It’s a peculiar thing, talking about yourself. I’ve blogged before but it was never about me, my situation, my inner workings and definitely not my financial situation. With each word typed I feel a bit more embarrassment, though I hope that fades with time. The relative anonymity certainly helps. There is also the very real chance that no one ever finds this blog, and I’m very okay with that. This blog is about my family and me, and documenting our financial journey towards frugality. I often find myself re-visiting blogs I had written years earlier, mesmerized by how far I had come. Hopefully, this will be one of those times. With that being said, I’ll start with a truth:
I’m just bad with money
It sounds fairly stupid when you break it down. “I’m just bad with money.” What does that even mean?
The reality is that people who say “I’m just bad with money” are really saying that they have little self-control. They haven’t conquered the ability to delay momentary pleasure for a long term goal, and they’re excusing their actions in favor of a convenient excuse, analogous to “I’m fat because I was born with bad genes.”
I am that guy. I make those same excuses. I vividly remembering being 18 years old sitting in my brother-in-law’s hot tub as he taught my friends and me about Roth IRA’s, compound interest, and the *magic* of investing. None of us had ever been told how it all worked and we were fascinated. Especially me. I daydreamed as the bubbles floated around my body; Retirement at 30, Beach living at 40, nothing but Pina Coladas and Hula Dances from then on.
But then reality set in. I would have to contribute money into a retirement account for any of this to happen. I didn’t. At this time I was making a couple of hundred dollars per week, and that didn’t go far. There were video games to purchase, movies to attend, and Blockbuster memberships to pay for (ha! remember Blockbuster?).
Meeting the money hippies
It’s been 12 years since the night of that hot tub conversation, and I recently decided to take stock of my life. The conversation that evening and my lack of willpower since then still haunt me. If I had garnered some self-control and contributed something as small as $200 per month from then until now, I would have nearly $42,000 saved. And that’s assuming only a modest 5.5% return. After some contemplation, I came to the realization that I can either mope about it or I could start fixing it right now.
So I did what any other millennial would do in a time of crisis and self-reflection; I took to Google. The search engine somehow led me to Mr. Money Mustache, a 40-some-year-old Coloradoan who retired at 30 years old after saving more than 50% of his salary every year since he began working. He rides his bicycle instead of driving, doesn’t eat processed foods and believes having outstanding debt is equivalent to your hair being on fire. Yeah, he’s a money hippie, and he’s fucking fantastic.
So I’m reading this money hippies blog, and I’m entranced by his logic and stance on savings and debt. It just makes sense, and he has an intrinsic brilliance in his writing. Then I stumble upon his message board. Holy shit, there’s hundreds of minion money hippies who think, act and save money just like Mr. Money Mustache. This. Is. Incredible. Access to hundreds of financially sound people who give advice that in the past, you probably would have to have to pay a lot of money for.
A quick sign up later and I’m writing my first post on the message board. It’s titled something like “Help me please?”. The post blows up after I explain my financial situation and delve into why I’m there. The money hippies are brutal, but they do it because they care. Ok, sure, some also do it because they’re disgusted and can’t believe that someone like me exists. They explain that my hair is on fire and that I am close to losing everything. They give me some advice and then ridicule me a little more. You see, money hippies replace the typical hippie life substance, marijuana, with brutal verbal onslaughts called “face punches.” They tell it as it is, and they don’t hold back. This is a good thing.
Credit card debt, property taxes due, and junk purchases. They’re hammering me over everything, and I deserve it.
Two threads and 13 pages later, my brain is fried. There’s a lot of information to take in, and taking action involves receiving that information, translating it into my own life and then making decisions. Somewhere along the way, one intuitive person realized that my brain handles information in a particular fashion not always conducive to message boards. Because of that, this same person gave me a piece of advice during a private message; Start a journal.
I am wired in such a way that I have to hash things out in my brain for a while before it starts to make sense. I think about it, talk about it out loud, think about it again, write it down, talk about it out loud again, and then maybe if I’m lucky it’ll stick. This blog gives me a chance to do that. It also gives me the opportunity to document my journey to wealth. Not wealth as the consumer driven world sees it, but true wealth. Money hippie wealth.