I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Sam Lustgarten, the author of the blog Frugaling.org. (Check out his site- he’s got really great ideas on how to live frugally!) We had a great conversation that spanned many topics, from current reading choices to the struggles of starting a blog. One of the things he asked me was, “Why did you start a blog?”
Now, it seems like a simple question, but it honestly made me pause and think for a bit.
Why did I start this blog?
I’m not doing it for the attention.
One doesn’t become a famous celebrity by blogging about financial independence. I expect absolutely no one to stop me on the street and ask to take a selfie with me.
I’m not in it for the money.
Apparently, one can make some serious dough from blogging. If I were drowning in credit card debt, or student loan debt, I’d definitely consider making this my side hustle. But, I earn a decent enough salary through my day job that I don’t need to add any ads to my site, or use monetized referral links. For now. Who knows, that could change at some point in the future.
So why am I doing this?
For me, this blog serves two purposes. One, I really love to write.
My former roommate and I go way back to middle school. We were talking the other day about how well our school district prepped us for adult life. Considering we went to the #17 ranked high school in the state, this is hardly surprising. Our graduating class had 13 valedictorians, for pete’s sake. One way our school helped us was teaching us to write well. Not just teaching us, but pounding it into us and forcing us to learn to write well, kicking and screaming. In the case of my former roommate, he happily soaked in all they had to offer since he was one of the founding members of the Creative Writing Club and went on to get a B.A. in English. Even the bottom quarter of our class knew how to construct a proper sentence and use correct grammar and punctuation.
All that to say, I like to write. My day job is in the IT field, so the most I write is some code or maybe a short email (usually about some sort of code or technical jargon). It’s therapeutic to me to take all the stuff floating in my brain and put it out there for you to read. It allows me to step back from the highly technical and demanding work I do on a day to day basis and actually focus on something I like to do. I rarely do things just for fun these days, and this is one of them. It’s surprising how much of your life is taken up with work and chores when you become an adult.
The other reason I’m writing this blog is because I feel I have something useful to say that can help other people.
It’s ingrained into my personality to want help. Normally, I put little stock into personality tests available on the internet, but my friends badgered me into taking this one and it just makes so much sense. It’s called the Enneagram test. Basically, there are 9 main personalities. Each number has a wing that incorporates some of the characteristics from the neighboring number. Each number looks at and reacts differently to the world. There are also levels of health within each number, so an unhealthy Five is going to be different than a healthy Five.
My number for the Enneagram test is 1w2. This means my main personality is a One, with some elements of a Two added in. Ones are known as “The Reformer”, “The Rightness Seeker”, or my personal favorite “The Perfectionist”. A Two is known as “The Helper”. All of this boils down to this: I like to help people do the right thing.
I found this quote from here that I feel perfectly sums up who I am: “They are not necessarily worked up about the plight of refugees in the Third World but may have very firm convictions about proper diet and exercise or the best way to maintain one’s household or family budget.” I am very passionate about the topics of budgeting, saving for retirement, and investing. What better way to share my passion than to help other people “do the right thing”?
It makes me sad to find out that so many young people have no idea what proper personal finance looks like. They have no idea how to budget effectively, how to plan for future expenses, what the difference between a Roth IRA and a 401k is, or heck, even what a 401k even is! I could put on my tinfoil hat and go all conspiracy nut and say “That’s how the big corporations want it! They want to keep us in the dark so we keep living paycheck to paycheck as we finance everything in our lives to look cool!” but I don’t think that’s their goal. I think it has more to do with ignorance and, in some small part, a failure on our schools to not teach us any practical. Sure I can tell you that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but when I was 18 I couldn’t tell you how to sign up for utilities or shop for car insurance.
I want to help change that. I want more conversations to be about the merits of various robo investors, or about which credit cards offer the best rewards. There’s so much about adult life that we have to figure out on our own, and it’s ridiculous. Why should I have to figure out how to get the water turned on at my new place, or that medical records need to be transferred from place to place as you move, or even that you get some discounts when you switch your address online with the Post Office, when there are millions of people who’ve discovered that before me?? This is 2015! I should be able to search for a checklist on Google instead of staying up at night worrying that I missed something important!