Exploring Finance

Why I started a blog in 2020

Exploring Finance https://exploringfinance.github.io/

I work Monday – Friday as a data analyst spending 45-50 hours a week writing code in R or Python building dashboards or doing deep dive analytics on anything finance related. After hundreds of conversations and podcasts, one theme seems to surface more than any other: What does it take to afford an average middle class lifestyle?

From dealing with everyday costs to having an endless activity list, it never feels like there is enough time in the day or money in our wallet. The US Median salary in 2015 was approximately $56,000 which cannot afford a decent lifestyle, especially if you have children. Because this is such a basic struggle, the topics covered in this blog have all been addressed hundreds of times before. However, I tried to find the intersection of all my skills and interests to hopefully combine them in a unique way that is easy to access for anyone.

Why a blog?

I considered writing a book, but it would be all consuming and doesn’t end until it’s completely finished. A blog is a work in progress and can be published an idea at a time. Also, most of the tools I build are interactive which doesn’t suit a book very well. So to better understand why I am writing, it’s important for me to consider my likely audience.

Me: I spend so much time listening to podcasts and thinking over the same questions that I hope by writing down my thoughts I won’t have to think about them as much. I want to free up a little head space!

Family: I have tried to convince my siblings how important saving and investing is and I plan to do the same with my kids (they’re still a little too young). So this blog is definitely for them. Nothing tells a compelling story like data!

Friends: Working in finance generally leads to discussions like “should I buy a house?”, “Is a recession coming?”, “where should I invest my money?”. While I certainly don’t have the answer to these questions, I try to build tools that help guide people to answer those questions for themselves. Sharing a link to a blog post might help someone in their journey.

If you are not one of the three I mentioned above, then welcome! I hope you find something on my page useful. Whether you’re learning how to code (I will post all my source code at https://github.com/exploringfinance) or feeling alone in the everyday struggle of making ends meet, I hope you find something of value.

My plan

Over the next year, I want to tackle the main topics that I have spent time thinking about. I am sure the list will grow, but for now it includes:

Some posts will be heavily technical in nature with lots of code and data while others may be more qualitative pulling from personal experience. From deciding between Roth or traditional contributions to what car to buy (new or used?) I have done the math. Hopefully it saves you a step in your decision making process.

Finally, a special thanks to Jonathan Regenstein and his incredible work at Reproducible Finance. I was an already a big R user but his blog and book were a great inspiration and an excellent learning tool.

Disclosure: all of my views are personal opinion only. Any data analysis is prone to errors from methodology to conclusions. Nothing on this blog should be considered as financial advice. I am simply sharing information I have gathered and decisions I have made. Everyone must come to their own conclusions.