We (I say ‘we’ loosely of course) personal finance bloggers (I’m a fringe one), are really odd people.
Not only that, we aren’t really jealous weirdos for the most part.
(Okay, I lied. I am jealous .. very slightly.. of some people.)
But really though, I am less jealous and more motivated by people I read and follow to think —
They’re right! Why am I doing stupid things with my money?
Time to take charge, stop spending so much and start plowing it into capital for dividends instead.
…but when I start getting comments, and .. honestly, taking it quite personally when people who have only visited ONE blog post or ONE budget roundup, say things to me like:
Your post doesn’t say anything about how to reach what you’ve saved.
It sounds like one big brag.
… it makes me (A) a little upset, (B) a little angry and (C) mostly disappointed or sad.
Would it be better to announce to the world that I am $100,000 in the hole? More acceptable?
(For something worthy of course, like having a mortgage or paid for a health problem..)
When I was actually $60,000 in the hole for something “worthy” (student debt) I was lambasted for spending like a normal-ish new graduate who didn’t have a good grasp on money and being frugal.
It is like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
You can’t announce you have money — people call it bragging and then proceed to tell you that you’re out of touch.
You can’t announce you have debt — people look down on you and wonder WTF you “wasted” your money on and then proceed to berate or lecture you on your choices.
But I really don’t understand that, because when I was in debt, and starting off as a real newbie in the matters of money, I was INSPIRED.
I couldn’t believe people my age had actual savings. Like, REAL MONEY. I was in debt, so it seemed so far away.
I was jealous of course.
Mucho jealouso … but that sort of faded off to the side along with envy, and turned into the feeling of — why not me? but with only the slightest hint of green envy.
If you think about it, the main rules to having lots of money is pretty simple:
- Don’t spend more than you make
- Budget and track your expenses especially if you HAVE to (note: I don’t really have to, I just still like doing it to keep myself in line)
- Invest your money for the long-term, and as soon as possible
- Earn as much as you can by negotiating for higher salaries when you deserve it
How I got to where I am wasn’t by some guru money magic, some get rich quick secret trick or tip that “rich” people are hiding and only a few have discovered.
It is HARD WORK.
It is work to think about your money, to track what you are spending, to think about where you should invest it, how to save more money on fees, making your own lunch so that you don’t blow $20 a day on food… etc etc etc.
It is boring at first, but you could turn into a weirdo like me and end up finding it fun… so much fun that you track it all in monthly budget roundups.
It is also hard work to keep track of your accomplishments, to quantify how much you are crushing it at work and to prove it with concrete facts at your employee review.
Or, to have taken the risk like I have early on in my career, quit my job with no safety net, thousands in debt, and take a leap of faith to TRY and start my own business freelancing.
It all worked out for me, but it could have gone the other way, very quickly.
So, when I hear about people making money, saving it (normal people, like you and me), and I read about net worth updates from people in the personal finance blogosphere, I am three things:
- Happy I am not the only weirdo who loves tracking and being proud of what I have saved
- Happy that I have people whom I can use as benchmarks by age or income or net worth & track how well I am doing
- Happy that they are doing well because then I can learn from them — mistakes, the good stuff, everything!
So it makes me really sad to hear a remark like: Oh that’s just a brag post on how much you earn and how much you have saved, because it doesn’t really give you the whole picture of me.
My net worth doesn’t define me, but how I saved that money and got there does.
It isn’t bragging, it’s all fact.
My bank accounts don’t lie.
It doesn’t show how passionate I am about money, and especially about women my age who SHOULD CARE MORE about their money and DON’T because they think it is bragging, or it is distasteful to be proud of their accomplishments (why do men seem to not have this hang up?).
I even post these things, hoping that people will get motivated and inspired to care about their money the way I did when I was heavily in student debt, and do awesome things like these reader success stories:
- Nailing a new 6-figure job & leaving a toxic work environment
- I earn $26K and can’t do this any more. Help me figure this out.
- I don’t know if I am qualified to be a Director, How do I do this.
I LOVE THESE STORIES.
You have no idea.
I LOVE getting emails from people who have read just ONE POST and decided they need to be a little more careful spending their money (I am a terrible role model for this, truth be told), and more assertive in asking for that raise they deserve (I am the boss of this one).
And that is the whole picture of me — the story of how I got here and what I did to make it, and how much I care about other people also learning from my mistakes and successes and maybe translating that into their life and environment.
It isn’t just my net worth and how much I have in the bank that matters.
It is the story that is more interesting, and that’s what I see and am inspired by, when I read other money blogs.
(With a slight green cast of envy. Natch.)