I’ve never cared much about money. It’s why I majored in English. It’s why I served in Americorps for two years. It’s why I went to grad school three times. (More on that later.)
I’ve been distrustful of those with greater access to critical resources. I’ve been resentful of nepotism that’s led to unequal distributions of wealth, power, and capital. I’ve harbored resentment for institutions and organizations that have denied their own privilege vis-à-vis wealth. I’ve hated rich people. But at the heart of it, I’ve never actually cared about money.
Not caring about money has provided two distinctive perks:
- I get to pretend that I’m better than you.
- I am free to pursue things that legitimately bring me joy.
But not caring about money has also come with a price:
- I’m beholden to debt because the financial choices I’ve made (or chosen not to make) have produced unforeseen consequences.
- Sometimes I can’t afford to do what I want. This makes me feel trapped by my circumstances.
- I worry that if I’m met with significant hardship, I won’t be able to recover financially.
On April 12, 2017 I wrote about investing. It was my two cents about learning to invest competently, and learning to invest at all. I had just discovered Robinhood, and I was fired up. I was anxious to share new knowledge and anxious to get started.
Despite my excitement and my enthusiasm, I didn’t actually purchase any stock. In early May I put $50 into a Robinhood account. It just sat there for a couple weeks until I finally bought something this Monday, May 22nd.
When I first posted on April 12th, Amazon stock closed at $896.23 per share. As of today, Wednesday, May 24th, it is now $978.15 per share. If I had bought one share back on April 12th, I would’ve already made $81.92. If I had bought two shares, I would’ve made $163.84. If this doesn’t seem significant to you, let me remind you what I know about investing:
- Stocks are little bite-sized parts of a company that you can purchase shares of and have a piece, like breakin’ off a piece of a Kit Kat bar.
- Bonds… Um, bonds?
- You can buy and sell them.
1. On Monday I bought two shares of Ford stock at $11.04 per share for a total of $22.08. I left the remainder of the $50 I started with in my Robinhood account in case there are significant fluctuations in the market, and I lose all my money.
2. Yesterday, I made my first 8 cents! #findingjoy
3. Thanks to Thomas’ recommendations, I created a DIGIT account in mid-April. DIGIT is an app that analyzes your account and spending habits for the purpose of identifying small sums of money that can be saved without you noticing. You can set savings goals for a long-term need or just create a general savings account for a rainy day fund. Since April 14, 2017 DIGIT has saved $277.13 for me THAT I HAVEN’T EVEN NOTICED. Today is May 24th. (This is on top of what I set aside each month for savings). What, what?!
4. I paid off the balance on the smaller of my two credit cards. (Don’t be impressed, the smaller balance was 1/3 the balance of my other card). According to Dave Ramsey, credit cards are the devil. (More on that later).
1. My rose and bud are the same. Learning about investing has given me hope that one day I can rely on this knowledge as a viable income stream, instead of continuing to pursue stressful positions that steal my time and my joy.
In the short-term, I want to develop a solid base of financial literacy and investment knowledge. In the longer term, I want to modify my S.M.A.R.T. goals and invest at least $1,500 within the next four months.
In the longer longer term, I want to invest $5,000 within the year, and I’d like to save at least $10,000 each year starting this year (better late than never!)
1. I had to use the $277.13 that DIGIT saved for me for some unexpected moving expenses. The struggle.
2. I’m working to rebuild my savings, one step at a time. For me, it feels like a personal failure because I’ve observed my own patterns of spending/saving behavior, and I end at the same place time and time again: I set goals; I meet them; then I undo all my efforts in one foul, dramatic swoop. Two steps forward, one step backwards.
Have you made progress towards your financial goals? What tips/tricks do you use to hold yourself accountable? Are there any financial literacy resources you can recommend?