Adam Baker is the founder of Man Vs. Debt LLC, a company he started after he and his wife decided to attack their consumer debt, sell everything they owned (down to two backpacks), and travel across New Zealand and Australia; later, they traveled across the United States, living in an RV.
I first heard about Adam and Man Vs. Debt when we were both dubbed “Debt-Buster’s” in a CNNMoney article along with 6 other people who have taken pro-active and substantial steps to take control of their financial lives. Since then, I’ve been following all that Adam and his family is up to and it’s exciting to see all the success he’s had! His down-to-earth attitude and likable personality makes him very relatable. His story is very inspiring (and it makes me want to get rid of a lot of junk)!
Baker’s flagship website, Man Vs. Debt, encourages a vibrant community of readers to follow in his footsteps under the mantra “Sell your crap. Pay off your debt. Do what you love.” He is the creator of the premium “Sell Your Crap” guide, as well as the six-week online course “You Vs. Debt“. He lives with his wife, Courtney, and daughter, Milligan, in Asheville, N.C., where the family is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baker Baby #2 in April.
And now, the interview!
And Then We Saved: When did you begin your quest to conquer debt, sell your crap, and change your life? Was there a certain event or incident that catapulted this decision?
Adam Baker: It started for us back in 2008. We had known for a long time that we needed to wake up and pay more attention to our finances, but consistently put it off (we were masters at coming up with justifications).
For us, the tipping point was the birth of our daughter Milligan. It was the night we brought her home from the hospital that changed everything for us. We decided that we NEEDED to step up and take control and set a passionate goal to do so!
And Then We Saved: Have you been blogging about the process out of debt the entire time?
Adam Baker: No. We started our blog about 6 months into our journey to pay off our debt. I had no idea what WordPress or Twitter was when I started – and no ambitions that this would become my passion or a business that could support my family. But over the first year of sharing our journey and our approach to taking back control – a passionate community was formed. We’re very lucky to still lead this community and this adventure now fully supports my family and a small team.
And Then We Saved: Since we were fellow “Debt Busters” on CNNMoney.com, I have to ask what is your top “Debt Busting” tip?
I think people need to start with their mindset. All the “debt busting” tips in the world won’t help you if you don’t have that mental foundation.
I suggest people define what “Freedom” looks and feels like in their own life. Not some dictionary, cop-out definition that sounds good. But, rather, a deep, personal answer for what their vision of this is for their own life. Getting a clear vision of what they want and understanding what REALLY motivates them deep down will make success inevitable. At that point, they can start applying the traditional tips to speed up the process.
And Then We Saved: How have you and your family’s lives changed since you decided to become pro-active about your finances?
Adam Baker: We’re so different now, we really can’t even compare ourselves to our former life.
Even though we aren’t rich (in many people’s terms), we feel like we lead a rich life in experiences. We’re free to go and do just about anything we want (within reason). Now that freedom is a blessing and a curse at times! Sometimes a little structure can be good! But I wouldn’t trade this life for the stress and frustration of our former lifestyle in a million years! :) Ultimately, we now control our future. Which is so refreshing.
And Then We Saved: How often are you on the road, and how many cities have you traveled to since you began Man Vs. Debt?
Adam Baker: Oh man. Over a hundred cities probably, but we’ve lost count. We spent time in New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand before doing a six-month RV tour of the U.S. Right now we are spending a year (half way done) in Asheville, N.C., as we prepare for our second child. In the future, we’ll travel a bit slower with two kids, but plan for it to be a big part of our life still. We are envisioning staying in one location for 6 months of the year and traveling for 6 months of the year. But we’ll see how we like that setup. :)
And Then We Saved: What is the wildest/least expected thing that has come from Man Vs. Debt?
The thousand of lives that we’ve help inspire and change. It’s insanely humbling. I’ll never get tired of thank you emails, calls, and messages on the blog. We get all the credit for being the face of the blog, but in reality there is a deep community of people who make it possible and who inspire us. We never expected it to get this big, but are humbled we have an opportunity to share our journey with so many other people.
And Then We Saved: You’ve created an empire (Congratulations!) with Man Vs. Debt. What’s next for you and your team? What things are you most excited about for 2012?
Adam Baker: We’re excited about a lot! First, we’re excited about the next few You Vs. Debt classes; that’s our course for people getting out of debt. In 2011, we spent a lot of time and energy behind the scenes testing out it’s effectiveness and are now ready to have more students go through it! We’re also passionate about new mediums of spreading our message. These include the new Man Vs. Debt podcast (which is a blast) and more YouTube videos for our community. Lastly, we’re filming a (still secret) documentary at some point this year, which is both challenging and scary. However, there has never been a more important time to share this particular story and message – so we’re excited. :)
Thank you Adam!
Would you consider selling all of your crap to travel all over the world? How would getting out of debt or securing financial stability change the way you live your life?
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: email@example.com. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp! SpendingFastBootcamp.com
I love stories of people who've been able to use their money to achieve freedom. There are a million frugality tips, but frugality isn't a virtue in its own right. It's only a virtue in the pursuit of a larger goal. Traveling is an excellent one, and how fun that Adam got to do that.