Today’s post is part of the Women Rock Money movement, with a massive 42 contributors at last count alone. Yes, that’s right, 42+ kickass women dropping knowledge today. While I haven’t been able to read the others at the time of this writing, as all the posts went live today at 6AM EST, but the snippets and titles alone make me question if I’ll be able to get any of my 9-5 work done tomorrow.
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You know who’s used to hearing often-conflicting advice about what they should and should not do in life? Women. We’re taught being fat is a crime punishable by spinsterhood, yet it’s somehow also our vain faults that eating disorders are on the rise. We’re supposed to lean in and be assertive at work, but only if we aren’t bitches about it. It’s exhausting and futile to try to satisfy all of society’s expectations. In a word, it’s bullshit.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I’m calling bullshit on one more thing, because personal finance rules are for dicks.
Dan Ariely has a knack for helping us understand ourselves as humans and delivering science in an approachable way. Probably best known for Predictably Irrational, a well-named tome about how humans behave irrationally (but in a predictable way), Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics. Basically, him writing a book about humans and money was bound to happen one of these days!
This time around, Ariely teamed up with Jeff Kreisler, a comedian and writer. The tone of the book did seem noticeably different and written in a lighter way. Dollars and Sense, as a result, comes across as even more approachable to the casual reader.
There’s a little something for everyone in Dollars and Sense, but it seems most applicable to someone fairly new to thinking about personal finance, or to someone who has struggled to stick to budgets and saving.
As I’m writing this, Fergus, Fluffster, and I are currently sitting (and one of us is whining) in a Red Roof Inn wondering what the weird sound coming from the bathroom is. [Future Felicity here: still no clue what that sound was…]
What do two nerds who don’t celebrate Christmas do with holiday time off? A mini hackathon, of course! Fergus is hard at work finishing up a custom WordPress theme, because wow are we particular. We’re getting a new layout, and even some new commissioned art that we are so psyched about! Meanwhile I’m taking care of the writing backlog and basic SEO upgrades for the site.
In the meantime, take a read of our Two Cup House guest post! We’re proud to have shared our story and participated in their 25 Days of Personal Finance series. Just a little bit of a teaser to get your interest piqued:
About three years ago, our dog, Fluffster, suddenly started dry heaving on a walk. Less than an hour later at the emergency vet, we were told he had bloat and were handed an itemized bill for roughly $5k.
We started this year dedicating ourselves to $2,680 in charitable donations, ten times our previous, pitiful contributions. Just a few days ago we officially fully funded our donor-advised fund, meaning we could theoretically maintain that $2,680 each year for the rest of our lives (we haven’t touched on too many specifics of our spending on here, but for context, we live on a little more than $36k a year, including rent, and additionally give $10k to family each year).
According to the 4% rule of thumb, we’d need $67k, but we rounded up to $70k for good measure. Coincidentally, my starting salary as a new engineering grad six years ago was $67k! Due to the magic of compounding returns and some nice salary bumps along the way, this contribution only delays financial independence by about six months for us, and we should still be able to reach our goal of 2019!
If you read enough self-help or management books, after a while they all seem to be just the same message repackaged over and over again (Not that anything can be totally original, but you know what I mean).
I watched Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk about “multipotentiality” close to a year ago on the recommendation of one of my best friends and deeply connected with the message. I’d read the book The Renaissance Soul years ago, and I figured How to Be Everything was just going to be another repackaging of the same idea. So wrong.
It’s not like we have never donated to charities before. We’ve sent the Red Cross the odd donation, and we’ve donated on behalf of coworkers running for charity. We’ve even pitched in for a couple Go Fund Me’s for friends in tough situations. It was just never a lot – $200-$300 a year at the most.
In all seriousness, that is my actual earning statement after officially blogging for 13 months (well, more like -$99 due to hosting and domain name). I’m writing this post for two reasons:
(1) It is insanely easy to glamorize the lives of your favorite bloggers, or to envy those that actually make a living at this; they make it look so easy. When you think, “Hey, I have ideas, I want to blog, too,” it’s disheartening to see what appears to be everyone else, except for you, succeed.
This is called survivorship bias. Lots of people fail or struggle, you just don’t see it. This post is me showing the world (okay, the optimistically nine people who regularly read this blog), that I have tried and failed at generating any kind of “side hustle” income from this blog. That I have spent easily over 100 hours of just writing for negative financial returns. We so rarely publicize and try to learn from failures.
Strangely enough, practicing frugality can enhance both your earning power and your workplace satisfaction. Knowing that we live below our means and could easily live off only one of our salaries gave me the courage to step away from a job that was emotionally draining and unfulfilling.
It was a fine job, really. No one yelled at me, the pay was decent, with good benefits and a fine work/life balance. Expectations were low, and I could spend as much time as I wanted slacking off on personal finance forums. And that was the problem. There was no sense of accomplishment, no sense of fulfillment.
Right out of university I started off bright-eyed and idealistic, thinking I could help make the world a better place, but the culture did not reward that thinking. When I did what I considered to be “good work,” it was not recognized. I had honest conversations with management asking for feedback and guidance on how to get promoted and grow in my career, but every year the answer changed.
When we first forayed into the world of financial blogging as content consumers, we were introduced to a lot of new terms. For the early retirement community, the most common are Financial Independence (FI) or Financially Independent and Retired Early (FIRE). There’s a reason (besides alliteration) that we use “Financial Freedom” as opposed to FIRE: Words are powerful.