. I want others to know that I fully believe in the basics. Living true to a budget, making savings goals and striving to hit those goals, getting out of debt…the list could go on. These are basics of handling your money. If you don’t understand the basics, you will have a hard time having your money work for you.
I would encourage those who are struggling with these basic financial principles to keep your eyes on the prize…your future. All of us want a better future. I dream of having a beach home in Florida and sipping a strawberry lemonade with my wife during our retirement years. That’s my dream and I’m willing to work for it. Sacrificing now is absolutely worth it, if I can have that dream in the future. Get a dream…and then sacrifice everything to get you there.
Categories: Guest Posts