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“My Financial Journey Began When My Father Died 1.5 Years Ago.”

“My financial journey began when my father died 1.5 years ago.”

Tomorrow fam!

So we got this entry in our giveaway palooza last week (winners listed here by the way), and after reading it I couldn’t help but pry a little and share their story;)

Here is her original note below, followed by my many questions that resulted in a number of great tips and resources from Kylee.

Hope this helps you on your own journey!


Good morning and congratulations on your upcoming ventures! As a new reader of your blog (I found you in late 2019 after hearing your interview with Scott and Mindy on BiggerPockets Money), I am amazed that you are leaving. However, 5am Joel is great so I look forward to his new regime and keep following your new path!

I am writing to bid on the Money Tree book.

A little about me – my financial journey started a little over a year and a half ago after my father died. Aside from being the best guy and the light in every room, he was also the financial guy / planner in the relationship between him and my mom. Fortunately, he had a will and a medical vicar … but that was it.

We had to figure out all the other details (bills, HELOCs, mortgages, passwords, savings, retirement accounts, transferring banking information and a lot more). MAJOR calls the makers of legacy folders – as soon as you posted this blog post, I was there and forwarded the email to no less than 10 other friends πŸ˜‚

Anyway, with all of our first jobs after his death (“Hey SIRI – what is a HELOC?”) I became very interested in expanding my knowledge in all areas of personal finance and finance.

In the past 6 months, I’ve read 3 financial books, downloaded and started my Legacy folder, listened to multiple finance / money podcasts weekly, and started a budget and expense tracker (woo!).

I believe that expanding my knowledge by reading is one of the best steps I can take right now, and “The Money Tree” seems to be written from the perspective of someone who is also going through a money journey from a similar place.

– Kylee S.


I had to start asking her what those books and podcasts are, of course !, and then before and after the unfortunate dad event we got more into her life and finances …

Really cool of her to open up here like her – thank you Kylee!

What were the 3 books that you devoured? Would you recommend it?

  1. The richest man in Babylon, George S. Clason (This was given to me by my aunt after high school … and sat on my bookshelf for πŸ€ͺ 10 years. When almost every finance podcast I heard recommended this book, it seemed So it was time to wipe it off. Great lessons between the lines, but also a bit of a slow read for me.)
  2. Your Money or Your Life, Vicki Robin (I read the updated edition, and this was my favorite of the three books. I felt it was more in line with my ultimate vision of where my financial future is going – the question about ask, “How can I better use my finances to lead a more joyful and fulfilling life?”)
  3. The Easy Road To Wealth, JL Collins (I enjoyed listening to the author on podcasts and enjoying the “easy to understand” principles in his book on how to grow your wealth, save your money, and lead your life .)

What are your favorite podcasts that you have been consuming so far?

In search of what to do with my HELOC parents (late 2018 interest rates were rising pretty quickly), I stumbled upon the Bigger Pockets Money podcast with Mindy and Scott. Thanks to at least 2 hours of driving time per day with my job at this time **, I quickly consumed its contents and slowly felt stronger in this crazy world of money!

BP Money is definitely my preferred money podcast, but I also enjoyed Nerdwallets SmartMoney and ChooseFI.

** Although I no longer commute as much thanks to a new job (and also thanks to COVID), I’ve found that morning walks with our husky make fantastic podcast listening time!

Husky dog ​​

What was your financial life like 1.5 years ago before the chaos happened?

Looking back at the end of 2018, before my father passed away, I was fortunate enough to work in a fast-paced sales career and be largely debt-free, other than outstanding funding for a furniture purchase.

The main changes that have taken place since then are:

# 1. I’m saving now!

  • 2018: I invested 6% of my annual earnings in my 401K to benefit from the maximum company match of up to 3%, but no more. I would be saving maybe $ 50-100 after tax per month in my USAA savings account.
  • 2020: In 2019 I doubled my contributions to 12% (15% with my employer match) and in 2020 I can maximize my 401,000 savings capped at $ 19,500 for 2020. Between my 401,000 and a high-yield savings account I opened with Vio Bank (consistently seemed to have the highest APY among competitors). My goal is to save or invest at least 30% of my money for 2020. More on this below …

# 2. I budget now!

  • 2018: I didn’t know budgets were sexy until I heard about episode 103 of BP Money πŸ˜‚. But really, I was spending with very little concern about where my money would go to pay off my rent, bills, and credit cards monthly.
  • 2020: I started tracking my expenses in April 2019 and created / created a budget spreadsheet in January 2020 (which is highly recommended on that will work for me in January 2020. Tax, rent, health insurance, insurance, groceries, etc.), want 25% (eat out, shop, travel, gifts, etc.) and save 30%. I will have met these goals (or exceeded the savings) in four of the first five months of this year! Despite the horrors COVID has brought to the world, it has helped contain some of my frivolous spending and hopefully the habits stay here!

# 3. I commute less!

We all know the old adage: time is money. When I started commuting and driving less in 2020, I really realized the value of my time and how much more I could do (and sleep, ha!). In fact … in 2019 I was driving an estimated 2 hours a day, 4 days a week, with the exception of 2 weeks of vacation. That’s the equivalent of 400 HOURS I spent in my car in 2019. Cheers back to 2020 with more time!

What do you think would have happened if your father never died when he did? Do you think you would have understood this money quality at some point or it would have been a long shot?

If my father were still there, I wouldn’t be sure I would have been forced to dive into personal finances as quickly and as hard as I did. I think or hope that we would have taken the time to sit down with him and learn more from his life.

He had a Masters in Business, was an entrepreneur and small business owner all his life, and had worked philanthropically in many roles over the years. I know he would have liked to walk us through more of the ins and outs of family finances in order to prepare us, but if there is anything that shows you are out of control as you might think, it is one great life event like sudden illness / death.

I think I would get to this money quality at some point – but at a much slower pace and maybe with less intent (this could be a made up word).

Any advice for others who are also making a loss in their life? And how can loved ones like us help? (I never know what to say or do :()

Every experience of loss is personal and felt in very different ways. And the way someone experiences grief can change from day to day … and that’s fine!

If I could go back in the days and months immediately following our loss to give myself a few tips, these would be:

  • Give you grace. Grace to feel how you want to feel (experience those emotions!) And to do (or not to do) what you want.
  • Acknowledge guilt, but also rationalize it. Sometimes I felt guilty about having fun or being happy after my dad passed away, but when I wondered why I was feeling this way or if he wanted me to enjoy this moment, it often helped change my perspective.
  • Receive help and recognize the well-meaning intentions of others. Take the meals, the offers to walk your dog, mow the lawn, go for a walk with a friend, etc. There are people in your life who love you and want to support you.

With that in mind … some things I have learned through my own loss that will change the way I am there for others in the future are:

  • Rather than asking blanket questions about how you can help, take steps that the grieving person doesn’t need “extra” for. Some good examples are: “We want to bring your family a meal this week – is there a day or time that is available and convenient for you?” Or “Our dogs (or children) go to the same daycare. Can I do this Take care of the pick-up week? “
  • Acknowledge that loss is difficult to talk about and do additional communication. One of the best things a friend asked me while taking a walk together was, “Sometimes I’m not sure what to ask or say, but I want to be there for you. Do you want to talk about your father or something to distract you from things? “
  • Using the word “today” in your questions can make a huge difference. For example:
    • How are you? Not good my dad died thanks for asking.
    • How are you today? Sad but a little more motivated – could make a sandwich. Thanks for the question!

Finally, what advice do you have for people who are still going through their lives and not paying attention to their finances ?! What would you have done differently if you could go back in time?

# 1. Make a budget and track your expenses. But start small! If you’ve never heard the word “budget” then an intensely categorized Excel spreadsheet might not be for you. The longer you practice tracking, the easier it will be to find those “ah-ha” moments and tweak your tracker to work for you. Also consider online trackers like Personal Capital, YNAB, etc if you want things to be automated for you.

# 2. Talk to your community! I’ve found so many great processes and ideas by asking trusted * friends and family, β€œAre you budgeting? How do you make saving a priority? Which credit cards do you like the most? “

* Before entering into these questions, it might be a good idea to tell your friend about your personal financial journey and ask if they are open to discussion.

# 3. Read up on blogs, podcasts, google, etc. Chances are you’ll find some you like, subscribe to them, and learn a lot along the way!


Thanks again Kylee πŸ™‚ To further success!

// Book links above are Amazon affiliate links

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