I sometimes think that everyone agrees on a few key facts. Just the usual stuff, like:
- It’s OK to make fun of people who wear Ed Hardy or Affliction.
- There’s no such thing as a good tampon commercial.
- It’s a tie between Gabriel García Márquez and Margaret Atwood for the title of greatest living novelist.
- The best late-night snacks are the most unhealthy foods you can grab from the fridge and eat while standing there, half-asleep, with the door open. Cold pizza, I’m looking at you.
But then I remember that I am full of opinions and not everyone thinks like me. But we do sometimes think alike when we take the same paths, good or bad, with our money. I started American Debt Project with a couple goals in mind: get myself out of debt and figure out why people get into debt so easily and stay in debt when they don’t have any really good reasons for it.
When I talked to my friends or even just acquaintances, I found lots of people putting off paying off their debt or being serious about saving in favor of short-term rewards. I did that for so much of my 20s that I wasn’t even sure I would be able to change my ways when I started blogging about my debt in June 2011. A year and a few months later, I’m about a third of the way there with paying off my consumer debt and I’ve also come to realize that most of the reasons for credit card debt boil down to being impulsive, irrational and acting on those irrational impulses (when debt doesn’t happen because of insane medical bills, family emergencies or extended job loss).
Believe me, I know. I’m a bonafide expert (10,000 practice hours?) on impulsive decisionmaking. I used to perceive decisions the same way I perceived jumping off of waterfalls: don’t look too far over the edge, don’t stand there thinking about it for too long and just go for it and see what happens. That’s great advice for jumping off of waterfalls but probably awful advice for making decisions impacting the next several years of your life. I’ve been slowing down my decisions ever since.
When I joined the Yakezie challenge, I really wanted to make it to the end. “Begin with the end in mind” has a familiar ring to it, right? And so I did. Being a part of a group has its challenges: you don’t want to get caught up in groupthink or doing something because everyone else is doing it. But sometimes, the things that other people are doing can be awesome! That’s what I’ve learned from the Yakezie. I realized that being a part of a group but also being an individual can give you amazing opportunities you would have never had before. I also joined in no small part due to Andrea at So Over This. Andrea’s blog was the first personal finance blog that I discovered outside of the big names (although now she’s a big name herself) and so much of her story resonates with me and plus she’s pretty awesome. So knowing that Yakezie included plenty of smart, funny, successful and yet still totally open bloggers was enough to convince me to join.
I used to enjoy taking the opposite side from as many people as possible. I’ve always been an outsider. I tend to challenge everything. But that can be draining and counterproductive. It’s great to question authority or analyze a prevailing wisdom in depth, but it’s also incredibly smart to pool resources and work together or offer a helping hand without expecting anything in return. The Yakezie forums and its members have been entertaining and enlightening. I have so much to learn from all of you and I am humbled by how helpful and patient each person in this network is.
I’ve always said I’m all about ideas. I want to hear people’s ideas and tell them my own crazy ideas. Ideas are just the beginning though. An idea is a seed that can be trampled on with a few negative thoughts. To take it from conception to fruition (does that sound dirty?) requires you to believe in that idea completely, to keep developing it and to not give up, since only your persistence will keep that idea going. And maybe this blogging thing is our craziest idea yet. But I know we’ll work together to keep it going.