A Chance Encounter -How I Became Interested in Personal Finance

by Adam on April 9, 2010

Magical Penny has set the ground-work for growing your pennies: covering debt, saving and focus, amongst other topics. Starting on Monday Magical Penny will begin Investing 101 but to finish the week I thought it would be worth sharing how a chance encounter with the subject led me to first begin growing my pennies.

One thing that fascinated me as a history student was discovering how so much of our history was dictated by chance: particularly how different the world could have been if a seemingly insignificant event hadn’t occurred.

Chance, of course, continues to play a huge part in all of our lives: perhaps for you it was a chance meeting that lead to a life-long relationship. Or a job advert catching your eye whilst flicking through a paper leading to your eventual career.  For me, one chance thing that I hope will change my life, and yours by reading this,  was my discovery of the world of personal finance.

A Whole New World

Many people think that personal finance is not relevant to them: perhaps they think personal finance is about either being a miser living on a few pennies a day or a hot-shot speculator gambling everything you’ve got in the markets. Both views are based partly on reality but  there is a middle-ground. For me, personal finance blogs opened my eyes to this middle ground and were great resources for demystifying personal finance (Reading stuffy investment prospectuses and finance books came much later!)

Using credit cardsMoney Money Money

The personal finance blogosphere to the uninitiated might at first seem filled to bursting with self-indulgent rants by people obsessed with growing their net worth. New readers might ask “Haven’t people got better things to do than sit counting their money?”. But there’s much more to it than that: personal finance blogs have exploded online and their value is through offering new perspectives and insight about everyday problems and goals.

There certainly are some characters writing personal finance blogs and I’ve certainly read my share of extreme stories detailing astronomical debts or outlandish stock market gains. The best and most successful blogs however are written by people who, after wracking up huge credit card debts, experience a money epiphany of religious intensity, before turning their life around (The Simple Dollar , Get Rich Slowly and Five Pence Piece come to mind)

As a student reading such stories in modest student accommodation in England, without a credit card or a stock market account, and not knowing anyone personally who actually had such a thing, I found these accounts of crazy spending and financial reconciliation utterly fascinating.

Naturally I compared their stories to my limited experiences. I didn’t have a story to tell. I had never been particularly reckless with money: I saved semi-regularly and never exceeded my interest-free overdraft at university. I had not ever found myself in a ‘make or break’ position that most personal finance bloggers profess to have been in. But one idea did stick with me as I read through the dramas of ‘financial armageddon’:  the power of now: these faceless formerly financially irresponsible American 30 somethings were telling me that if I started on a meaningful financial journey early I could reap the rewards in the future, particularly as I was only just entering my 20s. The faceless 30 something Americans had spoken. And I listened.

And I had the best thing going for me: youth.

I had never seriously thought about personal finance or investing until that chance encounter on a personal finance blog and whilst I doubt I would have found myself in mountains of debt, I’m glad to have discovered the subject when I did. It was arguably the perfect time: as a young adult preparing to enter the working world. The chance discovery of personal finance blogs raised my consciousness and made me determined not to drift financially in these early years when financial habits are only just beginning to form.

First You Make the Habit, Then the Habit Makes You

Saving money is one of those things that everyone knows they should be doing but for many, is something that they never get around to. Or perhaps they do but only when *something* happens, perhaps a significant life event that makes them think about what they want their future to look like and they realise they need to make meaningful steps to get there. For me it wasn’t a specific event but rather it was seeing a graph (yes I know how cool that makes me sound) showing how over time your savings can grow much faster than your contributions if you put your pennies to work.

First Steps

So personal finance reading helped me appreciate the power of time. But it’s doing something with that knowledge that ultimately will have an impact.  When it came to learning about investing the resources on the Internet were helpful to an extent but then came the hard part: Most of the advice on investing was very US-centric so I had to adapt the strategies to what was available in the UK. Thankfully over the next 3-4 years I found the best ways to grow my pennies with the resources and services available in the UK. I finally had a story to tell! Magical Penny was born.

So much of history is determined by chance: perhaps you stumbled on this post today by chance, like I did on a similar post 4 years ago.  If so don’t miss out as Magical Penny begins detailing how to invest your money, starting next Monday.

Make your own history by starting to save today because those history lessons didn’t just teach me about chance:  Alas you can’t just hope your way to financial success. History taught me that it’s not chance but rather it is planning and focus that has the biggest impact of all.

Have you ever come across something completely by chance that led you down a completely different path in life? Let me know in the comments!


In Other News

Magical Penny is proud to launch a new facebook campaign: Aleksandr the Meerkat for Prime Minister!

The Facebook fan page points to a Magical Penny information page, inspired by the UK elections announced for 6th May 2010, to encourage you to take financial responsibility and put it in your own hands-why rely on politicians when you can be proactive yourself to get money in your pocket today?

<If you are in the market for renewing car insurance or home insurance then using a price comparison site to get a number of quotes can save you substantial sums.

As well as encouraging you to get a quote, (Magical Penny is all about you being proactive with your finances), you will also be supporting Magical Penny as I will get a few pennies for every completed quote so thank you in advance.

You don’t even have to take out the insurance itself. Just get a quote using the links on this info page.

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