As I’m sure you’ve concluded by now, I love discussing personal finance. I know it’s a topic that bores many. However, few things get me more excited than the chance to talk about savings, investing and ways to make your money work for you.
When I realized there was a whole online personal finance community that loved to talk about these topics as well, I was ecstatic. Now I could fully geek out with like-minded people and stop annoying my friends and family.
I eagerly began reading personal finance (PF) blogs, anxious to learn more about other’s journeys. My eagerness subsided a bit when I came across the same story many times. The story where the blogger reminisces about days when he/she was terrible with money and worked low-paying jobs to cover the bills.
The blogger gets tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck, and through some stroke of good luck, stumbles into a job finally paying a decent salary. He/she quickly pays off any remaining debt, stacks up a healthy amount of savings, and now puts away 10% or more of that monthly salary for retirement.
Not only that, but now the blogger offers consulting services and e-courses and makes a few thousand dollars a month from their PF blog. These details are laid out in a pretty infographic along with a monthly income report (usually totaling more than six figures).
After reading so many of these stories, I thought: “What about people like me?”
When I say, “people like me,” I’m talking about the ones who still haven’t tackled all their debt. The ones who still work low-paying jobs. The ones who barely have enough to cover their monthly expenses, let alone put a lump sum away for retirement.
Maybe the stories told by the mainstream PF bloggers are meant to inspire, but this limited view of financial success, can feel like a slap in the face. There’s a “been there, done that” vibe that comes off when reading these blogs. You can practically see them wagging their fingers at you as they brag about never paying a penny of credit card interest.
I get it. Credit cards can be dangerous. Debt is bad. Financial freedom is what we should all strive for. I also know that life isn’t constructed as neatly as some PF bloggers make it seem. There may come a time that, despite one’s best efforts, the money just isn’t there to pay a credit card in full. Making the minimum payment on a debt may be the best you can do if other funds must be spent on an emergency.
That’s why stories like this one resonate with me more than typical PF blogs. They highlight the fact that we’re all human, and even those well-versed in finance make missteps.
I’m not suggesting anyone feel resigned to financial instability forever. Rather, I think it’s important that a variety of financial backgrounds are shared, not just the ones that end with a high-paying office job and early retirement.
I’ll continue to work towards my own definition of financial success. In the meantime, I’ll share my personal experiences, good and bad, for those who need to hear from someone like them.
K. Wright was inspired to venture into blogging in 2008 after reading websites like MissJia.com and Necole Bitchie. (Both sites no longer up and running, may they rest in dopeness!) Fast forward to today, Wright shares her thoughts on personal finance from the perspective of a millennial woman of color. Read more of what she has to say at Money The Wright Way.