The Truth Will Set You Free (But First It Will Piss You Off)


Nietzsche said, “People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” Busted! One of the hardest things about my growing financial literacy is that now I have an accurate picture of exactly how much (I mean little) cash flow available I have every week. $40.00 per week for a family of four, to be exact. Ouch! But you know what? It makes it easier to limit our spending when we know our dollars are instead going to things we very much care about (savings account, retirement account, student loans). The very first thing we did when we started getting our financial affairs in order was to sit down and calculate our net worth. This is something  we will do every year for the rest of our lives. Again, not because we want to miserly hoard our gold, but because we need to have both the big picture and the detailed picture of where our dollars are going. Calculating our net worth helps us understand that our small daily and monthly efforts regarding our spending are helping us move financially in the right direction. I’m going to discuss monthly budgets in a later post, but I’ll admit we made many unpleasant discoveries about how we were spending our money when we used a fine tooth comb to look at our monthly expenses. If calculating your net worth sounds too difficult or demoralizing, you can do what my friend April did to get a birds-eye approach to your finances. “I just did a projected yearly budget on Google sheets spreadsheet. That was really helpful to figure out yearly income versus yearly expenses and then divided by 12 months to figure out an average monthly target…the FIRE plan is really appealing to me because you can stop being a mindless consumer. Save my way to financial independence instead of earn my way. Takes a lot of pressure off knowing I don’t have to be CEO to get out of the rat race.”

There are many templates online to help you calculate your net worth or to simply establish an understanding of your yearly earnings versus expenses. Here ( nws-blog ) is a snapshot of our net worth statement from a year ago (and it has significantly improved in the interim!) as an example. (Don’t judge! I feel silly sharing this because it exposes some of our poor financial decisions, but I figure the only way to learn and grow as a community is to be transparent). I challenge you to to take an hour sometime this week to sit down and create something similar (and if you’re so inclined, come back and share the results here! I doubt any of you have a NWS with as many zeros behind a negative sign as we do ;).

Overwhelmed by this? Here is a great article regarding a very simple, hands-off strategy to being wise with your dollars–I especially love number 9! (Link from the ever-wise April). As always, would love to hear from you guys about your thoughts concerning the above!

P. S. Mostly unrelated, but here’s a great song for a rainy day.

P.P.S And if you’re a girl and you think this kind of stuff is something you don’t wanna bother with or think about, you need to check out A Story of a Fuck-Off Fund (via the inimitable Joanna Goddard)


Author: Diana Boss

I am a resident physician in dermatology, living with my husband and our two little ones in the southern USA.

9 thoughts on “The Truth Will Set You Free (But First It Will Piss You Off)”

  1. My net worth is about a $0. (isn’t that funny to say). I’m actually very proud say we are at $0, it has taken many years of budgeting and blasting through debt (student loans + stupid expenses). We have $10,000 car loan debt @ 3%, $3,400 student loan @ 6.5%, $6,200 student loan @ 3.5% and $97,000 home loan @3.6% and $76,000 in 401Ks. We have $3,000 in checking & savings. My home is worth about $125,000 if sold today. I’m about 1 year away from being debt free (except the house)! I use YNAB to budget and google docs. Another resource to look at net worth is And, I love this calculator to show me how long until financial independence (where my return on investments can support my lifestyle)


    1. Thanks for this mind-blowing, super inspirational comment! I know you guys have had your share of cross country moves, crappy apartments, and compromises so it’s really encouraging to know how far you’ve come. I’m so excited to keep picking your brain–hope you guys are as proud of yourselves as you should be! Xxxxooo


  2. I have to admit that I find financing to be so confusing and boring. All of the jargon is foreign to me, and I am a lazy person when it comes to managing my money so I don’t bother to learn what all the words mean… So naturally I clicked on the simple hands-off approach you linked. I guess I don’t really know what I can start doing since I have no income and I am already in debt… I have no savings either, so I really have no clue where to even start… SOS. HELP. I have a $6,362.31 parent plus loan with a 6.84% interest rate. I have a subsidized $2,000 loan with a 4.66% interest rate and a $5,500 with a 4.29% interest rate – both of which will start accruing interest 6 months after I graduate. Then I have a $2,000 loan that is accruing interest at a rate of 4.29%. So far it has accrued $69 of extra debt. So that’s about $16,000 of debt total. I have about $1200 bucks in my savings and checking accounts. I don’t really know what I am going to do if I get into that Med Lab program. Its about $6000 dollars for the course and books… and I will be paying rent too so add another $6,000 for the year. The program is full time so I can’t work for that whole year. Any suggestions??!??!??!

    Also, your blog post titles are so clever and funny. I love it. I also really enjoyed the rainy day song! Thanks for all the tips, Ashley!


    1. Abby, I felt exactly the same way when I was in your shoes. Just feeling overwhelmed by the techical jargon and being generally too busy to invest much effort–made me just close my eyes and hope for the best. I think that it’s especially easy to do that when you’re not working and getting into debt to go to school because it feels a little depressing. The point, though, is that knowing about your finances gives you a lot of power, if you can keep it in the right perspective. Right now you have a net worth of about negative $14k–which is AMAZING for a college student. You should be so impressed with yourself. And you know the interest rate of all your loans, and which ones are accruing interest. You’re already ahead of the curve here, girl. A (very) general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t take out more loans than 1x what your predicted salary would be, or you’ll have trouble paying it back. So for you, you can still responsibly borrow the money you need for that Med Lab program that has a 100% job security and predicted salary of 50k. The goal of being financially aware is NOT to limit all of your possibilities and activities that enjoy for the sole purpose of avoiding debt or making money, but to align your debt and spending with what you value, and invest in your future (via education, etc) Concerning your loans, that’s a whole nother topic of conversation, but I might suggest at a bare minimum paying the interest on that $2k loan if you can. Another thought would be to see if a family member (i.e. dad) would want to loan you 2k and you pay him back without interest. If you did that, you’d have no loans accruing right now. Either way you’ve done absolutely amazing at keeping your debt minimal while having some really awesome undergraduate experiences. You should be proud of yourself. I sure am!


  3. Hi Abby, I agree with Ashley you are in a great position. Also, the fact that you are reading this blog and actively participating by commenting is awesome! If I could go back in time and be in your shoes and know what I know now I would have saved a lot of TIME and MONEY. Here are a few mistakes I made that if you can avoid you will do great:

    1) When you do start making an income try to maintain a similar lifestyle as you have today so that you can start to pay off your debt by making larger payments then the monthly minimum. The mistake we made was that as our income went up so did our mindless spending. It seems obvious that as you make more you should have more to pay debt/save, but without making a PLAN to do that it is too easy to just spend more i.e. eat out more or buy things you “want” instead of “need”.

    2) Pay off your lowest balance loan first. Then, add the monthly payment of $80 to loan #2. Pay at least $180 on loan #2. After you pay off loan #2 add $180 to loan number #3 and start making $290 payments monthly. In no time you will be debt free and ready to start saving/investing 
    2,000 @ 4.66% let’s say this loan has a monthly payment of $80
    5,500 @ 4.29% let’s say this loan has a monthly payment of $100
    6,362 @ 6.84% let’s say this loan has a monthly payment of $110
    The mistake I made was that I was mindlessly spending so I didn’t have extra cash to blast through my debt and on top of that I was taking out more loans and adding getting farther in debt for silly things like a computer or furniture instead of saving up enough to buy them with cash.


    1. Thanks for the awesome and encouraging responses guys! I really appreciate all of the tips. Ashley, I didn’t know the rule of thumb was to not take out more than 1X your expected salary, so I am filing that away. Also, I’ll pay the interest of my one loan that is accruing and see if dad is willing to give me a loan. I don’t know if he will want to do that though. Haha. And April, thanks for the advice on paying my loans off once I start making money. I will definitely use that structure for paying them off! You guys are so wise! 😀 I am glad I can learn from you.


  4. Abby, I just thought of one more tip tonight when I went in to pay an extra payment to one of my student loans (yes still paying and I graduated 11 years ago ugh!)…when I apply an extra amount I can pick an option to “Target payment to a specific loan”. What I pay each month looks like one payment going to one loan, but when I log in it is actually 6 loans with different balances and interest rates. I apply my extra payment to the loan with the highest interest rate. I’m not sure if your loan will be set up like this, but just an idea to store away for the future 🙂


  5. I’m a bit slow on the up-take because of the brutal docket I just finished and my trip to see those little babies in Texas (yes, I refer to you Bogdan), but I’m in! I just read all the blog posts, and will just post once, so apologies if this comment relates to more than just this post.

    I’d say my top three values are relationships with my siblings and friends, the ability to be generous with my friends and others in the community, and a cozy, comfortable home. The struggle for me is that these things can really trigger some crazy endorphins that lead me to spend frivolously. Like, I’m pretty sure I spent about $300 on frames and mattes to frame pictures of my study abroad and some old family pictures that I could have done without. I’m not sure they enriched my life, but I like doing projects. And I do the same thing with gifts, because I want them to be “just so”–at which point I don’t even know if it’s about being generous to that person anymore; it may be more of a compulsion to have things be perfect. All of that to say that a substantial portion of my money goes to gifts and ridiculous projects I needn’t do.

    My other (un)disposable income I spend on groceries I throw away, eating out, and coffee. I realized I was spending $30/wk ($120/mo) on lattes!!! That was about two months ago. Now I drink the free (and gross) Keurig coffee at work, and allow myself one latte a week. For a while there I was also buying lunch out everyday, in addition to dinner about three times per week. I’m slowly trying to get better at dealing with this. Being a single lady, I really struggle motivating myself to cook. I used to go over to Ashley’s for dinner frequently, and now I visit Graham and Mely quite a bit, and I’d rather spend time with them than cook by myself. Between that and having the occasional dinner date with Rhylee, its hard for me to predict how many meals I should plan per week. But, I made chili last night and froze half of it, and I’ve been buying bag salads (don’t judge!!!) for lunch in an attempt to eat my veggies without buying lots of vegetables that I never cut up and eat. So that’s $3 for lunch instead of $10 to $15. Baby steps, people.

    On the bright side, my net worth is getting a bit better! About one year ago, I had $6000 in credit card debt– which is now down to around $1000. Though I’ve been saying this for four months, I actually should be able to pay it off within a month. I have about $117,000 in student loans, at varying interest rates, some of which are quite high (6.8%), but which I’m paying off first, as April suggested (Abby, yours will be the same and will allow you to select the loan you want to make payment on–I can help if you need). I have contributed $3,800 to a retirement plan I just realized I will probably never benefit from (unless I work for one more year for Washington), and that I should have chosen the defined benefit plan that my employer alone contributes to, and opted for contributing my own income to the defined contribution plan, in which I could have chosen my investments, and not had to worry about vesting. Oh, and I have zero assets. 🙂 So, my net worth is -$118,000. At the beginning of the year (I’m estimating), it was -$123,000.

    I both like and abhor talking about finances. Paying off my credit card is really the first time in my life I’ve felt like I could make a financial goal and make progress toward it. And not spending on everything makes the things I do spend money on more special. That control has been empowering (I’ll maybe need help on not becoming a money control-freak though, sisters). In addition, I started giving 10% of my income to World Relief (for every dollar I give, the federal government gives two more!), which has been helpful in reminding me that even if I feel stressed out about money, or maybe haven’t planned perfectly, money can always be taken in an instant, and isn’t the type of security I often perceive it to be. It also helps give me a little perspective when I’m feeling whiny about not having my lattes or envious that others are making more than I do.

    On the other hand, I feel really powerless when it comes to learning about retirement plans and healthcare options because they feel so contingent on so many different scenarios that I need to predict. I don’t really even know enough to know what I need to be looking for. I just spent the evening reviewing the pamphlets I got from work, and I think I maybe understand a little more than I did last year, but it is still mostly incomprehensible. I also get really overwhelmed when I see other people who have mastered more than I have (like meal plans), which annoys me about myself, but is nonetheless true.

    I really appreciate you (Ashley) always initiating good things for your little sisters (and brothers, if they’d listen 😉 ). It’s hard to be the oldest, but you continue to be such a good example for all of us, and that’s such a special gift to us. Okay, must go tend to my fungus lips now! Toodles!


    1. What a grand and lawyerly response! You have made some amazing progress and changes, so proud of you. I love all of your reflection in this response, so honest and gives me a lot to reflect on too. I’m also very inspired that you are giving 10% of your money to World Relief. What better way to drive home the reality to one’s self that money is not the most important thing in the world, just a tool to serve you and others. I want to talk more about retirement plans and healthcare options, especially now that it’s open enrollment season! Hope I can get it together in time to have a discussion regarding all of these things!


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