I used to be a huge nerd. I was the kid who actually liked school and homework. Somewhere along the line, though, I lost my inner nerd. I conformed in order to fit in during high school. I still studied, but less than I had before. It just wasn’t “cool” to be studious. I carried that desire to fit in over into college and then into my first years living on my own. After I left school it wasn’t studying that wasn’t cool, but a host of other (mostly frugal) things like staying home on the weekend, hanging out at the library, having an old car and, gasp, taking an interest in budgeting and finance.
I knew that I needed to have some sort of plan for my money, but any time I brought it up among friends, or if friends saw finance books on my coffee table at home, there was usually a comment along the lines of, “What are you studying (worrying about) that for? Boring. Let it go and let’s go out.” (Granted, I had some shallow friends at the time, but that was another side effect of turning my back on my inner nerd. I ended up surrounded by people who didn’t make me happy).
It wasn’t until I got older and wiser that I realized I needed to embrace my inner nerd again. I needed to become the sort of person who did what I wanted and needed to do without worrying about what other people thought. I needed to embrace personal finance, even if it wasn’t cool. Otherwise, I was going to end up broke and miserable. When I found my inner financial nerd, I did it in a big way. I got books about budgeting (from the library) and I read every money-related magazine on the shelf at the library. I visited financial websites, made spreadsheets, and learned about technical investing terms.
When friends would come over and see the heaps of books on the coffee table, I no longer let them embarrass me. I simply told them that I had an interest in finance and left it at that. Of course I got the expected comments about it not being cool, or about me being such a nerd, but I shrugged it off. It wasn’t long before I started shrugging off friends, too, and finding friends who were more into the frugal lifestyle I was starting to lead. As a result, I found myself happier. Not only were these new people more frugal, they also shared more interests with me in general. Bird of a feather, I guess.
Now many years into my frugal journey, my inner nerd is fully in charge of my life. There’s not a financial term I don’t want to learn. I’m also unashamed to want to learn about hundreds of other things, as well. Research and studying are cool again. This has served me well in many areas, but especially when it comes to money. Because I’m not ashamed of spending hours researching mutual fund prospectuses, or learning about new ways to repurpose household junk, my financial health is well above that of other people my age (at least if you believe the studies). I may not be cool, but neither do I have the worries and concerns of several of the “cooler” people that I know. I’m on track for financial success and that is far more important than being cool.
(Photo courtesy of theogeo)