When I decided to get serious about personal finance (and paying off my student loans), I knew that I had A LOT to learn. Like anything else in life, money management is a skill that needs to be learned, practiced and continually refreshed. It definitely helped that I was already interested in money, but I still had a lot of growth ahead of me. And honestly, I’m still learning, making mistakes and trying again. It’s a ~process~.
But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that I’m making progress.
I know the difference between an IRA and a 401(k), how income tax brackets work (lol, learned that the hard way), and how my emotions will always play a role in my finances (this may or may not be true for you).
I’ve learned by reading, researching, listening to podcasts and asking questions. So I wanted to take a moment to outline all of the resources that have helped me learn and grow. I hope they can help you too.
Investing was definitely the topic that confused me the most. I’m pretty risk averse and my knowledge about the stock market, index funds, etc. was essentially 0. These articles and resources have helped me tremendously.
1. I Don’t Know How to Invest and I’m Afraid of Making Expensive Mistakes by Afford Anything
This is the ultimate article on investing for beginners (like me). It’s long, it’s thorough and it’s ridiculously easy to understand. After you’re done reading, be sure to bookmark it on your computer. If you’re anything like me, you’ll come back to it multiple times.
2. How to Make Money in the Stock Market by Mr. Money Mustache
Short, sweet and to the point. The last paragraph has explicit directions for the index fund that he recommends.
3. Stock Series by J. L. Collins
Comprehensive, extensive and useful. The series will answer any question you’ve ever had, and probably some you didn’t even know you were wondering.
The number one thing that has made me excited and ready to invest is entering numbers in this calculator. Watching compound interest do its thing is thrilling and incredibly motivating.
Saving and Money Mentality
If there’s one thing I learned about money during my self-education, it’s that saving is irrevocably intertwined with mentality. These are the resources that have helped me become a better saver, literally and mentally.
1. Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed by Raptitude
I’ve mentioned this article before, but it should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in creating change, but especially for people who want to save more money.
2. Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes
This book is AMAZING. Shannon unpacks our consumer culture in a completely unique way. She looks at consumption, waste and finances through the lens of the home, and she does so from a feminist perspective (YESSSS). Nothing I write will do this book justice, but if you’ve ever felt like there is more to life than manicured lawns and spending money you don’t have, this is the book for you. You can get it used on Amazon for a few dollars, but I actually found my copy in the local library.
I’m still working on eliminating fast fashion from my wardrobe, but this documentary definitely helped me to prioritize the change. Currently available on Netflix, The True Cost is an inside look at the fashion industry and the harm we are causing the planet in our pursuit of being fashionable. It’s both eye-opening and heartbreaking.
Cait has been pursuing a simpler and more focused life for years. All of her posts are heartfelt and honest. Her writing serves as a constant inspiration for me to cut back, slow down and be grateful.
You’re Not Alone
As I’ve embarked on this journey, one of the most challenging aspects has been feeling alone. The truth is that I don’t know anyone else in my “real life” who prioritized debt payoff or is aggressively saving for retirement. And even though I’ve found likeminded people online, I often feel left out in a different way—that I’m not aggressive enough. It’s a weird conundrum and can feel isolating, but the sites below have been the perfect cure.
1. Budgets Are Sexy by J. Money
Budgets are Sexy is an honest look at real life finances. J is honest about things that most personal finance bloggers consider taboo (like car payments) and it makes me feel so much less alone in my personal finance journey. Throughout the past year, I’ve come to realize that life fluctuates and changes. There are career changes, graduate degrees and cross country (or world) moves. Life happens and that’s okay. Through his honesty and transparency, J shows that rolling with the punches (and being open to change) won’t derail your finances.
The Financial Diet is an editorial site with a bunch of different writers. Anyone can submit a post and share their opinion or financial story. They also have excellent posts where they ask 5-6 people to anonymously share their thoughts on a certain financial topic. Anytime I visit the site I feel less alone in my journey. The site serves as a reminder that we are all trying our best and finances are incredibly personal.