I’m sensing a pattern in the personal finance community. Or, maybe it really is just me. But, it seems that those of us who carried a lot of debt start with paying it off. During that time, we’re reading a lot of other blogs by people who have or are paying off the debt. Then, once we’ve achieved the goal, saving becomes the priority. We start to invest. We start to read financial independence blogs. As we save, we want to save more, so we find ways to cut expenses, which leads to evaluating our spending. We learn about what we value. We start to downsize, sell off possessions, and become more conscious consumers. We start to read about minimalism and conscious consumption. And/or, we start to write about it. It seems like a natural progression. My journey (and reading habits) definitely reflect this pattern, which explains my choices for this week’s top five.
1. You Can’t Change Your Life Without Changing Your Life – Cait Flanders
Cait’s journey reflects the pattern. She paid off debt, started saving, made the leap to freelance work, got rid of 75% of her stuff, did a shopping ban, became a much more conscious consumer, and just completed a seven week road trip through the US. It’s been amazing to read about the changes she’s made in her life, and the effect each one has had on her. So many people want their lives to change, but don’t take action. I know I was stuck in that hole for quite a while. But it’s amazing how your life can change once you start changing your life. I’ve read this post a few times this week, because it’s made me think about the changes I’ve made in my own life, as well as changes I could not have made had I not started with the first…changes.
2. Are You Taking the False First Step? – Break the Twitch
I am so terribly guilty of this very behavior. It’s so easy to purchase an item that we convince ourselves we need in order to become a thing we want to become. A runner. A writer. A traveler. You don’t need a pedometer to be a runner. You don’t need a MacBook to be a writer. You don’t need all new luggage to be a traveler. You don’t need to buy the entire collection of Jillian Michaels or Dr. Oz books to get healthy. You don’t need a new bedroom set to make a home. I could go on and on. I did, in my mind, after reading this post. I read it several times this week, as well. I emailed it out to friends. Thinking about this question can help you curb spending. Next time you find yourself surfing through Amazon and landing on an item, ask yourself: Do I NEED this widget to be the person I think it will make me? The answer, I can tell you now, is NO. You can be that person without it. The power is within you.
3. The Profound Joy of Completion – Becoming Minimalist
For years, I’ve told myself the story of how I have no follow-through. I’ve told myself that I don’t finish things long enough to believe that I don’t finish things, even with lots of evidence to the contrary. I mean, I finished two degrees, several essays, courses, trainings, etc. I’ve read plenty of books through to the end. But that’s not really what this post is about. It’s about the two types of things in the world: those you can complete and those you can’t. I can complete a manuscript, but I will always be striving to be a better writer. I can complete a course, but I will always be striving to be a better teacher. The most striking element, here, I think, is the joy that can come from both. I want to work toward the joy. Because it’s profound. And I value depth. I value mastery.
4. Anxiety and the Hustle Mindset – Femme Frugality
It’s like she read my mind. For the last few months, I’ve had a hard time with the idea of managing a side hustle. I was burned out. But, I believed it was the only way to get ahead. Maybe it is. But, there’s something to be said for stopping the hustle, stopping the “get ahead” and just BEING where you are for a moment. In the personal finance community, we’re inundated with posts and quotes about how you have to hustle and hustle hard. I believe in hustling, but I also believe you have to be careful. It’s not sustainable. I was feeling so much anxiety around hustling that I blew up some opportunities – and not in a good way. I’m so glad that someone else is talking about this. It eases my anxiety to know I’m not alone.
5. Inflection Points – 1500 Days
Oh, man. This made me think about my own inflection points. I know for certain that one was stumbling upon the Mr. Money Mustache post about debt being an emergency. Starting the blog was one. If I hadn’t started my own blog, I may not have made this far in my personal finance journey. I know I wouldn’t have found the financial independence blogs I read. And then the seed would not have been planted for my own FIRE. It’s good to look back over those points. It can help you recognize new ones.