I share my personal experiences here to create a formal record of what I do. I can always come back to the website in the future and to some degree understand the choices I made. Consumerism Commentary allows me to remain honest with myself — and with thousands of readers. I’m not a finance expert, and that’s another reason I started writing on this website. If you want someone to tell you exactly what you should be investing in, talk to a financial advisor. I’m telling you where I’m investing my money and why — you’re free to do what you want.
Part of telling the public my experiences in personal finance is sharing the mistakes, and I’ve had a few. The mistake I’m focusing on is the lack of understanding of my worth and the worth of my time.
Years ago, I worked at a small non-profit organization. You could consider it small because there were only ten to twelve full-time employees, but it was quite large considering our programs affected hundreds of thousands of people each year, and we dealt with major organizations and companies like the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (Giants Stadium) and Dodger Productions (big Broadway producer, many shows) on a regular basis.
When you’re working for a mission that’s based on enriching lives rather than creating value for shareholders, sometimes you have to make personal sacrifices. When your organization is the top player in its niche or genre, the organization has a lot of power to take advantage of its employees who should just “be happy to work there.”
Well, I was happy to work there for some time, but the Executive Director and I had some conflicting beliefs about treatment of employees, respect, and communication. You just can’t work in a tight-knit organization and have major philosophical differences with the head boss, so we mutually ended the relationship. The whole time I was working there, I ignored my personal finance situation. I was making a sacrifice for the mission, so I just didn’t give it much thought, but it was costing me more to commute to the office than I was making. I moved closer — but the environment was so bad by that time, the wheels were already in motion for me to leave.
Once I left, I was forced to get serious about my money. I needed to find a job and I needed a place to stay. I got back on track, discovered the joy of earning more than it costs to live, and put myself on a path to saving money.
Updated May 11, 2006 and originally published February 12, 2006.