The 76k Project posted her top twelve posts for 2018 just before Christmas, and I had such a fun time reading through them to see which were her most popular (and to go back and read the ones I hadn’t yet) that I decided I wanted to do a similar post myself.

Going back to her post, it appears that her inspiration for writing said post was thanks to one written by My Early Retirement Journey, so I guess it’s just a fun thing to write this time of year. That, and the end of the year is so jam packed with things other than sitting on the Internet reading blog posts, and the same goes for writing new ones. Is this filler? Is this fun? Probably some of both. Either way, here’s to a final post in 2018 (and my 193rd post of all time – whoa), and I’ll catch you in in 2019.

For this list, these are the top twelve post I’ve written this year based on total views, not necessarily my all time favorites in that same order, with the exception of the very top post – that one deserves the top spot on any list that has to do with this blog, as it’s more or less become a foundation of what I’m doing here on my little corner of the internet.

With these top twelve, there is one I feel should make the list, but didn’t, and that’s this one. I did just write it recently (in October), so perhaps it just needs some time to catch up, but I don’t know that it will. Regardless, there are a few in this list that are in the same bent, so the message is still there. Definitely one of my favorite posts I’ve written to date.

We only have one Earth, and it’s really pretty. Let’s keep it that way.

Without further ado, here are the top twelve posts published on Tread Lightly Retire Early in 2018, starting with number twelve and working my way down to number one (which if you think about it, you can probably guess without too much trouble):

Tread Lightly Retire Early’s Top Twelve Posts For 2018

12. Pursuing A Zero Waste Lifestyle

I have to say, while this isn’t a post I wrote myself, it’s definitely fitting that this guest post by Budget Epicurean made this top twelve list (and was featured on Women’s Money Talk) I may have initially meant for this blog to be an intersection of sustainability and personal finance, after the first few months of writing, the sustainability bit really didn’t get the focus it should have – especially when you consider the “Tread Lightly” name of this blog.

I didn’t have any specific plans for guest posts on this blog, but when she pitched this post to me, I read it and literally got chills reading it. Thanks to her, I’ve now started a sustainability / zero waste guest post series that I absolutely love (stay tuned in early January for the next one) and a renewed focus in blogging about the environment. It was always present in my posts, but it took her lead to get me to talk about it head on instead of just including it holistically in my writing as it is in my life. Thanks for the nudge, friend. I owe you.

11. Our Family’s Frugal Alternative To Instagram #Vanlife

To be perfectly honest, I’m a little surprised this one made the top twelve. I guess that’s where inadvertent search engine optimization comes in, because a lot of these views have come from random google searches. My hope is that because of that, people will consider simpler, more frugal choices to what can be a really expensive hobby.

Vanlife definitely has a lot of appeal, but for families like ours who are limited mostly to the weekends for now, a pretty new and expensive van may not be the best choice. We have a ton of fun truck camping this way, and that electric blanket makes all the difference in the winter months when it isn’t all that warm. It may be cold and wet most of the time, but off season is sure a fun time to travel.


Snuggly truck camping

10. Suddenly Deaf: Health Care And Financial Independence

This was the hardest post I’ve ever written. When you’re in your twenties, you generally don’t worry about health issues and expect that you have decades before you’re hit with something serious. In the grand scheme of things, partial deafness is still not anything terribly serious, but it sure feels oppressive from time to time.

Writing this post made me feel “less than,” which is more than a little ridiculous, because we are not strong or weak based on things outside of our control, but I still couldn’t help feeling that way (and still sometimes do). Putting my disability out there – and calling it out as such – was so freaking hard, but I’m glad I did it. The less than perfect, less than perfectly able bodied parts of our lives still exist, and we shouldn’t pretend that they don’t. And, as I found out thanks to the comments on this post, there are not just a few of us who can relate.

9. How To Fly To Hawaii For $11.70/Person

Again, this post did so well thanks to Google and Pinterest searches. Perhaps not the most personal story on my blog, but as it appears no one had written one specifically for using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book Alaska Airlines flights, I suppose it was a worthy one to write. There’s tons of information on how to best use travel rewards, but there are so many different combinations to use it was a bit (okay, a lot) more complicated than I expected to use them in this particular way. And so I wrote about it.


Pololu Valley, Hawaii

8. Why My Blog Is A Hobby – Not A Business

First and foremost, I wrote this one for me. I never had any plans to make a big income off this blog, but once it started getting traction and it was clear that Mediavine advertising revenue was within my reach, it started to get a lot more tempting to think about ways to monetize this blog in a real way. That has NEVER been the goal for this blog though, and knowing myself, going down that route would turn this blog into a “serious” business – it would change my writing (at least some), and it would force me to take it more seriously.

I already quit one fabulous side hustle to grasp more life balance, and I certainly don’t need another one. This isn’t to disparage people who DO make money off their blogs – for the amount of content put out for free, it is more than fair to make something in return – but it’s just not something that’s in the best interest for my life right now. And so, I return to this post from time to time to remind myself of that fact.

7. Embracing The Simplicity Of Zero Waste

Another guest post in my sustainability/zero waste series, this time from Kiwi And Keweenaw. She’s currently on a mini retirement so hasn’t been writing on her own blog recently, so I was honored to get to share one from her. She was one of my very first blogger friends along with Frugasaurus because we all started around the same time and had the same worldview that began and ended with sustainability and care for the earth.

This was my third Rockstar Finance feature, and the first guest post to receive one. I felt a bit guilty to get the bulk of the traffic for a post that I hadn’t written, but I was exceptionally pleased that a post focused on sustainability and zero waste was chosen. In the personal finance space, frugality is championed, and oftentimes there is a lot of overlap with sustainability, but I definitely feel like this discussion needs to continue to grow as it has in 2018.


Pickling your own is a great way to go zero waste


6. Being A Money Middleton In The High Income Financial Independence Community

This was a post that heralded in the beginning of The Middletons, a community and curation site focused on the lower and middle incomes in the personal finance space. The financial independence community especially, but also general personal finance, tends to be skewed toward high earners.

While my husband and I make a decent income, we are solidly in the middle income category for our area, and there’s a lot that we simply cannot achieve compared to someone with a high income. Once I started writing this post, I realized I had a LOT more to say here than I initially realized. Financial independence *might* still be for everyone, but with a lot of caveats.

5. The True Cost Of Saying Yes

There is quite a bit of conversation about the importance of learning how to say no, and this is my spin on that to focus on what happens when you say yes too often. I tend to full my life full to the gills and still have other things I would love to do, so I have to regularly remind myself of the cost of saying yes to any one particular thing, because I have only so much time in my day and year. This post was my second Rockstar Finance feature.

4. Ten Simple Changes For A More Sustainable Life

Obviously, I’m pretty freaking pleased that this post has not only made this list but squeaked in to the top five most viewed posts this year. To be honest, I had no idea it was so high up, but looking into it this one has done pretty well from organic searches. Here’s to hoping people read this post and then are spurred into making real changes in their lives.

This one was also featured on Women’s Money Talk, which makes me realize there’s a bit of a theme of them picking sustainably minded posts, which makes me extremely happy. We can’t have too much of that kind of discussion.

This is also a good reminder that I need to write a 2.0 version of this list – things that are perhaps not quite as simple of changes but worth doing once you’ve got the basics in place. The good news is, choices that are usually the right choice for the earth are also the right choice for your wallet.

3. We Cut Our Grocery Budget By 63% And Eat Better Than Ever

This one did well both on Pinterest and Google, and I hope that my honest sharing of how ridiculous much money we used to spend on food and drink will help people reading it feel more “normal.” When I first started paying attention to our grocery bill, I couldn’t wrap my head around how little other people spent on food.

Even looking at the USDA averages didn’t help, because we were off the charts. We’ve buckled down and reigned in our spending in this category, but we will never have a $200 a month food bill. Now though, we have a pretty good balance between eating good food (and going out for good food) and not blowing thousands of dollars every month in the doing.

I’d love to say that this is something we’ve just taken control of and now it just runs on autopilot, but that is absolutely not the case. It would be SO easy to go back to that spending, and it takes constant mindfulness not to go there again. Food may not be your trickiest budget category like it is ours, but I’d bet everyone has something that is a constant struggle, even once it’s under control.

Home cooked bibimbap bowl

2. What A Year Long Clothing Ban Taught Me About The Privilege Of Minimalism

This was my very first Rockstar Finance feature and it skyrocketed my blog views for the month in a way that took some time to match. For whatever reason, it also sent a lot more traffic to the blog than my other features (First listed? Specific topic sounded more particularly interesting?).

I initially expected I would hit the one year mark on this shopping ban and then go back to a more reasonable purchasing schedule after that. Instead, once I was there, I decided to keep going, and I’m now closing in on a full second year. I really will need to break it at some point, but I’m going to have to put some really clear bumpers in place to keep it within reason going forward. My goal is still to eventually create a minimalist closet for myself, but I’m still a long ways off from that. Expect a full post about this in March once I’ve hit the two year mark (I also did an update at eighteen months in).

1. Meet The Women Of The Financial Independence Community

What can I even say about this post? It completely changed my blogging experience in the best way possible. I wrote the post back in January, so almost a full year ago, and what a year it’s been. It has since spurred a lot of women specific conversations in the personal finance space, as well as a 3,100 member and growing Facebook community and my newer Women’s Personal Finance Wednesdays roundups, which I absolutely love writing.

No longer can someone say they can’t think of a woman to read about, recommenced, or interview in this space. There are so many of us, and the list continues to grow. I may not have realized the far reaching impacts this post would have when I first wrote it, but it’s been such an amazing ride.

This post was first shared an insane amount on Twitter, and then on Physician on Fire’s Sunday Best, on the Get Rich Slowly Pinboard, on CampFIRE Finance, and has since been linked to numerous other blogs. It did not receive a Rockstar Finance feature.

And then, there were the articles that I didn’t write, but was featured in. Since this is a roundup of this blog for the year, it seems relevant to include them here. A special thanks to Tanja for sending these journalists my way and making a serious effort to use her platform to get the media to see a more full picture of the FIRE movement.

1. I’m 30 and Planning on Retiring in 10 Years New York Magazine’s The Cut

2. A 30-year-old who’s saving half her income says kicking 2 daily habits helped her bank an extra $1,000 a month Business Insider

3. Opinion: Can you retire early if you have kids? MarketWatch

Unsurprisingly, I ended up having a lot more to say here than I initially meant to. This was a really fun look back at the last year, and it hit me how much I’ve written on this blog now and how long it’s been. Some of these posts feel like they were so long ago, and yet I’d been written for a good half a year already before 2018 even started.

That first year of blogging is a bit of a slog, but I feel like I’ve really hit my stride here in year two. I love this community, and I love writing in here (most of the time anyway). I’m looking forward to what 2019 will bring for this space. See you next year, friends.

9 thoughts on “Tread Lightly Retire Early’s Top Twelve Posts For 2018

    1. It was really fun to look at this for me too. And makes me so happy yours is on this list 😄

  1. Thank you so much for sharing. With so many blogs being published every day, I don’t get to everything (most things) on my list. So it’s great to get this short list.
    You’ve been an inspiration to me and my husband. We’re planning a 1-year shopping ban start tomorrow. Yikes!
    I’m actually excited about it.

    1. I hear you on not getting to read 1/10th of the blog posts I’d like to. And yay on the shopping ban!! I hope you’ll be writing about your parameters 😄

    1. Right?!? Me too. Didn’t realize they ranked so high until I did this exercise, and it made me so happy to see.

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