I wish we learnt more about personal finance in school. These days there is some kind of basic education with regards to personal finance, understanding the stock market etc but when I was going through school, there was nothing. Coming from a really traditional salt-of-the-earth type family as well meant that “You must work hard and save!” type of advice was the extent of my financial education. (It wasn’t till much later on that I found out that my parents are actually quite active in stock investing and the dividend game and the big question I’ve had since finding out was “Why wasn’t I taught this!?”)
I’ve always hustled hard. I had multiple part time jobs all through university and ran a variety of different small-scale businesses. As mentioned before, I was even a semi-professional blogger at some stage. I started blogging in 2003 and watched the blogging world explode through the years. But still no matter how much I hustled, I was always broke. I had no financial knowledge and was a spendthrift.
It wasn’t till 12 years after hustling and forever hustling, that I felt something wasn’t right. If I was really working so hard, so why did it feel like I was running on the spot? I had dreams of property investments but the scary part is that when I purchased my first house, I didn’t even think of hunting for the best package, best interest rate or best loan provider. I merely walked into my usual bank and signed the first loan that was offered. Yowzers. (I found out last night that I had signed myself up for a 5.87% loan at that time, thankfully I had followed my dad’s advice and gone with variable. Can you imagine if I had fixed that crazy rate!?)
The lightbulb moment came maybe 9 months ago. I was going through a lifestyle change, and that involved cutting back on eating out at fancy restaurants to really concentrate on what food was going into my body. While I nursed my physical and mental health, I noticed that my bank account was also getting healthier. A lot healthier, in fact. I also noticed how much I had missed travelling after coming back from my first European holiday. I’ve always loved travelling – when did I stop doing it? Oh wait, that’s right. I stopped because I never had the money for it. I was also starting to grow tired of the 7 day slog. Surely there were better ways to get ahead?
Anyways, I have been rambling. The point of this post is actually to list out the resources I have been using to educate myself as I don’t want to believe that it is too late for me. I’m only 32, so while I am now aware of the power of compounding interest (and how late I’ve left it), I think it is better to start now than to never start at all.
Eternal Learning: The Personal Finance way
- Barefoot investor: While I did do some reading prior to reading Barefoot Investor, Scott’s book was actually what ignited the PF fire in my belly. Funnily enough, a financial advisor (the one who said I was too poor to be his client) told me to read this book, after I had actually finished reading it. Scott had some really common sense way of dealing with finances and for the absolute beginner (me!), it was perfect.
- Reddit: Reddit has everything. Including multiple forums about finance and investing. I’m a lurker, not really a participant but it has been an invaluable experience as often the questions you are asking are also questions other people ask.
- Blogs: So many blogs! Once I started digging, I was faced with mountains of information. Truthfully it was a bit overwhelming at first as I had to dig through and find information that was actually relevant to me. But again, an invaluable source of information. One day, I will talk about the blogs I really love.
- Moneysmart: I think I’ve been hanging in the wrong circles as not a single person around me knows of this website or speaks about it. There is actually so much information that is super useful on a government website – who woulda thunk?
- Facebook: This sounds odd but facebook groups such as Simple Savers and Barefoot investors group has been paramount in educating me further. Much like Reddit, many people from all walks of life and also from every experience level comes forward and the sharing of knowledge is absolutely wonderful.
I am fairly happy with how I am tracking along so far. The restructuring of finances made a huge impact especially when I completely disengaged our joint expenditures from my personal expenditures. Before this whole movement, I would pay for all our joint expenditures with my own personal accounts and we would run a complicated spreadsheet on who owes what money to each other. Crazy town! It actually meant that I was constantly paying for our joint expenditures instead of just my own and therefore never had any money to save let alone invest. Learning about all these also made me much more aware of the things I am paying for – I literally just found out 2 minutes ago that I was paying for handset insurance ($15 a month) through my plan and I didn’t even know. What in the world!?
How about you? What got you started on your personal finance journey?