Why I Try to Write About Personal Finance Even Though I Am Interested in Other Things (Part 2)

Disclaimer: I have deviated slightly from Part 1 and added the word “try” to the title for a couple of reasons explained below.

 

During my first ever financial podcast interview this week, I was definitely out of my element.  In one sense, it felt good to put my story out there. While promoting this round of projects, I want to challenge myself to be very uncomfortable on purpose.  I don’t want to play it small like my “past-life promotional self” would have done.  

Since I’ve been interviewed numerous times before for my music and even on educational podcasts, you’d think I’d be a natural. However, in this specific scenario, my head kept referencing a song that goes...

“Get back...Get back… Get back to where you once belonged.”

No matter what the topic, as always when interviewed, random analogies flew out of my mouth. Here are some phrases I said while discussing money with my nervous brain in tow:

1. “Being creative is like like like... being willing to run into a house on fire while everyone else is running out of it.”

This crystalized a nice point being made during the discussion.  Could’ve done without all the "likes.” But running into a house on fire added nice imagery for cray cray behavior, so great analogy Michelle!

2. “It makes me sad when people say they aren’t creative. Creativity is what the human brain does. Saying you aren’t creative is…. like like like... saying you don’t breath.”

If this were a pageant, you’d be acing it.  Breathing and creativity are built-in human characteristics, so this analogy was appropriate.  Could’ve done without all the "likes” again though...

3. “Money is the devil.”

Just kidding. I didn’t actually say this. (And I hate to break it to you, but the devil isn’t real.) That being said, the above phrase was a flash in the back of my mind where the EMBARRASS YOURSELF RIGHT NOW brain part lives.

(This podcast won’t be available for two months because they need time to edit out all my "likes", so I probably shouldn’t even talk about it. But let’s explore why the sneaky devil snuck up in my thoughts while talking about money and creativity.  Then, let’s kick him right back into the land of made-up stories where he belongs!)

Why I Try to Write About Money (Continued From Part 1)

Reason #6: Responsible Creative Living

  • Did you know Michelle Pfeiffer saved up one year of living expenses before she moved to LA (and she has continued to keep one year of expenses on hand ever since)? 
  • Did you know one of my favorite new authors (Austin Kleon) had a year's worth of expenses saved up before he wrote several great books?
  • Did you know Chris over at Popcorn Finance has a day job and he actually seems to like it?

I’ve tried to learn money lessons from a diverse pool of fantastically creative people.  Even so, I’ve been kind of dense and have a laundry list of bad money mistakes.

  • I traveled around the US with no health insurance in a car with struts about to fall off.
  • I almost didn’t go back to college.
  • I am so debt-averse I didn’t buy a house when I could have and instead paid rent for no real reason.
  • I paid a house off early instead of investing more.  (This is controversial...)
  • I spent years trying to be frugal (even when it wasted time) instead of focusing on how to make more.  

The list goes on. I’m writing about money now because I like learning from others as I network in this space.  While I also love gifted psychology and the study of creativity, I know a lot of the material when I traverse that blogosphere because I studied it already in school. 

In this money arena, however, I find myself learning something new daily. 

For example, can I find a free notary for an online will?

 

This is one small example of how these awesome people are helping me out as I click around online each day.  

Should I ask my mom to make me power of attorny? This question was answered on a walk while listening to a podcast host I love supporting. 

It's good to know I'm improving my knowledge base for practical living by getting to know these people.

Reason #7: Forced Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

Learning how to simplify life, live on less, or make more - all of these are creative acts.  You have to work frontwards and backward. You have to zoom in and then zoom out again on your own specific situation while combining the thoughts and opinions of others.  While doing this, you are exercising convergent and divergent thinking.

I don’t promote a complex definition of creativity. I think of it as imaginative problem-solving and everyone (I mean everyone) is a problem solver.

Whether it’s writing a song, writing a blog post, or finding the cheapest way to build a bed, critical thinking aligns with my family’s desire for challenge.  My relationship with money became much better once I viewed it as “the game of adulthood” and something I could hopefully get better at if I studied the rules a little more.

Adam spied a way to solve a problem with his grandma's old dictionary.

Reason #8: I Think I’m Done With Self-Improvement Addiction  

I’m the type of person who could read books, read blogs, and listen to podcasts endlessly without ever acting on my own creative ideas.  I started this blog knowing it wouldn’t be perfect, my ideas wouldn’t be crystallized yet, and I was signing up for criticizing myself endlessly along the way. However, the alternative would be to wait forever, watch people do things I thought I could do, and have the world pass me by.

Sometimes, while scrolling through social media, I think to myself, “If one more person tries to give me one more idea about how to become a better person or maximize something or change this or that about myself…. I’m going to throw my phone in the river.”  

I’m personally done with guru-culture and the idea that anyone anywhere has the only answer to my situation. I’m seeking out alternatives. (We'll start with this idea - Michelle is the expert on Michelle.)

Lately, I’ve found a lot of people online who tell their stories, share their mistakes, and consequently help me to mellow out a little bit.  I have found this element incredibly useful in the blogosphere and on certain podcasts. 

I want to challenge my procrastination technique of listening endlessly to others and simply exist here as a learner and a writer.  I plan to get in touch with the writer I was when I was a kid. That person gauged success by how many laughs they could have as they combined weird and unexpected material.

Here's me complaining about my brain at 18.  Not much changes:

Reason #9: Real World Examples of Systemizing and Empathizing

I’ve talked about systemizing vs. empathizing on the blog before.  Basically, a system is anything with inputs and outputs arranged by parts that combine to make a synergistic whole (kind of like a blog where relevant links are provided… or a budget…or a song... or a coffee maker)!

People great at systemizing are not always great with empathy. (There is a whole area of brain science devoted to studying why this is.)  

I think some of the best creative ideas in the world are ideas striking a balance between systemizing and empathizing.  In addition, it seems some of the best personal finance blogs do the same thing.

I am happy to hunt for them and study their creative magic. Eventually, I hope to provide a resource page so artistic people can learn about personal finance in a non-threatening way.

All in all, I hope to eventually balance helpful automation techniques with stories.  I use systems to help myself as a creative person but I also want to prioritize a human element in my online interactions and while songwriting.

Reason #10: This Blog?  It’s a Family Thing

I started this adventure from my phone last summer while sitting on the deck with my newborn.  As I sat with my son for hours on end staring at the view of our small town, I felt inspired to find a central location on the web for all of the ideas building up inside me.  I went with a blog because podcasting and Youtubing sounded unrealistic at the time for my new situation. Once I had a satisfying brand name, it was go-time. (Fun fact - finding a name and buying a domain took me until December).

As new parents, we deeply desire for our son to be raised in a house where his mother and father are excited to wake up each day.  We also want to make sure each one of us does something uncomfortable each day. Lately, for him, it’s getting his shoes put on.  For me, it’s posting on social media. As for Adam, he’s constantly learning how to be a better homeowner and improve our house.

I like to talk with my husband about my projects.  He also likes to talk with me about his. We are each other’s sounding boards for everything.  He is a talented visual-spatial learner and I prioritize language and verbal tasks. Even with our vast differences, talking to him is my favorite thing to do.

Sometimes though, if he is refinishing a door, refurbishing furniture, or talking about redesigning the deck, my eyes kind of glaze over.... I don’t know the last time I went to a lumber yard.  And Menards? It reminds me of the nightmares from my childhood.  

However, since I started this blog, he firmly has my attention. Why? Because I wonder if I can take a picture of what he is working on, if we can write about it, how the project is impacting our finances, and if there is any value in what he is doing that others could learn from.  

Money has become a fun subject for us instead of something to associate with a "man-made devil."  Considering it used to be a source of stress, we are proud of this change and our ability to work with the strengths inherent in our differences.

Why I’ll Keep Writing About Money

Sometimes I ask myself if we fit in the personal finance space... What were the main motives for getting us here?

Then I realize I want to see a creative family living a creative life while talking about money issues with no shame. Am I tactful enough to pull this off?  I’m not sure. We’ll see.

While common advice says to start with a narrow niche and branch outward after success, I am interested in starting with the broad topic of money and seeing how we can connect it to our lives; our love of remodeling houses, creative psychology, our past as musicians, and maybe even the future of our online music.  

I’m in this for the long-haul because I love having a constant project. My husband said it best when he said I will probably keep doing this until something else comes along to replace it. Since there aren’t many other quiet creative things I'd prefer to do during my son's naps, here I am!

 

4 Replies to “Why I Try to Write About Personal Finance Even Though I Am Interested in Other Things (Part 2)”

  1. All great reasons to do this blog! I’m glad your eyes don’t glaze over so much now when your husband talks about DIY.

    I started my blog because at the time there were none talking about low income debt repayment, let alone from the standpoint of someone with a disability. Things have changed a lot over 11 (!!!) years, but I still love my blog as my space to think things out, update my readers on how life in general is going and otherwise navel-gaze.

    1. I shouldn’t speak too soon. He’s on a mission to help his parents spackle a wall. (Ha, ha, ha – like I have something to contribute to the discussion!)

      Wow! Eleven years generates massive respect from me. I like the exercise of writing and “thinking things out” as you said. I think my thinking is becoming clearer because of it… but I’m also losing more sleep stimulated with ideas, so it’s an even wash.

  2. Money, psychology, music, DIY, and more. Sounds like a creative mix to me. I find that when I talk about money, it helps me keep to and accomplish my financial goals. And, yes, it also helps to network with others in the space. They keep me honest with myself when I start slipping.

    1. That’s a great way to approach it Dollar Financials. Sounds like we have a lot in common! I’m trying to make a new logo right now for the blog. It’s really testing my creative capabilities. I should probably pay for it!

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