Hoping for a better life
As children, we’re often exposed to idealistic messages: work hard and become whatever you want. But possibilities change and reduce as we age. The responsibilities grow, and the window to become whatever you can dream up tends to dissipate.
It would be nice to champion what many popular businesspersons say about success and achievement. It would be nice to say that the world is your oyster, and you can do anything you can think up. Unfortunately, that would negate the very real circumstances that we all find ourselves in. We come from different races, ethnicities, socioeconomics, genders, and more. Life varies, as do the opportunities.
Most of us cannot drop everything — all our responsibilities — to fulfill dream vocations. Many are just working to pay the bills — to get by. Some are burdened by being single parents, persons with disabilities, and any number of things that pose greater challenges to “making it.”
Debt holds back those dreams further
My frugal journey started with many zeros in the opposite direction. I was in debt to the tune of nearly $40,000, and without an escape plan. I wanted to have a life of freedom to ponder my intrinsic interests and passions. I wanted the opportunity to find my dream job — regardless of income level.
Before I could pursue those future possibilities, I needed to make more income and pay off massive amounts of debt. My paychecks weren’t enough to pay off loans and survive in graduate school. The equation didn’t compute, and I was running a scary deficit.
The mountain of debt seemed unconquerable. Dreams of a pleasant future were held back, and replaced with terrifying sweats and nervous nights. Debt was closing doors in my life. I needed more money.
Desperate times, desperate measures?
From the very start of Frugaling, I received emails from individuals and organizations wanting to write articles for me. At first I was flattered by their offers — some even included payments! Swirling with pride and appreciation at being offered real money to simply publish articles, I contemplated their offers, but hesitated.
I soon learned that these were “sponsored article” or “paid guest post” emails. They increased in frequency and payment amounts as I continued to write and grow Frugaling. Over the course of nearly two years, I received thousands of dollars in guest posting opportunities, but never accepted them. The emails tended to be from predatory lenders and questionable corporations. They seemed eager to receive traffic from websites and to pull from others’ reputations.
That money could’ve taken me on a European vacation, if I accepted every offer that came my way. My debt would’ve been paid off faster, and investing started sooner. There’s just one catch, I would’ve sold out my entire audience — including you!
Recently, I received another email that stated I could receive about $500 to place a sponsored article on Frugaling. Again, I thought about what it meant if I shared it with you all. What I found was that it wasn’t worth it. What I do on this website is about more than just making me more money. Ironic, seeing as this personal finance site, isn’t it?
Finding limits and sticking to them
Most individuals don’t kill, lie, cheat, or steal to make money. Whether religiously informed or intrinsically motivated, these are ethical/moral limits that prevent people from acting on individual needs. They recognize — whether consciously or unconsciously — that hurting another for one’s own gain isn’t collectively advantageous. In other words, individual achievement should not trump collective successes.
Turning down hundreds of dollars for 500 to 700-word articles from shady organizations and individuals was a limit for me. Motivated by a fear of alienating you and misrepresenting my values, I decided against any of these offers — and will continue to.
Nonetheless, I’m left to wonder:
- What won’t you do for money?
- What are your limits?
- Where do your ethics come from?
- How do you find ways to financially better yourself and others?
- When have you said “no” to money?