For us, no financial decision was more impactful or transformative than investing in our education. Coming from another country, we knew that we had to take advantage of every opportunity and education was the way we were going to level the playing field.
It wasn’t easy, and there were MANY days when we didn’t sleep because we had to study for exams, but it was worth it. But we also realize that school isn’t the best decision for everyone, so we recruited 7 of our colleagues who run their own personal finance websites to see what their best financial decisions were!
Let’s get started!
1. Todd from ‘Invested Wallet’
There are a few financial decisions I made in the last few years that have made a HUGE difference in my life, but I”ll narrow this down for the sake of this article!
I think the best financial decision of my life was actually taking the initiative to learn about finances and investing on my own, or being financially literate.
I was taught some very basics growing up, but when it came to making more, investing, and saving aggressively, it was on me to learn. Yes, I was intimidated for years (as most people probably are), but decided enough was enough in 2014. Learning about finances and investing is not as hard as you may think, but there is a lot of material. Take your time, but you have to dedicated time each week to reading and learning.
I started reading books, blogs, and listening to podcasts. Now four years later I’m on a wild journey, saving 65% of my income, and managing all my investing and financial decisions on my own, with no formal financial education prior to 2014 of learning on my own.
2. Jarek from ‘Time In The Market’
I read a good book. That was my best financial decision.
I had just graduated college with a degree in Finance but I still didn’t have a great idea on how to develop an asset allocation or how to let my money grow for the long term. I had a good idea of what investing was about given my degree but I didn’t have a good long term plan in place. That was when someone online recommended a good beginner investing book, ‘The Bogleheads Guide to Investing’.
That book, along with time spend on the Bogleheads forums really defined my investing career from then on. I learned more about investing in index funds, keeping my money in there through good times and bad and letting the returns compound across decades. My financial path would have been a lot different if I hadn’t read that book and started investing primarily in index funds. I was already dabbling in penny stocks and options and decided that probably wasn’t the best path for me and that sticking with index funds and an easy to follow investing program was probably better.
The results speak for themselves as I was able to amass a 550k portfolio without making a ton of money and that continues to grow today. I still trade individual securities but most of my investments are in index funds, thanks to the lessons I learned from that book. The best part is that the book doesn’t just teach you about investing basics but also talks about proper money management like saving a certain percentage of your income, not taking on debt and living within your means. It was a great starting point for someone so young and got me on the path of solid investing and saving.
3. Dr. Breathe Easy Finance
The best financial decision in my life was learning how to manage my own investments.
The most important step in the right direction was my encounter with the 3 fund portfolio. The 3-fund-portfolio is otherwise known as one of the lazy portfolios. Even a toddler can learn how to utilize this portfolio rather quickly.
The 3-fund portfolio consists of investing in 3 asset classes: US Stocks, US Bonds and International Stocks. It turns out that despite the fact that this investment strategy is easy enough for even the beginner investors to follow, it is also diversified enough to beat the so called guru investors. Not only does it outperforms majority of financial professionals, it is also very cost effective.
After learning the basics of this portfolio, I was able to move my investments from Wealthfront to Vanguard and saved myself the 0.25 management fee. That might not seem like much to many, but on the long run, say 30 years, that could make a big difference. Especially if we are talking of millions of dollars worth of portfolio.
4. Fred from ‘Money With A Purpose’
The best financial decision I made was leaving the brokerage world and starting my own registered investment advisory firm.
It’s easy to get caught up in the largess of the big firm culture. There’s a false sense of comfort in the “resources” they appear to provide. They do offer a lot. However, the price you pay to get these resources is steep.
Firms take up to 2/3 of your compensation to provide them. The higher your production (translation – sales) the more you get to keep. Even the top people gave up half their revenue. Going independent meant I was responsible to provide all of these resources myself. The best part about it was being free from the conflicts of the big firms and focusing on helping clients. I’m offering better services as a fee-only advisor and don’t have to share revenue with anyone. It was a win-win decision.
5. Brian from ‘Debt Discipline’
The best financial decision I’ve made in my life and my families was increasing our financial education and getting out of debt.
For years we thought debt was normal and everyone had it. Paying minimal payments on credit cards was a regular thing for us. After years of overspending, we compiled over $100K of consumer debt. We knew we had to make a change and take control of our money.
I began reading and listening to as much personal finance information as possible. After developing our first budget and using the debt snowball, we became debt free in under five years. As a result, we have reduced stress, built better relationships, and have taught our three children more about money than we ever knew at their age!
6. Melissa Blevins
A few years ago, I went through a nasty breakup with Beachbody. I had fully immersed myself in their kool-aid, and I was at the point of hounding friends and family to “join me on my journey” to health and fitness. Something felt really really wrong about it.
After attending Beachbody’s Summit in Nashville, I had a heart to heart with myself and my family. Multi-level marketing was NOT what I was meant to be doing. So I left the company.
The “friends” I had become so close with turned their backs on me, blocking me from social media immediately….day one. But the one thing that Beachbody gave me was the clarity I needed to start my own online business, helping women achieve their financial and business goals. I learned that personal development is the key to growth. To echo the other guys, reading has changed my life. I started using Scribd to listen to audiobooks because it’s cheaper than Audible and offers unlimited downloads! I get to do what I love, and I don’t have to sell nasty shakes anymore!
7. Andrew from ‘Wealthy Nickel’
Looking back, my best financial decision was getting involved in real estate investing. At the time, it was scary and we made so many mistakes with our first rental property that we almost gave up after that. Thankfully, we didn’t and 5 years later we have a small portfolio of investment houses and have made money in multiple ways – rental income, realtor commissions, flips, and wholesales.
We are blessed to have passive income coming in through real estate. Since starting down that path, we have had 2 kids and it has allowed us to be a single income family and let her stay home with the kids. It has accelerated our path to financial independence and increased our net worth much faster than just being frugal and investing in my 401(k) at work.
While real estate is certainly not entirely passive, I truly believe anyone can learn how to invest intelligently. It’s true what they say that you make your money in real estate when you buy, so I have focused on using the one percent rule and other analysis to find good deals. If you can master that, real estate is a long, boring ride to massive wealth – exactly how I like it!
8. Michael from ‘Your Money Geek’
One of the biggest financial wins was launching the blog. Since I stumbled into blogging I wasn’t expecting it to make money, however it has evolved into a nice source of income. The blog has made some money directly from ads and sponsored posts, plus I have picked up a few side gigs as a freelance writer.
Blogging has even had a positive impact on my career, through connections on the site and through social media. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started the site, however I’m glad I did.
Personal Finance Is Personal
As you can tell from their awesome answers above, educating yourself about personal finance and growing are incredible important when it comes to making awesome financial decisions. Everyone also had a unique story, which shows that personal finance truly is personal. The same tactics or decisions aren’t right for everyone and there’s many ways to succeed.
We hope that their stories inspire you as you continue to grow and learn about money. As always, you know how to reach us, and we hope you feel free to reach out if you need anything.