After weeks of indecision about whether or not I was going to do this thing (and even more about what in the hell I should call this blog), on March 29, 2017, I finally pushed “publish” on my first post (I’m too scared to go back and read it. I think since then I’ve become at least a marginally better writer!). Which means it’s my birthday! Well, not mine—that was last month. It’s Reaching for FI’s first birthday today!!!
When I began blogging, I had no expectations of how long it would last or if I’d keep at it. While part of the impetus of creating the blog was because I didn’t see any non-profit workers going it alone on the FI route in a big (read: expensive) city, I also wanted a place to hold myself publicly accountable on my path to FI. Despite learning that blogging is really hard work and wondering (sometimes more seriously than the jokes I constantly make about it) why on earth I spend all my time doing this, it’s largely been a rewarding experience. And now here I am a year later!
Apparently making it a year puts me in something like the top 5% of bloggers, which for once makes me NOT middle class! 😉 (If you’ve somehow missed the ongoing, exhausting debates over what’s truly middle class or not through various Twitter threads and blog posts, buckle in!)
Here’s a look at what’s happened in that year.
I’m not sharing pageviews/visitors/subscribers here. Honestly they’re not all that impressive: a year in and I’m still a very, very minuscule corner of the internet. Plus, let’s face it, I have a tendency to compare myself with those doing better than me and get jealous. That’s not productive by any means, so, much like I don’t share my net worth in an effort not to discourage anyone behind me on their journey, I’m not sharing those particular blogging numbers.
But I do have some to share!
On March 31, 2017 I had $5,035.10 in debt. $2,265.07 of that was the balance on my student loans, and $2,770.03 was on my credit cards. If you recall, April was a spendy month that year, so by April 30, 2017 I was up to $6,060.89 in debt (all of which was on my credit cards since my student loan debt decreased by $100).
Today I’ve got something like $150 on my credit cards which is just normal, monthly spending that’ll get paid off at the end of the month, and $657.75 to go on my student loans (sooooo close!).
It’s not a sexy debt payoff story by any means, but year one of blogging saw me become consumer debt-free. I’m looking forward to being able to say in year two that I’m completely debt-free!
Over that year, my average savings rate was just under 18%, and that’s with it being saved by my much more impressive numbers the last few months. Not great. I can and will do better during my second year of blogging.
As for blogging, this is post number 77. Definitely not up to my 2x per week
aspiration standard, but I had a slow start (and middle, and sometimes end) to the year.
Things I did not do
Go to FinCon. Here’s hoping that changes this year (I just haven’t officially decided yes or no—as in, bought tickets of any sort to make it official—because $$$, but I’m also looking at my vacation time at work and planning around that week)!
Actually use the Reaching for FI Facebook page I set up for myself. Oh hey, y’all, I have a FB page. One day I’ll remember to actually publicize my posts there too!
Get any trolls in my comments (do I need more controversial posts? Hm…). I therefore have not gotten the satisfaction of exercising my right as Supreme Ruler of this blog to make said comments disappear forever. ?♀️
Automate any part of this process. All Tweets and Instagram posts are me in realtime and it means A LOT of time spent on social media (plus not a ton of promoting posts in my archive). I’ll be looking into ways I can schedule some tweets out for the future.
Use any kind of system for reading/commenting on/sharing other posts. As I mentioned in a Twitter conversation a few days ago, that’s what a billion tabs in my browser (I’m gonna guess that constant state of being is one of the reasons my computer tends to run a bit slower than it should) and email drafts to myself that are just lists of URLs are for!
Write any nicely concise posts.
Write any drafts to have saved for occasions when I need them. For the last 77 posts I’ve largely been writing them the night before they go out. That most definitely accounts for a lot of the erratic posting schedule. To bring a money metaphor into the mix, I’ve got zero blogging emergency fund and am always crossing my fingers, hoping I’ll make it to the next payday (aka scheduled posting day). Life gets in the way sometimes, so I’m going to try to get at least a bit ahead in year two so I do have a bit of breathing room.
Check before starting this post to make sure that I had my date correct instead of assuming the one I had in my head was the correct one (March 28 is so close but no cigar!). BOY WOULD THAT BE EMBARRASSING if it had actually happened to me! There wouldn’t be enough facepalms in the world for that!!!
If for some reason you didn’t already think that I’m clearly forever the most pro blogger in the history of bloggers, who most definitely totally knows what she’s doing, I hope this list has convinced you! #killingit
Things I did do
Pick up a part-time job as a way to pay off my debt faster and boost my savings rate.
Get my first travel rewards credit card to wade into the world of travel hacking (FI is going to mean lots of travel!).
Pay off my credit card debt (yes, I’m mentioning this in two separate sections. Gold stars for me!), save much more than I ever have, and prioritize investing those savings.
Acknowledge and prioritize my mental health for the first time in my life.
Actually pay attention to how I spend my money and hold myself accountable here. I’ve had some downright ugly monthly spending reports, but I didn’t want to hide anything to make myself look better. What would be the point of that? I’ve noticed a change over the last year: I’m not nearly as likely to feel the urge to buy something as I was even a few months ago. I’ve got plenty (I’ve got too much, as I’ll make clear in my next post), and I want FIRE more than I want a lot of things nowadays.
Read a ton of books, especially personal finance ones.
Decide to take on monthly experiments for 2018 instead of overarching New Years’ resolutions and, for better or worse, document them here.
Write two guest posts: one that’s already published and another coming next week!
Get inspired to write a post and find out the words just won’t flow, so relegate it to my “ideas” list for some undetermined point in the future. Proceed to stress out about coming up with another idea.
Make an ever-growing to-do list with things I should probably do for this blog.
Make an archives page so you can go back and binge-read all my posts! (And watch that space for future developments as I’ve got plans for it on said ever-growing to-do list.)
Decide—at least for now—to put up Amazon affiliate links sparingly (not an affiliate link, just a link to the post with an affiliate link) to help cover the costs of this hobby of mine.
Dream up a million and one things I want to do with my life when I’m no longer stuck at a 9-5.
Get impatient because I want to do those things NOW.
Spend many, many lunch breaks and evenings (and laaaaaaate nights) writing posts, and even more time reading others’ posts.
And subsequently learned a lifetime’s worth of new things, with more coming every day.
Pivot most of what little of a social life I had (helps that most of my friends have moved out of the area, which is pretty rude of them!) to spending time with the personal finance community. If I’ve talked to you on Twitter, I probably consider you my friend. Same for if you’re here reading this. If I’ve met you at one or more meetups, had wine and sushi evenings and/or participated in a holiday goodie swap with you, given you my number so we can text like real people instead of DMing, or planned to take days off of work so I can meet you, I consider you my friend. Surprise to any of you who didn’t know because now you do: we’re totally friends!
Shoutout to you, too, if you’re one of the few people reading this that I know in my non-blogger life!
Pay for a second year of hosting and my domain name. Year two, here I come!