Three years ago, in October 2008, the stock market crashed and — not coincidentally, as I was then employed by the brokerage arm of an international bank — I promptly lost my job. The following month my partner Jak took a 10% pay cut, as the market continued dropping and layoffs and hiring freezes broke out all over.
The long hiatus in Pocketmint came about largely because during the ensuing period of unemployment I founded a software startup and then had no time to spare for blogging. After about a year and a half, the startup stalled out and I had to shut it down and walk away from it. (I’ll share more about that whole experience later.)
Jak and I have now spent three years with an income of less than half of what we had in 2007 and 2008. We’ve had some setbacks, but overall have been lucky enough to keep our noses above water — one or the other of us has been working full-time for all but a few weeks of those three years, supplemented by the occasional small freelance check. But our lives have undergone a slow seismic shift, even so.
In Pocketmint’s earlier incarnation, you can see that I was already leaning pretty hard toward a frugal lifestyle; I’ve continued along that trajectory, and now have three years’ more practice at making every dollar count. So going forward, you can expect to see a lot more stories and ideas about living cheaply-but-well.
But beyond that: since I last wrote in Pocketmint I’ve completely changed our budgeting plan, most of our purchasing choices, and our investment strategy. We’ve altered the way we handle health care and housing and our plans for retirement.
So there are a whole lot of practicable personal finance concepts that I’d like to continue to share. But moreso than before, I find myself also wanting to cover the theoretical side of things.
I’ve done a lot of reading in the last few years — hooray for public libraries! — much of which has been pointed at unravelling a specific conundrum. Put briefly: over two decades of adulthood I’ve collected a heaping pile of personal, empirical evidence that the world does not operate, economically speaking, in the ways we have been told it does (‘we’ meaning roughly ‘middle-class Americans of my generation and beyond’).
So I’ve been chasing a greater understanding, studying not just economics but also history and psychology and sociology. I’ve found it fascinating, and that reading has often been the impetus for the practical changes I mentioned above. I hope that I can both provide a window into ‘what’s really going on here’ and tie that understanding back to the question of ‘yes, but how do I get through the week?’.
In addressing the full economic context, I’m certain to piss some people off, so I’m bracing for that. While I’m not likely to write anything that is political in a direct, party-affiliated way (not least because I myself do not feel closely affiliated with any extant political party), my writing will certainly on occasion come across as political, because you simply can’t talk about larger economic issues without also bumping up against politics. And I believe that the larger economic issues are too important to be ignored.
So that’s a bit about where I’ve been and where I plan to go next. If you were a Pocketmint v1 reader, thank you and welcome back! I hope you’ll like the new stuff as well. It’s good to be sharing again.