Previously, I surmised one of the reasons so much personal finance advice on the internet is so bad is that the experiences and situations of the author are so different from those of the reader. This often leads to advice that is either irrelevant, inappropriate, or sometimes flat-out wrong for the reader. Problem is, many readers, especially the less-financially-sophisticated types, don’t know how to tell the difference between advice that is relevant to their situation and advice that isn’t.
Who Am I?
Me living it up on the beach in Spain. Baller.
In order to help mitigate this problem, I’m just going to flat-out tell you who I am, where I’m coming from, and who is most likely to (and who most likely won’t) benefit from my experiences.
- In my early 30′s (subject to change)
- Have no debt other than my mortgage – I’ve never been in significant debt outside of my mortgage, in fact, except for a car loan I took out when I first graduated college. That means no student loans, either. I was lucky.
- Earn a decent income as a software engineer - I live in Atlanta so I don’t earn Silicon Valley money, but engineers where I live do pretty well and the cost of living is relatively low.
- Earn a decent income on my side projects – This income is extremely volatile and is currently at a low point due to a variety of Google animals wreaking havoc on search rankings. So while this side income isn’t in the several thousands of dollars per month it used to be, it’s still not insignificant. Besides, I have no doubt it will recover to previous highs within a year or so. So yeah, all-in-all I earn a pretty decent income.
- I am not particularly frugal, but I do focus on value – I almost never go out of my way to save a few cents on household products (although things like making your own laundry detergent could be a fun hobby). I actually spend quite freely on things I really enjoy, such as travel, good food in restaurants, beer/wine, etc. The difference between me and most consumers, I think, is that I don’t spend money on things most people think I should. I drive a 10 year old Toyota not because I can’t afford a nicer car but because the one I’m driving still runs quite well. I can’t justify upgrading the ride to myself at this point because I just wouldn’t get much enjoyment out of it if I did. People seem to assume I would, which strikes me as odd.
- White, middle class, and male – It would be nice if this didn’t matter, but we all know it does. My economic prospects are statistically somewhat higher than, say, an immigrant hispanic female with an identical educational background and skill set. That is inevitably going to impact how I go about building wealth versus a less-privileged individual.
Who Is Most Likely To Benefit From This Site?
I believe the people most likely to benefit from what I have to say are people who are at least somewhat similar to me, meaning:
- People with average to above-average incomes – In order to invest, you’ve got to earn enough money to pay for the essentials and still have some left over to invest at the end of the month. Those struggling to get by probably won’t benefit from my investing advice simply because they can’t afford to invest.
- Intellectually curious people – A lot of what I do is figure out how to do stuff on my own. Nobody taught me how to make money on the internet, I just figured it out as I went along. The ability to learn how to do things for themselves is something most people haven’t effectively cultivated. A lot of people, I’ve found, just want you to tell them how to do something step-by-step. Well, you won’t find that here. I traffic in ideas. It’s up to you to figure out exactly how to implement them. I may tell you that building niche blogs can be a good way to earn a side income and I might even give you some specifics on how I’ve done things in the past, but if you are looking for an idiot-proof guide, look elsewhere. I aim to stimulate productive conversation, nothing more.
- Disciplined people – Building wealth requires discipline. If you lack discipline, you aren’t going to be able to implement a long-term wealth-building plan.
- Those with an interest in finance – A lot of people just don’t care about investing and don’t have the motivation to force themselves to learn. That’s fine. Those people are better off focusing on building wealth in other ways, such as earning a very high salary through professional excellence or starting a profitable business. Managing small/value tilted portfolios or rental properties probably isn’t their cup of tea. A large quantity of money invested poorly or through a high-cost financial advisor will still be a large quantity of money, just not nearly as large as it could be.
Who Most Likely Will NOT Benefit From This Site?
- People deep in consumer debt – Paying off high-interest consumer debt should probably be your financial priority. Unfortunately, since I’ve never really been in debt, I only have very general advice to give, much of it probably inappropriate for your situation. If you don’t know where to start, there are many fine get-out-of-debt blogs on the internet. I also recommend Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball approach with the very important caveat that I only recommend his get-out-of-debt advice. Most of his investing advice is downright dangerous and I don’t recommend it at all.
- People with below-average incomes – My only advice to you would be to somehow figure out a way to earn more money. I do have a few specific pieces of advice on how to do this, but most of what I write is going to be more focused on the investing side of the equation. There are many excellent ways for you to make the income you do earn go further but since I am not myself particularly frugal, I’m not the best person to ask.
- People who are unwilling to figure things out for themselves – Very rarely will I give you step-by-step instructions for how to accomplish something. Most of the time, I’ll give you an overview of a particular topic and point you in the right direction. I’ll leave it to you to figure out the details. If you’re unwilling to do a little leg-work, you aren’t going to get much out of this site. I am not a babysitter. Personal finance is one of those things where you get out of it what you put into it. There are no magic formulas.
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