Politics and Your Wallet – Warren’s Wealth Tax

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a race for president that’s been going on in the United States. For the past 14 months. That will last another 9 months.


With that in mind, we’ve been spending time exploring the intersection of politics and personal finance. If we’re going to be figuring out which candidates to vote for then we might as well learn how their proposed policies would affect our wallets.

We’ve already looked into Kamala Harris’s LIFT Act and Cory Booker’s baby bonds proposal. (Both have since ended their campaigns but, as I noted in those articles, they are still members of the United States Senate and will presumably continue to push their respective plans.

Today we’re going to look at something a bit more complicated: Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan. Continue reading “Politics and Your Wallet – Warren’s Wealth Tax”

Behind the Scenes

A lot of blogs are centered on people’s personal journeys.

They are chronicling some aspect of their life or using personal anecdotes to help teach lessons. They talk about themselves and give you a behind-the-scenes view of their finances or their decision-making or whatever other topics they cover.

That’s not generally how I write.

I understand the appeal and it seems like a great way to build a devoted following, but it isn’t my thing. They say you should write what you want to read, and I don’t really want to read about me.

I also don’t feel like my story is necessarily all that helpful to many people. I am a lawyer, but I don’t make much money for a lawyer, while at the same time making more than most non-lawyers. I have a huge amount of student loan debt, but I am participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, so the normal debt payoff stories don’t apply. I am pursuing financial independence, but at a leisurely pace. My financial story feels a bit too disjointed to be all that useful to anyone.

Once in a while, though, I get meta and chronicle my thoughts on this blog, my personal situation, and relevant goals going forward. That’s going to be the case in today’s post. Continue reading “Behind the Scenes”

Personal Finance and Politics

You may have noticed that I talk about the intersection of politics and personal finance from time to time. To time. To time. To time. To time. Etc.

I always get some pushback, but I keep going because it is important. A conversation about money without discussing politics is only developing part of the picture. If we, as personal finance writers, really want to help our readers, we should be giving them the full picture and the full suite of tools to take control of their money and their lives.

It is also a severely under-covered part of the personal finance discussion.

I give this background as a way to provide context for a conversation that took over personal finance Twitter recently.

Continue reading “Personal Finance and Politics”

Politics and Your Wallet – Baby Bonds

While many writers in the personal finance community shy away from politics, we should instead be spending more time understanding and explaining politics to our readers. The decisions that politicians make directly impact our lives, so it is important to understand what politicians stand for and what they will do if elected.

Understanding politics gives you the power to advocate for politicians and policies that will improve your life and the lives of those around you.

With our Politics and Your Wallet series, we’re working on looking at different economic policy proposals and how they will affect you. Our last investigation was into Kamala Harris’s LIFT Act, which would send monthly checks to 80 million Americans.

Today, we’ll be looking at Cory Booker’s “baby bonds” plan, which would fund an investment account for every child in the United States.

Even if Booker does not win the presidency, he will still be in the Senate and will keep advocating for this plan. It has even recently picked up a champion in the House in Ayanna Pressley. So while Booker’s prospects in the primary look remote at this point, this policy is still worth a closer look. Continue reading “Politics and Your Wallet – Baby Bonds”

Politics and Your Wallet – The LIFT Act

People in the personal finance community tend to avoid talking about politics like the plague.

I understand the inclination. Politics can be divisive and we want to bring people together. We want our message to reach the widest possible audience. And, for those writers who monetize their blogs, they want to bring in traffic without turning anyone off.

But this inclination to avoid politics hurts our readers.

Politics matters. We need to stop pretending that it doesn’t.

All of us that are writing about personal finance are doing so because we want to help people live better lives. The policies that politicians enact directly impact whether that goal is easier or harder to reach.

This is true of all sorts of policies, not just economic. But there is absolutely no ignoring the fact that economic policies created in Washington directly affect our wallets and our lives.

We all can affect what those policies look like and which get enacted, both through our votes and through your voices. If we really want to empower our readers to make the best decisions for improving their lives, we can’t ignore politics. Continue reading “Politics and Your Wallet – The LIFT Act”

Victim Mentality and the Personal Finance Community

I’ve found a lot of value in seeking out opinions I disagree with and working to understand them better. I have learned a lot more from this approach than from standard debates where both sides are dug in and defensive.

Lately I’ve also used this approach to inform my writing. I’ve reached out for opinions on privilege, charity, and shaming in an effort to have more fully fleshed out ideas.

Given this background, I decided to take a similar approach to something that is often discussed among personal finance bloggers in a broad and vague manner: victim mentality.

Especially on Twitter, personal finance bloggers regularly complain about other bloggers encouraging a victim mentality. These comments are generally met with likes and agreement.

But I didn’t understand. How could this be so prevalent in the personal finance community without me even noticing? Do we just have different definitions of victim mentality? Are we just running in different circles?

I reached out and asked folks to name names and explain their rationale to get a better understanding. Continue reading “Victim Mentality and the Personal Finance Community”

When is Shaming Okay?

When we last met, we discussed donating money to charity and the pushback that comes when you publicly encourage people to donate more.

The discussion in the personal finance community originally kicked off with a thread of tweets from Tanja of Our Next Life. When I reached out to folks to learn more about why they pushed back against the encouragement to donate more, I received a lot of different answers that I detailed in the last article.

I also received a lot of complaints about shaming that I set aside and investigated separately.

So let’s dive into shaming here today. Continue reading “When is Shaming Okay?”

The Case Against Charity

Earlier this year the personal finance community got into a heated debate about charitable giving. The conversation kicked off with a thread of tweets from Tanja of Our Next Life.

Tanja’s thread was filled with research and nuance, but the big takeaway was basically that we fail to recognize when we are wealthy, and this leads to a scarcity mindset that, among other things, causes us to donate much less money than we are actually able.

This all seemed pretty uncontroversial to me. And yet, it led to a lot of pushback. Especially the idea that those of us with money should be donating more of it.

I wanted to understand why, so I asked. Continue reading “The Case Against Charity”

A Response to a Manifesto

Last week, an 8,000 word blog post called The Alt-FI Manifesto was published on the Freedom is Groovy blog. It got a huge number of reactions in the personal finance community, and none of them neutral.

The post was essentially a lengthy argument that a libertarian approach to financial independence is the correct approach and that the progressives in the field are wrong.

A lot of people (especially early on) shared the article and sang its praises. Many others who joined the conversation found it misinformed and wildly offensive.

The post opens by acknowledging that people will be offended if they “have a delicate constitution” and makes a plea for reasoned discussion if people disagree.

I am going to honor that plea here. Continue reading “A Response to a Manifesto”

Work Optional – Your Money or Your Life for the Modern Pragmatist

If you write, read, or even dip your toe into the financial independence space, then you’ve read Our Next Life. In only a few years of existence, Tanja Hester’s blog has rocketed from a brand-new site to Rockstar Finance mainstay to 2018 Blog of the Year. Tanja has become a major community builder in the personal finance space and has launched a podcast (with plans for another) and hosted her own conference.

On top of all that, she has a new book coming out today! The book is Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way. I’ve read it, and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

As a note: Tanja is a friend, I’ve been reading her work for a long time, and she sent me a copy of the book. I make no claims of being unbiased. 🙂 That said, I fully believe and stand by everything set forth below.

Continue reading “Work Optional – Your Money or Your Life for the Modern Pragmatist”