Money at 38: The Major Ways My Finances Have Changed
In 2016, I wrote a guest post for what was then called Dyer News (now Fioney) about my “financial awakening.” What inspired that article was the fact I’d just checked my credit for the first time, leading me to take a greater interest not only in my money but in the topic of personal finance in general. Needing a title, I settled on calling it “Money at 30” — which was how old I was at the time. Little did I know that this column would spawn a weekly column, its own website, and even lead me to become the head writer of this very site.
I mention all of this because, tomorrow, I’ll be turning 38. And, as I grow increasingly closer to aging out of my site’s name, I can’t help but look back at how much has changed since I penned that introductory piece. So, to mark the occasion, I wanted to share three major ways in which my financial life has changed in the past eight years.
3 Big Ways My Financial Life Has Evolved
From lifelong renter to first-time homebuyer
I’ll go ahead and start with the most recent development, which is that I am now a homeowner. Hilariously, mere weeks after writing a guide to renting, my wife and I put in an offer on a house. As I recalled in a post I dedicated to the story, this all came about very quickly and I still can’t quite believe it myself.
As one might expect, this change has also come with plenty of lessons to be learned. And while I’m sure some of those lessons will be harsh, so far, everything has gone well and we’re quite happy with our decision. Still, it’s a huge change that we’re still realizing the full impacts of.
From debit card devotee to credit card expert
In that initial post, I noted that I had sworn off credit cards after running into a bit of trouble with them in my early 20s. However, I concluded my entry by stating that I was ready to re-embrace credit and take advantage of its benefits. Sure enough, weeks after writing that, I applied for my first credit card in years.
Since then, I’ve not only obtained several rewards cards but have also shared thoughts on several others. In fact, evaluating and giving my opinions on credit cards has become one of my favorite aspects of Fioney and Money at 30. Because of this, it’s funny to think back to eight years ago when I was still too scarred from my past mistakes to even see the value I was missing out on.
From checking account cash to investment portfolio
While preparing to write this post, I looked back on a couple of other birthday-themed articles from years past. In one of them (Money at 33), I laid out three money goals that were on my mind. Well, I’m happy to report that I actually accomplished all of them — but one that stood out was “upping our investments.” Funny enough, the same topic came up in my Money at 31 post, where I stated that it was time for me to learn more about investing. So, how have we done on that front?
Admittedly, I’m still not to the point where I’m regularly putting money into a brokerage and have been perhaps a bit too content to leave money in high-yield savings instead (at least it’s better than letting it sit in checking!). However, for the past several years now, we have managed to max out my wife’s Roth IRA — and, for the past two years, we’ve also done the same with my traditional IRA. What’s more, as we’ve grown more confident with investing, we’ve reduced the amount of retirement money we have in expensive mutual funds and have, instead, started buying assets of our own selection. This has made a big difference to our net worth so far and will continue to as we look to further our efforts.
Obviously, a lot has changed in the past eight years. Yet, at times, it can feel as though progress is made very slowly — to the point where you wonder if it’s really even happening at all. Well, as I look back at how my personal finance journey has evolved during that time, it’s clear that those small steps have taken me a long way. With that in mind, I’m ready to continue down the path I’ve set, while also enjoying the scenery and looking for possible detours along the way.