Celebrating one year of blogging

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!!!

One of my favorite photos from one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms seems appropriately colorful and festive for this post!

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.

The numbers

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)!

Get a Rockstar Finance feature. I did, however, make it two rounds in the Rockstar Rumble before I got knocked out by my good friend, Military Dollar!

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!

Struggle with coming up with ideas for posts and not wanting to sit down and write.

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!

48 Replies to “Celebrating one year of blogging”

  1. Congrats on making it one year! I love the transparency. From what I am seeing your list of what you have done far outweighs what you did not! Looking forward to following along into year 2!

  2. Congratulations on making it past a year, it’s an awesome achievement, well done. You must be so chuffed. And you’ve made great money progress – happy dances all around.

    I can see myself in a lot of your things I did list, cool list of things.

    1. We are totally friends and I’m so happy I’ll get to meet you soon!

      Haha add it to the list of things pro bloggers do that I’ll probably never get around to 😅

    1. Thank you, Penny! I’m so happy we’ve connected, too, since you’re putting out some of the best content in this space!

  3. YAY you’re sticking around for Year 2! I’m sure you will continue to learn from mistakes, and build on successes. And your community is here for you going forwards! It’s always good to look back and see how far you’ve come, even when you play the ‘comparison game’ (stop it! you’re amazing!) and feel like it isn’t enough, it is. You are enough. You are awesome, intelligent, hard working, and making the right money moves for a brighter financial future! Cheers to 365 days down, and an even better tomorrow. (PS since we’ve had both wine and sushi (and avocados), and food swaps, we must be IRL friends! And I’m so happy about that.)

    1. Thank you so, so much friend, for all of your pep talks and for everything else. You’re the best <3

      Haha yes, I might've written that line specifically for you 😉

  4. Congrats on making it to the year mark, Erin!!! And a HUGE congrats on being consumer debt free; you are also SOOOOO CLOSE to being student debt free, that’s amazing! I might be biased, but you should DEFINITELY come to FinCon this year, I would love love love to actually meet you in person 😀

    I also usually finish (uh, and start) my posts the night before, something I want to get better at but sometimes you just live life on the edge, haha. Can’t wait to keep reading in year two!

    1. Thank you so much, Emilie! I am soooo close to committing to FinCon and would LOVE to meet you, too! Hey, the night before thing is working for you since your posts are amazing, plus I’m so excited you’re making some big moves in your life right now!

  5. Hey you!

    I’m glad you decided to blog. I think it’s important to hear stories from people who aren’t making baller salaries AND who still find ways to save in expensive cities.

    I’m glad you don’t obsess about numbers. Sometimes I feel like that’s all people care about when they start a blog. And I’m scared to read my first couple posts, too–cringe alert.

    Also, I’m jealous I missed the Yayoi Kusama exhibits here!

    1. Thank you, friend! I’m glad you decided to blog too and that we met, even if I don’t remember anymore how or when that happened. 🙂

      (I try not to obsess about numbers but omg yours??? You’re killing it!!)

      Ahhh you didn’t get to see them? That’s so upsetting! I almost didn’t until one day my roommate told me she managed to score a group of 4 tickets and I about fell out of my chair because HOW. I’d been trying for weeks to get even one or two tickets!

  6. Congrats on one year! I thought you had been blogging for way longer for some reason. You’re almost debt-free, which is amazing! Blog numbers aren’t needed when you’ve got a much bigger win there. :]

    Looking forward to the posts and years to come!

    1. Thank you, Jane! Nope, started just a year ago but let me tell you that year has felt way longer! 😂

      I hope I get to meet you in the years to come!

  7. “blogging emergency fund”

    I love that, so awesome! Yes, you do need one, but having built up a small one myself I can tell you it gets no easier after you do. Time still keeps moving and posts still need to be written…

    Congrats to you, you’ve had a great year and you destroyed your debt! Keep on bloggin’, I love reading your posts. And if you really want a troll bad enough I’m open to bribes 😉

    1. Curses, I was hoping once I’d built up a backlog it would be that way forever. Isn’t that how actual emergency funds work, too? 😂

      Hahaha you’re just hoping for a rum cake or a bottle of booze, aren’t you? That’s so nice of you to offer to be a troll for that price 😉

  8. I love the mirror room. I think we share an enjoyment of art and finance. Congratulations on the one year anniversary. Especially being able to write 77 posts. I’m on my 9th and if I made it to 77, it would probably be 5 years from now.

    Your debt payoff is very impressive. Stay patient. It is serving you well.

    1. Thanks, Susan! Hey, your first posts are way better than mine, so I think you’re on to something here! I studied art history in college, so definitely something I enjoy.

  9. Congratulations on your 1st year blogiversary! You’re doing great on so many levels! I’m so impressed by how many posts you’ve published. Like you, I’m still doing everything manually and need to learn how to automate some of my twitter activity.
    Kuddos for paying off your consumer debt. You’ll have your student loan paid off in no time. So awesome!!!

  10. Happy blogiversary!! Here’s to many more years! You’ve done a LOT this year, amazing.

    That’s cool that blogs don’t make it past 1 year (and that only 5% do, I didn’t know that!).

    The infinity mirrors looks amazing- thanks for sharing that picture.

    I use “Tweet Old Post” plugin to share my old posts. I’m sure there are better ones out there but this one works for me so far!

  11. Happy first birthday!!! I’ve enjoyed hearing your voice speaking for your demographic, which was once upon a time kind of like mine, and I think it’s valuable to have all kinds of earners living in all kinds of places talking about how you make it work and your personal growth stories.

    (Also DM me if you decide in favor of going to FinCon this year. I might could save you some money on the pass if you still need one depending on when you let me know. )

  12. Hey Erin! Congratulations on the first blogiversary!! I absolutely love the image of the Infinity Mirror Rooms.

    6 months in, I share quite a few characteristics with you. I post in the morning before going to work and often start writing my post the morning that I have to publish. My husband often sees me scrambling after I hit publish, usually muttering like the Mad Hatter “I’m late, I’m late”.

    As for Facebook, for months it’s been my top source of traffic. I have put the setting for my posts to automatically publish on my Twitter and Facebook page. With FB I make sure to share on my timeline.

    What I am really dragging my feet on right now is Pinterest. Read way too many articles on just how fantastic it is but yet to really go at it.

    I haven’t gotten a Rockstar feature either and somehow I missed out on giving in my entry for the Rockstar Rumble.

    As for Fincon, don’t see myself coming 🙁 . It’s super expensive to fly in from India and pay for it.

    Anyhow, congratulations once again on making it to the top 5% of bloggers and excited to see your journey into the future 🙂

    1. Hey, Aparna. Thank you! Wow that’s a bold move to have work be the hard deadline for you to get a post out. I do mine at night because I’d be too afraid I’d either a) never make it into work or b) never publish on a regular schedule! That’s a bummer about FinCon, but it totally makes sense! That’s a very long flight.

  13. Congrats on a great first year! 77 posts is a looot of writing. I think you’ve done a good job of growing your voice in that time too! (something I’m constantly struggling with haha).

  14. Congrats on your first year. In all honestly I prefer reading blogs like yours and others which have a more realistic snapshot of life. Not that I don’t aspire to save more and be financially independent, but some of it seems so out of touch. Hope you continue to have a successful journey!

  15. Congrats on the big milestone! That’s an awesome accomplishment (you’re so old in blogging years! 😂), and one of my main goals when I started this up. Still have a while before reaching that!

    I’d you’d like I can totally write a troll comment for you on a future post so you can exercise your ultimate authority as Supreme Ruler of this domain and delete it 😉

    I hope year 2 has just as many or more successes than year 1! 😄

    1. Thank you! I am so old in blogging years. By the time you get to a year I’ll probably be old enough to start yelling at the kids to get off my lawn!

      Hahaha still waiting for that comment of yours. 😉 Angela beat you to it but hers was too nice so I published it instead of deleting it 😂

  16. Yay! Congrats on a year! I too have not gone back and read many of my early posts…I think they’d be a bit too mortifying.

    And a big congrats on all the debt payoff and savings! That’s awesome!

    1. Yeah I’m just going to pretend they don’t exist. Everyone else can go back and read them if they want 🙈

      Thank you!

  17. Congratulations on one year, Erin!! What an amazing accomplishment.

    I love how transparent you are with what you accomplished and didn’t in the past year. Blogging is NOT easy and you perfectly articulate that in this post. It takes lots of time and hard work!

    Also, 77 posts!? That is awesome!!! I probably have like 5 – ha 😉

    1. Thank you, Krystel! I had no idea going in how dang hard this would be so I try to be very real about it so people don’t make the mistake of thinking it’ll be easy and just a little bit of time here and there.

  18. I have had as a goal to get at least two weeks ahead writing posts since at least last October. It hasn’t happened. Maybe if I think of it as an emergency fund…. Congrats!

    1. Thanks, Jenny! I’m also still trying to build up my cash emergency fund so it’s struggles all around! At least I do have an actual emergency fund though haha

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