My Personal Finance Journey

My personal finance journey doesn't start with personal finance at all. It started with wanting to find a local band's touring schedule. I went to the URL I thought they had, and it turned out they let their ownership of the domain lapse, and it was picked up by a person that wrote personal finance articles instead. Sadly, since it's been 14 years since then, I can't find mention of their website anymore. At least they got $10 for encouraging me to sign up for a checking and savings account at ING Direct through an affiliate link, where I got a sign up bonus of $25. I've always been a good saver, but this new direction got me interested in saving more, for more purposes. I eagerly consumed articles from these websites:

The Simple Dollar
Get Rich Slowly
Wise Bread

Then the tips for frugality being mastered, I moved onto other blogs that talked about saving enough to consider retiring early, namely

I Will Teach You To Be Rich
(and then I borrowed the I Will Teach You To Be Rich book from the library, a move I'm sure Ramit Sethi would approve)
Go Curry Cracker
Root of Good
Mad Fientist

and the blog that would do the most good:
Mr Money Mustache

I only keep up with three nowadays - Root of Good (because he is approachable with his writing and lives in the same city I do) Mad Fientist (because I like his writing style and ideas about how to (legally) spend less in taxes) and Mr Money Mustache (because he is entertaining, and I like to refer to his older articles when I feel like I'm starting to be a "spendypants").

Mr Money Mustache got me thinking about my own habits about spending and saving, and encouraged and challenged me to think about what options I could have if I didn't spend on certain habits that didn't help me in either the short or long run. I funded a long forgotten Roth IRA and moved money from an old 401k to a Rollover IRA. I started considering everyday purchases, like coffee or random Amazon nonsense. My then husband and I decided that it would be a priority to contribute whatever we could to retirement vehicles instead of continuing to save for a larger down payment for a house. We even picked one of the smaller houses we toured so we could keep our mortgage in check in case either of us lost our job. Because we weren't going to have children and one cat wasn't going to change the house footprint needs, we kept our requirements for space relatively low. 

All of these things worked well in our favor when we got divorced. Either of us could have had the house without financial strain. The necessary equity payment for the person who moved out of the house wasn't going to break the bank of the other. Since our retirement accounts were equal priority, they were almost equal in amount when we split, so we decided to not divide those up, but instead even the amount of the estate by changing the equity split.

Because we did our best to keep our spending in check, it wasn't too terrible going from two incomes down to one after we split. While I certainly had to track my spending closer than before and make different choices, I wasn't needing to eat rice and beans and crackers for every meal. The divorce changed my financial trajectory, but I'm not in despair over it. I just focus on the positive moves I can make for myself and my situation. 

I don't expect my personal finance journey to change much over the next decade or two. Just continue saving and keeping my spending in check. I might get a house in the next few years, or continue to prefer the mobility renting offers. Regardless, the information in the blogs I read helped me go from someone who just put some extra money in a savings account to a person with an IRA and a 401k and ideas about what things I truly want to spend money on, and things that I spend the least I can get away with because they don't give me extra value over cheaper alternatives. 


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