Unforgettable Personal Finance Articles that Actually Changed My Life

art-graffiti-abstract-vintage.jpgI’ve got the “earn money, save money” thing down. So why do I keep reading personal finance articles? Probably for the chance that they will inspire.

When we talk about money, we aren’t always talking about math. We’re really talking about how we view and interact with the world. We are talking about how our unique backgrounds shaped our perspectives on the worth of things, of people, of ourselves. We’re talking about how we expand our understanding of each other and the world when we encounter different stories. When we tell our stories about money, it can really challenge all our preconceived notions about morality, about politics, about disaster and redemption.Money is a story we tell ourselves. Money doesn’t have intrinsic value; the value is what we bring to the money, what we trade in exchange for it. How we interact with money is basically how we interact with life. So when I say these articles changed how I interacted with money, I mean, they changed my life.

I read this article over 10 years ago and it introduced me to coupon stacking and avoiding dryers. It also is a constant reminder of positivity (something you’ll see a lot of in these posts). What I learned most from this article was the idea of abundance. Freedman had $12,000/year to spend per year. To most people that would mean that she would be on the receiving end of charity but she gave to support her daughter and her church because she knew there were people less fortunate. I never have an excuse not to give now.

On the Road to Nowhere: The True Story of My First and (Worst) Job – Get Rich Slowly

J.D. Roth’s tale of his worst job reminded me of my own horrible door-to-door job once. I lasted one day before my mother picked me up and grounded me for life. The story is a reminder that we all have failures, we all have this shame about starting out in life and not being exactly where we thought we would be and we still have this hope that maybe we’ll beat the odds and make a million dollars at this crazy job and show them all wrong.

That never happens. But it was such a human story. I felt like I had been there watching my car go down a hill. And it’s also a constant reminder that I never want to work for a job that makes me feel sleazy. No amount of money in the world is worth that.
This article (ok it’s mainly a list) reminds me that we have so many choices that make up the lives that we live. Yes there’s a role for luck and privilege, but let’s not discount that we choose how much we smile, what thoughts we think and how we respond to the cards dealt to us.
I’ll tell you right now that I downplay the importance of luck and highlight hard work. But Sam’s article upended that and made me think about what we blame others for and what we blame ourselves for when we really may not have any control.

I always knew I would be thin. My dad was only 20 pounds heavier than me when I was growing up and my mom is currently around 110 pounds. We are not heavy people. Until last year, I was the exact same weight I was in high school (now I’m 10 pounds lighter).  I would eat more, eat less – weight never changed. Some years I would sit on my butt all day long and my weight never changed. I took up biking to work – didn’t lose any weight.

I know I have the cards stacked in my favor. In law school, I ate every single meal with my boyfriend, who was twice my weight. He never lost weight and I never gained weight. This was not based on hard work but completely, purely dumb luck. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that and cut everyone (including ourselves) a break. Yes everyone should eat well and exercise – but your results will necessarily vary based on genetics, which you have no control over.

I think about this when I go shopping. I also think about this as I roam about my apartment. Everything I get rid of is one thing less a family member will have to get rid of if I die. Everything I don’t buy is one less thing for a family member to get rid of if I die. Everything I get rid of from my parents’ house is one less thing I’ll have to clean out later. It’s super morbid. But then again, death cleaning is the new decluttering fad.

All of our stuff is future trash. We shouldn’t value it so much.

This article is just insanely positive. Even after growing up in a tough childhood, Mr. Free at 33 has this amazing mentality of not blaming anyone and not treating himself as a victim. I would definitely not have been that strong.

What are your favorite personal finance articles?



5 thoughts on “Unforgettable Personal Finance Articles that Actually Changed My Life

  1. A cool post, some articles I’d never seen before that are fabulous reads, thanks for sharing.

    And yes, I toy with the privilege vs hard work argument daily, especially in the FI world.

    1. My take on privilege is – don’t let it make you too cocky about your success, but if you don’t have it, you still have to play the cards you’re dealt. And the vast majority of people have some level of privilege, but not enough that they’re unable to lose it all or not so little that they can’t make it big. Oprah is a billionaire and the Astors are broke.

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