I have been blogging about Finance and Stoicism for 30 days now. What have I learned?
I love to write
I am not nearly as good as I would like to be and I am very far from where I will end up.
In my first year of writing, I am teaching myself to simply hit the keys and get my words out. To write.
In my second year, I will have learned enough to change direction to more long-form content, as I do at work. Throughout the year, I write economic updates from a macro global perspective funneling down to the local real estate market at a micro level. I also provide a thorough analysis of our corporate performance. What is working well, and what challenges we are facing and need to address.
Imagery. Charts. Headings. Sub-headings. Those write-ups have it all and I will bring that style of long-form content to my blog with time, specifically when I have time for longer posts and heavier editing. Editing is the key.
That said, I actually have two long-form posts that are percolating in my mind. I would prefer that these be guest posts for anyone that’s interested, but if they don’t make it, here they will go:
- Downside analysis – what is it? Why do it?
- Time is money – manage your time like you do your spending – relentlessly!
I appreciate the FIRE community
Back when I was not writing about Finance and Stoicism, but rather as the Happy Frugaler, I fell in love with this community, with the camaraderie. I loved the people on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I took a year, or more, off and returned one month ago and all the people I found in the community seemed new to me, but they had the same amazing qualities. Specifically, they’re helpful, kind and gracious of their time and knowledge.
Rarely have I seen a negative word in our twitter conversations. In fact, I have more often than not seen an outpouring of happiness and generosity.
I spend too gosh damn much money
Why? I don’t know! I can, however, hazard a guess.
Is it because I grew up lacking material goods in a lower middle class family and always craved material goods? Probably.
It is irrelevant what caused this behavior. This behavior is out of hand!
Spending improvements – moving from unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent
Positively, writing about it every day is making me conscious of it much more each day and I am going to squash this need. These cravings. Below is an image that highlights the journey I will take. It is important in this context and when dealing with behaviors you want to change, especially behaviors you did not know you had.
The key in this image is that often we start with behaviors that are not goo [we are incompetent in the behavior], but unfortunately we are not conscious of the poor behavior.
When it is brought to our attention, we can begin to work on it because we are aware of it. At this point, we are consciously incompetent. As long as we are working on it, this is an okay spot to be. If we ignore it, that is poor form because we’re conscious of not behaving properly and yet we continue to do so.
Next, you change your behavior. In my example, I stop spending money wastefully. stop craving material goods. I listen to my wife on finances more.
Finally, you do not even need to think of it anymore, it becomes part of you, Finance and Stoicism have done their duty and you’re a mostly fully fledged Finance Stoic.
This is where someone like Mr. Money Mustache is. Not spending money inappropriately is in his DNA. It’s who he is. He doesn’t even need to be conscious of it. I’m not there yet, but I will be.
May will be my no spending month
When we get back from vacation in mid-April, I will settle back into life in the City and in May I will commit to a no spending month. What won’t I spend money on? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, clothes or other non-essential goods.
Ms. Stoic will be doing a January and February expense update shortly and then we will do a comparison against the month of May and see how much of a difference it makes. We will also then have a better understanding of what we can achieve and how much money we really need to FIRE. Maybe it is a lot less than we think?
I am actually looking forward to no expenses May, it will be a fabulous test!
Wow, blogging is hard work
I am largely blogging for two reasons:
- The journaling exercise has been so introspective, it is changing my views on everything. Positively.
- I want Ms. Stoic to reduce to other than full-time work in the next couple of years (a 1/2 FIRE) and to pursue her passions, including lifestyle blogging.
To encourage her, I thought I’d dive in knowing nothing and show her how it works. Boy, was I crazy. Mistake, after mistake, were made.
I purchased a theme for a price that was wasteful [see above, I waste too much money].
Ms. Stoic found me a much better theme [actually a 12 pack] for much less money, and I am super happy with her choice.
I purchased a logo on 99 designs,and I must say I am actually super happy with the work they did. My vision was definitely met with what they produced.
Ms. Stoic, not so happy. She believes I wasted my money and could have spent, in her words, about 10x less than I did on my logo.
I purchased the wrong domain twice [seriously, twice]. In fairness, I was consuming a fair amount of beer when I said to my wife “f#ck it, how hard can this blog thing be…Here I go…”.
4. Wasted time
When writing about Finance and Stoicism for thirty days, how did I was time? How didn’t I waste time:
- reformatting posts
- categorizing posts
- tagging posts
Then, I saw that I could simply copy my past post and it would be laid out as I desired, with tags, categories, formatting already complete…D’oh, I only figured that out around Day 28…
I started just getting my photos off the internet, not knowing you were not allowed to do that.
My wife came home from her wordpress course one night [yes, she is taking courses] and told me that I am not allowed to do that. Oops.
I LOVE Stoicism
So much learning, so quickly. Finance and Stoicism is resonating with me. I have found a passion, and a calling. Finance and Stoicism go together so well that it is incredible.
I am just about done Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius and I will be writing Marcus Aurelius on FIRE, an interview with the Roman Emperor on Finance and Stoicism.
It won’t really be an interview with Marcus [he’s dead silly and I do not, despite what you may have heard, have a time machine].
It will be me answering a series of questions, as yet to be determined, from the voice of Marcus Aurelius, as I will each of the authors I read in the future [and earlier ones that I read already this year].
How much have I fallen in love with this newfound [for me] philosophy? To the point that I have purchased thirty books on Stoicism to continue my evolution and education as a Finance Stoic.
To that end, I have already realized:
Control is everything
- Craving: I want a new pair of shoes.
- Inner Stoic: You don’t need new shoes, run barefoot wimp.
- Craving: I need to eat.
- Inner Stoic: You don’t need food. There is nothing you cannot endure.
- Craving: I need a new job, I am unhappy.
- Inner Stoic: That is your perception, your life is actually awesome.
Okay, that is enough examples. Simply reading, thinking and writing about Finance and Stoicism each day has lifted my mood. It has given me perspective and a better lens with which to view the world.
I am less stressed, and it is now that I feel blessed in so many ways. I am happier in my home life and calmer with my children, even the crazy one.
As an example of this perspective, I had an interesting conversation today. I was having lunch with someone in human resources for opportunity #2 and she asked me the pros and cons of my current role and my current compensation. After discussing it and saying “I am currently negotiating my compensation”, she said “Doing that, while doing this, must be stressful?” The trained Finance Stoic in me instantly replied “absolutely not. Whether I take the job with you, get what I have asked for here, or nothing at all happens, it does not matter. Regardless, I am blessed”.
Remember, your perspective, is your reality.
Until next time,