Third Stage of personal finance: Boring?

Get Rich Slowly, and probably other folks before J.D. , define different stages of personal finance.  Some details may differ, but in my understanding, #1 is having a problem.  #2 is realizing you have a problem and taking steps to fix it.  #3 is only having low interest (or mortgage or some other manageable) debt if that, meeting your savings goals, and having some money leftover to enjoy.  #4 is having enough money to live life as you like it on your own terms without answering to a job unless you want to.

I love reading blogs about people in the second stage steadily reducing their debt.  I root and cheer.  Sometimes if I’m feeling down, I’ll read through the Fiscal Fitness Journals on the Get Rich Slowly Forum and read in (elapsed) real time as people get on track.  I love watching debt disappear and money grow.

Third-stage stuff tends to be about work-life balance, taking trips, hiring cleaning staff. The first is definitely a problem for academics whether they’re in debt or multi-millionaires. I’m pretty sick of travel right now (from work) and our visits to the rural midwest to see family are not exactly the type of trips second-stagers dream about. We also don’t have anybody in to clean because I don’t mind living in squalor as long as the kitchen and bathrooms are clean. With the third stage, there’s less excitement and less worry. Emergencies cause annoyances, not drama. There’s more freedom, but not so much as in stage 4.

I wonder if financial postings are more interesting when you get to watch someone crawl out of debt.  Increases in net worth aren’t really as interesting, especially if the person has more money or income than you do.  Sometimes I think, if only one of us had debt– then we could blog about it.  But then my sensible side tells me to, “shut your mouth.”  I think my sensible side is quoting a long ago daycare provider and reminding my superstitious side the peril of getting what you wish for.  We’ve been poor and we’ve watched every penny… it was doable and had a certain kind of pioneer satisfaction to it, but I’m glad those days are over (even if I didn’t blog about them then).  I really LIKE being in the third stage of personal finance.  I’d like being in the fourth stage even more, but not enough to throw everything at it to get there.

But that doesn’t mean that my third stage is worth reading about.

What do you think?  Are third-stagers boring and smarmy unless you’ve seen them crawl out of a hole?

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24 Responses to “Third Stage of personal finance: Boring?”

  1. Sandy L Says:

    I would like to read articles. I’m in stage 3 and I really don’t know what the heck to do with the extra cash, so I’ve just been pouring it into our mortgage. What about when the mortgage is gone?

    Do I just stick it in a CD making 1% or losing money to inflation? Do I put even more in stocks (scary)? That’s why I’m trying to come up with crazier ideas..like plant a tree farm so that when I’m old and decrepit and need money, I can start cutting them down or if I don’t need them, I can just give to my kids. I’d love to hear some ROI calculations on those.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s a good question… it’ll be a few years before our mortgage is gone… and apparently as a couple we can put away an extra 33K into tax advantaged accounts for retirement on top of the regular 33K 403(b) limits (and 10K IRA limits).

      Personally I think we’ll just take it easy and put our extra money (should it exist) into taxable Vanguard indexes. I am really not into anything requiring hassle… from property rentals to tree farms. Though as we get older and more well off we’ll have to look at more diversification issues, like REITs and annuities, and so on. We’re not there yet!

  2. Molly On Money Says:

    I’m almost in the 3rd stage (and I blog about it). I have to admit that as we enter stage 3 I seriously consider closing down my blog or renaming it. Phase 3 is a boring phase. I find myself writing about other things that are not about debt reduction.
    I have kept Molly On Money, got inspired and write more about my relationship to money. When I run out of inspiration I’ll stop.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      If it comes to that, I vote rename rather than closing down!

      I wonder if I get tenure if this will become “Grumpy rumblings of the partly tenured” and then when #2 gets tenure “Grumpy rumblings of the newly tenured.” I’m pretty sure that tenured folks still grumble.

  3. Everyday Tips Says:

    Well, I think it is human nature to kind of root for the ‘underdog’. When people are in stage 3, they aren’t an underdog anymore as much as a success story. (Hey, I am a success at something!)

    There is something fascinating watching someone scrape and such for something they truly want. Just like watching a sport- if your favorite team is up 10-1, it is a boring game. If they are down 4-2 and scratching their way back, it can be more interesting.

  4. SonyaAnn Says:

    Oh I’m still in the drowning in debt stage. I’m getting used to it. It’s like being stuck in hell. Between our daughter who is in college and our cars that never want to run, I plan on living here the rest of my life!
    Have a great weekend!

  5. frugalscholar Says:

    I think it’s a few things. First, people who successfully deal with problems are good at helping those with similar problems. This is as true for decluttering helpers as for get-out-of debt helpers. Also, there’s a lot of energy created in getting out of debt. I think the energy dissipates once the blogger-or whatever–has reached the goal.

    I also detect a twinge of boredom on the part of some of the bloggers who have reached their goals.

    Kind of like getting tenure. HAVING tenure is boring–in a good way. Getting tenure is charged with energy.

  6. Grace Says:

    OK–can I admit to one of the nastier pleasures of reading blogs? Watching people crash & burn! Then watching as they start to learn life’s lessons. I’m thinking of Dog Ate My Finances (who has come through a lot) and Our Debt Blog (where the author still has a whole lot to learn!) but there are others. I am struggling, so I relate most closely to those who are still in the midst of struggle.

  7. Money Reasons Says:

    I consider myself in stage 3, but I don’t consider it boring. I consider it extremely challenging! Initially it’s the stalled stage (where I’m not moving…), where risk has decreased and the stress of coming up with the mortgage or rent payment is no longer on the radar.

    But now, it’s about building things, businesses, investments and community. It’s all that you make out of it, of course, but for me the 3rd stage is like a new beginning, it’s a chance to start over and do something exciting and new with my life. I’m free to create and do whatever I want, without starving ;)

    Not to be cliche, but it’s time to let your mind free! If I want to learn to fly, learn to suba dive, write a novel… so be it. It’s exciting, but I’m still at the beginning, perhaps in a few years I’ll be more established to do those types of things…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You sound like you’re partway into the 4th stage!

      If I want to learn to fly or scuba dive or write a novel… that’s competing pretty heavily with my career. It isn’t the money, it’s the time. Can’t ditch the career (just yet) though. We’ll see where we are in a couple of years… how appealing the career is compared to other options.

  8. Crystal @ BFS Says:

    I am a 3rd stage blogger and I truly hope my site isn’t boring. I do read a couple of blogs about people getting out of debt, but I’m drawn to 3rd and 4th stage bloggers since I can relate. I’ve never been in major debt (cars and house were about it and now it’s just the house), so I just don’t “get” the blogs about consumer debt…

  9. Weekly Favorites and Gratitude! «Budgeting In the Fun Stuff Says:

    [...] Rumblings of the Untenured with Third Stage of Personal Finance: Boring?  No, I love the 3rd and 4th stage [...]

  10. Links To Love for Week Ending 09/25/2010 | Everyday Tips and Thoughts... Says:

    [...] Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured talk about how the third stage of personal finance can be boring. In other words, it is more fun to read about people climbing out of debt than those that just have mortgage debt and are accumulating money. [...]

  11. MR Cache 2010, Sept 26 – Changes At My Site | Money Reasons Says:

    [...] Rumblings of the Untenured:  Third Stage of personal finance: Boring?  -  I’m in the third stage currently, and but I’ve decided not to become [...]

  12. eemusings Says:

    It’s definitely more interesting to read about the “struggles”. I’m in the third phase, now, I think (although doubt I’ll EVER hire cleaning staff, except maybe for an annual spring clean? That would be sweet), but let’s be honest, the kind of PF blogs that only ever post numbers and nothing else are kind of boring.

  13. Tara Says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that the third stage is “boring”, but I would say that aggressively trying to make debt go away seems like it can come with a rush of adrenaline. Personally, I like seeing the balance on various savings accounts go up or being able to withdraw enough money from one to pay cash for a car and then stuff the rest into a vacation account, so I would say that this stage is exciting for me. Sometimes though, I start to wonder what the purpose of all this saving is when they all just keep growing. But I’m a saver at heart, not a spender, so that doesn’t really make me want to increase my spending.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I wondered that too. But then I learned about what a person can do on sabbatical if they have money. And I saw what happened to people when they didn’t have big precautionary savings. And then I read Your Money or Your Life and realized what can be possible when you have a LOT of savings. Lots of possibilities opened up.


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