"Save more, spend less, and don't do anything stupid."
I'm reading Kiplinger magazine and I'm fascinated. I wonder if I should subscribe to Money, Fortune, and Forbes, too. This personal fiance stuff is fascinating. I'm working a lot of hours at the family restaurant, but in my spare time I watch programs on cable that cover personal finance, like Suze Orman's show. This stuff just makes a lot of sense to me and I love how simple and straightforward it is.
It's now a few years later and I'm working as a bank teller with a coworker and friend of mine. He tells me that his brother told him, "You aren't really living until you rack up at least $20,000 in credit card debt." We laugh. "What a moron," we think. Nobody should have that much credit card debt! That's so much money! Plus, it doesn't fit into any of the rules we've ever read or heard about in our personal finance educations.
Now it's 2005 and I'm bummed that had to cut back on my hours toward the end my college career because I was making less but the bills stayed the same. I move to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN) where I find a temp job helping people peddle subprime mortgages, but it only lasts a couple months. I find myself unemployed in an expensive city.
By the time I find the job that starts my career I've taken inventory of my credit card bills. Somewhere along the lines I borrowed $25,000 over 10 credit cards with interest payments of over $5,000 per year. My mind flashes back to how I made fun of my friend's brother for having credit card debt and now I've gone and done it.
It took some time, but I finally learned that this personal finance stuff isn't easy, even if it is simple.
Simple, but Not Easy
Simple and easy are not the same thing. Simple usually refers to concepts and rules. Are the rules simple or complex? Easy usually refers to performing. Is it easy to do or difficult? Mowing the grass is both simple and easy, because the concept of cutting the grass is straightforward and actually doing the mowing is not difficult. The game Rock, Paper, Scissors is easy, because it's not a difficult game to learn. However the game itself is rooted in game theory and predicting opponent behavior, so it's quite complicated. Everyone's favorite comparison, rocket science, is both complicated and difficult (i.e. not simple and not easy).