Why this isn’t a Personal Finance Blog

If you’ve looked at the blogs that I link to, you’ll notice most of them have to do with personal finance.

I’m a big fan of personal finance blogs. I find them fascinating, a mix of sociology, psychology, and enough number crunching for me itch for an Excel sheet. In my spare time, I read a lot of books on financial advice, investing strategy, sociological studies of consumers,  and personal finance success stories.

That said, my blog is not (primarily) focused on personal finance.

As much as I would love to talk about money and numbers all day, there are a bunch of reasons why I don’t:

1) PF blogs are about having a unique personal experience or perspective. People who have dealt with (or still struggling with) debt or compulsive shopping. Someone who can live on less than $20k a year and think others can follow their example. A person who knows where to find great deals that others could benefit from. Stories like those. In contrast, my PF history is pretty boring. Really. It’s dull and comparatively privileged and full of mediocre spending/saving habits. I will eventually make a post about it, but for right now I’ll leave it at that.

2) At the moment, I have other areas of my life that I’m trying to grow in. Even though I’m still reading PF books, I spend more of my time working on other things, like cooking or writing or what have you. As it stands, I’m going through a major financial turning point at the moment (a net worth inflection point, if you will) and I’m waiting for the chaos of that to even out before I focus on optimizing my habits. Plus, I’m more concerned with learning how to do my job well, because that’s an important investment that’s going to pay off well later.

3) I lack goals, or a major ambition, to direct and drive my PF plans. At this point, I’m a little too mobile (and I’m in such an expensive city, and my credit history is still young, and . . .), that saving for a down payment of a house doesn’t make that much sense. While I would love to retire early, it seems ridiculous to me to think about that when I haven’t even been in the workforce for a year, yet. Saving for expensive vacations is easy, since I travel with my family and only have to pay for my airfare to the location. My car is already brand new, so I’m good on that score as well. There is nothing in the near future that I can use as sufficient motivation to put in the extra effort of budgeting and investing so that I can squeeze an extra $200ish a month out of my lifestyle. Eventually, in a year or so maybe, I’ll get around to getting that Mint.com account and throwing some money into an index fund or a IRA. But not right now.

Question: Other than debt or early retirement, what really could motive a youngish person to go frugal and super PF crusader? Saving up to start a business maybe? You tell me.

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I Have a Job!

So, you may have gathered this from the About Me page, but I have actually graduated and have now moved on to the exciting life of full-time employment.

I only started a month or so ago, so it’s still relatively new to me, even though I had interned for this company previously. Part of the culture shock is just getting used to the 8-to-5 days. I’m so used to college, where I found myself asking people “Wait, do you mean am or pm?”. Now, I have to be in bed by 10 pm (or, more likely, by midnight) or else I end up coming into work late, which would mean that I have to stay late.

That sounds bad, like I’m neglecting my work. And, yes, it sort of is. But my hours are pretty flexible, and as long as I put in at least 40 a week, then it doesn’t matter as much when they are. That being said, I want to make a good impression by showing up early and getting done as much work as possible. What gets complicated, however, is when my supervisor is staying at the office late and I end up helping him until 8 pm.

I think the latest I’ve stayed was 9 pm. Then again, I’ve managed to sneak in at 11 am without anyone caring that much. It’s a weird balance of being flexible and being reliable. Sometimes, I’m there before my supervisor so that I can help people and answer questions before he gets there. I’ve come to enjoy that, because it makes me feel like I’m knowledgeable and contributing. And while those times are getting more common, they’re still rare enough that I treasure them.

You’ll hear more about my job in later posts, I’m sure. But for now I just wanted to let you know that I am, in fact, a practicing and employed engineer.

Best wishes on the upcoming work week.


Inhabitions, Mistakes, and Courage

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for you: This blog has an unofficial title in my email, web browser, and the place where I store my passwords.

It’s called “Ooooops”.

(The number of ‘o’s varies.)

You see, when I first signed up for WordPress and created this page, it was pretty late at night. Very late. And I don’t know if you have noticed this, but your inhibitions get slightly lowered at night when your body is sleep deprived. For example, you know that you really should start studying for that test or put a load into the laundry machine, but you don’t have the willpower and end up cruising Facebook or Meetup.com for a couple of hours.

Anyway, it was one of those nights when I thought it would be an amazing idea to start a blog. I mean, there are so many of them on the internet! I don’t even need to pay any money to start it up; I just have to click here and . . . done! And then I’ll just do an easily recognizable programming joke as my first post, like so . . .

The next day, I was already starting to regret it. All of my emails and bookmarks got shuffled under their own neat little “Oooops” folders and hidden away. I tried to forget it ever happened. What had I been thinking? Me, start a blog? Sure, I want to be a writer, but that’s no reason to inflict my petty thoughts on the world. Sure, some day I’d have something important and interesting to write about, but for now I should just lay low and practice my craft in private.

This is the entirely wrong mindset. If I had continued thinking like that, then I’d spend all of my time hiding under the blankets and never get anything done. I’d never go to the gym because I thought I looked too fat. I’d never try out a new board game if I didn’t already know the rules and strategies. I live in that mentality far too often. I find myself too afraid to reach for things and end up hurting myself with my inaction.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” (Albert Einstein)

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

So, right now, I’m glad that I created this page in a fit of insomnia-induced poor judgement. Otherwise, I might have waited years (many, many years) before I started posting. And even if I don’t know what I want to with this blog yet, and even though no one is reading it, I’m proud that I’ve started it, that I’m working on it.

I’m stretchering myself, and practicing my courage, just little bit with each post. Because, yes, it’s terrifying to put words up where they can bee seen by everyone. But then, it’s good practice for being a published author. And that, right there, is a dream worth feeling vulnerable for.