FACT: When you have a blog, lots of folks head straight to your “About” page to see what you’re all about.
FACT: When they go there, they’re expecting to see something that suggests you know what you’re talking about. Weird, right?
OPINION, DRIFTING DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO FACT: My “About” page is a bit underwhelming.
Let’s see if we can fix that.
For someone with a bit of a marketing background, I’ve certainly been slow-playing this hand. When I started this blog and needed an awesome nom de plume, I looked at colorful examples like Mr. Money Mustache, J. Money , and the Krazy Coupon Lady and decided to go with my initials: PK. Inspiring, yes.
At least it’s a less common moniker – rather unique and a bit memorable. But then it turned out there’s another PK out there in the financial blogosphere, and he’s been doing this for, like, ever. This industry titan is the Kleenex of finance bloggers named PK, and that’s a brand battle simply not worth fighting. I needed a new handle.
I’ve also done a relatively weak job of selling my credentials as a personal finance guy. I just filled my “About” page with a bunch of smushy thoughts about how I like finance and stuff.
Part of that was a desire to avoid shameless self-promotion. I’ve always considered myself a reasonably humble guy, and I don’t like it when people try to tell you how cool they are (who does?)
Take, for example, CJ Wilson. He’s a very-well-paid baseball pitcher with the L.A. Angels, seems nice and lives clean (no drugs/alcohol/etc.), and has a Brazilian supermodel wife. That formula could easily produce a likable and well-admired guy. As long as you don’t sing your own praises too much, that is. How much do you like – and, more importantly, respect – CJ as he casually describes how cool CJ is over a wonderfully wide range of topics:
While worried that laying out my credentials would be a little CJ Wilson-ish, I also realize that without some sort of background, it’s hard to differentiate myself from the legion of ne’er-do-well finance bloggers out there.
The easy fix and go-to standard for many bloggers is a compelling, highly personal, road-to-Damascus story where, after years of bad decisions, they suddenly discovered the truth about debt (spoiler: it’s bad) and clawed their way to redemption. Those are catchy and quite popular, but I sadly don’t have one.
All easily fixed with an update.
Since PK is no longer an option, and I haven’t been bitten by a radioactive investment banker or otherwise acquired super powers, I’ll just go by Paul. Which, conveniently, is my name. And what are the chances there’s another blogger named Paul out there, after all?
As for my personal finance chops, I offer the following:
- 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.
If there’s anything I’ve missed that you want to know, or if you think I am indeed cooler than CJ Wilson, or if you’d like to adopt a cat, let me know in the comments.