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What I’ve Learned In My First Six Months Of Blogging

Wednesday marked six months of blogging. It feels a lot like having a kid in terms of time – on one hand, didn’t I just start this thing? On the other, it’s strange to think I’ve only been writing for half a year.

Apparently the majority of blogs fail within six months (though I can’t for the life of me find that statistic), so I’d say this has been a successful endeavor simply by the fact that I’ve continued writing.

I first stumbled upon the world of personal finance blogs about five years ago when I started reading and Sadly, both of these blogs have since been bought out, but I think both are very much worth reading the older content that is still out there. They’ve continued on in name only, but the content is very different now.

Starting my very own blog

Like many others, I found Mr Money Mustache and the FIRE community and the wealth of amazing information that is out there. I continued reading and absorbing information on the sidelines and began debating writing down my own story at some point after that, but it was Joe’s post on Retire By 40 that finally kick started me into purchasing a domain name and begin to be a more active member of the personal finance community.

I started slow my first few months (some days only at 2-3 views), but I learned that I really enjoyed writing for myself, regardless of how many people were listening and I started seeing how sharing my story was positively affecting my life. After writing about my run to work, I found myself making sure it happened every week because I wanted what I wrote online to be true in real life. Six months later (and much colder, darker, and rainier mornings), and I’m still putting in those six miles every Wednesday.

January isn’t usually sunny and warm(ish) like it was this past weekend

Finding my tribe online After the first few months of blogging, I found myself dipping my toe into different online blogger communities and started to get to “know” some other bloggers, but I was still mostly on the outskirts, until one day in November Military Dollar convinced me to join Twitter. From day one there, I realized I had found my online community – tons of people who loved to talk about personal finance and who wrote some really fantastic content.

One of my first goals in starting a blog was to interact with and become much more active about talking about finances, and the personal finance Twitter community has been this beyond my wildest expectations. It really is a fantastic place to learn and talk about money with some really great people, many of whom I hope to meet in person one day.

Keeping myself accountable

My other initial goal in starting this blog was to hold myself accountable to create – and keep – hard financial goals. This started out slowly, and I first wrote out some of my thoughts here, but I wasn’t seriously focused until I decided to go full speed ahead on my very first no spend month.

Bringing lunch to work – key to reducing our spending

As part of that challenge for myself, I created a Facebook group where I posted my everyday spending and others did the same. We all had different goals for the month, but they all centered around taking control of our finances in a really concrete way. Two months later and this group has morphed into No (Low) Spend 2018 with over 250 members now. I’m loving the community which is so supportive and positive, and I love hearing the little successes from people that happen every day. This group – along with the personal finance blogging community – is the reason that I even went ahead and wrote out such a huge financial goal for 2018.

Sharing my blog in real life

The first few months of blogging, I shared with very very few people in real life. My husband has known from day 1, but since he doesn’t much want to talk about the nitty gritty of personal finance in real life, he isn’t super interested in reading it here either 😉 It took me three months to even share with my mom (whoops – sorry mom!) because I felt like such an impostor in the online realm.

Only over time, and as I realized people actually did want to hear what I was writing about, have I slowly gotten more open with people I know. I took a leap of faith at the end of December and shared my plans for embarking on the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month on my personal Facebook page and was absolutely floored by the positive responses I received there. Since then, I have been having conversations with friends offline about finances – and about this blog.

Yep – I even talked finances while on our mini vacation two weeks ago

Expanding the conversation offline has been such a rewarding experience, and I’m so glad I finally decided to share. Hearing stories about friends maxing out their 401ks and deciding to do a frugal month of their own has been so awesome. From here on out, I promise to be more open about what I write here and be ready to talk finances with the most unlikely of people.

I had so many experiences prior to this that led absolutely nowhere whenever I tried to talk money, but I think there’s something to be said for reading it online that’s a little less in your face that is easier to work with. After all, that’s where I really started five years ago.

My six favorite posts in my first six months

The end this here, I want to share my favorite posts that I’ve written thus far.

1. Retire From Obligation (Necessarily Your Job)

A common theme in the FIRE community is the idea that once you hit financial independence, it’s time to quit your main job. However, in doing the homework for the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month, Liz asks you to write down your “dream bio.” While there may be some small things I’d change about my life, the big things wouldn’t change. Financial independence for us is about options, not the absolute need to quit a soul sucking job.

2. What I Learned About Our Spending Habits From A No Spend Month

An entire month of writing down every single purchase, necessary and planned or not, was seriously a huge turning point for me. Since then, I have a goal to hit as many zero spend days as possible because they are what drive our savings rate to a whole different level.

3.  Christmas Traditions Don’t Have To Be Filled With Stuff 

I absolutely love Christmas, but not the materialistic side of the holidays. My favorite memories and traditions come down to people, not things.

4. A Week In Hawaii For $400 A Person

Our Hawai’i trip back in November was the absolute perfect vacation, and we didn’t ruin our savings goals in the process. We honestly could not have spent any more money to have a better trip than we did. Being frugal and tracking our spending is not about deprivation but instead about being mindful about every dollar and making sure we are sticking to the things that matter.

Seriously the most amazing trip ever

5. Live Like You’re Financially Independent (Even When You’re Not)So much in the FIRE community discussions center around when you finally have enough money to be financially independent (or at least have a huge number in your savings). I’m a big believer in creating a life that you want to live today because nothing in the future is guaranteed.

6. Why I Suddenly Quit My Awesome Side Hustle

Similar to the reasons I cut back my career job to part time, I quit my second job that I really did enjoy in order to carve out more time for our family. It’s a decision I haven’t regretted once in the year since I quit.

I didn’t include any of my Friday’s Frugal Five posts in this list, though they have been really fun to write. There’s something to be said for celebrating the little wins because those are what add up to be the big ones over time.

Blogging stats – 6 months in

Finally, for those who are interested, here is where my stats landed at the end of month six. I honestly have a hard time wrapping around these numbers in the last few months. They are minuscule next to some of the really popular bloggers out there, but they seem like giant numbers to me.

To put it in perspective, August, my first full month blogging, had 904 views, 663 visitors, 10 likes, and 8 comments. December had 7,834 views, 4,419 visitors, 105 likes, and 262 comments – and 867% increase in views from August. Wow. Thank you to everyone who reads these posts and are interested in what I have to say. It really has been a fun six months, and I’m looking forward to the next six.

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