Growing up, I was not very different from the average person. I did not really give much thought to personal finance. Not to say that I was a reckless spender or anything like that, but I was definitely not doing the things that I consider basic today like living on a written budget, making sure I spend less than I make or having a plan for retirement.
As a result, I found myself in uncomfortable financial situations multiple times. Today, I am in a much better place. I’ve got ways to go before my ultimate goal of financial independence, but I think I can get there slowly but surely unless something really bad happens.
A big part of reaching this level of confidence is the passion that I have for personal finance. My movie nights got replaced by hours of reading and podcast listening. I used to leave work every day excited to go binge on shows or watch basketball all night. I still do it occasionally, but now most of my entertainment consists of either learning more about finance or working on my blog to share that stuff with you guys : ). It’s weird. How the heck can a topic I used to find so boring become my favorite hobby?
I think the answer lies in a few major concepts that took me some time to grasp. My goal is to hopefully help you guys understand them and cause that same ha ha moment that changed how I handled my finances and viewed money in general.
Concept #1: Compound Interest
Hence my horrible stage name. I learned about compound interest during my last semester of college in a random finance elective class. I was just trying to get my 3 credits and graduate in peace. Isn’t it funny how life works? After a brief period of thinking I had acquired some type of classified information, I realized that compounding was a pretty well known concept.
It still pains me to meet smart people every day that have no idea it exists, or at least act like they don’t. Grayson from debtroundup.com does a great job of illustrating it. Understanding that today’s dollars will be worth a whole lot more in the future changed how I viewed spending, saving, investing and even time. I became averse to any type of recurring payment and started to reevaluate my needs and wants. Saving and investing became pleasurable activities. I quickly learned that the only real risk in investing was me not being patient.
Before I knew about compound interest, I used to think being a millionaire was a near impossible task, now it’s a near requirement. I used to think it took very rare talent, now I know all it takes is a good income and some time.
Concept #2: Taking Control Of Your Finances
I’m from a middle-class family and grew up in a very poor country. Although my parents had no problem putting food on the table or providing us a nice home, they never really reached a point where they could do whatever they want. My father is 72, my mother is 53 and they both will have to work until they physically can’t. I consider myself lucky to learn that financial independence not only is a thing, but is achievable at a fairly young age if I put in the work and apply some discipline.
Educating myself about money helped me realize that depending on a monthly paycheck is neither healthy nor sustainable. It forces us to do the things we don’t want and delay those we want.
Sure, I enjoy having a nice place to live, being able to travel or even indulge in a couple luxury items. But this has nothing to do with what I’m ultimately trying to achieve. I want to have the freedom that allows me to wake up one day and say I don’t want to keep doing the same type of work, or try a new business idea without worrying about how long until I can make it a profitable one.
My definition of the perfect job is as follows: one of the many ways I CHOOSE to contribute to this world. The mainstream definition of the perfect job: How to eat and buy stuff. I’m not suggesting that you quit tomorrow and spend the rest of your days smoking weed and listening to Bob Marley, quite the opposite actually. I myself work in a field I don’t consider my passion in life. I’m saying no matter what type of job you have today, use it as a way to help you get to the point where you don’t need it to survive.
Once I understood that I could use my paycheck to put myself in a position to eventually have control of my life, making smart and sound decisions got a lot easier.
Concept #3: Legacy
One of the first personal finance advocates I ran into in my journey was Dave Ramsey. Although I disagree with many of his ideas and methods, his views on legacy played a big role on how I look at life. I see money as more than just a way to improve my quality of life. I’m now starting to think about how I will be able to make a positive impact on the world.
Whether I decide to share my accumulated wealth with loved ones, causes that are dear to me or a combination of both, I will feel a lot more accomplished than if I was not in a position to do so. One of my friends asked me the other day why I cared about my net worth. He claimed that he did not measure his success by how much money he had, but by what he accomplished. In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to generate concrete results is to accumulate wealth.
When we’re alive, having financial independence allows us to have the freedom to share both our time and money with others. When we die, the only way to have that impact continue is to leave assets behind or build stuff that can survive well after our death. In both cases, having accumulated wealth in our lifetime helps tremendously.
So there you have it. Understanding these 3 concepts helped create a personal finance junkie. Hopefully I create a few more with this post.