Unsolicited Response to Mr. 1500’s Questions

After reading Mr. 1500’s recent contribution to the Rockstar Finance Net Worth conversation, I thought I’d chime in and share my own response to his questions. Quite frankly I was a little surprised Mr. 1500 didn’t include me in his poll given how well established I am in the FI community.

Undeterred by this oversight, I thought I’d share my responses anyway. Although this does feel like one of those times when someone waves and you think they’re waving at you, so you enthusiastically wave back, but then realize that they were actually waving at someone behind you…so embarrassing.

But if you can’t embarrass yourself on your own blog where can you? And with that preamble out of the way, here are Mr. 1500s questions clearly intended for someone else, but enthusiastically being answered by me anyway.

Question #1: Why do you think the FI community is so incredibly open about their finances?

There were so many awesome responses to this question and I agreed with each of them. From accountability and paying it forward from Mrs. PoP (Planting our Pennies) to tracking (and publishing) your net worth just works by the original Rockstar himself, Mr. J$.

But it was Joe Udo (Retire by 40) comments about the “domino effect” that really resonated with me. Here are some additional thoughts along that same vein:

Vulnerability Begets Vulnerability

Think back to a time when you’ve been in a group in which an uncomfortable or taboo topic is being discussed. Whether it be a high school sex education class or a grief support group, the pattern is always the same.

In the opening minutes the facilitator will ask some pointed question to the group, which will be met with awkward silence. Gazes cast downwards to ensure no accidental eye contact is made with anyone. Uncomfortably shifting in the even more uncomfortable chairs.

But then some brave soul will pipe up and offer some opinion on the topic. The next question is met with slightly less awkwardness and uncomfortable shifting. Usually by the 10-15 minute mark, the conversation is flowing freely. The initial vulnerability made it easier for every one else to open up and let their guard down.

I think the same is true in the FI community when it comes to talking about numbers. A few brave souls (you know who you are) started putting their numbers out there and that act of vulnerability made it easier for everyone else to follow suit.

Bucking the Trend

Plus let’s face it the FI community is full of individuals who refuse to adhere to traditional expectations. Retire at 65! Are you crazy? 35 is more like it! Is it any wonder that they buck the trend when it comes to traditional expectations with talking about money?

Question #2: Why are you open about your finances?

Okay, so this one is less applicable to me. I’m beginning to see why Mr. 1500 didn’t seek my sage advice. But I will share why I haven’t been open with my finances (yet).

I’m just starting out on this whole blogging journey and haven’t even really found my voice yet. I know my purpose for this blog and as of yet I haven’t figured out where the Net Worth Updates fit in with that purpose.

And to be completely honest I still have some fear about sharing it. Mr. Tako cites anonymity as one of the reasons so many in the FI community share their numbers. I completely agree with this and if my intention were to keep this blog anonymous forever, I’d be more inclined to find a way to make the net worth updates fit with the blogs mission.

However, future professional plans may require the veil of anonymity to be lifted. If that is the case I don’t want those numbers out there, as it could be professionally compromising.

Question #3: Do you think it helps others by sharing your big number?

Again, for all the reasons stated above this question doesn’t apply to me. However, I’ll answer it from the other side of the equation: as a consumer of FI blogs, what is it like to see all those big numbers?

Up until a month ago (before I had started my little blog), I was a regular Joe, scouring the Net Worth tracker and I ended up focusing on three areas on the list.

The first section was obviously the top. These were like the after photos in a weight loss picture. It was inspiring to see these numbers were attainable. But it was also super motivating to read the stories of how each of the individuals on that list got there. I’d pour through the blogs and glean whatever wisdom I could get from their stories and apply it to my life as best I could. Without that big number capturing my attention, all of that wisdom may have been overlooked.

The second section I found myself focusing in on was the group that had a similar net worth to my own. These were my net worth peers and I liked to check in on them to see how they were doing. There is a special kinship I feel with this group.

I imagine it’s like looking around at your fellow runners as you start a marathon. You’re embarking on this monumental journey together and while some will finish before you and others will finish after, the end result will be that you’ll all have just accomplished something amazing.

The third group is the bottom dwellers. I have a special fondness for this group. I’ve been where they are and can’t help but feel admiration at their undeterred ambition. I have zero doubt they will one day find themselves on the right side of this list.

They are also the ones that are usually the hungriest of the group. I love checking in on them to get a swift kick in the keister whenever I’m feeling a bit stagnant in my own journey.

Final Thoughts

While I can only assume that Mr. 1500’s e-mail to me asking for my insights must have gotten lost in the mail, I hope that you found some wisdom (or at very least entertainment) in my own attempts at answering these questions.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. I’d love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts below: 

How would you answer Mr. 1500’s questions? Do you regularly check the Rockstar Net Worth Tracker like I do? Which numbers stick out to you the most?

6 Comments

  1. These are some questions that I have thought about. Whenever my husband or I write a post for a blog I’m always careful to make sure that we don’t over share in regards to our personal finances. We blog a lot about personal finances, but I’m definitely not comfortable sharing ALL of the numbers. I don’t mind sharing when we talk amongst family and friends, especially if it’s something that might help them out in return. However, I feel like it’s completely different then if we were to post about it on the Internet.

    1. Totally agree. When you can control who gets the information it’s no big deal, but when you post it online you completely lose that control. It’s tough finding the balance of being transparent and trying to help your readers and wanting to maintain some privacy.

  2. Mr. 1500’s email to me got lost in the blogosphere as well. Bummer!

    I don’t regularly check the net worth of people in the PF community or care that much to tell you the truth. The one time I find it interesting is when someone’s about to pull the plug on the job. Looking at individual comfort levels is fascinating to me. Some can do it with $400K in investments while others don’t feel secure until they have much more.

    1. Ha, I love it.

      It is really interesting to see the number that people define as Financially Independent. Such a wide variety. But that’s what makes the community so interesting. Thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate you reading!

  3. It’s a travesty you weren’t included in his post. I’ll be honest, I like posting my net worth to the tracker not just because it’s solid (1.3M but who’s counting, daily?), but I think it drives traffic to the blog. Not that I make money off my blog, I don’t, but the thought I might some day is why I recently updated the tracker.

    1. I’ve been thinking more about posting our net worth and while I’m still not in a place to do it, I might be moving myself closer to taking the plunge. If my work situation was different I certainly would, but right now that is the biggest obstacle. Although, if I was in the 1.3M range, I’d for sure post about that!

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