Personal Finance Writer Pairs Mexican Food with Dos Equis Amber


January 26, 2013

Craig Guillot and I share a tech column in Stores Magazine, where we review cool geeky stuff for retail executives. As independent writers, we covet these regular assignments, but I don’t mind sharing with Craig. When he’s not slapping new tech on his desk, Craig writes about personal finance. His first book, Stuff About Money: No BS Financial Advice for Regular People, teaches you how to manage the mula. Hey, maybe he should send it to Congress. Although I can balance a checkbook, personal finance bores me to no end, so in this edition of Fred’s Friends, I avoided the money talk and went straight to booze.

You’re a beer guy. What do you look for in a beer?

cguillot headshotBeer needs to taste great but also be ice cold and plentiful. I’m not really into sipping one fancy beer over the course of an hour. I need something smooth with a lighter alcohol content so I can enjoy it. I also like pairing certain beers with certain foods, usually based on the ethnic or national origin of the beer. When I’m eating Mexican, it’s Dos Equis Amber. When I’m eating sushi, it’s Sapporo. When I’m eating German, it’s Warsteiner Dunkel. I love trying new beer everywhere I go, too. Imperial in Costa Rica, Singha in Thailand. Tona in Nicaragua. Local microbrews in the U.S. The one thing I don’t like is fruit in my beer. Can’t stand it. With the exception of fresh lime in my Mexican beers, I want my beer to taste like beer. My personal favorite, and what you’ll most often find in my fridge, is Louisiana-made Abita Amber.

As far as I know, you don’t write about beer. I figured a personal finance writer would find a way to write off his libations. What’s up with that?

Partially because I haven’t had an opportunity and partially because I’m probably not educated enough on the matter or sophisticated enough to describe it. I drink a beer and I either like it or don’t, it’s hard for me to find much to say about it. I used to do some travel writing and could give the most detailed description of places and people but I never really could do that with food or drink. The only thing I can usually say about a great beer is that I’ll have another.

Speaking of personal finance, this subject bores the hell out of me. I tried it, but my brain turned to mush in a hurry. What do you like about personal finance writing?

It can bore me at times as well. It’s just something that I fell into. I do enjoy writing about it but I wouldn’t call it a passion. It’s not like I go to sleep or wake up everyday thinking about dividends, IRA contributions or interest rates. But I do like it because I get to learn things that I can use in my own life. Go back ten years ago and I was financially clueless. But after almost a decade of interviewing hundreds of financial professionals and writing hundreds of articles, I’ve had the opportunity to get a great financial education. It’s not like I’m rich, far from it, but I do have the capability to manage what I have. And I think that’s very important in this day and age. No matter what you do for a living, no matter how much you make, you need to be able to live within your means and manage your money for to provide a fair level of financial security for yourself.

You recently published a personal finance book through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. How did it feel to see your first book on Amazon?

It was cool to see the final product out there. I spent about a year and a half on it between writing, editing and production. It started out as a loosely-knit anthology of personal finance articles I’ve written over the years. It thought about making it into a small e-book but it just grew into something bigger. I brought more financial sources on board to serve as experts and tried to cover all the points I felt were relevant in a general personal finance book. I tried to write it in a straight forward manner for regular people. I feel that there’s a lot of value in it, especially when you consider the shaky financial footing that so many Americans are on. A recent survey found that almost 60% of Americans can’t come up with $1,000 to handle an emergency. So many of us live beyond our means. We’re entrenched in debt and have little or no savings. Many Americans manage their finances like our federal government. The only thing that can change that is consciousness. I’ve given away over a couple thousand e-book editions for free through Amazon promotion days. It’s probably not good for my bank account but I’m hoping some people found something to help them in there.

You’re also super fit, having ran several marathons and finished multiple triathlons. When you’re drinking your beer, do you ever feel the desire to race somebody in the room?

The only person I really try to beat in a race is myself. It’s about continuous improvement, especially when you consider that four years ago I was 40 pounds heavier and couldn’t even run to the end of the block. Running has changed my entire life but I think beer consumption can peacefully coexist with an active and healthy lifestyle. Many runners I know drink lots of beer and after races kegs get drained quickly. I often drink beer after a hard run, not just because I feel I deserve it but because it really helps refuel my body. During my fourth marathon I didn’t eat properly before and my body totally crashed during the race. I thought I was going to pass out around mile 21 but I came to a group of guys that were handing out shots of beer and donuts. I actually drank a whole can of Coors Light and ate two donuts. It really helped. The following marathon, I had my family hand me a half a beer and a donut at mile 16. I’ve run well over 100 running races, duathlons and triathlons, and one Ironman 70.3 event, and I’ve had a few beers after every single one. Before my health awakening I used to have a problem with excessive soda consumption. I’m no nutrition expert but I think beer is actually better for you than soda. I probably drink more beer (and wine) than before. Something must be working. I don’t think beer is the problem. The problem is when beer leads to a sedentary lifestyle and too many burgers.