I’m gonna hit you with a blast from the past today. I wrote this post over 2 1/2 years ago but it still holds true today, and I think you might get a kick out of it. It’s one of my favorites :) Happy Monday!
I was out on my deck last night talking with our deck neighbor (we live in townhouses), and he asked me something I don’t often hear a lot. He asked me “what I like to do for fun”. Simple question, but I always get caught off guard with that one. I think it’s because I can never actually REMEMBER what I do for fun ;)
Last night, however, I was able to get out how much i enjoy reading personal finance blogs. And it’s funny doing this because 3 things always happen without fail:
- No matter how you bring it up, it always comes out dorky! haha… I don’t have a problem with that personally, I just wonder if anyone has pulled it off in a cool way? I can see older people discussing it just fine, but never have I heard it shared by anyone in their 20’s… as sad as that is.
- People are usually shocked to hear it. I don’t blame them, really. Have YOU ever been told that reading up on finances were on someone’s “Fun List”? And being told on blogs, or comments, doesn’t count ;)
- They want to know “secrets”. This, of course, after their shock fades way. It’s not every day peers can talk openly about finances, so I can only imagine how far pieces of information could help them.
It also gets tricky because not only do I blog about it myself, but I’m ANONYMOUS! So, it’s either let someone else in on my secret, or tell them how wonderful other blogs are to help them get started on learning! And then, of course, secretly hope they come across THIS blog and rave about it ;) OR, better yet, figure out that it’s my blog so i can talk openly about it all.
As you may have noticed, I teeter on whether to tell friends and family I do this, or to keep blogging away in secret. There are pros and cons to both, but it WOULD give them a better understanding as to why I think personal finance is important. And hopefully they’d be willing to educate themselves more, or at least poke around a bit and ask questions.)
I ended up sticking with the Anon. route, as hard as it was, and giving my neighbor few of my favorite blogs to get started (mymoneyblog.com, cleverdude.com, and krystalatwork.blogspot.com). Those are a mix between super informative, a mix of everything, and diary-type writing styles (respectively). Everyone has their own preference, so I’m hoping he’ll get something from at least one of them.
I really didn’t know how to answer the “secrets” part. It’s always hard when you don’t know that person’s situation, nor finance expertise, you know? I don’t wanna go into something they already know, only to have them lose interest and think they “know everything” already and thus not wanting to learn more.
So I started by speaking generally to get a feel for things. Our convo. worked itself to credit cards and credit scores, so I chimed in with a few “secrets” regarding those like:
- The average household has around $8k in credit card debt. At least that’s what everyone says, but whether it’s true or not, at least you know you’re not alone.
- Raise your credit limit, and lower your interest rate. This will help lower your debt to credit ratio, AND increase your credit score – especially if you don’t have much credit at all. All of this can usually be done by making a simple phone call to your c/c company.
- Make a budget – My favorite! (I wonder why?) Try tracking your expenses for 3 months to get an overall picture of everything, and then create a budget out of it. That was one of the best things i have ever done. You just need to do it once, and you’re set for the rest of your life (because you’ll adjust it as time goes on).
It was seriously one of the best talks I’ve had with a sorta-but-not-really-stranger :) Not only could I talk about a passion of mine, but I had the potential to help him. Or at least get him going in the right direction. Whether he checks out the blogs or not, at least he knows he can come to me now when financial things arise!
Since the original posting of this, we’ve talked about all sorts of things – Dave Ramsey, our crazy economy, and more recently business ventures. It’s fun to have someone in the “real world” you can talk to about this stuff. Not that you all aren’t real, haha, but you get what I’m saying. Face-t0-face adds a whole new element to things, I highly recommend it.
(Photo collage by Ashley Campbell Photography)