One was an expert, one wasn’t.
One was a mother, one a son.
Their creation is Boomer & Echo, a financial blog that covers two very different life stages.
Marie Engen has a Certified Financial Planner designation and worked in a bank for more than 25 years, including at least 15 years advising clients.
Robb Engen, her son, had always been interested in personal finance and investing. And the two of them thought it would be fun to start a “small side business” together. Robb shares his own experiences in saving, investing and paying off debt.
“I’m at a stage in life where there's a lot going on financially – buying a house, starting to invest, saving for your child's education,” Mr. Engen, of Lethbridge, Alta., says. “I also want to show people that it's possible to survive and thrive in your 30s without a six-figure salary.”
His goal is to “help readers make informed decisions about their finances.”
For instance, he writes about how he and his wife decided to sell their house and build a dream house for themselves – but then found that they didn’t have enough of a down payment to avoid extra mortgage insurance fees. He described how waiting eight months enabled them to go ahead on a firm footing.
“We planned to save $2,000 a month for 18 months, which would bring our total down payment to nearly $100,000,” he writes. “Using a monthly budget kept our expenses in line, and we stayed focused on our goal by avoiding any big ticket purchases like new furniture and expensive electronics.”
In another piece, he asks, “Will a pension plan handcuff you to your job?”
His answer: “Generation Y doesn’t envision working for the same employer for their entire career. They want to take the time to find their passion, reach outside their comfort zone, or maybe start their own business. They want the ability to invest their own money and to choose their own retirement date.” He provides practical advice on what to do when leaving a pension plan early.
The best advice he says he’s given (though he hesitates to use the word “advice” “because I’m not a professional financial planner and I’m just giving my opinion”) is to use a budget to track day-to-day spending and project income and expenses for a full year.
“This way you can make a proactive spending and savings plan,” he says.
He has learned that dealing in absolutes is unwise. “Rather than saying, ‘always do this, or never do that,’” I've realized that there's a lot of grey area when it comes to personal finance. What works for some people may not work for others, for a number of reasons.”
His mother, Ms. Engen, says that giving specific advice is impossible “without knowing people’s individual circumstances. What we do is provide information, give our own opinions and sometimes anecdotal stories from our own lives and how we have approached various situations.”
She is often surprised to discover that what she expected would be common knowledge among readers turns out to be anything but. “So it's rewarding to be able to share that information. I love when people write about how much they enjoy reading the blog and how helpful we have been.”
She wrote an article on the blog in which she asked, “Why do certain world events spark totally irrational behaviour?” She pointed a finger at the media: “The media loves a disaster story, and no doubt will soon be interviewing the doom and gloom experts and reporting on every perceived change in climate and the environment with a ‘Chicken Little’ fanaticism.”
The best advice she says she has given is “to take charge of your own financial health instead of just handing it over. I always say that no one cares about your money the way you do. This is not to say you shouldn't have a financial advisor, but to be more proactive and ask questions so you know what you're getting.”