Untemplater // Financial Literacy Chronicles, No. 14

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Please welcome Sydney from Untemplater as our guest for today’s Financial Literacy Chronicles.  This is Day 14 of 30 in the Financial Literacy Month interview series here on Enwealthen.

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

Hi guys. I’m Sydney and I have been blogging for over seven years at Untemplater.

Untemplater has a simple mission – to inspire a special community of free-thinkers to “shatter the template lifestyle” in favor of a truly exciting, unique and unconventional one.

In 2015 I broke free and left a grueling job I held for ten years to pursue an untemplate lifestyle full-time and have been my own boss since then. Now my days are focused on working online in various capacities. I primarily spend my time writing, editing, researching, working on projects and managing websites. I couldn’t be happier and love what I do so much that it doesn’t even feel like “work.”

We don’t have to be smarter than the rest. We have to be more disciplined than the rest.

When I’m not writing or working on freelancing projects, I’m usually out hiking, traveling, or taking photos. I’ve been to over 30 countries and counting, climbed mountains, swam with sharks, got certified in scuba diving, and have taken over 40,000 photographs.

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

I grew up with parents who constantly fought about money. The positive outcome was that I knew early on how badly financial troubles can cause stress and ruin relationships.

My parents lived paycheck to paycheck, and racked up a lot of debt, constantly stressed about money. Their struggles struck a lot of fear in me that I turned into fuel as I grew up. I was determined not to follow in their footsteps. So I studied hard, graduated from college in only 3.5 years, and worked many 60-70 hour weeks building my career to become financially independent.

I’m happy to say I exceeded my own expectations.

At the beginning of 2016, I started to publish my net worth and goals and was able to grow my net worth to $1.2 million at the end of last year. I continue to do my best to hustle and stay disciplined with saving and investing every day and hope to achieve multi millionaire status before I retire.

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?

One of the greatest pieces of advice I got was from Sam Dogen of Financial Samurai.

It all stems from his ebook entitled, How To Engineer Your Layoff. When I first talked to him about it I thought his advice in regards to the book was fascinating but didn’t think it would be applicable to me. Little did I know that how much it would ultimately change my career and my life just a few years later.

There were some great benefits about that job I held, but ultimately I was overworked, underpaid and unhappy for many years. I know there are a lot of other people out there who have been in my shoes too. Work can be really, really hard especially when you feel totally unappreciated and it’s not always easy to be able to see a way out.

It took me reaching a breaking point to get really serious about changing my situation and Sam’s advice in How To Engineer Your Layoff gave me the hope and determination to turn things around.

I encourage everyone who is unhappy in their career to read his book and start putting together a game plan for positive change instead of throwing in the towel and quitting or staying stuck and miserable for years to come.

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’ve had many discussions with friends and family about personal finance topics but can’t recall a time off the top of my head when I gifted an actual personal finance book.

However, if I had to pick some out right now, three that come to mind are The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, The Ten Day MBA by Steven Silbiger, and Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher. Here’s why.

  • Developing a curiosity and solid understanding of the stock market is invaluable. The Intelligent Investor is a classic that I think is worth taking the time to thumb through. There’s no right or wrong way to invest since everyone’s needs and goals are unique, however I think the concepts in this book are great to keep in mind when making investment decisions.
  • For those who can’t afford to get an MBA or want a cliff notes guide to many of the core concepts taught in business school, The Ten Day MBA provides a lot of great insights. I remember this book well from my 20s and it has been updated several times with new editions.
  • Negotiating may not be one of the skills that comes to mind when you think of personal finance but it’s a fantastic skill set to have that can come in really handy throughout your life and in many money related scenarios. Having strong negotiation skills is a huge bonus when it comes to building your career, running a business, building relationships, purchasing property etc.

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

The only thing I can remember that we were taught in grade school was how to balance a check book. Most kids these days probably wouldn’t even know what a check book is if they saw one.

I’d love to see more schools teaching kids personal finance fundamentals before they graduate high school. Students can really benefit from being taught how to make a budget, the dangers of getting buried in debt, the power of compounding and the importance of saving and investing for financial freedom. There have been some improvements over the years to the accessibility and curriculums of financial education taught in schools, but there is still a long way to go.

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

Financial Samurai is by far my favorite personal finance blog that I have been reading since even before I started blogging.

Sam has some of the most unique and in depth content out there. I’m always learning something new and laughing at his injections of humor at the same time. I find Financial Samurai to be super refreshing because his topics are not only timely and written from the heart, he clearly has a level of industry knowledge that I haven’t seen elsewhere. There are plenty of other bloggers out there in the personal finance blogosphere who write about topics that they don’t have any first hand experience with, which really can’t compete. Sam’s experience and intellect are exceptional and I’m a fan for life.

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?

“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest. We have to be more disciplined than the rest.” – Warren Buffett

I love this quote because discipline and having the right attitude can truly take you far. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room or be a famous hedge fund manager to build wealth.

Everyone has the ability to start making a positive change in their financial health and when it comes to saving every little bit really does add up.

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

Hi there, I’m Sydney! After ten crazy years, I left a grueling six-figure job in 2015 for a better life. Now I spend my days writing, freelancing in various capacities and finding new ways to stretch my brain. I’m crazy about photography, gadgets, traveling the world and stopping to smell the roses. Untemplater is where I share my insights and adventures with the world. I’m continually motivated to write and evolve in hopes that I can help others improve their lifestyles, careers, wealth and happiness. Every day is a gift! Be sure to check out my how to start a blog and Untemplater recommendations pages. Thanks for reading!  You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Readers, please share your thoughts on Sydney’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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