The Best Of Penny And Rich So Far — 6 Months Of Conversations Across The Income Divide

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Dear Cousin Penny,

We’ve been at this blog for around 6 months, so I thought it’d be a good time to go over some highlights. This article will contain numerous links to some of our best posts. Of course, a complete list can be found via the Posts tab.

For any new readers, I’ll quickly reiterate our premise. We’re cousins from a small Midwestern town. One summer, around age 10 or so, I think we played together every day for 80 straight days. Good times.

Our adult lives diverged but we kept in touch, often writing long emails to each other about life and happiness and money — which is essentially the genesis of this blog.

You got married young, you have 4 kids, and your husband went from teacher to chiropractor. Along the way you gathered a boat load of debt, but you have no regrets. Low income doesn’t seem to bug you.

As for me, I went from the farm to theology school to French language study in Paris. Much to my own surprise, I landed a high income career, married a woman with similar career goals, and had twin boys. High income agrees with me. Why wouldn’t it?

Our full origin stories can be found here:

RICH’S GOALS

Click on image to see the details of Rich’s plan.

What’s a personal finance blog without goals? My goal is to reach a $1 Million net worth sometime during my 45th year of life. And after that I want to build a generational family legacy (um, in 3 easy steps!).

I admit, since starting this blog, the goal has become less important than the journey, the process … life. As I’ve thought about my philosophy of life, it’s become clear that it’s really not about the money. It’s about relationships, growth, and freedom — these are the keys to happiness, incidentally.

I have also become keenly aware of how lucky I am. I don’t want to be a selfish materialistic hedonist; I want to be a generous squirrel. I never thought I’d write a parable about squirrels, but this is modern blogging. Animals can talk.

So, I hope I can meet my goal the right way. Since we started the blog, I’ve been able to keep pace.

Click on image to enlarge. My actual pace is the blue line, the pace I need is the red line.

So far so good!

But, again, I’m much more concerned about happiness than money.

PENNY’S GOALS

Click on image to see the details of Penny’s goal.

Now to your goals, Penny. You have enough student loan debt ($173,000 at the start of the blog) to make Dave Ramsey drop a dadgum mess in his britches. You’d love to pay it off, and you’re making good progress. I’m not sure how much you have left right now, but I think you’ve already lopped off $20k of debt in a few short months.

I’m continually amazed at how frugal you are when I read your monthly money checks.

But, like me, you know money is not the key to happiness. You spend very little because you just don’t value things that need to be bought. Even with low income, you feel the need to give more than the need to get out of debt faster. In addition to giving, you’ve learned the art of receiving.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE DIVIDE OF INCOME INEQUALITY

Penny, sometimes I think we agree on a whole bunch of topics and sometimes I think we couldn’t be more different. But what I really appreciate is that no matter the topic, we can have an honest conversation, even if there are points of disagreement.

We completely disagree about paying for our kids’ college, and about how much it costs to raise kids in the first place, for example. But so what? We’re still cousins.

I think there’s a dangerous and disturbing trend in the world toward the proliferation of opinions as societal weapons. Articles and social media posts that purport to offer solutions are actually vehicles for blame and segregation, meant to score points within one’s echo chamber of allies. That’s no way to learn anything useful.

The phenomenon of income inequality is an area of particular vitriol and misunderstanding lately. I’m seeing it everywhere in articles and books, and I’m fascinated by it because I feel like it was just a few years ago that I was in that small farming town with you. I don’t feel much different, but objectively I know I’m “rich.” And it’s hard to imagine that you are really “poor.”

I’m glad we can have these conversations. If we can’t communicate across the divide of income inequality, and we know and like each other, what hope is there for people who don’t know each other?

So, let’s keep talking, let’s keep making progress, and let’s keep reading blogs and books. We might learn something.

Best,

Rich

2 Replies to “The Best Of Penny And Rich So Far — 6 Months Of Conversations Across The Income Divide”

  1. I like the format! Different than the other blogs, the way you’re addressing your cousin. It’s good to hear that you’ve re-calibrated your goals a bit to not just be about money, but for it to be about enjoying the process and general happiness. I think it’s a good thing for people like us in the PF community to realize. Sometimes we need to enjoy the journey a bit more!

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