A Different Journey

How do you know when it’s time to do something new or different? Does it come to you in a dream? Is it a spur of the moment idea? My new journey was staring me in the face for years and I didn’t take notice. Or maybe I did and didn’t know what to do with it. The hardest part of any new endeavor is taking the first step. It’s easy to overanalyze things to the point of psyching yourself out of doing anything at all. I’ve done this my whole life. So why is this different? What made me follow through on this and not the other options over the years? Well, I’m not totally sure yet. I think part of it is just letting go of the doubts and pushing forward. Less expectations, less pressure. Like the Nike ads say, “Just Do It”.

Why blog about personal finance?

Whenever you plan to sink a good amount of time into something you should make sure, at the very least, it’s something you enjoy doing. I’ve enjoyed creative writing since I was a kid. I’m not talking about writing 10 page term papers on some book you were forced to read. Those were awful. But I sure did love the “write about whatever you want” papers. While my friends excelled at Math, I impressed my English teachers. Even my handwriting was really good. (Do they even teach that anymore?) Fast forward many years, where I graduated from college with a Computer Science degree, and now I’m the one doing math and tech work all day. So what happened to my creative outlet? Since I don’t have one anymore, I decided to create my own! Admittedly, I’m extremely rusty. Time should fix that. I’m going to be blogging about money, a subject I obsess over daily. Every now and again I might throw in a life update, but for now if it makes dollars, it makes sense.

I can’t speak for what today’s public education system is doing, but what I do know is most millennials never had a personal finance class in high school. Or even college for that matter. It’s pretty wild when you think about it. How many years do we spend going through K-12, but apparently there was never time to talk about the one thing everyone uses on a daily basis? I sincerely hope the school systems have remedied this, but that doesn’t fix the past. Millennials got screwed. Big time. Financial education is lacking in our generation and it shows. Record levels of student loan debt, car debt, and credit card debt. The news tells us we are the first generation in American history that is poised to be worse off economically than our parents. Ironically, we are the generation that needed financial education the most! Part of why I want to do this is to create a knowledge base where both friends and strangers can come to learn and critically think about things we should have talked about a long time ago.

Since I started having kids, I’ve thought about how I’m going to pass down my knowledge. I don’t want my kids to make the same mistakes I did, especially if I’m the one giving them the money to do it! At one point I even thought about writing everything down in a journal, and then instructing my kids to read it and keep it in the family like an heirloom. What a disaster that would have been! Instead I’ll store my ideas here, and they can browse them on their iPhone 20 in a few years time. An important aspect of building wealth is keeping it. My kids are an important piece of that strategy.

What I have to offer

There are plenty of resources out there if you want to learn about money. But what I find too often is information that falls into two categories: gurus and gimmicks. The gurus are the specialists, who often have professional finance backgrounds, preaching about doing things “the right way”. If you want charts and data on the status quo, like portfolio allocation by age, these are your people. It can be interesting to read through some of the inner workings of investments, but I find the details to be a waste of my mental bandwidth. More importantly, the finance world has historically been known to evangelize certain ideas, up until the day they crash and burn (dot com bubble, housing bubble, etc). Whenever you read these kinds of articles, just remember, it behooves the finance world for you to follow their guidance. The other content I see a ton of is gimmicks. Hordes of false prophets promising you that if you just follow these five easy steps, you too can be a real estate investor millionaire in 2 days with passive income of 1 trillion per hour. Seriously, some of the stuff I see is outrageous. I get it. The false hope and allure of striking it rich quick always seems to attract attention, but most of that garbage is not realistic nor as “easy” as they say it is. As if nobody thought about fixing and flipping houses, or becoming a landlord. The market is just wide open for someone like you to storm in and make billions! Reality: most markets are overpriced and saturated with investors who have more capital and experience than you.

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin. -Tony Robbins

I plan to keep my content guru and gimmick free. Never will I advocate for my readers to implement specific strategies or use certain products (unless they are free, because who doesn’t like free!?). One thing I’ve learned over the years is there is no right way to do this. Everybody has their own unique situation that calls for their own personal strategy. Hence, I do endorse the concept of taking control of your financial life and learning as much as you can about money. Your decisions are your own to make. Don’t pass the buck.

As far as my generation goes, I’m an outlier. Millennials aren’t getting married. I married in my twenties. Millennials aren’t having kids. I already have 3. Millennials aren’t leaving the house and in some cases are still dependent on their parents. I left home at 18 and never asked for a dollar since. We are supposed to be worse off than our parents, but I already passed mine before I hit 30. The pitfalls our generation faces, which I mentioned earlier, can be avoided. I managed to do it, and you can too. It’s not fun. It’s not easy. It takes discipline and I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the get rich quick schemes are fantasies.

Have you had a moment in your life when you wanted to try something completely different? Did you take the plunge? Share your story.

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Brennan Reese

Brennan is a technology consultant for a private software company. He spends his free time musing about money.

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