Why I Write About Personal Finance Even Though I’m Interested in Other Things (Part 1)

Money is only one lens through which to see the world. Many could argue it’s not the healthiest lens either, especially if you are creatively oriented and have plenty of other lenses to choose from.

Many could also make the point that what it takes to thrive in a money-related niche fosters narrow focus, subconscious competition, and surface level metrics (all working against creativity) and leading to a way of being that misses out on the point of life.

Harsh! I don’t want to miss out on the point of existence!

As a writer with vast experiences in songwriting, creative psychology, teaching, history, bibliotherapy, twice-exceptional individuals, and mental health - I had plenty of other niches to choose from when I started blogging.

Why Did I Choose Personal Finance?

Reason #1: Money is a Strange Magnet

It’s not hard to see how a daily task (such as trying to plan some meals for the week) relates back to money.  As I’m getting ready to haul our first car seat to the recycling center this afternoon, I am wondering how much waste I will see in the bins, and connecting this reality back to government policy and economics.  

From my high interest in sustainability issues to the subject of whether how someone dresses impacts how much they are tipped, a lot of interesting topics in the world relate back to money.  

Does becoming better with money make a creative person boring?  I don’t think so.

Long Car Ride Challenge:  Try to find a topic completely unrelated to money with no possibility for abstract connection (like the “six degrees of separation game” featuring Kevin Bacon, only with money).

Photosynthesis? Geckos? Bird beaks?  Can’t be done!

Right now, someone somewhere is studying biomimicry and generative design as they try to improve our technology using lessons from nature.  What do these researchers need in order to study these topics more effectively? Government grants. What do government grants lead back to? MONEY.

Reason #2: The Option to Wade In and Out of Deep Water

As mentioned above, whether we like it or not, money has a vine-like grip on our immediate lives along with deep roots spreading out into the broader world.  As a songwriter being reviewed in a publication, I was once told I only swam in the “deep end” of the pool. While some pros to this were mentioned, I also took the comment as - a lot of what I write doesn’t make sense or have an immediate relevant impact.  

Fast-forward to now, as a writer of a blog (and a niche songwriter of historical characters), I can’t get away with the abstract “lazy inconclusiveness” I could get away with in my past songs.  

On the blog, I want to be relatable. (With the history-themed songs, I guess I want to be a bad actor?) Either way, I desire to have a direct and straightforward valuable point.

That being said, I also like to see all sides to an issue. This can take a lot of time as a researcher and writer. When I try to wade in such water, it can get deep fast as I drown to meet a weekly deadline. On weeks when my brain is absolutely maxed out, I plan to keep producing content by discussing the business numbers of one American household (and maybe doing a cost breakdown). 

When I don’t want to take on a super personal topic (or navigate reading the thoughts and reactions of an imaginary audience), it's simply easier to whip out a small slice of modern history in the form of a frugal money diary.  Essentially, on this blog, you can find the story of a creativity-focused family trying to find their way in a rigid world. There’s a lot to say, but I still want energy for song-writing. Therefore, I won’t exercise certain parts of my brain when I don’t feel like it.  Numbers offer a way to change it up and use a different part of the mind.

Reason #3: Social Issue Tie-Ins

While often focused on the money journey of my own family, I also care immensely about the happiness and well-being of other creatures and humans on the planet.  The balancing act between my needs and the needs of others occupies my mind constantly.

I’m here to seek broader conversations about the role money plays in people’s lives as a whole (their self-esteem, creative freedom, ability to speak up, family dynamics, businesses, literal and abstract energy costs, etc.). I want to learn about controversial issues in the world as I put together my own well-thought-out opinions.  Most of all, I want to see people empowered. I also desire creative ways to give back.

Reason #4: Bridging Communities

When I hear about parents setting up their financial lives in order to provide the option of homeschooling (in order to accelerate their children’s learning) or parents setting up trust funds for their children with special needs (in order to guarantee they are cared for properly in adulthood), I connect these stories back to my own experiences with gifted and special education.  Due to the special considerations and accommodations required, I believe families in these particular demographics could especially benefit from financial literacy (and knowledge about establishing financial flexibility) accumulated within the personal finance community.

I have the same belief about artists who receive windfalls and then droughts of money (and athletes/models/singers who have careers with an expiration date).  Exposing these populations to this knowledge could help them put less financial pressure on their creativity and/or youth.  

I’m not sure how to tactfully navigate this or present such information to these demographics of people when I encounter them. I don't even desire to be the one to do it. But I think bridging these communities and locating resources could be personally fulfilling while helping them tackle certain vulnerabilities inherent in their situation.

Before I became active online, I had a sense creative people intrigued by personal finance are often people ready to tackle sticky issues about money.  With good but easily misunderstood intentions, many are navigating the intersection between a narrow focus on security and a broader focus on giving

Reason #5: Seeking Out Opposites

On purpose or subconsciously, I have made life very awkward for myself by engaging in an activity I like to call “seeking out opposites.” In any given scenario, I can look at the playing field and understand what I would gravitate towards naturally, as well as what contains components of “me, myself, and I” by default.  To override this (or apparently just to torture myself), at times I force myself to engage with the unexpected and run towards conflict.

For example, I am an introvert who ended up spending a large part of life on a stage.  In addition, I don’t actually listen to many folk-singers. But I listen to a lot of rock bands I have nothing in common with.  Furthermore, I finished my master’s degree but I’m married to someone without a college degree (long story). My immediate family of origin?  Every. Single. One. Of. Them... is a dominant Republican. Let’s just be brief and say... I AM NOT.

Should I mention the time I worked at Walmart but REFUSED to buy anything there?

As a brief final example - I will never live this down, prepare to never look at me the same way again, I have never told anyone this - when I was twenty, I was inspired by the feminist Gloria Steinem.  She spent time as an undercover Playboy Bunny journalist. Being aptly inspired by her meant I decided to work at Hooters for three months and gain 20 pounds while writing about the experience on Myspace.

Just ‘cuz.

Whether it means I am insane, helplessly naive, destructive, inconsistent, or just trying to suck the marrow out of life, “opposites” are what I do.  And this theme has come up over and over again throughout my life and in my creative projects.

I personally think sources of conflict and tension (while not always fun) have assisted me creatively.  I have come across the concept of “seeking out opposites” several times while studying creative psychology and the biographies of creative people.  

People high in the personality characteristic of openness (a “more official” term for this) set up experiments all the time and all over the place for the sake of their own stimulation.  Some experiments are incredibly insightful for all involved. Others? Well, they just confuse the daylights out of friends and family.

In the spirit of seeking out my opposites, I am a teacher/musician starting a personal finance blog.

(Disclaimer: Of course, you don’t have to do anything radical or asinine like I have in order to explore the idea of openness leading to creativity. You can simply check out a book in a different genre than usual.)

If you liked this, please check out Part 2 where I will connect money (Kevin Bacon style) to critical thinking, self-improvement addiction, systemizing vs. empathizing, 1890s inventors, and my husband's compulsive need to remodel the house.

If you write about money, I'd love to know why!  Feel free to comment below.


8 Replies to “Why I Write About Personal Finance Even Though I’m Interested in Other Things (Part 1)”

  1. This is awesome! Love your writing as always. So cool to get a glimpse into a thoughtful, creative mind.

    I don’t write about money as much as I used to, partially because the money aspect of what I do can b somewhat overdone – there’s so much great writing out there on nuts and bolts of achieving FI that I feel like I couldn’t possibly add to it. However, my experiences sometimes differ from the FI canon. That’s where I think I can help people, so that’s why I’ve written everything I have to this point.

    1. Thank you for stopping by to join the conversation City Frugal. Like you, I don’t want to create any repeating information already out there (especially if re-creating it takes time away from me actually being able to implement what I have learned). Before starting the blog, I used to spend more time on the nitty-gritty of our finances… now I’m busy with the blog! At least being busy with the blog keeps me from spending money (ha)! I think having a different angle (whether life in the city or creativity, etc.) and smashing it together with FI creates something interesting for people to find.

  2. If you pay attention to money, you have a lot more freedom. Not at all tangentially related to your post, my students once asked me why I started wearing makeup and pencil skirts (these were 12th graders I’d taught in 9th grade–when I didn’t wear those things; they knew me for the nerdy intellectual feminist who couldn’t care less what people thought of my appearance that I was/am). I responded (quite candidly) that the more conventional (and conventionally attractive) you look, the more conventions people are comfortable with you breaking. I consider makeup my camouflage and professional clothing my uniform. Shortly after that, I got a promotion. (I’m trying to say I understand the Hooters and think not even a little bit less of you). Thanks for writing in ways that keep me thinking, as always.

    1. Hello Diana,

      Thank you so much for stopping by the blog again and contributing your thoughts. I haven’t thought about the “conventional breaking of rules” thing before. I am so tempted to look into that more! I’ve been through so many phases with my appearance as well. I wear my hair in a bun all of the time with no makeup because it takes 30 seconds. Basically, I don’t put time into my appearance in the morning on 99% of days. On late start days (because of snow or fog), I wear my hair down or add a little make-up and I’m amazed how many kids comment on it (lol)!

  3. I started writing about money because no one was writing about low-income frugality from the point of view of two people with disabilities. I connected with a lot of readers who, for various reasons, couldn’t perform some or even many frugal hacks. (Someone who keeps kosher can’t go bargain shopping for beef, for example.)

    Over the years it’s morphed as my financial situation changed. I got a job, then that job paid me more and more money, then I got divorced and now… I write because I love my audience and a certain amount of navel-gazing, I suppose. I write because I feel like I have something to say, even if sometimes it’s just about how I’m doing.

    I feel like my readers are along for the ride that is my life, along with posts about more general personal finance, so I keep writing.

    I love the Hooters thing, by the way.

  4. Hey Abigail,

    I think it is awesome how you have taken your readers along with you on a journey as you earned more money (and went through other major changes in your life). I think diversity is incredibly important while discussing money, so I’m glad stories like yours are out there. I really think everyone has something to say and money as a topic seems to bring a lot of emotion out of people.

  5. Well I’m glad you chose to blog about money (even though I’m also curious to hear your thoughts on gifted education). I’ve been reading personal-finance blogs for maybe a dozen years, and your voice really stands out.

    I’m an intermittent blogger at best these days, but I started a PF blog at a time when midlife issues (aging parents, young children) were very much on my mind. Money just seemed to tie all those concerns together. Sometimes those issues have gotten in the way of blogging, but that’s another story.

    1. Hello Frieda! Thank you for the encouraging words. I think there are plenty of things to say about gifted education that relate back to money (for example, it was once found in a study, 20% of dropouts are actually gifted individuals). I found such a fact startling and it always stuck with me.

      I think it’s awesome to use your blog to write about issues on your mind even if it is intermittent. Money does tie together a lot of topics for the sandwich generation.

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