This is a guest post from Little House in the Valley, who is currently working toward owning her own little house in the valley. On her journey toward home ownership, she is learning to be financial savvy through budgeting her money and living frugally. With each new savings tip or idea, she shares how she accomplished her goal.
You cover a ton of personal finance topics in your blog: Which is your favorite to write about?
You’re right, I do jump around and write about many different topics all tying into personal finance. However, I think my favorite topic on personal finance is small home plans. I love researching different economical and environmentally friendly designs. There are so many online resources for small home plans, I enjoy sharing them with my readers.
What’s the most frustrating personal finance experience you’d had?
Currently, the most frustrating personal finance experience I’m having is not saving as much money towards a down payment as I would like. Between my husband and myself, our income is slightly erratic, making it a little difficult to stick to a budget. For instance, I had a budget all planned out at the beginning of this year based on the income we steadily made the last two years. This year (though we are only one quarter into the new year), our income has drastically dipped. We are able to keep up with our monthly bills, but my savings account is suffering!
What is the most important personal finance lesson you have learned?
Don’t rack up debt! It drains your ability to save money. Instead of putting nice chunks of money away towards a savings account, you end up just paying a very wealthy bank finance charges. Whenever I look at an amortization chart, I cringe. We have paid off all of our credit cards, but we are still paying off a line of credit at an enormous interest rate, and a car loan. I try not to think about how much money I’ve paid these two institution in finance charges.
What was your first personal finance memory?
As a child, my parents pounded in the idea of not borrowing money (I have to say I lost this when I hit my 20’s). My very first experience with this idea was when a friend asked me to go skating with them. The entrance fee was really low, but I didn’t have it (I was about 13 years old). I had it all planned out; I’d borrow the money from my friend and pay her back at a later date. She agreed to this plan and she and her mom drove to my house to pick me up. As soon as they arrived, my stepfather (knowing I didn’t have the money) told me I couldn’t go. That was the end of that. I was mortified. I spent the first few years of my adult life using only cash.
If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?
It’s never to early to start saving for retirement. I’m so far behind. I think that the idea of immortality when you’re young inhibits people from thinking about their future. There’s this rose-colored lens over everything, including fulfilling your dreams. Then, you hit your mid-to-late 30’s and realize you don’t have as much time as you thought, 50 or 60 is just around the corner. One of my goals this year is to get serious about retirement planning.
What are your two favorite posts?
I think my two favorite posts of my own are Selling the American Dream and Small House Plans I Adore. They both focus on home ownership, a running theme throughout my blog, and focus on the idea that small houses can be a great deviation from the McMansions that boomed during the housing rush.