My Financial Evolution: Discovering What’s Right for Me

“I don't know what they want from me. It's like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.”
— Notorious B.I.G.

For a while, just like Notorious B.I.G., I battled the stresses of lifestyle inflation, though on a much smaller scale. I was making more money than ever, yet more nervous about finances as well. I was more knowledgeable and more empowered with money than ever, but somehow still felt like catastrophe was right around the corner.

I sat down to look at the financial infrastructure I'd set up and my heart sank. I thought I had it all together: automated savings and bill pays, targeted accounts, investments. Everything. But it all suddenly felt so wrong. My liberal arts degree couldn't help but cry out, “Tim, this doesn't express you.”

The Penniless Year I Felt Rich
I spent a year paying off my student loans, devoting almost all of my disposable income to this project. I was inspired. My quality of life went through the roof because my Sunday walks through the nearby forest were freeing — mostly because they were free. In fact, I walked everywhere. Every book I got out of the library was a victory as I smugly checked the retail price on the back. At the end of every month, I tallied my savings and felt like I ruled the world.

I was dead broke. Man, it felt good.

Devouring Financial Advice
Repaying my loans was a huge step forward, and I was ready for my new financial outlook. I read everything I could about personal finance. It was all so persuasive. I started doing everything.

  • I put together a budget.
  • I set up investment accounts.
  • I automated anything I could. (I even automated 1% of my paycheck to go to a targeted savings account, a puppy fund, in case I ever decided to get a puppy!)
  • I got credit cards for the rewards.
  • Then I read something that made me cut up all my cards.
  • Then, weeks later, reading more about hidden perks, I called to get my cards sent to me again. I automated those and then froze them in my freezer.

I was being a good finance soldier, following the advice of experts.

In the personal finance books, the authors' voices are strong and convincing. They seem to have all the answers even if they constantly contradict each other and, often enough, themselves.

The Story I Bought
As many personal finance gurus recommended, I set up auto-withdrawals into my savings accounts. Outside of my retirement account, I had targeted savings for all of the following:

  • Grad school
  • Future home
  • Future kids' college fund.
  • Honeymoon
  • Car
  • Puppy fund

I was 23 years old, single, and didn't know if I was going to stay in France or move back to the States. I didn't know if I wanted to go to grad school or even what I would study. Yet still, I continued contributing because that seemed like what I was supposed to do. Never mind that I hated the idea of owning a car. I just thought it was the adult thing to do. As I acquired wealth, things like buying a car, or even a house, became more tangible, and because of that, they were causing me stress. Mo' money, and — in this case — mo' information caused me to create my own problems.

I bought into the story that you graduate college, get a job, work hard, get married, buy a house, have kids, send them to college, and, eventually, retire. This trajectory was so heavily ingrained in me that I couldn't shake it.

The road to wealth is paved with goals is one of J.D.'s tenets. I had goals set based on the idea that there's one right way to live. It was cathartic watching my automated system run its little gears to all the separate accounts. I got so much satisfaction from checking my accounts and seeing all the little numbers rise, but then a few hours later, I'd worry if I was putting away enough, or if I was putting too much somewhere, or not enough into my retirement fund. So what did I do? I read more…

I saw all the charts about what saving for retirement looked like if you started young versus if you started a decade or two later. I thought I could exponentially increase my future wealth if I just put more away now. But what about my short-term goals?

I was a mess. I thought about money all the time. I was a few years into my personal finance adventure and already felt like I was having a midlife crisis. I was over-thinking. I needed to take a step back.

My Actual Goals
I wanted to find the excitement I had while repaying my student loans again. I wanted goals that made sense and were important to me. I didn't know if I wanted to own a house, much less what city to put it in. A car seemed like a terrible idea for me. And Chairman Meow, who entered my life for free when my girlfriend's co-worker found him in a box, converted me from my dogs-only mentality. Grad school… shrug …maybe someday. Future kids' college fund? It all just seemed too far away!

But more money shouldn't lead to any of these problems. It should enhance my already happy lifestyle.

Here's my step back: I took away my targeted savings accounts and contented myself with having one account marked “savings” and one marked “Istanbul”. That's enough for me.

Savings gets a chunk because there will be more concrete goals in the future and I'll have a huge jump start on them. I really wanted to do everything right and have a leg up, but as I find out more and more, just as there are different developmental stages of our emotional lives, there are different stages of our financial lives. There are no shoulds or shouldn'ts. And maybe being debt-free and stashing some money toward the future, whatever it may hold, is just right for me — right now.

Have you found yourself in a trap of over thinking your finances? What have you done to simplify and make your system of saving more appropriate for you?

Tip: The last thing I did to stop worrying about where every dollar went was set up an auto-payment to Doctors Without Borders. Yeah, it's a good cause. But for me, I figured if I was giving money away, I really had no reason to freak out about it — a few dollars less and a lot fewer mental problems.

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Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars
8 years ago

Unique thoughts in this article – that ‘being poor’ can feel great, which I completely agree with in some circumstances. Not having any money takes a lot of options off the table, that can be freeing. Provided all your basic needs are met.

Also, that sometimes we dont have specific, tangible, traditional goals. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t save. I also do the one lump sum savings. Its my emergency, someday Im gonna do something with part of this money. I’m ok with that.

sjw
sjw
8 years ago

I completely agree, it was much easier when my decisions were made for me, because I had no money, I didn’t have to worry about making the right decision. The right decision was often pretty obvious, or I had a severely shortened list of possible options. Now I need to decide whether it makes more sense to put money against retirement, a mortgage prepayment, house renos, dinner out, or a new wardrobe to ‘dress for the job I want’. And then after I make that decision, I keep on second guessing myself. I think I want freedom, so I’m paying… Read more »

John @ Married (with Debt)
John @ Married (with Debt)
8 years ago

Okay, let me first say that Chairman Meow is the best name for a cat ever conceived.

That being said, when I first started tracking my spending, I wanted to go really far and break down each receipt into subcategories. I quickly gave that up because it was too much work.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
8 years ago

What about Mr. Meowgi? I like that one, haha 🙂

Joy
Joy
8 years ago

First off – great article. It describes my situation right now completely!

Also, I was planning on naming my future cat Chairman Meow (I went to China a couple years back and thought that name would be cute). I guess I’m not as original as I thought!

Daniel
Daniel
8 years ago

I always liked the name Mousey-Tongue.

Then again, my dog’s named Pushkin.

Renee
Renee
8 years ago

It is funny because I am on the same track that you were on. I read and read and worry and worry. This post came at the right time for me. I have all of those targeted accounts, too. I just need to chill out and enjoy being debt free. Thanks for the post!

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
8 years ago

The freedom of no money, I know what you mean. With no money or real property to get antsy about, what’s there to protect and get stressed about? I was much more carefree when I had no money. But now, my wife and me have budgets and plans… and it is more stressful because there’s more to think about and worry over. What if the market implodes again and our very young daughters don’t get to live out their college dream?! Haha, a step back is a great idea and I’m glad you re-prioritized for you.

Justin @ The Family Finances
Justin @ The Family Finances
8 years ago

I can relate to a lot of the points in this article. I often try to categorize everything as detailed as possible, track every penny, set up numerous savings accounts for different things, etc. But I find that trying to keep track of every little savings account and asking myself “Am I putting enough here?” and seeing the slow progress of having too many subaccounts is sometimes overwhelming. I need to simplify and get back to basics as well. I seem to go in stages. For a few months I’ll be super-detailed, then get overwhelmed and go back to less… Read more »

Ru
Ru
8 years ago

I am 22 years old, single, no pets, and a renting student. It is incredibly freeing- I spend my days just soaking up the city and waking up where and with who I want. Okay, so sometimes not having any cash for food sucks, but it’s okay because I can suck it up and ignore it by spending a few days living off rice until my next paycheck comes in. I picked up some ad-hoc work so I make money pretty much as and when I want during term time, and then work temporary full-time jobs over the summer. Sometimes… Read more »

jlf
jlf
8 years ago
Reply to  Ru

You sound like just the sort of person The Defining Decade was written for. I read this book yesterday, and I wish I had read it at 22 instead of almost thirty.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Defining-Decade-Twenties-Matter–And/dp/0446561762/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337784754&sr=1-1

Ru
Ru
8 years ago
Reply to  jlf

Cool, thanks for the recommendation, I’ll see if I can get a copy on the cheap. I have to say I am really enjoying my 20s. It’s lovely to be at a point where all the stuff I started doing in my teens is paying off- those years of making ugly things have paved way to useful skills. I feel so much more in control of my life than I did when I was younger- I can eat what I want, which usually translates to eating healthier than I did as a teenager (with the occasional “martinis and gelato for… Read more »

A-L
A-L
8 years ago

The part I have found overwhelming is budgeting and tracking. The easiest way (Mint), just didn’t seem to work for me, as I needed more of an envelope system than a monthly budget, as our expenses would vary by month, but over a series of months would average out. After doing the trial of various systems I went with YNAB, but inputting every receipt of my husband and mine ended up being a problem. Was good for about two months, but then I let the receipts stack up and then got overwhelmed about catching back up. At the same time,… Read more »

KSR
KSR
8 years ago

50-30-20. It’s that easy.

A-L
A-L
8 years ago
Reply to  KSR

Theoretically. But then, how do you determine what’s a want vs. a need? Or a receipt where part of it is want and part need? Or food. If you go to the store and by the organic, free-range chicken vs getting the cheap chicken that’s invariably on sale, at what point has your need become a want? It’s a slippery slope… But if someone has a good reasoning on how they handle this, I’d be happy to reconsider. I just think categories like groceries, eating out, clothes, etc, is easier in terms of the categorization. The problem for me wasn’t… Read more »

KSR
KSR
8 years ago
Reply to  A-L

GRS just had a write up on what you question. The article and responses were what you speak of and tackled well. I don’t have a problem with it. I know what my “needs” are and I can easily distinguish a “want”– even within a category. I think the 50/30/20 is so easy, accurate, and reasonable that it should be a teaching subject within our schools. I’ve been doing it since 1998 (my accountant set me up with the system so I can’t give credit to the popular book) when I started my S-Corp. I’ve never gotten into money trouble… Read more »

William
William
8 years ago
Reply to  KSR

Even better: 80-20. Who cares if its a want or a need, so long as you’re feeling good about it and put 20% towards savings?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  William

I care. Having been through a job loss once (company went under), I like to know exactly what can get cut if needed and how far my emergency fund will go.

imelda
imelda
8 years ago
Reply to  KSR

Well yeah, it’s easy, it’s just not realistic for most people.

Kay
Kay
8 years ago

When you’re young and you don’t know what the future holds for you… I don’t see the point of targeted savings unless there are some obvious things you want. I keep a large pot of money labeled “savings”, with no real goal, because I don’t have a ton of goals right now. Maybe I’ll want to replace my aging car, or a downpayment for a small house or condo… maybe I’ll want to take a big trip somewhere. Doesn’t matter. I’m racking up more interest on the money all being in one big unlabeled pot than I would be with… Read more »

Panda
Panda
8 years ago
Reply to  Kay

It’s only earning you more interest if the higher balance triggers a higher interest rate. Otherwise it’s equivalent (except for minute tiny rounding issues).

Kay
Kay
8 years ago
Reply to  Panda

Your bank doesn’t do the rising interest levels per balance tier? Surely I’m not one of those few?

Now… how much more interest is a different topic… 😉

A-L
A-L
8 years ago
Reply to  Kay

You’re not alone. Capital One does this, as do a few credit unions I’ve looked into.

Carl Lassegue
Carl Lassegue
8 years ago

I agree with this post. There is no joy in being frugal if you are going to worry about it all the time. You have to find the right balance of being smart with money and not being obsessive about it.

Ryan
Ryan
8 years ago

Tim, I want to thank you for this article. I felt like I was reading a story about myself (as I’m currently living it). You at 23 is me to a T (I’m also 23).

The feelings, habits, and thoughts are the same EXACT feelings, habits, and thoughts that I have. Maybe I need to take a step back and reevaluate everything. Thanks!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

I enjoyed this post, but I think sometimes people idealize the past a little too much. My married friends sometimes lament about the good old days before they had kids or a house or a retirement plan or investments to worry about — but would life really be better without these responsibilities? Maybe I’m an anomaly or something, but I don’t miss being broke. I like knowing I have a retirement plan and an emergency fund and the financial wherewithal to give back. I’m still a long ways off from true financial freedom, but I like being able to balance… Read more »

Kristen
Kristen
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Hear, Hear!

BD
BD
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Elizabeth, I think you’re 100% correct. As someone who lives under the poverty line, I can hardly say that it is “carefree”. Worrying constantly about keeping a roof over your head, and food in your stomach isn’t exactly fun or carefree.

I’d rather have enough money to be able to survive comfortably, as well as help others in need, than be poor or broke.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  BD

BD, you humble me! I don’t think the lifestyle Tim described or what I’ve been through can compare to your experiences. There’s a difference between being forced to live frugally to scrap together the necessities versus choosing to live frugally to meet a financial goal. (I’ve done both, but not to extremes.)

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

For me I can say this article was like chewing tinfoil. It set me on edge. When I was 23 much like you I was done with college, done with living broke, done with driving a car held together with bungie cords and duct tape, and ready to go out and get a job in my degree field, make some money, and get married to the woman I loved. I put a percentage of my salary towards retirement, some saved for the wedding, put some into a general saving fund and spent the rest and that was about it. (I… Read more »

Kim
Kim
8 years ago

Excellent thought-provoking post!

bon
bon
8 years ago

Excellent Post – all is very true and it sounds like you’re on an excellent path

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

Hm. Interesting post (about a problem I doubt I’ll ever have, ha ha), but mostly it made me think of Devo’s “Freedom of Choice”:

“Freedom of choice / is what you got
Freedom from choice / is what you want
Use your freedom of choice!”

Tim, sounds like you need to make up a bucket list, move some savings into a do-the-bucket-list account, and start exploring. Good luck!

Lyn
Lyn
8 years ago

Makes me think of one of my favorite expressions – “Don’t should on yourself”

mike crosby
mike crosby
8 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

I like that Lyn. I’ll remember that one;-)

Also, if that’s the problem this young man has, let’s face it, he’s better off than most. Wise young man.

Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
8 years ago

Any article that continues to reference Notorious B.I.G. is one that will keep me reading!

Ak
Ak
8 years ago

Yeah! I was thinking the same thing! lol

Jennifer Gwennifer
Jennifer Gwennifer
8 years ago

Love this post. I feel like the author’s psychology here works for both money AND for stuff. The less stuff you have, the less you worry about if you are maintaining it properly, keeping it safe, or using it enough that you’re getting your money’s worth.

I’d rather let the $$ pile up in savings and worry about how I’m going to spend it, than worry about all the things I spent it on (and how to get them from Point A to Point B whenever I move).

Less lets you do More 😀

deb
deb
8 years ago

I really appreciated this post. Although I’m several years older than the writer, I feel that I’m in a similar situation. I don’t really have any desire to follow the typical path of wedding>house>kids, but I know that I should be saving up for SOMETHING pricey, because that’s what being an adult is, right? I ended up creating a savings account called “The Big One” and dumping everything into it. What “The Big One” is or will be, I have no idea, but I’ll figure it out eventually…then I’ll be glad that I have it.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  deb

I thought I was following that path, but life had other ideas for me 🙂 I love your idea of having a “The Big One” account. It feels hopeful somehow — like acknowledging there’s an adventure waiting for you but you haven’t discovered it yet.

Leo
Leo
8 years ago
Reply to  deb

Big Girls/Guys, Big Toys! 🙂

Joe @ Retire By 40
Joe @ Retire By 40
8 years ago

It’s probably good to take a step back, but it will only get more difficult as you get older and gain more responsibilities. Once you have a family and kids (if that’s in the plan), finance will really get complicated. As long as you keep the expense down, you should be ok. good luck!

Phil
Phil
8 years ago

Wow. I read the post, and I read all the comments, and the point that hit me the hardest was the simple idea of living your own life versus living the life everyone else will plan for you. If you have no goals except the ones “I’m supposed to have”, then you truly have no goals. That being said, being prepared for the unknown problem OR opportunity is a wonderful thing. Emergency funds are for the former, and savings are for the latter. How many of us have watched opportunities ride into the sunset because we had no money to… Read more »

CRS
CRS
8 years ago
Reply to  Phil

If the market price was $35,000, the RV was worth $35,000. It doesn’t matter what the original price was or the sticker price was. If anyone really thought it was worth $200,000 they should have borrowed $35,000 then quickly sold it for a very tidy profit of $165,000.

Phil
Phil
8 years ago
Reply to  CRS

Which is exactly what happened. Glad I shared.

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago

I identify with this. I’ve never had school debt, but I had many many years of living off of very little, having no savings, yet feeling happy and carefree because of work, friends and hobbies. I have some financial security now, but if anything I feel less secure, because of responsibilities (mortgage, two children, elderly parents). I wish I can get back into the mindset I had in my 20’s or 30’s but not sure if it is possible. Life is a lot more complicated.

Jess @JessCantCook
Jess @JessCantCook
8 years ago

Great post, I’m 28 years old and my younger sister just graduated from college last week which has me reflecting on my life since, and particularly my finances, since I graduated from college 6 years ago. I’m definitely not in the place financially that I thought I’d be at this point, but learning to do what is right and what works for you is huge. It’s great to learn different view on personal finance, but just like no one diet works for everyone, you have to adjust what you learn to your actual situation.

Jamie
Jamie
8 years ago

Great article! And great timing, for where I’m at! I’m about 6 months away from being debt-free after paying off a broken-down car, student loans, and an accident I had in an uninsured rental car. I’m thrifty and thinking about money all the time, and I’m feeling so money savvy. In the next six months, when suddenly I’m spending $500 less per month, it’s going to feel like I’m making sooo much money! And like you experienced, I don’t really have any solid short-term goals but I don’t want a third of my income going to retirement– I want a… Read more »

amber
amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Jamie

Jamie I would like to know more about the uninsured rental car accident and resulting debt. Did you think you were insured but end up the credit card didn’t cover it? I always wonder about this. You should write it up for grs!

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago

Thanks for the article Tim! Life is exciting when you’re paying off debt. Once we finished that goal we did worse than you and just started spending it. I wish I had paid extra to our house back when we had the money.

How much debt did you pay off in your Penniless Year?

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago

Tim’s best article to date, by far.

KittyWrestler
KittyWrestler
8 years ago

Oh heck year!! Right on. I am in the same boat. Read so much, thought about so much, tried to do everything right and it is stressing the crap out of me. My best year was when I divorced my first husband and after he took every penny away from me (I was the working one and he partied so the judge thinks I should pay him to keep partying). I had 700 bucks in my pocket, rent a one bedroom apartment and explored nature/hike/rock climb for as much as I wanted.. It was a stress free year for sure.… Read more »

Wilson
Wilson
8 years ago

Posthumous Biggie quotes are sad for many reasons, not to mention that this was not even close to his actual “mo problems.”

Best personal finance quote from biggie is
“Condo’s paid for, no car payments”

Matthew Doyle
Matthew Doyle
8 years ago

Great post!! For the longest time I freaked out about things like that. Now I am married, own a house and have a kid. I simplified my financial life by opening one checking account, one savings account and two credit cards (one for cash back and one for points). I also automated the rest of my bills so I never have to think about them. I setup automatic transfers to my savings account and I will transfer more every month if I have a surplus in my checking. I now have much less financial stress then before.

Susan
Susan
8 years ago

Two years after ridding myself of credit card and personal debt, I was so amazed that I achieved it, that it took me awhile to figure out what to do next. I had become so accustomed to Spartan living that I felt extravagant when I might purchase a healthy, fancy soda or something along those lines, so it took some time before I didn’t feel like a traitor to myself if I occasionally tried out new food items instead of the usual fare. But guess what? Life threw me a curve when I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and… Read more »

Kristen
Kristen
8 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Best wishes to you for improved health and well-being!

Susan
Susan
8 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

Thank you so much Kristen for your kind words and encouragement. God bless you always.

Curtis
Curtis
8 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Susan, Best wishes to you. We are going though the same type issue with wife’s health. She’s on the mend, but, WOW! What a ride. Seems like the only mail we get are the Doctor’s and Hospital Bills and the insurance statements. The anxiety and stresses in addition to physical fatigue are enough to worry about without the overwhelming costs involved. We are SOOOO fortunate to have gotten a personal health insurance plan a couple of years ago. Who knew this was awaiting us? We, too, are debt free. That has made this whole mess so much more tolerable. I… Read more »

Susan
Susan
8 years ago
Reply to  Curtis

Thank you Curtis for explaining you and your wife’s similar situation. God bless you both and Never Give Up!!!

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

Yep, I fondly remember my college days where I just had to earn enough money over the summer to get me through 9 months of food, rent, and fun. Even the first couple years after were focused on loan repayment and saving for a house. Now, I don’t know where to put my money. My husband and I save like crazy, but beyond maxing out our retirement accounts, I don’t know what to do. We talk about money nearly every day–should we prepay our mortgage, buy a rental property, or invest more in our general brokerage account? We’ve even put… Read more »

Katy
Katy
8 years ago
Reply to  Heather

This is exactly where DH and I are at. Right now we are fully meeting our needs, wants and debts. In 3 months my income could double or triple depending on how often I work and I have no idea what we are going to do with all that money. I’m like you and considering putting money away for our yet-to-be-conceived children’s college. Craziness!

Drew C
Drew C
8 years ago

This article was a breath of fresh air. There is no reason to fret about goals that haven’t become real to you yet. Ignore the American way, and just have a couple automated accounts. Then, as you move through life, you can changes, just as your goals change.

Also, give. give. give. I would stress this so much. Your quote about giving money and it being less money to worry about has proved true to me. Just having an automated percentage to give to charity and the church has worked for me.

Thanks Tim.

PB @ Economically Humble
PB @ Economically Humble
8 years ago

Wow, tis was great. I too have been thinking about condensing all of my savings accounts into one account, simply for peace of mind. But heck, I’m just an economically humble student working my asso off and trying to graduate.

Lance@MoneyLife&More
8 years ago

This post helps me to remember that personal finance is personal. Different things work for different people. I’m glad you figured out what works for you and wish you the best of luck in accumulating your savings in your two accounts!

Steve
Steve
8 years ago

What is the “Istanbul” account for? A trip? Or is it a nickname for some other goal? Are you still saving something for retirement? In my household we save a lot into retirement accounts and sweep leftover money into what used to be a “house fund” but was really “money that won’t fit into a retirement account because of contribution limits but that we can’t find anything compelling to spend it on so let’s just save it for now until we find something” fund. We bought a house last year and took about half that fund – but the account… Read more »

Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager
Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager
8 years ago

Curious, did you ever get that puppy?

Sheryl
Sheryl
8 years ago

When there are specific goals, targeted savings are great. But when there’s nothing specific I’m wanting to work towards, general savings saves a world of headache.

SB @ One cent at a time
SB @ One cent at a time
8 years ago

Money can bring anxiety. But hey, at the end of the day money makes us happy. And our zeal for money brings development in the world.

Don’t blame it on money my friend, happiness is in your mind. You need to search it.

Edward
Edward
8 years ago

It sounds like simply saving and paying off debt switched in your mind into the broad category of finance and that it became a hobby. I have to admit, it’s more of a hobby for me too than actually thinking about my future retirement. I secretly love watching the little numbers go up and down daily, reading blogs, and wondering whether I’ve allocated things into the right places. …Then occasionally deciding I haven’t and moving them. Yes, it’s a hobby. And hobbies can become a bit obsessive and excessive. I don’t owe any debt whatsoever, so this is the only… Read more »

Caleb Spicer
Caleb Spicer
8 years ago

Wow, this is one of my favorite posts ever! I too was stucked into the idea of work, marriage, house, kids….yadayada….but I wasn’t asking myself,”What do YOU want?” Thats still a question I need to answer…. In the year before I married I read and absorbed every piece of financial information I could…I was trying it all, I probably made my poor wife switch banks 10 times, but I was pumped! We paid off roughly 20k in debt then I took a promotion through work last year and almost quadrupled my salary and while doing so took on another 20k… Read more »

MS J
MS J
8 years ago

I really enjoyed this article. It reminded me of where I found myself at 26-27, when personal finance became a hobby and I spent hours tracking every dime spent and worrying I wasn’t saving enough or saving the “right” way. I ended up at the same point – I narrowed savings down to 2 retirement accounts and 2 savings accounts.
When the opportunity arose to travel to Europe, I had the cash. When I decided to buy a home, the money was there.
There is no “right” way, just the way that works for the situation.

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