We’re digging up the archives and sharing stories from 44 personal finance bloggers who participated in my very first Road to Financial Wellness project. In 2015, my team and I drove over 16,000 miles and hosted/participated in 37 events across 30 states.
So, I asked my blogger friends to share their stories of taking action and applying financial knowledge to lessen stress, achieve goals, and improve their lives. This blog tour followed the locations we hosted live events.
I am very grateful to the 44 personal finance bloggers, podcasters, and creators who shared their compelling stories of financial disaster and recovery, financial failures and success, debt stress, and financial security.
I’m a big believer in the power of storytelling. Stories have the power to move us and stay with us. And by sharing financial experiences we can empower others by giving hope. And hope is Hearing Other People’s Experiences.
Enjoy these stories.
Boston Area Bloggers
“Debt terrified me to such an extent that I didn’t even have a credit card until I was 23. Everything related to finance seemed cryptic and complicated to me and I wasn’t sure what to do with money. And so, I saved it. Saving money isn’t the worst default position and I suppose it was smart, to an extent. The problem is that I was saving from a place of fear, not a place of strength.”
Read Liz’s story about how she plans to retire by age 33 with the right mindset and plan to make it happen.
Young Yet Wise
“I know it can be stressful coming back from vacation, but don’t think of your budget as a restriction think about your budget being there to help you reach your financial goals.”
Read Candice’s story from budgeting money for a vacation and coming back home with some unspent cash.
New York City Bloggers
The Broke and Beautiful Life
“If you’re walking around with the burden of consumer debt or massive student loans, financial wellness can seem impossibly far off. Believing that though is failing to see financial wellness as a choice. It pushes financial well-being over the threshold of what’s attainable- essentially giving up on the goal before even trying.”
Read Stefanie’s story on how financial wellness is a choice and one you should make.
“I was failing in my own personal finances. For twelve years, I focused more on corporate finance than I did on personal finance, and my family’s balance sheet suffered because of it.”
Read Shannon’s story from financial cluelessness to financial empowerment.
The New York Budget
“I needed to let the world know that you can do it. You can live in a big city, save money, and not have to sacrifice happiness.”
“I’ve learned a ton about paying off debt, saving for retirement, and living in a way that leaves me enough cash to do both of these. Not only that, I’ve actually used that knowledge to pay off debt and save for retirement — to the tune of $133,000 by the last count.”
Adventures in Frugal
“Sometimes I worry about how much I have saved or am earning compared to my peers, but I remember that as long as I continue to invest in my future, I can enjoy the present — being able to work from anywhere while doing something I love.”
Super Savings Tips
“If you believe success is measured in money, you may be setting yourself up for a big failure! Try to always remember that wealth is about more than just money. It’s about relationships, health, and self-improvement.”
Read Gary’s story from working countless hours in pursuit of financial wealth to discover wealth is more than just money.
“This feeling, the feeling of being on your A-game when it comes to finances, is called financial wellness. It’s something each and every person should experience. When you take charge of your life and decide to pursue your passions, you would be surprised at what you can accomplish.”
Read Cat’s story from debt to following her passions and helping others find their path.
Planting Money Seeds
“In basic terms, financial wellness is a healthy relationship with money. It’s not about following someone else’s idea of what you should be doing with your money. Your own financial wellness is about your relationship with money. “
Read Miranda’s story on what financial wellness means to her and how you can define what it means for you.
“Unbeknownst to me, spending less on those things was kind of like my experimental introduction to finance. It slowly got a little better over time – I was saving some money, not going out as much and not buying lunch at work. I learned what a 401k was, and didn’t stop the automatic 3% deduction my job had set up. I was starting to pay attention to my spending, but still had trouble understanding everything.”
Learn more about Chenell’s story on how she paid off more than $20,000 in debt in the last 14 months and her plans for the future.
Teens Got Cents
“So many people think that teens don’t care about money but that just isn’t true. We do care. We wonder how we are ever going to afford to buy a car, or go to college without racking up tens of thousands in debt, and even how we can do those things and eventually be able to purchase a home and have a family. I admit that we also think a lot about video games and lip gloss but we are concerned about our future.”
Read Eva’s story on how to set up your financial future using an envelope system.
“Everything you do now – good and bad – will affect how you treat money in your later years. Don’t think just because you’re young that what you do doesn’t matter. Caring about your finances is not something to do when you’re older – it’s something that starts now.”
Read LaTisha’s story on the importance of financial awareness to take control of finances today to create the life you want tomorrow.
“But this is us, as emotional creatures, placing feelings and creating stories around finance. In reality, you can use your money as a way to build the life you really want to live — and that can include very selfless, meaningful, and fulfilling things like volunteering your time, giving to charity, or working in some way to help better the lives of others.”
Read XYPlanning Network Founder Alan’s mission to empower a generation to ask the right questions and find the right experts.
“I immediately took a magnifying glass to my own budget, shaved my expenses as low as possible, and began saving between 40-50% of earnings. When my inevitable job burnout came last summer, I was able to quit my job and recharge for a few months while transitioning into my new career.”
The Froogal Stoodent
“Do yourself (and your budget!) a favor: try living a little bit more like a student. I promise; it’s not as bad as you imagine. And when you put your budget on a more student-like diet, you can shed your debt and free yourself from the shackles of worry! And isn’t it worthwhile to give yourself the gift of financial freedom?!”
Read Zach’s story on how his college lifestyle has proven to be a financial positive.
Even Steven Money
“The issue is so many people have financial troubles or do not know what to do with the money that a conversation has to be started. It might start out as uncomfortable, but when you find out that someone is using a budget, paying off credit cards, or investing in the stock market it makes you think. In the beginning, it might just be listening to the new material, but slowly you become interested in how to make your finances better.”
MoneyPlanSOS with Steve Stewart
In the MoneyPlanSOS podcast, I share some great insights on how you can better manage your money and live the life you want.
“Most of us don’t like talking in detail about our finances. I understand. It’s the last taboo. A recent study showed that 80% of women refrain from talking about money with their friends and family. I’m assuming us guys are right there with you ladies. It’s tacky. It’s rude. And it’s embarrassing. Sure, talking about money can be all of those things. But it doesn’t have to be. I believe that there is a healthy way we can communicate about our financial lives, and conversations with certain people we should be having.”
“At the literal brink of bankruptcy, I was faced with stark reality. I didn’t have the money to file the bankruptcy paperwork. That day was one of the lowest days I’ve experienced as an adult. I think about it today and I still get a bitter taste in my mouth. It was the tough love of a roommate who got in my face, so to speak, and told me two things – that I was seeking an easy way out of the self-inflicted problems I was facing and that I was not living, but was enslaved.”
First Quarter Finance
“I’ve let frugality permeate into my subconscious as well. It’s part of who I am and that’s that. No more thinking about it. I love the frugal way I live on a day-to-day basis. I don’t wish for a Ferrari – a nicer house – to live in Monaco – none of that. And I think this way of life is a large part of how a person achieves true happiness. They are confident and content with their world. Yes, I believe being frugal is a pillar to being happy with life.”
“I’ve managed to work from home successfully for over 7 years, and I use a mixture of a big savings buffer, some responsible credit, flexible payment terms for my clients, and a modest budget to get me through the “dry” times in my business.”
Read Linsey’s story on becoming a successful work-at-home mom and her advice on growing a business.
FI Big Sky
“Years later, I feel a sense of pride for my younger self. The determination to make my traveling dreams a reality wasn’t easy and it wasn’t an overnight accomplishment. That stretch of months where I was able to watch my savings grow and see my goal become a reality was an extremely satisfying and empowering experience. Sacrifices made in my social life** along with prioritizing my spending allowed me to follow my dreams of travel and empowered me to know that I could accomplish anything with a hard-and-fast goal coupled with ambition and discipline.”
Sustainable Life Blog
“It was the first time that I can remember that I actually felt like I could be in control of my finances, instead of letting them control me like they had been the last few years. I wasn’t making a ton of money, but my expenses were very low (probably less than $400 per month, and certainly less than $450).”
Read Jeff’s story that led him on the road to financial wellness after self-realization of how he was spending his hard-earned cash.
Debt Free Guys
“The best thing we ever did was stop the madness and get our financial home in order. We paid off our debt in two and a half years and now use what we’ve learned from our professional and personal lives to help others reach their definition of financial success. All of that, of course, started with a conversation between two people.”
Money Smart Latina
“But, if the road of financial wellness has taught me anything, it’s a journey. You are going to have extreme lows and extreme highs. That’s part of what being a grown-up is. You are going to pay for things that aren’t your fault but have happened to you regardless. You are going to have good things happen to you that make others wistful. And sometimes, you are going to look up and wonder what exactly you are doing. But the journey is well worth it and all you can do is keep trying. Don’t give up.”
Read Athena’s journey into financial wellness from an uncertain financial future to more control over money and happiness in her life.
“When I first started getting serious about my money, I was a newly-single mom with a young child. I had a good job, but it was obvious to everyone where I worked that we weren’t going to have our jobs for long. As far as money went, I had a big fat zero in savings with a big side of debt to go along with it. But I got my act together. I started by getting a second job and building an emergency fund. In other words, I activated my money powers by starting to prepare for the future in a way I’d never done before.”
I Heart Budgets
“My money journey began when I was a kid. I would receive birthday cards with $5 in them (thanks grandma!), and would occasionally get some cash for chores or allowance. I knew pretty quickly that money was a big deal when I could just hand over and get candy and baseball cards in return. THAT’S A BIG DEAL! But it wasn’t until I was about 10 years old that I really realized I that I could go out and EARN money.”
Read Jacob’s story on how he set himself off on the road to financial wellness from an early start.
Believe in a Budget
“While I have most of these things under control, the one thing that scares me is debt. Having student loan debt or any kind of debt is a little frightening. I also worry about how this will burden me over time. My biggest fear is letting debt dictate my life. I want to be in control of my life and be able to make smart financial decisions.”Read
Kristin’s story on her relationship with debt and overcoming her fears.
“I wake up excited to get to work, knowing that the effort I put toward work will have a direct impact on my life (the other side of that coin is fear, I know, that when I don’t “feel like working” I am not making any money, but I have plenty of tasks that don’t feel like work that is just as important).”
Retire by 40
“Having debt when you figure out what your life dreams are doesn’t mean that they won’t come true. It’s just a lot easier if you figure out the direction you want your life to go in before you get yourself tied up to a bunch of different financial obligations and payments.”
Read Retireby40.org guest blogger, Kayla’s story and her three keys to success.
“As soon as I became an adult, I took on student loans to go to college. I didn’t think twice about it, because it’s what I had to do. I worked all throughout college but spent nearly all of my money because I was so young and had “forever” to save. Now I find myself in even more student loan debt than I was back then, with practically no retirement savings at the age of 30. Sometimes I’m scared shitless about this. But the one thing that keeps me going is seeing my progress on this journey.”
Read more of Melanie’s story from her journey into debt and determination to financial wellbeing.
Generation Y Retirement
“Sometimes, reading and learning from the extremities of people in regards to their money can be overwhelming. We all have to begin somewhere, right? At points on my road to financial wellness, I am reverted back to my childhood days of entering a brand new school in a state my family just moved to. Which lunch table am I going to be invited to sit at? It’s enough to make my palms sweat all over again. It essentially strikes back to the fundamentals of fitting in. Do I have to spend beyond my means to keep up with the Jones’, or forego certain spending expenditures in order to prove that I am savvy enough?”
Lisa Versus The Loans
“It wasn’t until I got my first job after high school (R.I.P. Anchor Blue) that I really knew the value of a dollar. I finally realized how not-so-easy it was to earn, yet so-damn-easy to spend. My closet was filling up, but my bank account stayed empty. I thought retail therapy would make me feel better, but it only made me feel worse, especially when I saw how much money was in my wallet. (Read: none)”
“After working in the money business for what feels like most of my life, I’ve come to the realization that everyone could use more mindfulness when it comes to their relationship with money. Mindfulness for me is the ongoing practice of being present in the moment without judgment. All of the sudden I started to notice how I had been avoiding many things, like the fact that, put simply, I wasn’t happy, I had a severe anger problem, I was jealous of others, I was oftentimes not kind to my family, I had a long history of interpersonal problems with my friends and co-workers, I continuously talked down to myself, and I had a severe problem with worrying about money.”
Budget and the Beach
“As a freelancer, and a 40-something one at that, I’ve had to let go of what things ‘should’ look like in my financial life, versus doing what is best for my current situation. I think often times when we read financial advice, it’s written from a ‘one size fits all’ scenario…I mean I guess they have to, right? There are just too many people out there to create tailor-made advice to each individual.”
Read more of Tonya’s story of freelancer her way to financial wellness.
“If you’re like most people, you may not have the best relationship with your money. It might be one of those love-hate type things. Or maybe you have a “shove things underneath the rug about until shit hits the fan” kind of mentality. I may not have pulled off an amazing feat as some of those money stars out there (whom I highly admire) such as paying off a huge amount of debt or be on the path to retiring by 35, but one thing I have managed to get right now that I’m in my early 30s is to develop a healthy relationship with money. It does require a little bit of time and work, though.”
Read more of Jackie’s story and how she’s making it work on the road to financial wellness.
“My student debt wasn’t much, but before I had a plan, it felt like it controlled my entire life. I couldn’t go out because of my debt. And I couldn’t travel because of my debt. I couldn’t live where I wanted to live, thanks to my debt. I got tired of feeling held back by debt, so I decided to come up with a plan. So, I drafted a budget. It factored in debt milestones I wanted to reach, and how I planned to reach them. It’s not like that plan suddenly allowed me to go out, travel, and live in a pricier part of town. But my mindset was no longer: I can’t go out because I’m in debt. Instead, it became: I can’t go out because I’m planning to get out of debt. It was my decision.”
Thanks for taking the time to read these short snippets of the personal finance blogger stories. It’s amazing to see many of these people continue to evolve. And I also acknowledge that many have stopped blogging to pursue other interests.
Read the blog tour with 46 inspiring financial bloggers.