Thanksgiving is over, the dozens of family visitors are gone, and we are settling back in to a bit of normalcy. At least for a few weeks before Christmas is here. For now, the season of thankfulness lives on for at least another month.
Recently, my wife made a list of 100 things she was thankful for, and it inspired me think about what I’m thankful for. One of the things I am thankful for this year is this blog. I thought, what better way to honor it than to come up with a few Personal Finance-y reasons I am thankful. (and then write a post about it)
So, with that, in no particular order, here are 10 things that personal finance has taught me to be thankful for:
1. Not stressing about our financial future
We made a plan, and if we follow that plan we will be financially stable when it comes time to retire. I’m thankful that the potential stress that exists for so many people, doesn’t affect me as much as it would if I never got into personal finance in the first place. Having the plan and following it gives us such peace of mind. Of all the things in life to be stressed about, I’m thankful this isn’t one of them.
The freedom that comes from having a budget (and following it) is incredible. Knowing that if we spend our money the way we are supposed to, we will have money left over at the end of the month. If we spend our money the way we are supposed to for several months, we will be able to deal with unexpected expenses due to our…
3. Emergency fund
2 years ago we were remodeling our kitchen, during that process we discovered a major issue with our heat pump. We HAD to fix it to keep our house cool, otherwise the new floors we installed would buckle in the summer heat in our home. We needed to come up with $8,000 or the floors we just installed would be ruined. Fortunately, we had an emergency fund and were able to cover the cost without putting it on a credit card and paying crazy interest for a few months. Our emergency fund (when fully funded) provides a great deal of security that I am thankful for.
4. 401k automatic enrollment
I am so grateful that my company auto-enrolled me into the 401k plan and set me up to get the full company match. Knowing the person I was at 23, I would have missed out on 6+ years of any retirement saving during my 20’s. You just need to look at my Roth IRA contributions during my early and mid 20’s to know that I would not have made those deductions. I imagine that there are thousands of people that are the same. And I worry about the thousands that don’t have auto enroll, and haven’t started saving because of it.
Speaking of automatic…
5. Automatic deductions
This was such a game changer for me with getting spending under control. We started by doing a weekly transfer from our checking account to our savings each week. The hard part was still seeing that money in my checking account at all. ~2 years ago we changed my paycheck to send ~24% of my take home pay directly into an online savings account. Now we have the Monster Vacation Fund that sends money directly to Vanguard, and I’m constantly looking for more ways to automatically save money every month.
6. Our Ally savings account
I spent so much time in my primary bank’s savings account making 0.01%. We kept our house down payment savings in that account. We had been leaving hundreds of dollars a year behind for our bank to scoop up. Now, I make more on interest in my savings account with Ally in 1 month than I ever made in the other account combined. I know savings accounts aren’t supposed to “make” money, but at least I won’t lose money to inflation as fast.
7. Passion for PF
I always knew I enjoyed learning about money and spending and markets, but over the last couple of years, this casual hobby has turned into a passion. There are few things I would rather do than read a book/article/blog/podcast on personal finance. I love this area so much that I decided to pursue a master’s degree in finance. I am so thankful for the community and incredible ideas, tips and tricks that are shared every day.
8. Compounding interest
I’m still early into saving up my retirement accounts, I haven’t yet seen the full effect of compounding interest. However, I have started seeing little glimpses of what is in store for us if we keep plugging away at our retirement accounts. I’ve also played with enough compounding interest calculators to know what we have to look forward to in 20+ years.
9. Paying off credit cards every month
The stress that comes with carrying a growing credit card balance is one I never want to feel again. Getting to the end of the month and knowing that our credit card obligations are paid is something special. When I think about how much credit card debt is carried by people in the United States (Average for balance-carrying households: $9,333). The stress those individuals must be feeling make me feel more thankful for where we are.
10. My wife’s new interest in our finances
My wife spent the first few years fairly disinterested in our finances. I paid the bills, I managed the bank accounts, I put money away for retirement (a couple of times). Over the last two years my wife has taken an interest in our financial health. She pays many of our bills and she started her own Roth IRA. She also helps me reign in my “pecker” spending tendencies. One of the most influential aspects of us getting our financial health in order was that we started doing it together. I am so thankful that we are approaching Personal Finance together as a team.
Private Label groceries
Net Worth Tracking (see the most recent one here)
So those are the 10 Personal Finance things I am thankful for. Honestly, I was surprised at how easy it was to come up with 10 personal finance related things to be thankful for.
I have 4,234 days to be thankful for the journey to a $1,000,000 retirement account. I’m going to need to keep that in mind as the stock market continues to drop.
Do you have anything personal finance related that you are thankful for? Or just anything to be thankful for in general? What changes can you make now that you will be thankful you made a year from now?