The Power of Unautomating Your Finances: Interview with Adam Baker

March 9th, 2010 § 0 comments

How adopting a minimalist approach of unautomating your finances can get you out of debt.

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Adam Baker and his daughter Milligan

If anyone can teach you the skills to get yourself out of debt, it’s Adam Baker of the blog Man Vs. Debt.

Over the last year, Baker, his wife Courtney, and their daughter Milligan, paid off all of their consumer debt, sold all of their ‘crap’, and traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. Now they’re back in Indiana, and Baker has written an amazing and simple e-book on taking control of your financial situation.

I don’t talk much about finances her on my blog, usually my advice is quite simple: stop buying stupid stuff, start living your life.

Luckily, Baker goes into a great deal more depth in his new e-book Unautomate Your Finances: A Simple, Passionate Approach to Money.

I’ve been a huge fan of Baker’s, before I even started writing Far Beyond The Stars. His writing on Man Vs. Debt and as a contributing writer on Get Rich Slowly helped inspire me during my own journey towards minimalism.

My favorite part of the Unautomate Your Finances is Baker’s signature 2-page minimalist budgeting system, which is the simplest method I’ve seen to force yourself to acknowledge the money you’re actually spending during every transaction.

Today, I’m honored to present this interview I did with Baker over the weekend. We discussed the benefits of Unautomation, the danger of subscriptions, and how Baker sold all his ‘crap’ and traveled the world with his family.

Everett Bogue: Your e-book is called Unautomate Your Finances, and your theory of Unautomation is heavily discussed throughout the e-book. How can Unautomation help get you out of debt?

Adam Baker: Unautomation is simply any time you are willing to trade convenience in for increased consciousness (basically the opposite of what we do when we automate). It can help people get out debt in many ways!

First, it raises awareness of our situations. This is often the first obstacles in coming to grips with just how destructive debt can be in our lives. Unautomation also encourages us to focus on one goal at a time. Often, we never pay off our debt, because we are juggling so many of our “expected” responsibilities. We may be expected to live a certain life, save a certain amount, or do a certain set of things.

By ramping up and honing in our focus, we can start to really chew away at our debt.

Everett: What is one powerful way to Unautomate your finances?

Baker: In the guide I cover at least 27 “core action steps”. However, one of my favorites is adopting a simple budget.

Courtney and I primarily budget by hand, using two sheets of paper and a very straight forward system. It’s worked wonders for us and budgeting this way is not only easy, but it raises our awareness more than any other method!

Everett: I love your approach to stuff (sell your crap) in UYS. How can a healthy relationship with stuff help you get out of debt?

Baker: Excess stuff creates all sorts of burdens. Clutter begets more clutter. And excess stuff takes space to store and money to maintain. It trains us to want more and more. Look, there’s nothing wrong with having possessions, but like you pointed out we’ve crossed the healthy point as a society.

As a bonus, most of us can generate up several hundred dollars (or even more) when we go to actually purge our possessions. This can be used to aggressively attack our other goals!

Everett: What are some of the things that you got rid of when you were downsizing?

Baker: Oh gosh… Well, we really got rid of everything! We started with big obvious things… excess furniture, electronics, a television, and even one of our cars. But we kept going! Eventually we took what was an apartment full of crap and turned it into two backpacks to start our travels.

We’ve accumulated some more stuff since coming back home, but we’re desperately trying to fend off our urges to consume. :-)

Everett: You talk in your e-book about how subscriptions can take an unnoticed toll on our finances. What are some of the unnecessary subscriptions that we sign up for?

Baker: Cell phone contracts, cable services, rental leases, magazines, newspapers, online apps, widgets, bells, whistles, monitoring services, etc…

Let me be very clear, though. There are plenty of cases where subscriptions are necessary and/or desirable! My suggestion is to mentally purge your subscriptions and start from scratch. Examine them all and figure out which ones you really want/need.

Also, be sure to look for creative solutions and/or alternatives to avoid them (this is sometimes not hard at all). Be careful of signing long-term contracts on anything. 2-3 months from now your “necessary” expense could quickly become not so important!

Everett: Leo Babauta discusses in the forward of Unautomate Your Finances about how he used many Unautomation techniques to get himself out of debt, but now he’s back to automation. At what point do you think it’s acceptable, or even advantageous, to go back to automating your finances?

Baker: I think automation is extremely powerful when applied to healthy, sustainable finances habits and when it is reevaluated on a regular basis. But we have to be careful of looking at automation as a solution to our problems or financial issues. It’s not a solution. It can be a powerful tool, but it only magnifies the existing habits we have!

Installing the empowering habits in the first place often takes the opposite of automation!

Everett: Thanks so much for this opportunity Baker. Good luck with your e-book launch!


Adam Baker’s new e-book Unautomate Your Finances: A Simple, Passionate Approach to Money is available now for only $17.

Because I’m a huge supporter of Adam Baker’s work, I’ve decided to become an affiliate for his work. 50% of the sale price goes to support my work here at Far Beyond The Stars.

If this interview helped you, I’d love if you could share it with anyone you know who’s having trouble with their finances.

Thank you.

Special Launch-day Bonus (March 9th ONLY!): I’ve just been informed that the first 100 people to purchase the e-book get access to UStream with Baker himself, where he will discuss any questions you have about the e-book and finances in general. Don’t miss out!

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