Frequently Asked Questions

Streeterville, Chicago

All your pressing questions about Present Value Finance and the man behind it!

Who are you?

My name is John, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go identification-wise.  I’m a pretty private individual, so I have some very natural reluctance to share too much with the whole world via the internet.  Keeping my actual identity hidden gives me a couple of very real benefits:

  1. Personal safety, duh.
  2. If I’m anonymous, I can more easily use real numbers from my own past experiences to illustrate concepts and ideas.
  3. Lastly, I’m pretty sure my friends, family and co-workers would look at me differently if they were able to match up what they read here with the me in real life.  I’d prefer to keep those relationships as they are today.

So other than admitting I have one of the most common given names in the United States, I haven’t told you much.

Why should I read your personal finance blog versus the hundreds of others out there?

Well, I guess I can’t completely avoid telling you about myself.  Otherwise, how do you I’m not just making all this up!

Two words sum me up pretty well: finance geek.  I’ve been all about money and numbers for a long time.  When I was six, I counted up all the silver dollars my grandparents and the tooth fairy had given me and determined my net worth was $40.  That’s a 100% true story.

I have a finance degree from a big name university which I parlayed into a job on Wall Street and then a finance manager for a Fortune 500 company.  Through a combination of really hard work, sacrifice, saving like crazy and a boatload of luck, I walked away last year at the ripe old age of 32.

I hadn’t saved enough to retire in the traditional sense, but had enough that I could downshift to a lower pay, lower stress career no questions asked.  I still work in finance, but not like I used to, but made the choice to have a life outside of work.  Being able to do that is financial independence in my book, but a nice sized nest egg to back you up doesn’t hurt either.

…And you shouldn’t read just one personal finance blog.  Read as many as you can that give you new perspective and ideas for managing your financial life.  There are a ton of fantastic writers with really great ideas out there.  If I’m able to contribute half of what some of them do, I’ll feel pretty good about myself.

Why did you pick the name Present Value Finance?

Present value is a finance term that describes how much a stream of future cash flows (both positive and negative) is worth as of today (i.e. the present).  This let’s you put all kinds of different alternatives on a common basis: how much is this worth to me today?  That’s hugely powerful for making strong financial decisions, evaluating performance and the like.  Present value is the essence of how I try to approach financial decisions and I want to share that mindset with others.  Naming the blog after it was an easy choice.

Will you make money from PVF?  If so, how?

Yes…maybe…eventually.  Running a website costs some amount of money as well as the time I’m investing to create meaningful content that people get value from reading.

You’ll see a few ads here and there as well as maybe sponsors of the site in general.  I also have an affiliate relationship with Personal Capital that you’ll see in tagline at the bottom of each post.  You’re reading PVF to get actionable insights to improve your financial life, not be served a ton of ads.  I’ll try to strike the appropriate balance.

The other thing you won’t see are a bunch of paid or sponsored posts that are really just ads in sheep’s clothing.  I want you to trust what you’re reading is coming from me and not just a paid plug or something.  Any additional affiliate relationships will be fully disclosed and won’t impact the objectivity of what you read.

Who should read Present Value Finance?

Is “everyone” an acceptable answer?  Narrowing down a little bit I’d say people who want to make smart financial decisions to work towards achieving financial independence however they define it.

What sort of articles do you write?  How frequently?

Everything I plan on posting can broadly be bucketed into the following categories:

  • Financial Independence.  Both the math and the rationale behind the concept.  A number of these posts include analysis calculating progress towards reaching financial independence and the time it will take to get there.  By plugging in different assumptions or scenarios, you can see how different decision making affects the ability to reach it.
  • Financial Mindset.  How to think about your financials strategically in order to make more effective decisions.  Includes examples from my own experience.
  • Using Present Value.  How to use present value in order to make better financial decisions.  Includes walk-throughs of the actual math underlying the concept and appropriate ways to apply it.
  • Budgeting and Spending.  Everything related to budgeting and spending, including how to build a budget, mapping our your financials, etc.  Also includes details on the PVF family’s budget and our spending against it.
  • Saving and Investing.  Everything related to saving and investing, including how to choose between different savings vehicles based on tax benefits, liquidity, etc.
  • How-To Guides.  Walk-throughs of how to accomplish different pieces of financial analysis or actions.
  • Monthly Financial Metrics.  Regular tracking of my family’s financial progress against our goals.  Includes income and net worth trends, savings rates, investment portfolio allocation and financial independence metrics.
  • Recommended Reading.  My reflections on impactful writing from others in the personal finance/financial independence blog-o-sphere.  Includes my synopsis, key themes and favorite quotes from a selected article.
  • Questions and Answers.  My take on personal finance questions submitted by PVF readers.  Contact me here to submit.

In addition to the categories about, you can also download a number of different Excel models to perform your own analysis.  In many cases, I used to same models to populate the exhibits you see in a given post.

Lastly, I’m planning on publishing about 1 or maybe 2 articles a week.  I have two young kids at home and a full-time job, so don’t hold me too tightly too the schedule.  My goal is to write meaningful content on a semi-regular basis, not semi-meaningful content on a regular basis.

How can I contact you?

The best way to contact me about something I’ve written is through the comments section of each post.  I love it when the back and forth in the comments build on the original post and add so much more to the discussion.  I don’t have all the answers (and in many cases there is no 100% right answer), so having a robust debate with multiple points of view only adds to our collective knowledge base.

If you need to get in touch with me for other things (media/marketing inquiries, suggestions for posts, etc.), please see the contact page.

Anything else?

I don’t think so. Happy reading!

John started Present Value Finance in 2017 to share his experiences and insights on personal finance to help people make better decisions and take control of their financial lives.  

He achieved financial independence in 2016 by walking away from the high stress world of corporate finance to focus on his family. He’s a husband, father, family CFO, and all around finance geek.

He uses Personal Capital to track his spending, investments and investments for free and recommends you do too.

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