I’ve joked about my newfound love of consumer minimalism and personal finance (and its sudden, monopolizing presence on my site) a little before, acknowledging that it was a jarring shift from articles of old.
But as I unearthed more and more in this personal finance/financial independence community, I felt this compulsion to share this information with my peers—people like me who, previously, never thought about money beyond, “Can I afford both pairs of leggings AND pay my credit card bill tomorrow?”
After all, I think most people my age who make poor financial decisions do so out of merely not knowing any better. It’s a combination of a few factors, I think:
I felt like I was discovering all these secrets and philosophies that were utterly mind-blowing. At the risk of hyperbole, it was completely changing the way I thought about my income, the way I spent, and the path to wealth and freedom.
It was only a matter of time, though, before someone took enough offense to my efforts to leave a lengthy, rude—and unsurprisingly anonymous—comment, insisting I was unfit to share the knowledge I was learning with others.
If only the Internet had a Mansplain Blocker® for finance bros of this condescending breed.
After all, being a young woman trying to talk about money is the fastest way to invite the remarks of, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” (If you’d like to fire up a gallon of tea and peruse, here you go.)
For the record, I always welcome constructive criticism of the polite variety from those who are well-intentioned. Someone who intends to ridicule, condescend, or demean? I have no tolerance for that.
As the first person to poke fun at my actual career in marketing, rather than finance, I can freely admit I am not—have never been, and will never be—an expert (at anything except disassembling kitchen cabinets to extract a trapped feline).
But I am happy to read the books, listen to the podcasts, scour the articles, and have the conversations that you don’t have time (or don’t want) to have about your money and how to make it work harder for you. I intend to learn with you and share those findings along the way.
I want to bring you back the absolute best of what I come across—especially the stuff that works for me.
However, that doesn’t mean my way is the best way.
To paraphrase Nietzsche, “This is my way. What is your way? THE way does not exist.” Sure, there are certain recommendations that are fundamentally accepted. There are certain “best practices,” like contributing to a 401(k), that are pretty safe to lean on. But how you do it? That’s up to you.
Because here’s what I took away from the comment blitzkrieg:
The fact that someone who works in finance says that only people with a degree and four different licenses are capable of learning about and discussing finance is a sign that sometimes things are intentionally confusing—or made to seem that way—to discourage others from getting their hands dirty.
But they’re not. They don’t have to be. We live in the decentralized age of information where anything you could ever want to know (and 1,000 different interpretations of it) are a few keystrokes away.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from my site, it’s that you don’t have to study finance professionally or get certifications to make basic, good decisions with your money or to learn the fundamental, 30,000-foot view.
FPAs who behave that way give the rest of them a bad reputation—I know a handful personally (some of whom reached out after seeing his comments) who said this is a larger conversation we need to start around money with young people and opening the door for the discussion is a really positive thing.
One valid (although horribly delivered) accusation was a lack of proper sources. I never included citations for fear it would make my blog feel like your junior year research paper—but moving forward, I'm going to include a little footnote with further reading in case you're interested.
Working with a financial planner may be a great idea for you--but the way you save and spend habitually comes from something deeper. It’s a philosophy, and it can be emotional.
Money, for most, is really tied up in self-worth and shame. Guilt from over-spending, anxiety from not having enough saved, a feeling of inadequacy… these are things we don’t talk about, because it’s embarrassing and taboo to do so. So we don't, and our future freedom suffers.
The day I posted the article about Health Savings Accounts, I received a surprising amount of messages from friends, acquaintances, and strangers, saying the timing was great since they had recently received communication from their employer about setting it up, and now they felt empowered to do so.
I ran into someone the following day who told me she loves my money posts because they make her think differently about how she’s going to get out of debt and start saving in earnest. After going toe-to-toe with Señor Anonymous, this was the precise brand of validation I needed.
So thank you to those of you who read—and thank you for reaching out and telling me you raised your 401(k) contribution rate to 10% or have sworn off over-spending thanks to the impulse buy worksheet.
Even if only a few people feel more comfortable facing their finances or talking about them openly, I’ll be happy.
So let’s keep the conversation going. If there’s something in particular on your mind, reach out and let’s talk about it!
The young woman's money guide to all the things you're too embarrassed to ask your friends. Build the life you thought you were too broke to afford through managing your spending habits, travel hacking, and simple, smart investing.
Full-time Brand marketer at Southwest Airlines, part-time Yoga Sculpt teacher, occasional Waffle House Model and reformed materialist.
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