In Discussions, For Beginners, Money

Personal Finance Bloggers Are Not The Norm

Ever look around or read people’s blogs on the internet and think: How the hell did they manage to save all that $$$$$$$ by the time they were 30??!

Then you read the background, and realize how early they must have started, or that they had certain circumstances that you can’t replicate, and you start berating yourself for not having done the same when you were younger.

I am no stranger to this feeling.

In fact, if I didn’t watch debt shows and put myself back into the REAL world by talking to people outside of the personal finance circle, I’d probably be in the corner right now crying and feeling like I haven’t done anything worthwhile with my life and like I’m an utter failure compared to them.


Yes, even though I am also are fully aware that these incredible folks comprise of a group made up of less than 0.001% of the population, all age groups taken into consideration.

See, I really wish I had taken a look at my money sooner than I did (mid-20s), and I wish I hadn’t gone into $60,000 of debt for school (I could have certainly been more frugal and it may have been $40,000, tops.)

I also wish to some extent, I didn’t make mistakes that cost me big bucks, like moving to the U.S. and then moving back, disillusioned.

Sometimes all I can see are my bad money mistakes in comparison to all the amazing ones other people have made in their lives, even though I KNOW I have done really well for myself.

It’s hard not to feel jealous, envious, sad, and eventually, discouraged.

The thing I always try to remember is this:

I can’t do anything about my past now, but I can at least change my future.

It ends up giving me motivation (eventually, after I get through a box or two of macarons), to think about my money more and how I handle it.

They did and still do things I am not willing to

I also acknowledge that they’re doing things I am not willing to.

I have different priorities, and it’s what is making me happy.

My priorities:

I am not interested in killing myself by working 100+ hour weeks in any job, or any capacity to get that money.

I am not interested in eating food on sale, living on $10,000 or less a year, or doing anything so frugal it becomes such a sacrifice for me to reach that $$ goal, that I am unhappy with my life.

I want to continue to spend money on traveling (about $5000 a year), and buying shiny, pretty things (within reason).

I am also not that interested in saving decamillions. Just a million or two will suffice by the time I decide I want to retire, taking into account inflation.

I am not really keen on retiring early either, as I really do enjoy my job and the challenges it brings, especially since I work on contract and I always have some bench time to relax.

And by ‘retiring early’, I mean not by 30 or 40.

I’m thinking 50 is a nice age to retire, if I want to.

I want a simple life — what the hell would I do with all the money anyway when I’m old and (re)tired, if all I do is I regret all the time I wasted at the office, killing myself for a job?

Frankly, I just have to remind myself that I’ve only been working about less than half of my life (2 out of 5 working years), which is a very relaxing (almost too relaxing) ratio, and IΒ have saved quite a lot in spite of that, and all my bad money mistakes (~$200,000).


So really, no matter what age you are at, or where you are in life, the real day to change that matters is the next one.

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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 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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Posted on August 23, 2017

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  1. dunny

    Happy New Year.

    Yet again you impress me with your posts. I am compelled to comment.

    I agree, there are some great PF bloggers out there, but some are just awful and boring and generic and all the things you said. The same for commenters who make bland one-size-fits all comments. Is this all just mutual back scratching?

    Speaking as a 65-year-old retiree, things change. How you feel about retirement at age 30, 40, or 50 could be quite different at 60. I thought I’d work forever (loved my work) but now I love my unlimited freedom. How much you have now or expect to have can change quite a lot over the years. Don’t be surprised if you end up quite well off eventually by building net worth diligently. That’s what happened to me.

    As for so called balancing spending and saving I agree also, but I also think you can have the best of both. I see it as strategizing more than balancing. Balance is not my goal in life. I am happy to be putting my all into work or play — whatever I am doing at the time. But if others enjoy extreme frugality and reading and writing about it, let them be. I would be curious to see whether they will be honest about how they change their attitude over the years. That honesty is what makes blogs interesting.

    I don’t find it implausible or crazy to retire rich at age 30 or 40 and I find some of these early retirement bloggers are some of the best writers. I don’t understand why everybody is so down on them. I admire them. They seem to enjoy both work and play. They also seem to work very hard and have made it on their own (well, actually they are usually married so I guess they are only 50% responsible for their wealth). That being said, please out the phoney ones so we all know.

    In my mid-40’s, I changed from a mortgage-paying fiend to a stretch-it-out-as-long-as possible supporter. I kept up saving and investing like crazy but I budgeted more $ for a few luxuries and travel. I found that a few luxuries satisfied me and did not affect my savings rate.

    My net worth increased rapidly due to compounding and leverage. Money makes more money, and leverage through a mortgage helps a lot. My net worth increased substantially only in the last few years after I was not on salary any more and was forced to be more strategic. In the past 8 years since retiring from full-time employment, I’ve increased my net worth by a factor of 3 by investing in real estate and the stock market. I also saved and invested all lump sums that came my way, and created a lot of side hustles to keep cash flowing (renting part of the house, ESL students, part-time retail jobs, freelancing contract work). I always had one or two great trips per year and no hardships. Now I have enough passive income to retire full-time, live well, and travel several months a year, and I am starting to withdraw part of the income from my portfolio for travel.

    All the best to everyone in 2014.

  2. tordis

    I’ve always wondered what the point in retiring in your 40ies or even earlier is. It means that you have to work like crazy, don’t have a life until that and threaten your health and relationships with this behavior.

    And what then?
    What if you can’t appreciate your “new freedom” because you’ve gotten psychically sick (due to working like crazy) or you die within the first year of retirement?
    I know so many people who work like zombies in the cubicle, just thinking about their retirement and then when retirement hits, they have to face all the problems they made or ignored while being zombies (mariage, family, health, the lack of hobbies, …).

    There has to be a balance in all these things. That’s why I like your blog.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Thank you for the kind words!

      I personally don’t see the point of wasting your best years working to retire at 40, only to sit around and be able to drink only water and stare at a wall because you’re on a tight budget.

      Things happen. Like you said — maybe they’ll get sick, want to have hobbies.. and this is all part of real life.

  3. Ben@ThisHealthyBudget

    What a wonderful post. As someone who has a multitude of personal finance blogs in my feed, too often I get annoyed with the bloggers who’ve made their millions by age 30 (who knows how many of these are actually telling the truth), are living on literally nothing (while I enjoy a lot of the posts on ERE, it’s definitely not the life for me) or want to retire in 2 years (which is not realistic for 99.9% of people).

    I found myself nodding at every line here – I too feel like 50 is a good retirement age goal for my wife and I (we’re 28, make $100k per year and save about 1/3 of our take home pay). I’m also not willing to lend myself out to slavery to get that money (i.e. putting in 80+ hour weeks and thereby not enjoying my personal life or getting to see my spouse).

    1. tordis

      I often ask myself if they are “forgetting” to mention some facts in their pasts, like rich parents or heritages (or is “legacies” the right word here? Well, you still know what I mean).

      1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

        They are. I’m SURE they are. There was a blogger I used to read who had so much money but I couldn’t figure out how she did it until someone clued me in that her family was filthy rich. That said, she did come clean and say that she was rich and never denied it, but it wasn’t clear to me at first.

        This is why I’m trying to be very honest about who is rich in my family and who isn’t (e.g. my story about my parents winning the lottery, my millionaire uncle..).

    2. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Thank you for the kind words.

      I think there are people who by 30, ARE millionaires. They are the exception, not the rule.. and I think it is unfair to tell everyone that it is possible when in reality it is not.

      We can all reach for the stars for sure, but it is not a good thing to lie to people to sell your blog/book/ideas.

      I am around your age as well, and 50 is a nice retirement age. 55, even 60. I guess it depends on how I feel, I might want to keep working if I find it fun!

      The key is not to enslave yourself to this goal of money as being the be all and end all.

  4. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle

    I am a PF blogger but I am very normal because my finances are such a mess. My blog is more do as I say then do as I do.

    Last month my tv died suddenly and I replaced it using my credit card. The extreme financial bloggers would never do that but I am a news addict and I needed a new tv.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      But TV is your only source of entertainment. I’d consider it perfectly fine as a replacement although I cringe at the credit card replacement part πŸ™‚

  5. Pauline @ Make Money Your Way

    You’ve done really good for yourself so far, considering how little you have worked with all those months off and that you haven’t used debt to leverage wealth building.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      That’s what I keep telling myself: Look! You’ve barely worked and you have all this cash saved with no debt. *smack smack* … but it’s hard to stop comparing yourself.

  6. Blair@LifeDollarsandSense

    This post is so right! I have very similar priorities as you. I had to step back and think about those priorities because I have the type of personality that if you give a challenge, or something to be dedicated to I will do it just do it, not because I really want to. I love to focus on finance and how it can help and shape the life I live, not let the finances run my life.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      The minute you let money take over, it becomes your demon.

  7. Tania

    “I can’t do anything about my past now, but I can at least change my future.” Great advice for life in general, not just finances. Our mistakes shape us, they are part of who we are including what makes us WISE. Everyone makes mistakes but not everyone shares their mistakes. We should never judge our inside life by someone else’s outside life. A blog, FB status and tweet are merely a one dimensional peek, not the whole enchilada.

    I also think the extreme, rare or experimental brings page views. Someone who has made $XXXX by 30 or wears the same dress for 365 days helps someone go viral. It’s not fake though, people actually go to these lengths, I’m just one of them. I’m always the moderate type and I do believe moderate behavior changes work the best for most.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I agree that the crazier the blog or the premise is, the more pageviews they get….although I am sure people are a lot meaner about the concept. I know when I created my Minimalist Blog way back when about 4 years ago, it garnered a lot of attention but not all of it was good because people would just rag on how minimalism was so stupid, etc.

  8. MakintheBacon

    In answer to your first question: ALL THE TIME!!!! I also have to remind myself that every personal finance blogger is different and we all save, make money in different ways and have different goals. I am looking towards Freedom 55, but would be fine working till I was 60, 65. Majority of people at my organization have put in the 30-35 years of service.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I am wondering what I would do in retirement. Would I actually not work any more? I think I’d die… this is a very real problem for me seeing as I do need some sort of part-time job or activity! πŸ™‚ Maybe blogging is the answer in retirement. I’ll be old and crochety, blogging at 50 as a “job” or a hobby. HAHA!

  9. Tim

    Oh, I agree I’m not normal. But after 6 years of PF blogging I would expect that. πŸ˜‰

    Yet I think people forget something even more basic…no one is ‘normal’. No one has lived your life and made your choices, so most of the time comparing yourself to others is just a painful game of ‘what if’. Skip the pain and do what works for you (trust me I learned this the hard way). Make your own goals and work towards them.

    Be yourself…it’s awefully hard to be someone else.


    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I think what people consider normal are people who are the majority. You know, the types that don’t dream about retirement funds and savings goals and so on πŸ™‚

      PF bloggers are definitely not the norm in this respect although with the way I spend money, perhaps I am more normal than I think.

  10. Sheryl @ Cdn Dream at 45

    Thanks for this reminder, I needed it today. Being a little older, and in worse shape financially sometimes takes a toll on my outlook on life. PF Bloggers on the whole are great people that I have found helpful and encouraging, but as you said, we have to fond what is right for us, the individual.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Different starting lines, goals and ambitions. No need to be cookie cutters. I’m envious of plenty of people and others are in turn, envious of me. It all goes around πŸ™‚ In the end, we’d be better off without any envy at all.

  11. Jordann @ My Alternate Life

    This is so true and I do this all of the time. Everyone once in awhile I have to give my head a shake and remember that I’m doing very pretty damn awesome for someone my age, when compared to the rest of the population, and comparing myself to other PF bloggers usually just makes me depressed.

    Thanks for this post, so well timed.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I think looking back at my life, I am pretty proud of how much I have accomplished, but a small PF twinge in me says: You could have saved so much more…!!

  12. Vanessa

    I definitely, definitely, definitely compare myself to other PF bloggers and it’s a horrible habit that I sometimes take too far (instead of being inspired, I sometimes feel depressed that I haven’t reached the same levels that they have).

    Don’t beat yourself up too much over the USA thing — if you hadn’t have given it a go, you would always wonder “what if” and at least now you know that the States aren’t for you. Same with Australia.

    Finally — some of us *like* living on $10000 or less a year! πŸ˜‰

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      TRUE! TRUE! At least I tried. Now I know. Also I don’t want to retire in Europe any more. I think I want to stay in Canada.. things change as the economy evolves.

      You, are my hero for frugality. $10K a year is.. painful for me to think about, to say the least. I guess it’s more because I see it less as a challenge and more as a prison for my money which makes it very hard to accept and endure.

  13. Do or Debt

    PF bloggers are not normal, but you are doing great as one πŸ˜‰ You’ve done really well for yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, and realizes things in hindsight. We just have to keep doing what is right for ourselves.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Thank you kindly. It’s nice to hear encouragement once in a while, as I am myself, my worst critic.

  14. Jaclyn

    It’s funny that you read other people’s blogs and get a little envious, I’m envious reading yours! I’d LOVEEEE to be debt free right now! (We’ll get there someday..)

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I was in debt as well and jealous of others who were debt-free.. although I think that jealousy turned into competition and I tried to beat myself in reaching the end. If that makes any sense at all.

  15. matthewchat

    I think you have balance in your life – the bloggers you compare yourself to sound like they have very unbalanced lives. If they never start spending money for themselves, they will have lived a pretty miserable existence. If they do start spending money, they will most likely discover what you talked about in a post a few days ago – once the shopping flood gates have opened, they have no practice in knowing how to spend reasonably or how to get themselves to stop. It will be like all those lotto winners that spent all their millions in a year or two. The middle way is the best.

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      The Middle Way indeed. Thanks for the reminder.

      It’s hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes when you’re sitting at home, moaning about your bank account when in fact, your perspective is twisted because you (and by you I mean “I”) have everything I could have ever dreamed for, and more.

      Takes a little mental shake and great readers to help you feel better. πŸ™‚


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