Interview with Adam Baker, founder of Man vs Debt

by Mike on April 22, 2010

The interview below is with Adam Baker of Man vs Debt. I’ve been reading MvD since it began a little over a year ago. It is no exaggeration when I say Baker exploded onto the scene. He is more than a PF blogger as he openly shares about what some would consider a radical travel to sell most of their possessions and travel to the other side of the world. He’s been very busy these days so I was ecstatic that he took time for this interview. I hope you enjoy!

What prompted you to start ManvsDebt?

I was reading 50+ personal finance blogs, commenting, and discussing on various forums. Eventually, I just thought, “Hey, I’d love to be part of this community even more!”

A week later, I had brainstormed the concept and away I went!

Last summer, you made the announcement that you where selling your stuff crap and moving to Australia, what was the driving force behind such a major move?

Well, we just weren’t ready to settle down. It seemed like we were on a life path that we hadn’t chosen. We had the car payments, the credit cards, the debt, and we were looking for the house!

We just realized that we wanted more freedom. We wanted to experience other cultures and we want to travel. Debt was the only thing standing in our way (that and all our junk!)

How did family / friends weigh in on your decision? Supportive? Critical?

They were definitely surprised, but after the initial shock they were super supportive. Courtney and I both have wonderful and amazing parents, whom would stand behind us no matter what. That helps a ton.

Most of our friends had similar desires and some of them even were plotting radical changes of their own!

What did you learn from that experience? If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently (if anything)

Hmmm… I’m sure there are probably things we’d do differently. Really though, I couldn’t have known any of the things before we had experimented. We gained a ton of flexibility and knowledge very, very quickly (because we had no other choice).

Knowing what we know now, we’ll likely travel more slowly in the future. Most likely spending 3-6 months in one location to really get to know it. Of course, we would know we wanted that preference had we not moved around like jack rabbits for a period of time! 🙂

You changed your tag line from “Get out of debt….get into life” to “Sell your crap. Get out of debt. Do what you love”…what was the motivation / thought process behind the new tagline?

The new tag line clearly demonstrates the three main area that we are trying to focus on. Selling our possessions (aka our crap) was a huge shift for us both mentally and physically. Obviously paying down our debt and our journey to be completely debt free has always been there.

Lastly, we have a very public quest to pursue our passions or do what we love. That’s a very big part of Man Vs. Debt (and MvD is a very big part of “doing what we love”). I wanted to ensure that we were taking control of our finances for a purpose. And that’s the message I want to share with others!

One of the things that captivated me about your blog was your personal, friendly and transparent approach. How much do you think your transparency weighed into your success as a blogger?

A ton. It’s not required, there are many successful examples of anonymous bloggers. However, it helps a lot with gaining momentum. Because we are so transparent it’s easy for people to feel attached to following and it’s much easy to establish trust.

Now that I’m transitioning to selling some of my premium content, the far majority of my audience knows that it’s authentic and genuine. They know from over a year of extremely transparent writing and sharing. It helps a lot on the business side of things.

Instead of asking if you have any blogging advice, let’s just point people to your excellent recap of lessons learned called How NOT to SUCK at Blogging. Is there anything you’ve learned since writing that article that you would like to add on?

Oh god, there’s tons and tons. Actually most of it will be in an upcoming product (in summer). I will say that almost all of what is in that article, I still very much believe. There are just additional nuances, I’ve picked up on!

You often talk about the minimalist lifestyle. What does that mean to you?

Minimalism or simplicity, for me, is simply stripping away the excess layers of clutter (both mental and physical). Usually this is in order to really become intimate or conscious of what’s underneath. It’s about prioritizing experiences over possessions. It’s about spending your time and your money on what your are truly passionate about. Deliberate, conscious living. 🙂

You recently released an ebook, Unautomate Your Finances. Admittedly, the title threw me off track since in this digital age we tend to advocate automation and equate that with simplicity. However, after reading it’s more about your mindset. Do you care to elaborate? Without giving away too much of course!

It seems like these days, everyone is about automation. We are always looking for easy solution and magic bullets. We jump at the chance to trade our consciousness away for convenience.

However, unautomation, for us, was the exact opposite. It was the process we went through where we purposefully opted for the less convenient option in order to increase our consciousness. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we want results.

Most of our limited success in our finances has come from making these deliberate choices. Choosing to quest for unautomation over automation has been a huge blessing for us!

We’ve seen awesome things from you in 2009 (Staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Ebook, Untemplater, and more)…what’s in store for 2010 and beyond?

In 2010, I simply want to get the message out to more people and grow our community. Our current community will be tripling in size by the end of the year. I also plan on releasing two more products, one called “Sell Your Crap” and one on building momentum for a business concept.

Both are going to even more intense than my first product, Unautomate Your Finances. It’s going to be a fun year of growth, sharing, and transparency! I wouldn’t have it any other way! 😉


Thanks Baker! Be sure to show him some love and appreciation in the comments below, then make sure you check out the latest on Man vs Debt! You can also subscribe to his feed.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Forest April 25, 2010 at 4:09 am

Very cool interview. I love the fact that he shifted to Aus…. I can relate, I gave up my job and shifted to Canada 3+ years ago and now I am in Egypt… No plans to go home just yet (UK). Maybe New Zealand or Germany next stop… Having little possessions really helps.
.-= Forest´s last blog ..Using Tomato Ends For Your Spaghetti Sauce Recipe =-.

2 PF Journey April 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

Interesting Forest! Is there somewhere we can read your story? I didn’t realize you were from the UK originally. I’m always interested in what thoughts and ideals provoke people to make such a big move. That’s a large reason I was interested in Baker’s story.

3 Jason @ Redeeming Riches April 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Great stuff Kita! Baker is a great example of a guy who works hard and puts out stellar content! Thanks for the interview!
.-= Jason @ Redeeming Riches´s last blog ..5 Things Dora the Explorer Teaches Us About Personal Financial Planning =-.

4 Soultravelers3 April 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Great interview Lakita!

It’s always a pleasure to read more about Baker and what he is up to. There is no need for “normal” today when one can work and school anywhere. We find that we can travel the world as a family for far less than we could live at home & have been living really large on just 23 dollars a day per person since 2006.

It’s a growing trend & I think more people will be doing it in the future, so love how Baker is introducing more people to the joys and rewards of such a life. Frugality and minimalism can lead to amazing freedom!
.-= Soultravelers3´s last blog ..Around The World Family Travel Soultravelers3 =-.

5 PF Journey April 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Hey SoulTraveler,

Thanks for stopping by! You bring up some good points! I’ll have to check out your blog, I hope to be able to travel more on some level in the future so people like Adam and other travelers like yourself are a huge inspiration!

6 BibleDebt April 22, 2010 at 10:12 am

What an inspiration Man vs Debt has been as I have read his blog. Taking a radical approach to the established norm is really what is needed in the typical family. Normal really is broken when car payments, credit card payments, house payments and crap feels comfortable and right.
.-= BibleDebt´s last blog ..Faithfully Rich =-.

7 PF Journey April 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

So true! One of his commenters once said his blog should be called “ManvsNorm” — I agree! Who defines normal anyway?

8 Peter April 22, 2010 at 9:37 am

Great interview – it’s been fun to watch as Adam has grown his blog into one of the g0-to destinations on the web. It’s always nice to get a bit more insight into what makes these A-list bloggers tick!
.-= Peter´s last blog ..7 Lies About Money That Can Kill Your Financial Future =-.

9 PF Journey April 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

Exactly why I’ve kept my eye on Bible Money Matters as well Peter! That, and you’re site just plain rocks!

10 Jeff April 22, 2010 at 9:02 am

Nicely done Lakita with the questions and Baker with the answers. All great questions, my favorite one was about the change in tag lines. I believe that was we all evolve into better people and better bloggers, you’ll see more and more tag lines changing. Mine has changed once so far and might change again in another year. As I learn more about myself and my desires in life, I’m learning that I’m changing my mind as I look to the future.
.-= Jeff´s last blog ..Newton’s First Law of Debt Reduction =-.

11 PF Journey April 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

Good point Jeff! When teaching worship arts ministries (my other hat) about the importance of having a vision, I often caveat that the vision may change over time. While our tag lines may not encapsulate our entire vision, it should give some sort of idea.

12 Chris @ FeFi blog April 22, 2010 at 8:48 am

Excellent interview Lakita! I’m sure it was a real treat to pick the mind of a blogging rockstar. I’ll be looking forward to what Baker has in store this year!

13 PF Journey April 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

It was indeed! Notice he’s got a couple other projects coming down the pipe! I’m looking forward to them!

14 Financial Samurai April 22, 2010 at 8:29 am

BTW, tried clicking your tweet button again and it said “pointing to wrong URL”, so I just copy and pasted your tweet from Twitter directly.
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Good Times Are Back Again – The Indulgent List Of Things =-.

15 PF Journey April 22, 2010 at 8:55 am

Arg! That Tweet button is really getting on my nerves! It works for some people so I really have no idea what is wrong with it. What browser are you using?

Thanks for the kind words and sharing the love Sam-san!

16 Financial Samurai April 22, 2010 at 8:21 am

Great interview Kita-san! Adam and others are a great yardstick to measure our own sites by as full-time workers. If we can be great at our full-time jobs, and be able to let our sites hang with those who blog full-time, I think that’s a great accomplishment!


.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Good Times Are Back Again – The Indulgent List Of Things =-.

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