In writing the first three posts in this series, I managed to create a controversy. I don’t want to get into the specifics because doing so will only magnify the controversy. My intention in starting this thread was to provide a narrative line from my own experience that sheds light on the nature of American money values, because I believe these values play a huge role in successful personal finance, and that money values are deeply rooted in things like class, race, culture, religion and gender.
The first three posts are tough reading, but set the stage for future events: my legal emancipation at age 16, working full-time the last two years of high school to support myself, applying to colleges via the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP), and, as the only Caucasian in that program at the time, encountering race and class differences in our culture directly through the experience of living with my African American roommate and tutoring EOP students needing help with remedial skills. I saw myself, for the first time, as being privileged in receiving a first-class public education that prepared me for college and a future professional life. From the point of moving to Great Neck through my college years, I was dazzled and heavily influenced by the intelligence, wit, humor and upwardly mobile direction of the Jewish culture in which I found myself immersed. This influence expanded my outlook. The Midwestern family background also played its part in giving me a work ethic and moral compass to keep me moving forward, albeit with some serious setbacks.
The high level of stress during my early years coupled with my premature emancipation took their toll. The photo at the top was taken at the time of my first marriage. There would be three failed marriages. I was not prepared for adulthood; it took many years to sort out the past. I am blessed with two fabulous children and have nothing but respect and admiration for my former husbands. Ok, not so much for the first one (if he reads this it’s not like he won’t understand why), but definitely for the subsequent two.
It is not my purpose to place blame in these posts. I mean to report my own experience, not speculate on motivations. Speaking in broad generalities, my early incorrigible behavior was a predictable outcome of family stress, and the reaction to it a predictable byproduct of the strict Scots Presbyterian farm upbringing of one parent and the poor, likely Irish and abusive background of the other. Obedience was expected.
As a female personal finance blogger, I meant to chart a middle course between the mostly male bloggers writing about straight personal finance and the mostly female bloggers writing about budgeting and frugality. Most personal finance bloggers do not write about American money values, except for an occasional post. If you Google key words for any personal finance topic you can think of, there are likely multiple blog articles out there examining every angle. Likewise, budgeting and frugality are well covered. I started getting at the values angle via the Debits of Our Lives thread, then more deeply in the American Money Values thread, but found these wanting. A light bulb went off in my head, and My Life Unscrambled was born. I thought, what better way to tie everything together than to tell a real story of grappling with class, culture and gender? Martin and I discussed it and he agreed.
It’s not so simple. I cannot scissor my own story out of the fabric of many interwoven lives and present it in isolation. The choice is clear: proceed to tell the story and let the chips fall where they may, or stop. I do believe that telling a personal history as a straight recording of one’s experience is the best course to take, and that it is distracting and irrelevant in this kind of writing to try to present a multiple points of view on every single decision or action. However, I’ve been made aware of the fact that a straight description of experience leaves motivation open to interpretation, and this in itself is not necessarily fair; in sharing one’s experience, one makes it clear which aspects of the experience were negative and which were positive, thus indirectly implying blame.
So I’ve decided to discontinue this blog. I don’t wish to continue the My Life Unscrambled thread, but not writing it takes the soul out of the blog.
Readers, I encourage you to continue the journey on your own. In particular, I highly recommend the New York Times series Class Matters – Social Class in the United States of America. Look up the bibliography and read all of the books listed. I also encourage you to seek out your own family history and to try to understand your money values within the context of that history.
My personal finance mission, of achieving financial security and in the process helping my children prepare for their own future, has reached its natural conclusion. I still love to work with clients, and that will be my focus going forward. As for writing, who knows? I am going to take a break for awhile, finish preparing for my upcoming trip to Turkey, and then we’ll see what develops.
I’ll leave the blog up for now. I wouldn’t want to disappoint all of those readers searching for articles on S Corporations. And my Dad always wanted to be immortalized, so there you go, Dad–you’re in the blogosphere!