The past week, I've been learning about Debt Free living, through the usage of a spending plan. While trying to figure out what book to listen to next, I stumbled across JoAnneh Nagler's book The Debt Free Spending Plan. This book has done a lot towards refining my personal outlook on my expenses. 

As I've mentioned before, I have finally started to consistently be able to pay down all my dues each month. Starting last year in October and November, I'd actually reached the point where I was able to begin saving some money in a savings account which I planned to use for emergencies. Unfortunately, it had been so long since I'd been saving regularly, that many little things kept popping up that I had to cover so my savings grew quite slowly. At the end of November I got serious about saving though and allotted $200 out of my pizza hut paychecks (paid out every other Monday) to go directly to my savings account. 

Now with this level of savings, I thought I was doing pretty good. But then I read JoAnneh's book and realized that I am not setting aside money for regular expenses each month, which is part of the reason I am continually challenged to keep money in my savings. JoAnneh maps out a step-by-step process by which chonic spenders can identify their routine expenses and their impulse expenses. Once these have been written out and broadly categorized, she discusses how to fit it to your monthly income. 

Having grown up in Africa, I heard this phrase uttered all the time: "Doni Doni" It means "Little by little". Most cultures have a saying that means something to this effect, and often stories to support it (for example, the tortoise and the hare). Presently I am facing some tough financial decisions. I have decided not to debt anymore, and I am rapidly increasing my personal education about both money management and investing, but all this makes me want to change now and faster than my modest income as a pizza delivery guy allows. :P It is tough, however not to rush into the market.

I've been eyeing several stocks for quite some time and would like to build some stock positions, but at the same time, I have over $40,000 in debt that needs dealing with as well, so I've got some choices to make on priorities. Do I pay down debt now and invest later, or do I take advantage of current trends and growing stocks and jump into the market at the same time as I pay down my debt. 


My Background, in a bit more Detail

So where exactly am I coming from? This is actually a fairly challenging question for me, which changes depending on location. Presently I am from Seattle, but if you go far enough back one finds that I am not from here at all but rather grew up in Africa, the son of missionaries. As this is a finance and investing blog, I shan't go into great detail on my adventures in Africa, however I must highlight Africa primarily because it is through the observation of my parent's work, in particular my father's efforts to assist locals in launching their own livelihoods through what I now know to be micro lending (although at the time I had no clue what that was).

That is how I ended up here in Seattle. I decided that I wanted to study business, with the idea that I too could help people learn to make a living for themselves in Africa (or Asia or wherever it ends up being). The best Christian university business program in the United States just so happened to be provided by Seattle Pacific University. So upon graduation from high school, I packed my bags and left Africa for the hustle and bustle of the United States to apply my mind to the task of learning business.

So since I am starting a blog, obviously I ought to have a point to all this writing. So here I go. As mentioned on the home page, I have been unable to secure employment in what I would normally consider a desirable job or field. Indeed, typically pizza delivery is not the first thing that comes to mind when you are dreaming of a career. Fortunately for me, delivering pizza is not the be all, end all for me but more of a starting point in my post college career.

So what is the point of this blog? I intend to prove that someone working even a less dignified job can still retain their dignity and even thrive so long as they make smart choices for their life style and invest their time and money properly. Of course, that all starts with maintaining a proper perspective on life. As a Christian I believe God has big plans for me to impact others and spread His kingdom through my work. At the moment I have no idea how He is doing that, but I intend to figure it out bit by bit as I go along. 

I intend to document my journey, starting out with my first investment in the stock market (I am a member of a family run investment club, but up until recently didn't really do much there as I didn't know what was going on). Yesterday I purchased my first stock, a single share in the company Monmouth REIT (MNR). This is a revolutionary moment for me as I've thought about investing for a long time but always felt as though I did not have enough money to invest in the stock market. Recently I challenged this pre-conceived concept and as a result discovered quite a few resources for investing that make it possible for your Average Joe to buy shares in a broad array of companies. 

In conjunction with this effort to build a portfolio of businesses that will pay me dividends going forward, I am also working hard to eliminate a heavy load of credit card debt I accumulated both during and just after college through my ignorance. Since then I have been learning, through much trial and error, the importance of budgeting and managing expenses. So, while many folks feel that you should only invest once you have paid off all your debt, I feel that the sooner I begin investing in conjunction with paying down debt, the bigger the overall advantage I will have in the long term as the effects of dividend reinvestment compound and my personal debt shrinks. So not only will you be following my investment journey, but you will also be able to follow along as I work to eliminate my debt.

Finally, my ultimate career goal is the implementation of my personal skills in business, development, and cross cultural interactions to positively impact the lives of others around me in the community. I have a rather unique background that has given me some different experiences which I feel the need to implement in my future career. Ideally I'd like to serve with a non-profit internationally in sustainable economic developmental projects. In college I focused in on Social Enterprise, that is the process of conducting Business in such a fashion that the community benefits. Mohamed Yunus is an early inspiration for me during my college studies and wrote the book, "Social Business". This has been a huge inspiration to me and I highly recommend it for anyone curious about how business can be transformed into an entity with the purpose of building up society rather than sucking money and resources from society.

So to sum up, this blog will principally follow my investment, debt reduction, and career efforts going forward from this point on. It is looking to be quite the challenge and I need to nail down some goals to help you folks keep me accountable, but I am also looking forward to it. I am happy to be writing again as well. In high school I maintained a weekly newsletter for three years documenting my adventures growing up and it has been 8 years since I last wrote on a regular basis. I've grown quite a lot since then and I've got plenty more growth ahead of me to document. Thanks for reading! The Pizza Guy.