Wow, it’s hard to believe, but this is the 500th post I’ve put up here on The Amateur Financier. When you combine this with the upcoming second anniversary of when I started to write for this blog early in February of 2009, to say nothing of the fact that I’ve managed to get my Alexa score back under 200,000 about a week ago, and January is turning out to be a pretty interesting month for me, blog wise. (Given that I’ve needed to take my car into be repaired twice so far, ‘interesting’ is an understatement, but this is going to be a happy post. Tomorrow I’ll cover the details of my latest brush with automotive troubles.)
To celebrate my 500th post, I thought I would share some of the things that writing 500 posts of personal finance information has taught me. (Well, nearly 500 posts; there are the occasional guest posts in there, so I’ve only written about 490 posts personally.) Now, I suppose I could share my top 500 financial tips, but that seems a bit excessive. So, instead, let’s go with the top 5 personal tips I’ve learned from reading and blogging about personal finance for more than two years:
The Top 5 Personal Finance Tips
5) Invest Early, and Invest Often: One of the best ways to improve your net worth is to invest. There’s so many different ways to invest that I could fill this blog with possibilities (and did a pretty good job of it already; over forty percent of my posts discuss investing to some extent, including but not limited to my Investing 101 series), but the most important is to invest, not necessarily what you invest in. Keep it simple, find something that meets your needs and is easy enough to understand, and keep investing throughout your life.
4) Develop Alternative Sources of Income: One of the major reasons I started this blog in the first place is try to develop a source of income outside of a typical nine-to-five job. Given that most of the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve either been unemployed or worked unusual hours (no nine-to-five for me), it seemed, and still seems, like a good idea to diversify my sources of income , as well as boosting my income. I recommend that my readers look into other ways into building their income as well. (Although, from my own experience, I’d suggest blogging only if you are willing to put in a lot of work and risk the possibility of not making much income.)
3) Be Prepared for Emergencies: If nothing else, the numerous problems I’ve had with my car this month drove home the need to be prepared for the unexpected events in life. There are many ways to prepare for emergencies, since there are many different types of emergencies you could face, from simple car problems to serious health problems. The best thing to do is to try to foresee and prepare for any possible emergency, however unlikely it might seem while you are preparing.
2) Keep Debt to a Minimum: There is quite a lot of disagreement in the personal finance community about what constitutes ‘good debt’ and what qualifies as ‘bad debt’ (to say nothing of the debate over whether any debt can be considered good, regardless of its purpose or the interest rates associated with the debt). As a result, if you do much personal finance reading, you get a range of advice on how much (and what types of) debt you should take on, from absolutely none to as much as possible (assuming it’s used for leverage purposes). My simple view on how to handle debt: keep it to a minimum, and pay it off as soon as possible (starting with the highest interest debt). If you can do that, you should have few debt problems throughout your life.
And the top, single most important thing I’ve learned from my blogging:
1) Give back to charity: There are many reasons to have money, and many things to do with the money you have, but few are more rewarding and spiritually fulfilling than using the money you have available to help those who are less fortunate. I’ve tried my best to spread the wealth, although I’m sure I can do more. Monthly contributions of $25 to the Yakezie scholarship fund is a start, but I’m sure I can do more (and probably should).
Which is why, in celebration of my 500th post, I’ve decided to donate $500 to charity as a way to help tilt my personal scales back towards giving (and who knows, maybe improve my karma a bit as well). I’m not quite sure what charity to send it to next, but with how many deserving ones there are out there, I’m sure that I will find plenty of good groups who are deserving of some donations. (And to keep my generosity going, I’ll set up a few automated transfers to keep up the donations throughout the year.)
There you have it, five suggestion to celebrate my 500th post. With any luck, I’ll find myself celebrating the next five hundred posts before too long (and having even more readers around to encourage me to write five thousand more). Thanks to you all for reading, commenting, and encouraging me, my friends!