Back in 2001, when my husband (then boyfriend) graduated from grad school and started to work, we took stock of our finances for the very first time. To our utter horror, we were about $40K in debt.
Over the past decade, we have come a long way. Not only did we pay off all the old debt, as of December 2010, the mortgage on our home is paid off as well. We have reasonably well funded 401Ks and a decent emergency fund. At this point, even if both of us were to lose jobs we could coast for a while, picking up odd jobs if necessary, without getting into debt again. And my goal is to have enough financial security that I can voluntarily give up my high-paying-but-extremely-demanding-and-high-stress job and take up something that is more flexible, albeit lower paying.
Over the course of time so far, I have learnt a lot of (seemingly conflicting) things about money, the most important ones being –
- What you have is never enough. No matter how much you make, there is always room for more. When we were on student salaries, all we needed was a few hundred more, and that would make life so much better. When my husband started working we thought just a few thousand more would make us so much more comfortable. And now that we have two incomes, we just need a few tens of thousands more 🙂
- At the same time, you don’t really need that much. But when you look deep down, you really need very little to take care of the basics. The rest is just bonus that is good to have — for spending on luxuries, for creating memorable experiences, for creating future security, whatever rocks your boat. The more you get attached to the bonus part however, and the more you start taking it for granted, the more financial woes you suffer.
- You need to learn how to save. Essentially, you should be able to see where your needs end and wants start. You should develop the habit to spend consciously, and save consciously. You should have the discipline to give up some of the current wants for long term goals. You must be able to give up instant gratification for some delayed rewards.
- At the same time, just “save more” can’t get you out of a hole, or make you rich. But take it too far and try to save too much, and it sucks the joy out of your life. I can tell you, because I know! In the early days of our journey, when we were reeling with the realization of the debt burden we were carrying, we really cut back a lot. And it was N.O.T F.U.N. Yes, saving money is necessary. But there is only so much you can pull back on, before it starts to suffocate you. If you really want more money, you need to find a way to make more money. Simple.
Back in 2006, when I graduated from school I started this site as a basic personal finance blog to vent out my thoughts. Over a period of time, it has morphed into many different forms, reflecting my personal duet with understanding and dealing with money matters. So, its no surprise that these days it is a place for collecting information about ways to increase the money we make — both the primary income from day job, and the extra income from side business projects.
In my slightly biased opinion, I think it is shaping up pretty nicely – it is turning out to be a well organized and insanely resourceful site. No matter what your unique set of circumstances and skills, I can bet you, you will find something that will help you make a few extra dollars!
If you are interested more on the personal finance side of things, I would recommend you begin by reading this article about the philosophy that drives this site
If you would rather just jump in, check out this overview to determine what you want to read next
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I’ll see you around,