I didn’t have a savings account until I was 24. Throughout high school and college I always had at least one job, but that money went to funding my social life: clothes, going out with friends, food, etc. Even during my first year of work after grad school I never had use for a savings account because, to be honest, I was living paycheck to paycheck. A starting salary of $25k was minuscule even before subtracting student loan payments, health insurance, and rent. Looking back, it was all very irresponsible, but I wasn’t thinking of the future. I had no real goals other than to work.
Then, I got engaged. Then, I realized how much weddings cost. On top of that, I started getting real sick of not understanding a single word in my agency’s annual 401(k) meeting. My then-fiancé and I quickly opened a joint savings account and started stashing money away each month. We also got on a personal finance kick by following money bloggers and reading finance books including The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I couldn’t get enough and loved how empowered I felt by actively managing my money.
Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin is the latest in my ongoing personal finance education. To be honest, I was put off by the title for awhile. I just don’t like the use of the word “bitch” to signify female empowerment. I understand her philosophy, but it always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Regardless, I looked past it because it seemed like the answer to my prayers: personal finance information presented in a way that a) I can understand b) is not so boring that I won’t finish it and c) I can relate to. And it was all of those things and more.
Because I have been devouring personal finance information for the past three years, there wasn’t a ton of new information, but she reframed it. Lapin first asks readers to get out a piece of paper and a pen and physically write out 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 year plans/goals for career, family, and fun. At first I thought, “I already know what I want to accomplish, I don’t need to write it out.” But I went through the exercise anyway, and it was really eye opening because it showed me how the different areas of my life will intersect. For example, I probably won’t be able to take a European vacation and have a kid in the same year. And I probably won’t be able to buy the dream house before I land that promotion. This exercise forced me to figure out how my different goals fit together, and what I need to adjust to get there. You can’t have a financial plan if you don’t know what you’re planning for. And not everyone needs to save or earn the same amounts. It’s all personal.
It also taught me that it’s okay to budget for fun. Those goals were the hardest for me to come up with, and that’s just sad. (Maybe I need to read up on work/life balance next.) But, just for fun, here are my “fun” goals:
- Year 1: Actively make time to read and learn new skills through classes/exploring new places in Charlotte
- Year 3: Start visiting other cities in the southeast, including Asheville, Charleston, Savannah, and Nashville
- Year 5: Take a European vacation
- Year 7: Host a holiday at our home
- Year 10: Buy or gain access to a lake house so I can spend summers on the water
What does your list look like?