My name is Paul, and this site is my little effort to contribute to galactic personal finance knowledge.
If you’re here, it’s either a) because you’re interested in personal finance stuff; or b) because you searched for something that happened to intersect with my incredibly broad definition of what is personal-finance-related.
Either way, welcome aboard!
In terms of an awesome “About” page, I’m pacing myself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.
But I can at least address your burning questions, like what qualifies me to pen a blog. The answer is nothing – any monkey can write a blog nowadays.
Regarding finance, though, I do have a bit of a relevant background. My personal finance chops include:
- I’ve been an active investor for over 25 years.
- I’m a big fan of investing in individual stocks. I’m also a big fan of index funds. There’s no contradiction there, in case you’re looking for one.
- My best stock pick has returned ~4,000%, and counting (luck played a big hand). My worst one has returned -100% (I’ve pulled off that neat little trick a couple of times). My index funds always seem to give me a market return, though.
- I fashion myself a contrarian, but those who do the same know that it’s a lonely, daily battle to stay one.
If You Think This Type of Stuff Is Important
- I’ve got a finance degree from a top-ranked undergraduate business school.
- I’ve got an MBA from a top-ranked graduate business school.
- I’ve got even more finance credentials, but they’ll have to wait as long as I’m cloaked in anonymity.
Taxes Are Fun
- I like doing taxes. I like avoiding and deferring them whenever possible, but I always stick to the rules religiously (in case anyone’s listening). I’ve been audited once, and I found the experience to be pretty fun. Me 1, IRS 0.
- I’ve done my best to fully utilize the big boys of tax-advantaged accounts: IRA, Roth IRA, 529, SEP. I like to put the right assets in the right accounts.
Critical Financial Stuff
- Will and other key estate planning docs, check. All sorts of insurance (esp. life and umbrella), check. Training my boys to be financially responsible, in progress. Hopes of leaving some legacy – financial and otherwise – to them, uncertain but hopeful.
These items are an afterthought to some, but I put them at the very top of personal finance concerns.
Debt and Spending
- Other than a mortgage, I’ve never had debt (with one small caveat that I’ll detail in due course). You could argue that’s because I’ve done OK with earnings, but the real driver is that I’ve been debt-averse and a crazy saver since I was 8.
- I consider myself frugal, but it appears frugality is quite the relative thing on the internet. I imagine I’d be immediately disqualified from the Frugality Olympics because of some of my choices (like an expensive MBA). I’m not going to push a frugal – or cheap masquerading as frugal – agenda here anyway (there are rumors of a couple of sites out there already doing this). But I do want it on the record that I like to drink Keystone Light.
- I’ve been a consultant in a variety of capacities (financial, turnaround, management/strategy). I’ve also worked in various finance roles in industry. As a lad, I mowed lawns and installed signs for my dad’s small business before I began my love affair with the Man at Taco Bueno, where all great love affairs begin.
- I quit my highest paying job at the age of 36, halving my salary with it never to return. It was probably my best financial decision.
- I quit the Man at the age of 41 and started my own consultancy. I planned on 3 years of income-less pain with the missus carrying us, but the Man had different plans and became my first and biggest client. (Hint: when dealing with the Man, it’s sometimes better to be a consultant than an employee.)
- I have a lovely wife and two lovely boys.
- I have the best dog in the history of dogs.
- I have the worst cat in the history of cats. (But I still love him. Sort of.)
- I don’t have many goals that are set in stone. I’d just like to look back at the end of my life and see a rich tapestry – a history of great relationships, wonderful and wide experiences, and jobs (especially those of father, husband, friend) well done. Money isn’t a goal at all, but it is a powerful tool that can make it easier to succeed in those more important parts of my life. Keeping my finances in great order and my pile growing will therefore always be top priorities.
While I’m not willing to run around financially naked like a lot of bloggers – publishing net worth, Mint screenshots, and how I save money on socks – hopefully this post’ll tease the idea that I may know a bit about personal finance. For most things that fall in that realm, it’s a safe bet that I’ve come across them and understand them reasonably well. If I don’t, it’ll be a short trip to finding someone who does or learning myself. But remember – no financial advice is to be had here – just rollicking good entertainment with a finance twist.
About Me 1.0 – pre this post
(Softer and smushier background for Paul – more of the actual reason I’m writing, but less attention grabbing.)
I realized some time ago that although I didn’t have all of the answers to every personal finance question, I’m well on my way, and I have an endless curiosity to keep improving.
In my household, I tend to fill more of the financial roles – from accounts payable clerk to CFO. I think this division of labor suits me and the missus just fine, but it does pose one real risk: what if I get hit by the proverbial bus? I initially thought that I would put together a binder with everything my wife would need to know to run our finances if I were gone. But in talking to others, I realized that many of the things I wanted to capture would be valuable for a larger audience.
And when I thought about it, so many of the key points of the personal finance and life happiness come down to your philosophy. My mother didn’t know anything about an IRA, or an exchange traded fund, or income taxes, or life insurance – all of those things are nice, but they’re just tools. But she gave me the foundation for all of my financial success (live way under your means, invest, never carry debt, save for a rainy day) through years of subtle lessons.
I plan on trying to pass on the same lessons directly to my two children, but perhaps this site can help too. I’m always excited when I come across an old letter written by my mother or father – it’s a special window to see them from long ago. I’m hopeful that my gentle musings here will be good for at least a small chuckle to them someday, and may teach them something to boot.
I think the internet would consider me financially independent, but I plan on working for the rest of my life. I’d rather consider myself living an asset-based life – my investments, background, experience, network, family, and friends, along with the careful steps I’ve taken to protect them – should keep me from needing to work for a paycheck ever again. Breaking free from an income-based, paycheck-focused life is a wonderful thing, and I hope you can join me.