The following blog post is part of the The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in New York! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.
The one certainty I’ve discovered when it comes to personal finance is that you’re going to have to pay attention to it sooner or later.
What’s less obvious is that this certainty actually comes with a choice: You can either learn about personal finance from the positive side by discovering all of the doors that a little bit of knowledge can unlock — doors that lead to ways to make your life easier, happier, and more in control. Or, you can be forced into learning personal finance while scraping yourself from the cold floor at the bottom of a pit of despair.
Because I like to live dangerously, I chose the second option. But let’s discuss both anyway.
Discovering personal finance from the good side
Even for those who already live comfortably, getting smart about your personal finances can be very empowering.
As an example, suppose someone holds a decent job that pays well enough that she can afford to buy everything she wants — and she does. She could continue plodding along merrily at her job until 65, maybe continuing on through to retirement, all the while living an unremarkable but comfortable life.
Or, she could discover personal finance.
She might read up on ways to be frugal, decide to cut back on a few of those wants, and instead put the leftover cash toward wealth-building assets. She could find out about compound interest and decide that contributing aggressively toward retirement early in her career is a good way to end up with a huge nest egg, opening her up to a world of options that she might have previously dismissed — options like owning a home, paying for a child’s college, or retiring a decade earlier.
Discovering personal finance like I did — from the ugly side
I wish that you and all those you hold dear might have the good fortune of discovering personal finance the nice way — as the key that unlocks new and exciting life options.
Or you can do what I did.
You see, I never had much of a desire to learn about personal finance. But one day late in 2012, I decided to add up all of my accounts, and found that years of freely spending, a couple degrees, a very poorly timed real estate purchase, and ignoring retirement accounts, had all combined to leave me hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
If I hadn’t started caring about my finances, I might fall even deeper into the abyss, never to emerge.
In other words, for me, getting smart about personal finance wasn’t a matter of making a comfortable life slightly more comfortable. Rather, it was the last hope I had to recover.
And recover I have!
Since starting this blog, I’ve learned a ton about paying off debt, saving for retirement, and living in a way that leaves me enough cash to do both of these. Not only that, I’ve actually used that knowledge to pay off debt and save for retirement — to the tune of $133,000 by last count. Personal finance has gone from being the last hope I had at the very brink of calamity to a nearly rebuilt life.
Talk about financial empowerment!