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My Story

“One of the 10 Best Personal Finance Blogs.”

~Kiplinger Magazine

Retro White 80 fullWelcome to 20somethingfinance! I am the author, G.E. Miller. Long story short – I went from zero savings and significant debt after graduation to saving over 85% of my income in just a few years. Now, I am full-on embracing every aspect of a financially responsible, engaged, environmentally-friendly, low-impact, frugal lifestyle – from the razor blades I shave with to retirement account optimization. And I’m chronicling the journey on this blog.

If you’re new here, you can find every post by category & a full list of every post in order, if you’re ambitious and want to start from the beginning. 20somethingfinance is closing in on 7 years old and has become one of the most popular personal finance blogs in the world. To mark the 5th anniversary, I put together a list of the top 25 ideological and top 50 strategic posts of the first five years, if you’re a Cliff Notes kind of person.

Also – don’t let the name of the blog scare you off. If you’re not in your 20’s, that’s OK. I no longer am either (but the blog is stuck with the name), and close to half of the readers here are 30+. Learning and sharing knowledge of personal finance has no age restrictions.

Now, on to the more detailed and dramatic story on why this blog exists…

The Best Years?

tiredI graduated in aftermath of the burst tech bubble with a business B.A. from Michigan State University, hit the workforce, and started making $30k per year while working 50-60+ hours a week at a job that did not require a college degree. I had no room to breathe – my cell phone, cable, internet, utility, car, fuel, rent, insurance, credit card, student loan, and food expenses were eating all of my income. I had zero savings to speak of.

I started to wonder when it became the acceptable standard that the best years of our lives – our twenties (and even thirties, forties, and fifties), turn into the years where we work 60 hours a week to simply keep up with our bills? When did weekends turn into “free time” where we catch up on work we fell behind on during the week and chores around the house?

Feelings of stress and frustration about a lack of savings for the present and future started taking over my life. Time was seemingly passing me by. My soul was being choked away by the following the path that everyone else was – all work and no play in order to pay for ridiculous consumer indulgences. The prospect of a lifetime of work for THIS? Unthinkable.

Taking a Stand

I had to do something. I realized that if I were going to have any shred of enjoyment in life, I needed to veer off the comfortable path. But my finances were holding me back. So what did I do? I started hacking them.

I got married and we had an inexpensive wedding – keeping the cost to under $2,500. I sold my over-sized house and moved to take a higher income job. Instead of buying a bigger home, I bought a smaller one. I then sold our second car to get rid of the payments and started biking to work. I sold half of my personal belongings. I cut my phone bill in half and cut my cable bill. I became vegetarian, saved money on groceries, and stopped dining out almost entirely. I maxed out my 401K. I stopped trading and started investing. I stopped paying for my company’s traditional PPO health insurance and switched to a HDHP and HSA, so that they started paying me. I re-organized my wallet and started using credit cards to my advantage. I switched to products and services that saved me a lot of money vs. ones that only took money away. I was reversing the consumer accumulation life cycle. “Stuff” and material status stopped mattering to me entirely.

As a result, my income started increasing, while my expenses declined drastically.

I eventually reached a personal savings rate over 85% of what I earned – 21 times the average U.S. savings rate of 4%. In short, my finance hacking was allowing me to save, in just two years, a higher percentage of income than most do cumulatively, OVER THEIR ENTIRE CAREER.

Was I Feeling Depressed and Deprived?

my dog MurdockQuite the contrary. I felt excited, awake, driven, and determined. Instead of fear and resentment, I started feeling hopeful about the future. There was a fire burning inside of me to go even further.

Financial independence became an inevitable path, not just a dream.

Today, I’m well along that path.

The downsides? There are none. I have easily adjusted. I have all the stuff I need, and more. And I’ve become more creative, less materialistic, and much more satisfied in life.

I have a comfortable home, a great wife, a dog, and two cats. My wife and I home brew, we backpack, we couchsurf, we eat great food, we travel, we cook, we entertain, we’re in good health, and we have zero debt. We’re not missing out on a thing that matters.

What’s Next?

Let’s take this personal finance journey together.

If you get fired up about:

  • financial independence
  • hacking your spending to extremely low levels (less than $10k/yr. per person)
  • reducing wasteful consumption and minimizing your impact on the environment
  • learning the basics of personal finance & sharing ideas with others
  • being healthy, wealthy, well-rounded, generous, and fighting for and setting your own path in life

… then you are in the right place.

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You’ll also find a sitemap of every post by category, and every post in chronological order, to help you navigate the archives.

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