My name is Elsie

But some people call me Gundo

I’m a college dropout, dropin, dropout, dropin.

My whole life I’ve been self-taught in everything. I got myself into a lot of college debt, then I climbed out of the hole from tips I read on blogs like this one.

I decided I was a writer so I did that. I decided I wanted to start my own website where I could share my hope and ongoing frugality ideas with others. So I did that too.

…some things about me

I grew up in a middle-class white suburban family with everything I needed and most of the things I wanted.

I felt hopelessly different than the kids in school most of the time, whether that is perceived or real I’ll never know.

What I do know is I was quite hyperactive and “unique.” I was a big personality. I ran into a lot of troubles in those early school years because people had a need to tone me down a notch.

Don Miguel Ruiz calls that human domestication and it really isn’t a bad description of what happened.

Somewhere along the line a switch was flipped in me and that “uniqueness” became a serious longing to just be like everybody else, or at least to not be myself. I needed to blend in.

So, I turned into a drug addict.

This happens slowly at first…drinking after school or taking a pill to feel relaxed. Then it happens all at once, ending up in emergency rooms and mental hospitals. When you’re 14 they just don’t know where to put you.

These days there are a lot more places for troubled young people.

Throughout the next four years everyone tried to fix me in various ways. Meetings, boarding school, “tough love,” and many psyche medications.

In the end though, nothing changed for me until I was ready to make the decision to get clean for myself. I ran myself into the ground quick. At 18 I found myself with nowhere to live and a family that was not going to save me from myself anymore.

An interesting thing happened then. I realized I was going to have to be accountable for myself and my actions.

Wasted were those years of nursing resentments and feeling like it was everyone else’s fault I was like this. It was time to pick myself up, with no tools for living and no idea where a lifeline was going to come from.

Thankfully, I had a number of a rehab and I was still on my parents health insurance to pay for it. That is where my new life started and it’s the trajectory I’m still on today.

What does any of this have to do with money?

When you come from a place of nothing you know the true value of everything.

In my addiction I would just run up my debt in whatever way was available (thankfully I was too young and stupid for anyone to actually give me a credit card). I would overdraw my debit card like it was free money coming from the Gods.

I couldn’t get a bank account until I was 19 because I had to repay the debt on the account I already had.

Forget the college debt, that was in deferment until who knows when.

There was no magical cure for it all. I had to climb one step at a time, and each day my life got better and I got a glimpse that everything might just be ok. Eventually one day I sent in my last loan payment and I vowed to never be in debt again.

I hope my hope can be your hope

I’ve already been in the darkest place that humans can go.

I’m here to tell you that there is nothing to be afraid of. The monsters in your room are lampshades and book cases, if only you would shine a light on them.

Mostly, I see life as a board game. You try to set yourself in a good position. You take risks when they are needed. You don’t let fear rule your decision-making.

…and sometimes you stumble and your support system is there to help you back up. Failure is expected when you’re living life fully.

Do we really need another blog about personal finance?


Many others have done it, and much better than me I might add.

Gundo Money is mainly a place for idea sharing. I want this to be an open dialogue. I am not here to be the Voice of God with underlings to read my infinite wisdom.

I want to hear about other peoples’ struggles and their triumphs. I want to hear about what’s working and what was a complete failure.

I share openly that I tend to be an incredibly fearful and naturally nervous person. Even I have been able to break free of that thinking with daily practice.

It’s a relationship

One of the things that sets Gundo Money apart is that I’m much more interested in talking about a relationship with money.

I think a lot of blogs are focused on teaching people to grow their wealth and invest smart. But what about what’s going on with the inside?

We all have patterns of thinking and behavior that have sabotaged our life from time to time. It’s the patterns of guilt, self-hatred, resentment, fear, impulsivity, and shame that are the real root of money issues.

It’s my belief that if you don’t get right about why you got into debt, or why you feel you don’t have enough money, then you will repeat the same pattern again sooner or later.

I know deeply that I might blow my life up again if I succumb to old patterns.

 From time to time I bring my issues here so that I can work them out in open forum. The writing process has always helped me get clear about where I’m at. I hope you’ll share your advice with me.

 I hope you discover some things about yourself here, or at least find a few tips you can use to save some money.

Foremost Gundo Money is about embracing who I am and sharing my authenticity with the world. I hope you’ll share your ideas with me or give me some feedback about what you read here.