I’ve always looked to role models for inspiration, hope, and comfort. In high school, I watched CNBC anchors and admired people like Jim Cramer for their expansive knowledge of the markets. Dreams of Wall Street and financial gain motivated me to graduate high school; all while investing in stocks and different sectors between class periods. I loved having and making money.
When I entered college, I realized that money alone felt meaningless. I lost the drive to become an investment banker or financial analyst. Alone, I would continually feel like giving back – that I wasn’t doing enough. Shortly after entering school, I switched to psychology. There, I sought out motivated students and leading faculty in psychology. Meeting and working with these inspiring people led me to graduate school.
In the past, as you may notice, these role models were oriented towards my future career paths. Now, as I’m on a solid career path, I’m looking for new goals and people to provide support in this journey. Financial goals outweigh many others at this point: To pay off nearly $40,000 in debt (shared between student and car loans). The Catch-22 is that I’m in graduate school and still accruing debt. I’m experimenting with some odd-ball income sources to stem the tide, but the interest keeps gaining.
These days I’m looking for new models that work to keep me financially fit and spiritually active. To me, being frugal is about minimizing waste, reducing expenses, and maximizing my income. I’m a firm believer that this is a vital piece of the puzzle. If you want to accomplish any goal, seeing and talking with those who’ve accomplished similar goals is important research.
Here are my three major role models that inspire me to continue to write about frugality, save money, and pay off my student loans:
1. Leo Baubata, Zen Habits
Leo Babauta is the creator and writer of ZenHabits.net. The site grew to become a leader for buddhist thought, organization, getting things done, peaceful wisdom, and removing clutter from your life. I follow Leo on Twitter and subscribe to his RSS feed.
He calmly explains the delicate intricacies between inner peace and reducing the urge to buy. One of his most provocative new articles is about “A Year of Living Without.” In this article, he outlines a year of month-to-month challenges where he removes things he regularly uses (e.g., coffee, alcohol, Internet access, and cell phones).
Leo is a tremendous role model because of his own journey tackling debt and becoming a wealthy individual – spiritually and financially.
2. Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists
Joshua and Ryan are the founders of The Minimalists. Both left jobs and lifestyles that modeled the idea of success. They were climbing social ladders and fighting for the American dream. Their spending, like many, escalated with income. This lifestyle inflation led to a cycle of overspending and overworking – never getting enough.
As the two exited the traditional working world, they took to the ideas of minimalism and simplicity. Eventually, they founded their website and have been writing short stories ever since. For me, they are role models for both writing and minimalism. They model their stories (articles) after no expected length – some short and some long.
Joshua and Ryan are leaders in the simplicity movement, and their continued work inspires reductions in my own life.
3. Philip “PT” Taylor, PTMoney.com
Philip founded PTMoney.com in 2007. He’s the most financially experienced of my role models. As a Certified Financial Planner (CPA) and founder of FinCon (the financial bloggers conference), he embodies a spendthrift personality with an admirable entrepreneurial spirit.
His website is continually updated with new, strong content that actually helps people become financially savvy. From investing to saving more to earning what you deserve, PT and his fellow writers help people reach their financial goals.
Beyond this writing and business prowess, at a personal level, I’ve been shocked by PT’s kindness and willingness to help new bloggers like me. He’s already featured two of my articles on his site, too.
Who are your financial role models? Who and what inspires you to save and earn more?