There are a lot of things I love about Tenesee Williams. His name. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And his quotations. One of which this blog is centered around and which I agree with:
“You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it.”
I’m young. And, for all intents and purposes, I am without money. I have recently graduated from a private university (read: student loan debt) and I am living in a house with five — one, two, three, four, five— other people. Fortunately, the city I live in has a low cost of living, so my rent is considerably cheap. I get no help financially from mommy and daddy, I have two part time jobs totaling 47.5 hours of work a week, making a combined total of about $900 a paycheck, which means I make about $1,800 in gross income a month.
But if you’ve ever had a real (meaning, not a university job or your weekly babysitting gig) paycheck, then you know the government likes to take a nice little chunk out of each paycheck for things you don’t use right now. Like social security benefits. So my monthly net income is a bit below $1,800. Pretty good, right? Well, if I’m smart about it. For a year that’s $21,600. And since the current poverty threshold for 48 out of 50 US States for a household of one is $11,170, I’m making $10,430 more than the poverty line in net income alone. So I should be good, right? Except…
Wait, wait– I’m getting ahead of myself. This initial post is to explain what the blog is about.
This blog is about money. Or rather, not having any. And being young. Which means it will cover topics such as:
-How to make a budget.
-How to save money.
-How to invest money.
-How to not lose money.
-How to plan for retirement.
-How to repay student loans.
-How to make a shopping list for groceries that sticks to your budget.
-How to fill out a W4 for your new job.
-How to file your taxes independently (and for free).
-How to pay rent.
-How to buy insurance (health and auto).
I promise to research thoroughly before I post. I promise to make posts understandable and approachable. I promise to answer questions. And, most importantly, I promise to be brutally honest. That means you should know some things about me right from the beginning:
1. I do not work at Meryl Lynch. This means that what I know and will post about is stuff that I have read about online, in articles, in books. Or have personally experienced. Or talked about to people that work at Meryl Lynch. What I’m trying to say is: I’m not an expert. And therefore anything I say on here as advice, while it will be cited, should be read critically and cynically. And if you feel you know more than me, comment. That way I can revise.
2. I am not rich. I have a lot of student loan debt. A little bit of credit card debt. Bills scare me sometimes. I have had to pay them late before. I don’t come from money. I don’t get an allowance from my parents. I don’t have a trust fund. I have overdrafted my bank account before. I have borrowed money from friends. I don’t have a lot of money in my savings account.
Now, all of this may make you ask, “Then what the hell can you tell me about successful personal finance? You sound pretty bad at it.”
And my answer is this: all the stuff I just listed has made me inspired and dedicated to change it. I am committed to becoming financially free. I dream of putting all my bills on autopay because I have enough in my accounts to pay them, live, and have money leftover. I imagine what it’s like to take an extended vacation in Italy because I have enough money to take off work and pay to go abroad and live there with no worries. I want to feel the comfort of knowing that someday, I’ll be 68 and not working because I started a retirement account when I was 22.
Because of my present obstacles, I am am so fired up about overcoming them that I devour information about finances, analyze, synthesize and apply the outcome to my financial life. Why do I do this? Because I know–from past and present experiences– that while money doesn’t buy happiness, it makes happiness a whole lot easier to achieve. It gives you freedom to do what you want: buy expensive shoes, buy concert tickets, pay for school, pay car payments, buy an engagement ring, buy a house, pay for food, have a baby, pay off student loans, fix broken pipes, cover visits to the doctor, buy mom a birthday present, go on vacation, pay for insurance… we live in a world that, unfortunately, does revolve around the concept of earning and spending. Unless you want to be an anarchist and move to a third world country (which is totally fine, too) you must accept the bleak fact that one of those sayings about money– that it makes the world go around– is in some respect true. So I have decided that I will control my money, so money doesn’t control me. This idea makes me happy. It is one of my mantras. Some of those problems I mentioned earlier I’ve already begun to address, so I feel like I can help my peers address them to, in their own lives. And if nothing else, I’ve had lots of experience going through these difficulties, so I can at least offer some sympathy and encouragement.
And I know that there are people out there like me– with very little money, with lots of things to pay for, with lots of things they need or want. So I’ve started this blog for us.
Here’s to financial freedom. To being young without money, so we can be old with it. Cheers.