Mama Fish Saves // Financial Literacy Chronicles, No. 16

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Please welcome Chelsea from Mama Fish Saves as our guest for today’s Financial Literacy Chronicles.  This is Day 16 of 30 in the Financial Literacy Month interview series here on Enwealthen.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your blog.

I’m Chelsea, the creator of Mama Fish Saves. I am also a loving mother of a one-year-old son, devoted wife, and financial professional.  My husband and I are pursuing FI/RE and I hope to be able to stop working in the corporate world in 5 years.

I have long been a personal finance nerd and love reading about anything related to money and money management.  I started my career on Wall Street generating equity investment ideas for funds all over the world and moved a few years ago into actively investing and managing a portfolio for a major hedge fund.

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

I created Mama Fish Saves early this year to pursue my passion for financial education full force.

Mama Fish Saves is aimed at simplifying family finance in a way that reduces stress and helps families achieve their dreams. On the blog I cover budgeting, saving and earning more money, investing, and tips on talking to your children about money. The widespread belief that finance has to be complicated has led many families to avoid dealing with it completely.

My hope is that the blog can show even just a few families that personal finance isn’t rocket science, and that simple steps can help you achieve financial success on any income.

Can you share your most impactful money memory from your childhood?

My most impactful money memory has to be my first “job.”

When we went down to the beach for the summer, the local shop hired kids to sell fresh donuts door to door first thing in the morning. I started when I was about 7. I would walk up and down the street with a few other kids, baskets full of donuts, yelling “donuts, fresh baked donuts!”

I loved keeping track of the money, counting it out with the shop owner once we had sold out (we always did), and getting paid.

That was one of my favorite parts of the summer and the first time I had pocket money of my own.  I loved being able to choose what little things I wanted from the shop (slushies and poppers!) and saving up for bigger toys.

Peddling donuts kicked off a lifelong interest in career and money!

We all receive financial advice from people in our lives.  What’s the most interesting or useful financial advice you’ve received from your community?

When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be an economist.

I read Milton Friedman’s book Free to Choose and was borderline obsessed with understanding money and how the economy worked.  My father told his business partner my plan, and his business partner recommended I read two books.  The first was The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and the second was The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham.

The Millionaire Next Door completely changed my perspective on money.  After reading it, I knew that to be wealthy you didn’t have to have a high paying job. Instead, you had to be disciplined, save consistently, and live well within your means.  I started saving and investing then and haven’t stopped.

As for the other book recommendation, if you have ever seen The Intelligent Investor you know that it is a +600-page tome on the basics of value investing.  It is dense, and at 12 years old, it looked incredibly overwhelming sitting on my desk.  I only flipped through it at the time, but I’ve referred to it over the years and read it piece by piece.  It forms the core of my investment beliefs, and I’ll be forever grateful to the man who recommended it.

I have several personal finance books I regularly give to friends and family.  What are your 3 favorite fundamental personal finance books you often gift to others?

I don’t often gift personal finance books to others, but that is a fantastic idea! I will have to start!

My three favorites are The Millionaire Next DoorMONEY Master the Game by Tony Robbins, and Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller.  I’ve already explained why I love The Millionaire Next Door, given its influence on my younger self, but the other books have also provided great knowledge.

MONEY Master the Game by Tony Robbins is a newer book, but still a fantastic resource.  Tony Robbins, a popular life coach, interviews some of the top financial experts in the world in his book and introduces the concepts of financial independence to people without significant prior financial knowledge.  I love that Robbins makes it clear in his book that FI/RE can be achieved by everyone if they do the work and follow his blueprint.

Irrational Exuberance is written by Robert J. Shiller, an economist that predicted both the dot-com and real estate stock market bubbles.  I think this book is important for everyone to read to gain perspective on what really drives the stock market and why we have major boom and bust cycles.  If you are going to be invested in the stock market, even in index funds, you have to be willing to stay the course through cycles.  It is easier to do that if you understand what causes them.

What financial literacy education did you receive in school?  If you had a magic wand, what would you change to improve that?

Are they schools that do that?! If so, I was certainly not at one of them.  I took economics in high school, but that didn’t teach me much, if anything, about household finance.

If I had a magic wand, I would make household finance a required course along with health and home ec. Ideally, there would be a course every other year from 5th or 6th grade with topics of increasing difficulty.  Concepts would start with what money is and the basic function of banks, working up to filing income taxes, the impact of credit card debt, and how to apply for a mortgage.  This would allow everyone to build a sound foundation before they have to start making higher education, career, and investment decisions.

Now, finding someone to teach those classes when most adults don’t have a strong foundation of financial knowledge is another question.

There are so many blogs on the internet, what are 3 of your favorite blogs that instill financial literacy, either by word or action?

Oh wow, this is a tough question!  I follow so many personal finance blogs it is hard to pick just three!  I’ll focus on a couple that have had actionable impacts on my life.

My first pick has to be Financial Samurai (interview). Sam introduced me to the concept of FI/RE and gave me a driving force goal with immense purpose.  Even as a very frugal family, reading about Sam’s passive income journey on Financial Samurai changed the way my husband and I look at every expense and investment.

Second is Money Boss (interview). We all know J.D. is a rockstar personal finance writer and covers the basics very well, but his core principles of treating your financial life as a business are inspirational.  Going through his personal mission statement process drives improvement in my life every time I go through it.

Finally, I have to throw in a newer blog (though older than mine), Chief Mom Officer.  Liz’s experiences as a working mom with a stay-at-home husband reflect my experiences more than any other PF blog I’ve found.  I love reading her take on things!

Simple steps can help you achieve financial success on any income.

I like to keep inspirational quotes around the house to remind me of what’s important.  Do you have a favorite money quote you use to inspire your financial life?

I also keep inspirational quotes around the house and share them with my family on a regular basis! Here’s my favorite:

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” – Augusta F. Kantra

Thanks for contributing to Financial Literacy Month here on Enwealthen, Chelsea!

Chelsea is an investment professional, loving mother, and devoted wife. She is also the creator and author of Mama Fish Saves, a personal finance blog aimed at simplifying money to help parents achieve their goals and raise financially smart kids.

Readers, please share your thoughts on Chelsea’s experiences, any additional questions you have, and suggestions for who else you’d like to see interviewed in the comments below.  And please do share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Thanks!


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