In Money

Personal Finance Bloggers, let’s all just STFU for a moment

There is definitely a MINIMUM for basic money smarts.

Say what you want, but it kind of goes like this:

  1. Don’t go into consumer debt for stupid, unnecessary items that you’ll inevitably forget about
  2. Save 10% of your income (whether you choose to read that as gross income or net, is up to you)
  3. Don’t spend more than what you make and live a lifestyle you can’t afford
  4. Make as much as you can (negotiation-wise, not necessarily taking on more jobs)
  5. Don’t be a parasite on others especially those who can’t afford it – pay your fair share, you weasel

That’s about it.

I know you’re thinking:

WAIT THERE IS MORE. You’re lying.

There is SO MUCH MORE than just those things for money smarts.

But that’s really it at the base of it all.

All the rest that I, and other PF bloggers talk about, are just variations on the theme.

Some want to save more than 10% of their income (I do, anyway) for instance.

However if you have been a PF blogger for a long time (for me, 6 years and counting, on my end!), you will start to realize we all fall into different, weird little camps.

Kind of like factions.

We rail against each other, have our own (sometimes) petty arguments, and communities within what is a larger community.

If you’re a first-time reader of PF blogs, none of this will be apparent.

You’ll just all think we’re #$*&#% weird because we’re arguing over whether or not to save 10% of our gross or net income, and what falls under “Housing/Shelter” in a budget.

All of the above are all just opinions of individuals, in the end.

OPINIONS.

Not FACTS.

The only facts will be what actually happens with the money.

WE’RE ALWAYS GIVING OPINIONS, AREN’T WE?

What WILL be apparent is we are always complaining about any one of the given topics:

  • Bloggers are being stupid because they are not clearing their debt 100% (even student debt)
  • Bloggers being stupid by going on vacations, or buying frivolous things without being debt-free
  • Bloggers who are dumb because they WANT to upgrade their lifestyles & are against being frugal
  • Bloggers are being cheap and ridiculous in an effort to save what are fractions of pennies
  • Bloggers being short-sighted and focusing only on saving money but not on making more money
  • Bloggers wanting to do fun stuff with their money, and getting judged by the PF community
  • Bloggers who save, but then are berated for spending it (umm WTF Is money for anyway?)
  • …and it goes on and on and on, about all the things that everyone else is doing wrong, with their own money!!!!

We’re all a bunch of petty, annoying, hotheaded bloggers sometimes.

(Myself, included. But not you. You’re probably a nice blogger and reader if you’re reading this.)

What I think we all fail to step back and recognize sometimes, is that priorities are what matters.

What you decide to do with your money, is where you have decided to put your priorities.

It’s as simple as that.

From that, we each have different limits and thresholds, and if we were all the same, it’d be a pretty boring world to live in.

THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE MISERS

Sure, I may not personally agree with spending $5000 on a vacation when someone is $50,000 in debt, but if they’ve decided that going to Hawaii is something that they want to save for, in lieu of clearing their debt and paying less interest, by all means GO FOR IT.

I am certainly not going to encourage them to go on that vacation over paying their debt, but that’s MY opinion, but I’m not going to barge into their home and start berating them for spending $5000 to go on a vacation when they are paying 18% interest or $9000 a year on their $50,000 debt.

Their priority is to have that vacation, and continue paying their debt for a year longer.

What’s another 365 days anyway?

They should only know what that vacation is costing them in terms of lost time, a longer debt horizon, interest payments, and be aware of it if they aren’t already.

Other than that, it’s their money.

This is where the distinction comes in: IT IS NOT MY MONEY.

It’s your money, and for this reason, I don’t give a damn because I don’t have to give you anything.

THOSE WHO WANT TO LIVE LIKE MISERS TO BECOME RICH

troll-miser-bridge

 

Credit

I may not personally agree with living in a cardboard box under a bridge like a troll, just to save on rent, wearing some flour sack that I’m trying to belt to make it look chic while I try to make this trolling-for-tolls thing work, but hey, if you want to go ahead and do that.

GO FOR IT!

If you set your priorities to give up basic pleasures of shelter, warm showers and eating something other than ramen and the small fish that you are able to catch under the bridge, it’s your deal, not mine.

Then if you decide to blog about this as “HOW I TROLLED MY WAY UNDER A BRIDGE TO $1 MILLION IN UNDER 10 YEARS” and you end up making a ton of money off it, I couldn’t suddenly be envious and jealous that you became a millionaire.

I didn’t want to live that life, and I didn’t choose to.

You did.

You chose to do it, and in doing so, you worked for it, and I couldn’t be happier for you.

(Seriously. Troll hair and all.)

You set your priorities, and you made your own goals a success (and possibly getting gut rot and nutritional deficiencies), but I am sure as heck not going to try and replicate that life for myself.

(I enjoy warm showers, eating fancy food, and at least sleeping in a slightly heated room a little too much.)

I AM SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN THOSE EXTREMES

I am not one, nor the other. I am both, at different times.

THE MISER IN ME

I can’t believe when I was getting out of $60,000 of debt, just how cheap I became at the end.

Actually, not cheap. Super. Duper. Miserly Frugal.

I only spent money on train tickets, food, rent, and that was it.

Take for instance the fact that my pants were getting too big for me, so I just pinned them tighter and wore a belt.

I didn’t want to spend a single cent on anything.

I went pretty far, now that I think about it, but to me at the time, all I could see was clearing that debt to $0.


THE FRIVOLOUS SPENDER IN ME

I didn’t work for most of 2011 and 2012 because I didn’t really want to.

Everyone is screaming bloody murder at this point because HOW CAN YOU NOT WORK for 2 years!?

Well, my priorities were traveling (before kids is always best), figuring out where I wanted to permanently live, and taking the time that I never had as a kid.

(Me, chilling in Paris)

I hadn’t stopped working either part-time, full-time or doubly full-time since the age of 7 when I had my first paper route on the weekends.

2011 and 2012, were the first years I had taken it easy in terms of “work” for the first time in a long while.

Then I held 2 jobs — I created a consulting business at the age of 16, alongside working part-time in a fast food joint.

At 19, I continued my consulting business, moved out, and decided I had to live for cheap (I had no choice), so I took on taking care of a building to subsidize my rent in return.

I also decided I needed another job (because I wasn’t busy enough) and took on a third job part-time on campus, all while attending business school full-time, and graduating with honors.

I found my career at 22, had to give up the building job (I wasn’t around enough, as I was traveling for work), but continued freelancing on the side, because I could do it on weekends when I was back.

Then I quit that career, turned into a freelancer full-time and now I have my perfect work-life balance.

It makes me self-punish sometimes out of guilt in between contracts, but that’s my problem, not yours.

I can only be aware that I’m doing it to myself, and try not to freak out.

MY PRIORITIES CHANGED TO HAVING A BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Now I work when I can, live on less so I don’t have to worry or work so much, and chill out in the downtime.

It’s not that I can’t work hard or that I’m lazy. On the contrary, I work very hard when I am on a contract to be the best consultant they’ve ever had.

It’s just that I choose not to run on all cylinders all the time.

It was my choice, even though I pretty much gave up 2 years of making a lot of money (maybe I lost out on $200,000, who knows?), and took the time for myself instead.

Why? Because I could.

Why else? Because I wanted to.  So STFU.

With my savings well over the 6-figure mark, at the age of 27, I decided that I could live a little, enjoy my life a bit more and stop trying to do everything and keep myself busy 24/7.

So I did.

I still have my whole life and my career ahead of me to work. I don’t need to work like crazy, and then die of a heart attack at 45, surrounded by a pile of money I didn’t even really plan on spending in the first place.

As a result, I definitely afford everyone else the same luxury and benefit to be able to do whatever the hell they want with their money and their lives.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, MONEY IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT

Money doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and it certainly doesn’t mean the world to me. I care about it, but not obsessively.

Isn’t it all kind of relative anyway?

Have we all forgotten that billionaires are jealous of other billionaires who have more than they do?

If you recall, there was a German billionaire who committed suicide during the downturn of markets because his net worth dropped. He still had millions, but the loss of that money on paper overnight, caused him to mentally snap and hang himself.

Money didn’t change a damn thing for him and his perspective. He dropped in status, and that made him suicidal.

PF BLOGGERS BLOG IN A MICROCOSM AND WE AREN’T “NORMAL”

It’s the same thing online, reading all these PF blogs, just with less 0’s tacked on at the end.

You have to understand that this PF world is a small, abnormal community. We are not the norm, we are the exception.

So what we do, is relative to each other.

Earning $100K in a small town where people earn $20K, makes you feel like a queen.

Earning $100K in a city like NYC where people earn that in a day, makes you feel like a pauper.

In reality, all I want, is for everyone to learn more about their money, and to not make stupid, easy-to-fix mistakes like being lazy and refusing to walk to your bank’s ATM, so you get slammed with a $1.50 fee to withdraw cash (or more!).

Once you’re fully out of debt, and saving on a regular basis, your net worth becomes a number, after a while, and it doesn’t change how you feel inside or how others see you.

If you’re already an unhappy, lonely person, with a million dollars in your bank account, you’d still be an unhappy, lonely,person  but now you just have a million bucks more.

Some people don’t want to sacrifice everything to have lots of money, they’d rather sacrifice a little, and be in debt longer, and they feel good about that choice.

Others, want to sacrifice it all in the short-term to see the rewards in the long-term, and they feel good about their choice as well.

Either way you want to be or you want to act, I don’t really care.

How much you have as a net worth doesn’t affect me at all.

I’d definitely wish and encourage you to have a positive one, but otherwise, if you’re going to turn into a jackass because of it, I’d rather you stay poor and awesome.

YOUR money is YOUR responsibility, and I can’t claim to (honestly) care any more than that.

(Unless of course you pay me to care or have otherwise written me into your will.

For the record, I offer a wonderfully random Money Caring service at about $150/hour if you’re interested.)

So can we all just STFU and let everyone do what they want?

You can always tweak and do more to improve your situation, but with each tweak, comes a changing of priorities and sacrifices to some extent.

If you aren’t willing to prioritize your debt over your life, that’s your choice, not mine.

If you are willing to give up a lot of fun things in your life to save money, that’s also your choice, not mine.

To me, if you are out of debt, and/or on the way to being out of debt, aiming to retire with a decent chunk of money instead of a pathetic $100,000 (which comes from 40 years of saving less than 4%), and you aren’t on welfare and bitching about it, I’m happy for you.

If you are funemployed, and decided to take some time off to travel around the world while you’re young without going into debt, (and are able to accept almost any kind of living condition of hostels abroad), I’m happy for you.

If you decided to take on a minimum wage job or two to pay for your bills and debt, while you wait for something better to come along, I’m happy for you.

(And kind of proud too, if truth be told; your pride is a hard thing to swallow when you take a job you think is beneath you — it’s honest work and nothing to be ashamed of.)

Whatever it is, do it for you.

It’s your money and life, after all.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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42 Comments

  1. Projeksiyon Perdesi

    An example – if gross income including income tax is $150 and spending is $50, the spending rate is 33% / available to save is 66%. However, if income taxes are $10 in the above example, the spending rate becomes 36% / available to save is 64%. The latter seems more precise, at least to my mind.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Agreed, it is more precise, your calculation, as ‘net’ savings.

      Reply
  2. poorblogger

    Hahaha.. i think i’m also the STFU

    Reply
  3. Do or Debt

    Preach! Love this!

    Reply
  4. Anne @ Unique Gifter

    I’ll take small town queen for $100 please, Alex.

    Reply
  5. elle

    I like PF Bloggers criticizing their counterparts. I welcome uncensored conversation. (is there where you tell me to stfu? =p )

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Have you said something to make me tell you STFU? 🙂 If no, then .. no. I generally don’t care about what other PF bloggers do, but when PF bloggers don’t feel like they can really talk about how they’re going about their lives openly in fear of criticism or lash back, I’m frustrated.

      I want to read about real lives with mistakes, not fake ones.

      Reply
  6. Cassie

    If you’re interested, I’d love to open an auxiliary office of your money caring service. I think it would make a fantastic consulting side hustle 😉

    I really have nothing to add, you’ve pretty much hit it square on the nose. *high five*

    Reply
  7. maz

    err, what happened? where does the anger come from? did you receive one too many bad comments? Relax. Most people read your blog because we like it and we like your ideas. And most educated people make their own choices according to our needs/desires. You’d have to be pretty weak to follow everything a blogger writes. What works for the blogger might not read for the reader. Most of us know what’s right/wrong for us. Totally agree with your blog anyway. So keep up the good work ( and don’t get so worked up, it’s not worth it ).

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I haven’t received any bad comments so far.

      I’m annoyed because I’m sick of bloggers fighting with each other over things that are pretty much stupid because it is not their money, it’s someone else’s.

      Live and let live.

      It’s also something readers don’t understand because they’re not blogging about their money personally, and receiving such comments.

      Reply
  8. addvodka

    I’m always a little creeped out when other bloggers care enough about what I do with my money (or what other people do with their money) to mention it or even blog about it themselves. After all, it’s just the internet – if I passed 95% of the bloggers in this community on the street, I wouldn’t know who they were. It’s a little stalker-ish to passionately care about some stranger’s money choices.

    It may be because I haven’t met most bloggers (except some Vancouver bloggers – and Bridget, lol!) in person, so to me, most other blogger’s decisions don’t matter to me (and neither do their opinions). Maybe if I attended FINCON I’d care more.. but I doubt it. I’m pretty self absorbed (though I probably shouldn’t admit that).

    Further to that thought, because it’s just the internet, we will never know the full story behind other people’s circumstances, values, or even mundane details of their lives that they don’t tell us but would be an opinion changer for us. I get some flack for having a student loan ( it’s really not all that much – I worked full-time throughout school, but you say the words “student loan” and people start thinking they have $20-$50K of debt, of which I have a fraction) and living life as I normally would, but I don’t think I’ve ever cared enough to mention that it’s 0% – It’s not a government loan, it’s a private loan so it would be stupid of me to pay it off as quickly as possible, because the money that I could use to pay it off is MAKING me money.

    In any case, I was nodding in agreement throughout this entire post.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Which is something that readers who don’t blog, don’t understand.

      When you put your money under scrutiny, it becomes even crazier.

      For me, it’s a live and let live situation — give advice, see if they take it, and if they don’t, it’s not your problem.

      Reply
  9. From Shopping to Saving

    I love you <3 So so so so so true, every last bit of it. I've fallen prey to a lot of this but in the end I've realized that no one is perfect, I certainly am not, and I never will be – and that's okay. I am an impulse-buying, clothes/purses/shoes loving, carefree person but I can't keep hating myself for that. We're all human, and everyone has different ways of doing things…otherwise we'd all be robots, and that's definitely not fun.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      As long as you are following 5 main money rules up there, it’s fine for me.

      I’d obviously prefer to save more than 10%, but even 10% is a stretch for a lot of folks, especially ones who aren’t into saving or money management.

      Reply
  10. hereverycentcounts

    Lol. This post is awesome. It basically sums up the hilariousness that is the whole PF blogging community. There’s a lot to learn from the crowdsourced wisdom but ultimately everyone is sharing opinions and there is no one right answer for how to succeed at personal finance. But I think those opinions are valuable as long as they are shared respectfully. For instance, I think saving 10% of one’s income is probably not enough, and recommend saving 50% (and/or earning more if you aren’t interested in living a miserly lifestyle.) Basically, if you have expensive tastes, focus on making more money. It’s been nice lately for the PF community to be so supportive of where I’m at in my life, helping me benchmark my process. They also have opinions about my 90% of networth in stocks, and I’m open to them. I won’t always listen, but I like hearing different people’s opinions about this – even if they’re going to be passionate and slightly rude in their commentary, as long as they’re sharing insight from real life experience, there’s something I can learn from it. And isn’t that point of blogging publicly about PF in the first place?

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Basically.

      I like hearing about opinions on what other people are doing, and I obviously do things wrong too. But I am not beating myself up over it.

      10% is the basic rule, because it takes into account that most people don’t work for themselves and can expect a company and a country pension (not sure how true that is, but let’s go with it).

      It’s also assuming people don’t have credit card or consumer debt, which is another area that people miss.

      50% is really not realistic for a lot of single people. It’s nice, but not realistic unless you’re really making good money.

      It makes more sense if you’re in a 2-person household, however.

      I work more on the 25% – 75% scale depending on how my year of freelancing goes, so I’d say 25% is my personal basic minimum for saving as a PF rule, but I have gone as high as 90%.

      Reply
  11. Mochi & Macarons

    True. But it still doesn’t affect me directly. I’m not giving them money to live and supporting their parasitic actions.

    Perhaps indirectly, I will be on the hook for their debts via the government forgiving them, but as I recall, student loans are not able to be discharged in bankruptcy. They follow you around.

    Or maybe that’s why you mentioned “unsecured non-student loan debt”.

    If they want to be a parasite on their parents, harming other people and being a pest, their parents and those who let them do that, have no one to blame but themselves.

    Those around them created that monster, and they have to live with their creation, and deservedly so.

    In addition, filing bankruptcy isn’t an easy “wipe the slate clean” sort of deal. The aftermath of such an extreme action, follows them deep into the abyss of their reckless actions, all of which, is everything they will have to deal with and I won’t, and their credit will be ruined for years to come, which cuts them off from obtaining more.

    Reply
  12. Jacq

    At some level, I think many people seem to want to be able to control others or impose their own values on others – in the PF world, you see that through shaming types of articles “WHAT?!? You don’t ride a bike in -25C weather to be able to retire early??? You stupid person.” I especially see it with bloggers/people who don’t have kids – not sure why that is. Could be the preponderance of INTJ’s and the accompanying judgmental attitude that often comes with that personality type.

    If there’s one thing I’ve realized through watching and talking to people during this last stint at work, it’s that certain aspects of work really don’t bother other people like they do me. Maybe they’re the lucky ones. I’ve always been the “get in, get done, go home” kind of person. So in that respect, once I’ve made the stash (what work is for), IMO the job is literally done. But other people are there for other reasons and who am I to judge their values? (Except where they impact me – like the people who socialize excessively during busy times so that everyone has to work OT because of it. – LOL).

    Having said all that, I think occasionally having fleeting judgmental thoughts – and knowing that you are doing that and trying to stop doing that – is a good step in the right direction of accepting other people just as they are.

    Where you might see some argument from me is when people save nothing for retirement (but could have) and then expect the government to support them – paid for with high tax rates on people who deprived themselves along the way. That just doesn’t seem right to me.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I agree with not judging people’s values — I loathe those who don’t work, and I am forced to pick up the slack, but that’s another story because it isn’t directly related to money, more to a lack of conscientiousness.

      Those people who save nothing for retirement, deserve everything they don’t get. They can moan, whine and bitch all they want, but they know they’re the ones who didn’t put in the effort.

      I am secure in the thought that they will receive perhaps $500 a month on average, and it is not enough to live without crying for more. If they got $3000 a month, then I’d be crying murder.

      Reply
      1. Jacq

        Well, except that’s not how OAS and GIS work – you will be paying for them. More to the tune of maybe $1000 extra a month on top of CPP, but definitely not $500 and not $3,000.
        Oh well, most will probably just be working a very long time.

        Reply
        1. Mochi & Macarons

          Am I paying directly to OAS and GIS? Or indirectly via taxation?

          Reply
          1. Anne @ Unique Gifter

            Taxation, the only direct ones are EI and CPP. OAS is obscene in its set up. Personally, I’m all for increasing GIS and reducing OAS.

  13. nomorespending

    Agree with it ALL!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Even the troll-y bit? 🙂

      Reply
  14. Budget & the Beach

    I think we all read other blogs and wonder how someone is doing this or that and surviving, or why they aren’t living more, but I think that’s what I enjoy most about PF blogs, is to see how other people are living, and the choices they are making. I have seen every extreme too. I think the most important thing is to just always keep the focus on yourself and what is working an what isn’t…and a lot of times that gets translated into blog posts. It’s kind of the same for weight loss blogs. The science is fairly simple. What isn’t simple is the psychology behind each and every decision. That’s what makes it interesting.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      The whole point is how much you are willing to do to get to your goals. At what point do you personally say: I won’t do that!

      For me, that’s the reason why I am not jealous of others.

      They worked for it, and even if some people think that they didn’t (e.g. fell into a lucky, high-paying job), they still worked for it indirectly throughout their lives to reach that point and see those opportunities.

      For those who work hard but still don’t reach those heights, they still manage to save and they’re trying hard, but it’s very discouraging at times in the PF blogosphere (I know, I’ve been there and done that.)

      Reply
  15. Girl Meets Debt

    And THIS is THE REASON why I enjoy reading your blog so much Mochi!!!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Well that and I hope it’s helping you clear that debt 😉

      Reply
      1. Girl Meets Debt

        Hehehe it is 😉

        Reply
  16. Vanessa

    Je t’aime mon amie!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Aww..! Merci 😀

      Reply
  17. B. (Below Her Means)

    I request the highest of fives.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      *gives the highest of fives*

      Reply
  18. StudentDebtSurvivor

    Well said. I don’t care if other bloggers or so frugal they recycle toilet paper or are so rich they have 20 dollar bills coming out of their butt. I wouldn’t make some of the decisions that other people make, but that doesn’t make me a better person or a better blogger, and it certainly doesn’t give me the right to bash anybody else or make nasty comments. To each his/her own.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      For me, I can do some pretty frugal things that some people won’t understand, but I do it because I made the choice to.

      On the flip side, I can do some pretty spendy things others won’t understand, but I also made that choice for me.

      I am only interested in hearing and sharing things I’ve learned to help people understand their money better. If someone comes out of this whole thing learning something that changed their money management for the better, I’m thrilled.

      Reply
  19. Mikhaila

    I love this post so much! We all get caught up in our PF bubble and forget that we really are the exception. I love any post title that has “STFU” in it, and I laughed so hard at the “How I trolled my way under a bridge to $1 million in under ten years”. Now that’s an article I would read, but definitely not write!

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Maybe I’ll do an Onion-like piece on this fictitious troll of mine. 😉

      I keep reminding myself that we’re NOT the majority. We are people who are interested in managing our money (actively), and most people you talk to, would rather eat snakes.

      Reply
      1. Kavitha Arur

        Yes! Please do 🙂 (The Onion article I mean)

        Reply
    2. hereverycentcounts

      I think there should be a carnival of PF STFU posts. 😉

      Reply
  20. Bridget

    Hey girl, I’m glad we’re best friends.

    xoxo

    Seriously though, you are my favourite <3

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I LOVE the being the favourite! *basks in the warm glow of Bridget-love*

      Reply

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