About FraidyCat Finance:
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a 30-something lady living in a small Midwestern town with my husband and our toddler son. I write a lot about how I’m dipping my toes into financial risk and the associated rewards, but am pretty reluctant and want to share the challenges.
When did you get interested in personal finance?
I always assumed that if I pursued a career as a writer, I’d be close to broke all the time, but when a friend showed me a personal finance publication she was writing for, I realized that it was possible to care about careful money management and work to make more of it even in a creative field. Since then, I’ve been trying to organize my spending and saving in order to achieve goals like moving to be closer to my family and friends who live in a high cost of living area.
Why do you believe learning about money and caring about personal finance is important?
Many of us don’t have a compelling reason to get better at money right now, and I think personal finance education gives us those reasons. Things like month-long challenges and thoughtful mindset-related personal finance lessons have been so helpful for me to get a better understanding of how I relate to money. Finding these things in my 20s, I’m almost sure, will help me in my 40s, 50s, and (I hope!) far beyond.
What inspired you to create personal finance content?
My husband and I took a ton of walks in early 2020 and kept having interesting conversation about where we diverged in our preferences when it came to money. I assumed this was a pretty relatable issue – marital differences and low personal finance risk tolerance being pretty common – and thought it worth exploring in different blog posts.
What is your ideal audience, who are you hoping to reach with your content?
Honestly, anyone who has let fears allow them to not dive deeper into complicated personal finance stuff. I understand this perspective so much, and I hope seeing me trying to learn more will make them more comfortable too!
What are your top 3 pieces of advice about personal finance?
- Automating the decisions that matter to you, like savings, can really save some decision fatigue. I don’t always feel like saving, so I try not to have to make the decision over and over.
- If you’re making life work on your current income, make a plan for all increases in income to go toward bigger goals, i.e. 20% of every raise goes to charity and 50% goes to your down payment fund, with only 30% allowed as a lifestyle increase.
- By choosing inconvenience in some areas of your life, i.e. living in a low cost of living area or driving a less cool car, you are choosing to have the room to spend money on things that really matter to you. It’s an empowering way to look at relative scarcity, in my opinion.
What are your top 3 financial mistakes you can share – how did you grow and improve?
- We worked really hard to pay down our house mortgage when we probably could have kept it and just gone hard on retirement investing… it’s not a huge mistake, but I think we’d be way farther on the road to wealthiness if we had.
- Wish I’d started a ROTH IRA at 18 when I started working; my family even mentioned it and I knew it’d be good, since I was earning more than what I needed to live on before/during college.
- I spent money on junker cars that I bought in cash rather than dealing with a car loan on something nicer, and honestly, the repair bills meant that I was spending as much or more than people with reliable cars.
If you received $5,000,000 tomorrow, what would you do with the money?
Ooh! How fun. I hope I’d have the discipline to: spend $600,000ish to start constructing the zero-energy home we want to build, put another $400,000-$1M into index funds, and then put the rest into a donor-advised fund and start donating the proceeds every year.
Rank the following from most important to least important – Saving money, Increasing Income, Paying down debt – Please explain why you ranked them this way?
Increasing income, paying down debt, saving money has been the order of priorities in my life, but I think it’s weird not to see them as all part of the same thing. I started out making very low wages as a part-time teacher before I went to grad school, so the past few years have all been about increasing income. When that happened, debt payoff became possible, but I was willing to save up to a reasonable emergency fund simultaneously.
What are your top three pieces of content that you created that are a good starting point for everyone to read?