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The Most Impactful Financial Decision I’ve Ever Made… and Why I Don’t Recommend It

Much is made in personal finance circles about personal responsibility, attributing success and failure to a particular financial decision. Not in the weird, political, shaming-you-for-being-born-poor way, but in the here-is-how-you-game-the-system-to-get-ahead-now-don’t-we-all-feel-clever kind of way.

In many respects, it’s solid advice! We talk about how making decisions based on ethical consumption saves you money and the planet; how you should be mindful and careful of where your money goes, lest you waste it on shit you don’t actually like or need; how every day the choices you make affect your financial future in large and small ways!

For a bunch of money nerds, gamifying personal finance by connecting calculated decisions to building wealth is exciting stuff. I’m getting a little hot under the collar just thinking about it!

Oo-la-la, hit me with that strong ROI, baybee...
Oo-la-la, hit me with that strong ROI, baybee…

I’ve made some pretty big money decisions in my time. Some decisions were purely financial. Others were personal decisions with a big financial impact. Sometimes I chose right. Sometimes I really, really chose wrong.

Today I want to tell you about one of the biggest personal financial decisions I’ve ever made… and why I would never recommend it to anyone else.

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Why I Feel Filthy Fucking Rich

I recently went adventuring with some friends. As we were sitting in a hot spring at the end of a long day spent rock climbing in a national park (because we’re like biscotti: glamorous and crunchy), we started talking about money. My favorite topic!

None of these particular friends know about this blog. They don’t know I research money stuff and answer questions about personal finance for fun. So, in the tradition of thirsty voyeurs everywhere, I sat back to listen as my friends talked about negotiating higher salaries and faking it till you make it and—wait, hiring a maid? Ok, so there were clearly some differences in perspective. We’ll come back to that.

One of my friends proudly revealed that she is now making $130k a year at her new job. Babies, I am thrilled for her. She works super damn hard and she’s gifted and brilliant. But what happened next gave me pause.

“Your husband’s an art director, right? So he must be making pretty good money too by now,” I asked.

“Oh no. He only makes $70k a year. And he has student loans,” she answered, sincerely.

That response really took me back for a moment. Because fam… she was describing me exactly. I also make about $70k a year (at two whole jobs). And I also started my career with student loans. Yet I don’t feel like what I have is an “only.”

As a matter of fact, I feel filthy fucking rich.

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