About Brave Saver

Photo by Benjamin Davies

Brave Saver is a personal finance resource that empowers you to face your financial fears, balance your money management, and get what you want out of life.

Brave Saver (n)

One who pushes past fear to preserve what they value most.

Being brave is most important when it’s required to save the things you love. A brave saver is clear about what matters most: your family, your safety and security, your freedom, your values, your hopes and dreams.

You don’t allow fear and doubt to drive them. You take a moment to get the facts, weigh the risks, and get clear on what you want. Then you quiet the fear and panic, brace yourselves with however much bravery is required, and you do the damned thing.

Being a Brave Saver is not a destination — it’s a daily practice of managing your money and your life free of fear, motivated instead by what you truly love and value.

Life is full of these hard choices, especially when it comes to our finances. Whether it’s during big or small moments, major life choices or mundane daily decisions — we face our fears and decide whether we will bow to them or push past them.

My personal finance philosophy

When money strategies and steps are offered, they’re often overly simplistic, unhelpful, or simply don’t work in the trial-and-error reality of most people’s finances. (No, Susan, skipping lattes and avocado toast is not the solution to all our financial problems!)

The key thing that money experts won’t talk about when giving their “simple” or “easy” tips to fix your finances is, well, you.

Money management is a mess in real life because we’re often messy. Everyone is human and subject to the trials and triumphs that come along with that. No one has a perfect track record of financial choices and decisions. In fact, the “perfect way” to manage your money doesn’t even exist. There is no wrong or right way to manage your finances — but there are money choices that will get you closer to what you want and value (or take you further from it).

The real problem with this advice is doesn’t acknowledge or account for the emotions and thoughts you have that make it so hard and even scary to make positive money moves. Trying to improve your financial health often means pushing up against some of your most ingrained beliefs and behaviors. So while there’s plenty of money advice willing to tell you “what” to do, there’s so little that gets at how to do it — or even why you should.

At Brave Saver, we explore financial topics and money solutions in a holistic way. It’s not just about understanding money, but understanding your money — the beliefs, behaviors, fears that all play into it. It’s a place where we unpack financial fears and find our bravery together, and find the strength to do the work that’s needed.

My journey to becoming a brave saver

“You cut your hair short, that style is a brave choice.”

I’ve always been told I was brave.

“Oh, you’re an English major — so you’re feeling brave, huh?”

“You don’t care what other people think, that’s so brave.”

“I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to start a business on my own.”

The funny thing about the word “brave” is that it always sounds like a compliment, and often is meant as one — but it’s also something of a putdown. The implication of being called brave is you’re doing something scary or risky. And often, doing those scary and risky things earns you the ultimate negative judgment: that you’re stupid or doomed to fail.

And I’ve often felt that silent judgment that comes along with the word “brave,” felt others’ fears for me. I even internalized those judgments and fears, repeating them to myself or coming up with new ones all on my own. I questioned my inner guide, not trusting what I wanted and felt called to. I learned, in many ways, to quiet myself, to play it safe, and kept myself small — not “brave.”

But while that fear sometimes kept me small, it turns out I had a bigger fear than being a failure or being stupid. I was more afraid of leading a life that was unfulfilling, inauthentic, and miserable. I was more afraid of regret and self betrayal. That, at the core, is what being a Brave Saver meant: to be true to myself free of the fear of doing the hard work, trying, and even failing.

This resolve lead me to making some “brave” decisions that I know seem risky and even stupid on their face:

  • I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing.
  • I got married right out of college at just 21.
  • I moved across country to support my new husband in pursuing his graduate degree.
  • I moved across country again to Los Angeles, with just one job and very little money between me and my husband.
  • I got pregnant at 24 and became a mom at just 25 (easily the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done).
  • I chose to go back to work after having my baby, even though every mom I knew chose to stay at home and I had no idea how to make being a working mom work.
  • Recently, I chose to quit a stable and well-paying job to strike out on my own and have more control over my work and my time.

These brave choices weren’t easy, simple, or free. They often came at a high cost to me in terms of money, time, effort, or sacrifice. But I don’t regret them because they were right for me.

I know these kinds of “brave” choices are not unique to me. You could easily write your own list of the moments that you listened to yourself and what you really wanted. And hopefully, like me, you don’t regret those times you were brave enough to make the hard, scary, and even risky choices that you knew were right.

About Elyssa Kirkham, founder of Brave Saver

brave saver - personal finance blog

I’m an established finance writer and expert whose advice has been featured in some major news outlets. Yet I don’t look quite like your average money guru; I have a 30-year mortgage that I’m not trying to pay off early. I didn’t buy my last car in cash, and I’m not overly concerned about getting rid of my car loan either. I’m saving a decent amount toward retirement but it’s still 35-40 years down the road.

Living a brave and balanced life is more important to me than maximizing my bottom line. I’m doing (mostly) what I want with my money, and what I think most people really want: I’m creating financial security for myself and my family, both now and in the future. And I’m also budgeting and fitting in some fun and experiences while I’m at it.

Simply put, my philosophy is to wisely manage my money without being a martyr for it. I’m practicing being a Brave Saver.