Fact: Virtually everyone individual who runs a blog eventually writes meta-articles on what it’s like to author one, how things are going, why and how you might become a blogger too, and so on.
Here’s one of Mr Money Mustache’s. RootOfGood used to publish regular updates. And there have been more than a few from Early Retirement Extreme. I could go on but my internal sense of laziness, which I trust utterly and completely to guide me through most decisions, tells me that this is enough proof to sufficiently make the point.
At any rate, this entry should fill the requirement for this incredible blog ‘o mine. About half of this is going to read like fairly generic why-you-should-or-shouldn’t blog advice, while the other half shares some of my personal thoughts and experiences related to running the site.
Let’s get started.
Reasons To Maybe Not Blog…
I’m going to cut right to it and get the negative stuff out of the way first.
#1) If you don’t have much interest in writing and sharing, you probably shouldn’t blog. Full stop.
For example, if your primary motivation is to create an income-producing side hustle to aid you in your Early Retirement Quest but you have a great deal of difficulty a) putting sentences together and b) revealing anything of interest about yourself or your finances, I strongly recommend you find a different hustle. It’s not going to be a great fit.
I don’t say this to be mean — I’m trying to save you some pain. Your hourly wage would be a lot better slinging rock on a street corner, and you’d doubtless find the experience to be more rewarding, too. At the very least you’ll meet some interesting people.
I unfortunately see this all the time. Early-Retiree hopeful says: I’m going to make it rich blogging and that’ll allow me to quit the 8-6 grind forever. A site is erected, ads are placed everywhere even before any real traffic is recorded, and five months later, it’s over, put to an end before it even began. This type of blogger is not really passionate about the blogging process itself — they just want money. Because: Money.
#2) You are potentially opening yourself up to criticism, ridicule, and shame. Some people fear exposure (says the guy who runs a fully-anonymous blog.) You might occasionally get nasty messages or find that some people think your style is cynical, rambling, or completely incoherent. (On a personal note, I gotta say, this type of negative feedback turned out to be a big positive for me, as it riles me up in a fun way. Fuck you, too, internet!! 🙂 )
#3) Related: It can be challenging to work past internal resistance to document your thoughts and experiences, which of course opens yourself up to scrutiny. This can sometimes be a little nerve wracking if you trend toward introversion. On the other hand, if you’re a super-confident extrovert — I’ve been told they outnumber my type by a significant margin in the wide-wide world, so odds are good you’re one yourself — this will end up being a positive bullet item. Look at me! I’m so great! Look at all of the things I’m doing to make my life even more perfect than before! YOU COULD BE JUST LIKE ME HERE’S HOW!!! And so on. (Oh boy. There’s that cynicism again. Sorry about that, I really don’t know why these sorts of outbursts continue to occur.)
#4) It takes some amount of time and discipline to regularly blog. If this doesn’t sound exciting to you, it probably isn’t worth the investment of hours. Readers expect fairly regular content. My suggestion would be aim for two or three decent posts a month, particularly over the first year or two as you’re working to build content.
#5) You will undoubtedly have to occasionally deal with unexpected technical issues which have nothing to do with writing/sharing/connecting with the community. Trust me, this kind of sucks. Examples of this kind of thing include fixing missing images or your RSS feed, deleting spam comments submitted by internet robots, figuring out what the hell a trackback is and what to do about them, and so on.
Reasons to Maybe Blog!
All right – now we can get into the fun stuff.
#1) The superset of blogging is simply writing, and writing is a fantastic thought tool. Something happens when you clear time to write. Your brain slows down and you stop seeking continual input and stimulation. Instead, the challenge becomes sifting through data you’ve already collected to discover your own opinions on all sorts of topics.
#2) Blogging is perhaps better than merely writing for yourself in a place that no one can see (e.g. a journal). This is because when you write something with the knowledge that other people are likely to read it, you think harder. You clean up content, sharpening your message until it adheres to some minimal socially acceptable standard of coherence, automatically revising your thoughts to the point that they’re worthy to share. (If you are me, you also remove about 90% of the swear words.)
#3) If you are lucky enough to have readers, the potential connections to be made with them are very rewarding. (That being said, most blogs do not have a ton of readers. More on this later.)
#4) Curiosity: You enjoy reading other peoples’ blogs and wonder what it’d be like to produce one yourself.
#5) Money. Although this isn’t a good primary motivator to blog in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with it being part of the mix. Making a couple of bucks is not a bad thing and people deserve to be paid for their work.
#6) You’ll feel good about giving back to other people. Sharing your own journey and experiences can make a substantial, real difference in the lives of fellow freedom seekers.
#7) On the subject of sharing, if you meet someone in real life and tell them about your plans to retire early and they look kind of interested, you can give them a link to your blog to review further details rather than talk their ear off in person until they become glassy-eyed and require the use of smelling salts to be revived.
#8) It can be a platform to share details about your life that are not welcome on other forms of social media. For example, you might not want to post monthly net worth updates to your Facebook account where your Auntie Clarie can see them.
#9) You will literally have a web-log of your journey. If you’re posting reports of one kind or another, you’ll be able to look back at them in a few years and see your progress. If you’re trying to increase your savings rate, a blog is a great place to dump monthly spending summaries so you can see exactly how things have been going with a few clicks. Way back in 2003 or so when I started my own financial independence journey, I posted my own spending reports and savings rates on charts on the wall of my apartment to help with motivation and keep me on the right track. Had I begun in, say, 2013, I probably would have dumped this info into a blog instead.
#10) Accountability and Inspiration. It’s known that humans have an easier time following through with commitments to other people than we do to ourselves. We don’t mind letting numero uno down, but on the other hand, if we’ve told lots and lots of strangers that we’re going to do something, then dammit, we’re going to do that thing because we don’t want to look stupid or lazy. For example, if you have a blog and state that you’re going to quit working in early 2015, you’re more likely to create plans and follow through to do exactly that. (Not that I would know.)
#11) Blogging is a potentially terrific past-time. It helps you kill hours not just when you’re writing but also when you’re out and about — you’ll think of post ideas, or ways to improve an existing draft you’re working on. Also, if you have a desk job like I did, you might even be able to do some of it at work, making it something you can more easily fit into your day-to-day activities. Fact: I’d sometimes work on blog entries during hideously boring meetings where I was not actively involved but still expected to attend. I’d bring my laptop into the meeting room, angle myself away a bit so other people couldn’t see my screen, and bang away. Once in a while someone would ask what I was doing and I’d deadpan “Troubleshooting our Enterprise Service Bus,” which is office-speak for “Leave me the hell alone, I’m doing more important shit than paying attention to this moronathonic meeting right now.”
#12) Skill Acquisition. Maybe you want to become a better writer. Blogging is a perfectly good way to develop your own voice and hone your craft. You may also find that some of your posts require you to perform research and really dig into a subject or two. Good stuff.
#13) You’ll likely become more involved in the personal finance community, and you never know where that will lead.
I’m not super-plugged into the PF blogosphere anymore, but I remember a time — perhaps five years ago — when my appetite for this sort of thing knew absolutely no bounds. I read everything I could get my hands on that was even remotely related to personal finance — the more personal, the better. I wish there were as many blogs back then as there are now, and I remain grateful to the people who took the time to write their own thoughts, strategies, and experiences down to share them with the world.
All of them.
And you could be one of those people. Pretty nifty.
A few gentle suggestions when it comes to evaluating the worth of your blog.
Don’t measure success in terms of the numbers of readers you have.
Or the number of comments you get.
It’s difficult to build up an audience. The first year in particular can be rough going, as most people don’t like to get involved with a new blog until it’s been around for a while and there’s a solid amount of content to raid.
Readers also want to see that the author is committed to the subject, and the easiest way to eyeball commitment is to take a look at the total number of articles produced.
Think of it from the point of view of the reader: You happen upon some happy dude/dudette’s blog detailing their own financial journey, but there are a total of five posts and the current one is seven weeks old. It seems well written enough but it seems there just isn’t much meat on the website yet.
Are you going to read all of their content? Probably not. There are a million articles on the internet all vying for your attention, so if you think that someone’s blog isn’t all that interesting, you’ll move on pretty fast. Why should you expect anything different when it comes to people browsing your own blog?
So the first year, I would recommend measuring your success not by external validation metrics but rather by what you are personally getting out of it. Is the process of writing enjoyable? Is it helping you on your own journey?
And are you motivated enough to continue blogging consistently, as its own end?
I’ve done very little promotion for this blog. But there are tricks to getting readers.
The easiest way to get a few viewers is to comment on other peoples’ blogs. Make sure they’re meaningful comments only!!! Don’t leave comments purely to leave click bait droppings. The authors of other blogs may see through your trickery and have the right to delete your comment and ban you from the site. All you have to do is actually read their article and mention something about it that relates to you to show that you appreciated their post and found it meaningful.
Some people get really into the popularity and publicizing aspect of the blogging game. They get concerned about their SEO or Alexa rankings, looking for ways to boost traffic. There are a ton of websites out there offering advice on how to increase viewership, if that’s your solitary goal.
Have at it.
Try to limit the scope of things. It can help to create a mission statement of sorts. If you’re creating a personal finance blog, don’t continually jump subjects. It’s fine if you have a post here or there that sort of goes off the rails — god knows I’ve been guilty of this myself, and this particular post coincidentally backs up my assertion — but generally speaking, if you’re running a blog about the intersection of personal finance and your unmatched love of Care-Bears, make some effort to touch on these topics in your posts.
Share things that are difficult to share. People like a fair bit of detail, and revealing points of difficulty or conflict gives readers a chance to connect emotionally. Most of the authors of popular early retirement blogs reveal some aspects of their family lives, child-rearing, vacation experiences, these sorts of things.
Write articles that you wish other people would have written for you. Or investigate a topic that you’re genuinely curious about. Writing is a great tool for exploring areas of uncertainty.
Above all, make sure that you are interested in your own content. If you can’t read your own blog post again after you’ve written it, consider the possibility that no one else is going to want to read it either.
On the day or days you’re going to write, I strongly recommend you do not read other peoples’ blogs.
If you download another author’s style into your head, their own content and style will start to interfere with your own internal voice. You may become uncertain as to your own message, or insecure that you’re simply repeating content, or, worst case scenario, you might even unintentionally plagiarize an entire blog post that you just read four hours ago simply because it’s on your mind.
So if you want to write about something, picture the topic in your head, open up a text editor, shut the rest of the internet off, and start writing.
It can help to outline things, to give you some sense of structure — the beginning, middle, and end of things. (You may not believe that, given the ridiculous length of many of my posts, but I actually do this.)
Many people also find music to be helpful. If you’re going to go this route, try playing tracks you’ve heard a billion times before so you’re not paying too much attention to the music itself, though. If you instead put on Bruno Mars for the very first time ever before you sit down to write, I’m go out on a limb and guess you’re going to be highly distracted and won’t get much done.
Save drafts. Lots of them.
Edit the living fuck out of your drafts before publishing. Please please please make sure you don’t have spelling mistakes. Readers will forgive occasional errors in punctuation, or a repeated word here and there, but multiple egregious spelling mistakss followed by sentence fragments; and strange ForMating? will turn a lot of people off. Don’t let your syntax’s quality distract from your content.
Use a semi-consistent structure for all of your posts.
Write around the same time every day — define a routine for it and force yourself to stick to it. It’ll be hard at first — and then it’ll get easier.
Think about your post for a while before writing it. What are your main points? If you’re working on a particular article, it’s common to have additions and odd thoughts during the day (when you’re not actively writing) that you want to make it into the final product. When these thoughts hit your brain, don’t lose them: take out your phone and type them into a memo program, or jot them down in a physical notebook, whatever it takes. Then that same day, when you’re back in front of a computer, make sure to pull up your notes and transfer the content over into your draft.
Give yourself time to make posts. These things don’t write themselves. Don’t get down on yourself if you sit down to write the most amazing blog post the world has ever seen and after three hours you’ve written a grand total of two paragraphs. Save the draft, congratulate yourself on doing some work on it, and set another day to work on it. And between writing sessions, think about the post. Why did it give you so much trouble? Most of the time you’ll come up with a solution to your blocker prior to resuming work.
On that subject, when you leave your desk, set another time to return. And then stick to it. This will put you in a routine of writing.
Last note: Don’t worry about the length of the post. Some incredible posts are quite short (all I need to do to remind myself of this fact is to browse good ‘ol JLF’s Early Retirement Extreme blog) and others are monstrosities. Write as much as you believe is necessary to cover your topic in your own voice — no more or less. I found that my own voice contains swearing, bad jokes, some unpleasant personal reveals, abrupt topic shifts, and occasionally heartfelt stories.
Eventually I learned to accept these as features of my writing rather than bugs, and if you blog, you will probably make this transition successfully, too.
If you are going to start your own blog, the top level decision you’ll have to make is whether to host it yourself or go with a hosting provider.
Most people will go with a provider. It’s easier by far and requires absolutely zero computer expertise outside of having a basic understanding of the internet. If you’re going to go this route, check out tumblr, google blogger (formerly known as blogspot), or wordpress.com.
You’ll likely be using wordpress as the platform for creating and maintaining your blog. It’s not that hard to learn the UI and you can use google to answer loads of questions about initial site setup and configuration.
Once you have your site up and running, you should make some attempt to customize it to suit your own purposes. Wordpress has this idea of a ‘theme’ which is basically a layout template that defines the basic look and feel. Play around with a few. Reference blogs you like and copy parts of their style that you enjoy. Do you like their menu structure? Their subscribe widget or the row of Follow icons (RSS, twitter, FriendFace, etc?)
Smack a custom image header on the top to brand your site, and you’re all set.
You can get the basics going in an hour or so if you’re not too picky about how things look.
Blog Costs (Financial)
I read this all of the time online: Blog hosting can’t be cheap!
The thing is, it is. Very cheap. You can do it for free, if you like. All of the sites I listed above allow you to create your blog for absolutely nothing.
If you go with wordpress, for example, you could instantly create the following:
For a bit extra — about $25 a year or less, depending on the domain name service provider you use and whether or not you can get a deal — you can get a domain name and map it to your site, which makes things look a bit more professional.
It can get a little more pricey if you want to find a an alternate hosted solution that allows you to customize advertising. But in the event that your blog becomes popular and it looks like you might make a few bucks from the endeavor, you can always do a trick called export-import and simply move your blog to another provider which offers more robust solutions in this area.
Hell, you can also move your blog to a self-hosted site for full control and flexibility when it comes to plugging into modules to generate revenue. It doesn’t take that long and the required tools are all embedded in the wordpress administrative UI.
Blog Costs (Personal)
As I’ve already mentioned, blogging can eat a lot of hours.
You think about blogging. You blog. You respond to comments. You think about the next post. You wonder why that old post you drafted about how much puppies cost to feed never got published and beat yourself up for it. How could you have just let that fall off? Because you’re a worthless piece of garbage, that’s why.
You stare at the blogging statistics page and wonder why you don’t have more readers.
You wonder what the deal is. You begin to suspect that you’re turning off Republicans because you acknowledge the truth of man-made climate change or is it instead Democrats because you are fiscally conservative or maybe your casual comment about enjoying matzoh balls in soup in that old post is turning off thousands of potential German readers, or perhaps your comment about turning off German readers because you made a reference to something that Jewish people stereo-typically like unfairly categorizes Germans as Anti-Semitic Nazis when in fact they’re some of the most progressive people in the world, and then you’re crying for several hours in the fetal position in the corner of your home office, certain you’ve fucked your blog up for good and hoping that nobody can hear your pathetic wails — all the while still wishing you had more readers.
You reveal some detail about your life that your SO doesn’t like and you have a tiff over it. Or, alternately, your SO doesn’t read your blog at all and that makes you feel unloved and hurt. Your friends occasionally browse pages as a laugh, solidifying secret suspicions held for years: You are a bona-fide whack job.
There are costs to blogging and they’re not all financial.
Just something to keep in mind.
The Blogging Experience
When I first started writing this blog, I had loosely formed goals. Mostly I wanted to put my story out there — to create a repository to hold the events that drove me to seek early retirement, and list out resources I’ve used to help me along the way.
So initially I found myself writing about my financial background and (lack of) education re: handling money.
I penned a few articles on why I don’t think it’s necessary for people to spend a lot in order to be happy, and asserted that most people that live in developed nations can achieve this goal, if they put their minds to it.
Along the way, I dumped out the entirety of my work history which sufficiently answers the whole “Why did you want to do this thing, anyway, homey?” question that some people have.
Then I got into some hazy territory that was quite unexpected and I could not have predicted going into this thing: Quitting work was hard after being immersed in the safety and security of office environments for long. I struggled with the exit itself — with giving myself permission to quit.
And the post-work experience was, while incredible, also somewhat different than what I anticipated, so I wrote about it with as much honesty as I could muster, despite the fact that some of the stories have me coming off pretty bad. The shock of losing my sense of busyness and routines — even routines I hated, like sitting in traffic every day or attending meetings — surprised me, even though the payoff was what I craved the most in life: complete freedom. (And that payoff remains incredible, btw. No regrets – not working is great.)
At any rate, looking back, a large section of the blog ends up reading like a how-to-finally-pull-the-trigger-and-quit rollercoaster of lifestyle and mental challenges as I worked through the adjustment.
And it’s been fascinating to write about it all and have a record of the transition. I recently went back and re-read some of the quit-series posts and it almost didn’t feel like I wrote them. I found myself wanting to shout: Jesus, who is this indecisive idiot? It’s SO SIMPLE, he wants to quit, he should just quit! Why is it so hard for him?
That’s what happens when you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, though. Life starts to seem a lot simpler. Decisions become easier to make. I’m starting to more completely understand how and why guys like Tim Ferris and Pete at MMM appear so confident at all times. It’s happening to me, too.
As a general statement, the farther you are removed from reporting to someone every day, the more self-assured you become. And it’s been a long time for those two. They probably barely remember what it was like to take orders.
Because once you’re only taking orders from yourself, you involuntarily start to distance yourself from the version of you that waffled and occasionally displayed signs of weakness and indecision, exactly the same way you instinctively shuffle away from that dude named Asher that you just met at a party but won’t leave you alone and insists on talking non-stop about his rare and completely boring collection of empty liquor bottles.
It’s almost like that past incarnation of self was never really you to to begin with.
I’m Never, Ever Monetizing
I could. Might even make a few thousand a year. Maybe more.
But I won’t.
Some people might view this decision as stupid. Doom, you’re leaving money on the table! What is wrong with you? Take some cash for your work, for chrissakes! Donate it to charity if you don’t need it!
Somewhere in my head, I’ve convinced myself that I am making the following points:
I don’t need the <expletive> money. I don’t need it to supplement my retirement savings. I don’t need it to achieve any other goals in my life — my financial picture does not restrict my pursuit of happiness. And I already give enough of myself — money, time, and blood — to charity.
I will not become someone who suggests that it’s probably OK to live off 4% a year while at the same time personally living off .5% because I make a shit-ton off of my blog.
I have enough already and I trust my plan will work.
And I’ve blogged because I wanted to write about the experience, not because I wanted to make money.
So, yeah, I have strong feelings about this.
End of story.
This Turned Out to Not Be A Blog About Frugality
Over the years, I wrote a handful of articles about how I feel about spending money.
When I was younger, I spent on auto-pilot, without giving things much thought. I had money, I spent it. Eventually, though, I learned to spend consciously.
But the driver to spend consciously was a desire to solve a problem in my life. The problem was: I wasn’t free. The problem was: I envisioned a different life for myself than being stuck working all day every day. The problem was: Even though I liked what I did at least some of the time, I did way, way too much of it, and on someone else’s terms. The problem was: Work was forcing me to become someone I didn’t want to be. It was taking over my identity, slowly morphing me into yet another adult who does nothing but work and think about work and talk about work and oh maybe that boat and the summer-home I visit 1 out of 52 weeks a year and the incredible home theater in my basement that I purchased with the proceeds from work. That identity change was scaring the absolute shit out of me — it was horrifying to feel this thing happening to me that I used to mock other adults for doing and becoming. I was turning into a stereotype, and I decided I would not allow it.
It was never the plan when I was a teenager, you know. To allow a profession to define me for life. I don’t think it’s the plan for just about anyone. But this sort of transition happens to virtually all of us, because life and our economic and cultural systems naturally funnel us in this direction. You must take conscious and consistent steps to avoid getting swept up in the current.
Look, the point I’m trying to make is that although I didn’t capture this idea early on in the blog, I don’t particularly value frugality as an ideal in and of itself. I’m not that interested in spending less money purely for the sake of spending less money. Like: As its own end.
This fact, for better or worse, appears to be a differentiation between myself and many personal finance bloggers. I think: If you have money and you want to blow it, go ahead and do exactly that. There’s very little moral issue in my mind here (other than the fact that most consumption has a negative impact on the planet. If you’re aware of this and DGAF — meaning: there is no internal value conflict here — then have at it. You are free to live your own life and pursue happiness in whatever law-abiding way that you choose.)
My view is that money is a tool to do what you want, and enough of it will ultimately provide you with something resembling complete freedom — assuming that’s how you decide to spend it.
Frugality is no different. It’s another tool to help you maximize the utility of your money, to spend more effectively, ultimately allowing you to pursue alternate larger-scale goals with a smaller enabling asset pile.
With enough money (or less money and more frugality to offset the lower dollar totals), you can eventually do something else with your life instead of working-for-pay for the majority of it.
To belabor a point: Frugality was a means to an end for me, rather than the end itself. There’s a fairly good chance I would not have learned these skills if the ultimate payoff wasn’t there.
And that view is probably why I didn’t wind up writing a lot of articles on the subject of frugality. I don’t consider it to be a defining personal trait.
I mention all of this because when I started writing, I thought there was a decent chance I’d produce substantial content related to the logistics of reducing spending. But it didn’t happen. I tried writing a few and quickly found that the underlying interest required to create decent blog posts wasn’t there.
On the flip side, here’s what this blog is about.
Living life on your own terms. Being free. Rejecting dominant paradigms, for no other reason than because you want to. Not allowing your identity to be defined and ruled by others. Leading a life rich with variety and fulfillment. Not worrying about money or stuff much. Using your freedom to cut out the bullshit in life that makes you unhappy. Focusing instead on things that both science and your personal experience tell you are pleasurable and provide contentment on a daily basis, like relationships and learning new skills and exercise and spending time out of doors and having the abundance of cycles which allow you to exist peaceably without feeling like you always must be moving, moving, moving, just to survive.
(It is also about run-on sentences.)
Living a FI Statistics
Holy shit, folks. Much to my surprise, somewhere along the way in 2015, this site became kinda-sorta well-known.
I chalk this up to a few things happening:
#1) I actually pulled the trigger and retired, rather than continuing to hem and haw. My suspicion is that early-retiree hopefuls put more stock in the blogs of people who have made the leap. (I consider this to be a form of winner’s bias that works to my benefit. Huzzah!)
#2) A few of the posts were linked to by Rockstar Finance. (Thanks to J-Money for the unsolicited support.)
#3) Somehow — probably prompted by some of my awesome readers — this blog got perma-linked to by both ERE and the FI Reddit forum: Totally and completely boss. Thanks to whomever(s) made this happen.
It sure as hell wasn’t me.
Closing out a Blog
All blogs come to an end.
There’s a natural life-cycle to it. Blogger starts out super motivated. Blogger puts out lots of content as they explore subjects of interest. Blogger reaches definite conclusions. Blogger maybe makes substantial changes to own life, asks others to consider doing something similar. Blogger evaluates changes and realizes: Great. This phase of my life is now over. Blogger becomes somewhat bored with subject, puts site on auto-rotate in an attempt to keep things looking fresh for new readers and/or generate income. Blogger moves on to live rest of life.
On the reader end of things, it’s the same story. Reader finds new-to-me undiscovered blog. Reader thinks: Holy shit, this is amazing. It’s just like another blog I know and love but the voice is a little different and some of the subjects have a unique feel to them as a result. Plus there are a few articles that are totally nuts, nothing like anything else I’ve read. Reader binges historical content, follows blog for a year. Reader eventually finds voice of said blog author stops feeling as unique or powerful. Reader begins to nitpick over some of the author’s viewpoints. The message of the blog having been internalized, reader stops getting value, eventually moves on to other blogs or that new miniseries on Netflix that’s totally awesome or <insert_shiny_thing.>
I’m not at the end of writing this one yet, but it’s getting close. This year I am virtually certain to do the real last post, instead of the unintentionally fake one I did toward the end of 2015.
My expectation is that others will continue to step in to fill the void that departing bloggers create.
To the “cons” #2, I would add the risk of legal action.
In my 8 years of blogging, I have been threatened by lawyers twice for things I’ve said or published on my sites. I think that’s a significant number given that I never ever had any legal trouble IRL in 34 years, except one parking ticket when I was 23.
Good point. On the subject of legal action, I was ordered to remove a grand total of two links to J.D. Roth’s Get Rich Slowly blog about 6 months ago. I couldn’t figure out why — my suspicion is that they were simply doing a generic scrub and simply didn’t want to be linked to by a small-time personal finance blog. It’s pretty ridiculous — the idealist in me wanted to fight it on grounds of freedom of speech but the pragmatist in me said: It’s not worth it, just remove them. So I did.
Seriously? Yet another reason to justify my decision not to read GRS anymore — major downhill slide in every direction since JD left.
Am sad to hear you likely will be wrapping this blog up soon. It was so helpful as I was going through my own turmoil about whether or not to quit last year. Am now looking at applying for new jobs for a variety of complicated reasons, and thinking again about blogging myself. Lots to think about. Thanks for posting this.
Yes, seriously, legal threat email, take down the links. I was initially dumbfounded. I liked JD’s blog a lot — especially in early stages. I thought about doing a post about it and getting all worked up and then — this is my new zen retired state talking — decided that it just. wasn’t. worth. it.
Hope your job search goes well. If you ever start a blog please drop me a line either here or over on the MMM forums – I’d be an instant subscriber.
I think I’m in the same boat as you except I’m a crappy blogger. I started mine a couple of years ago more as an experiment. As I progressed through the blogger/reader life cycle you outlined I realized blogging is really harder than it looks and I didn’t have to much too add that wasn’t already covered elsewhere.
It definitely takes time and drive. If it feels like you’re repeating content, it’s hard to get super-excited about posting unless you have other motivations. The posts that get me excited cover subjects that I view differently than others. Example: Part of the desire to do this one was I saw yet another blog post about how to get rich quickly blogging and it triggered a negative reaction — I just don’t feel that money is the best reason to blog, and the percentage of people who make something off of their efforts is very small, meaning: You are probably also setting yourself up for failure. (This motivation also results in mostly inauthentic content, IMO.)
I had the funny thought that when this blog ends, I’ll feel like the person in the commercial about finishing the final show of the final season and ending up in a “show-hole”, except it’ll be a “blog-hole.” Hahahaha
I read a lot more blogs than this one, but I do like your writing style and perspective and well, you did actually quit and begin your ER plan, so there’s that too. I will feel a twinge of sadness when you pen your final post though.
I also find writing “for people” and not just journaling way more thought provoking in the manner you described. You have to craft it a bit better, remove the curse words, touch it up, and make sure you’ve captured the point of the post before hitting publish. It makes for much better content and is oddly calming and reassuring.
Last note, and I’m done, but I have to say in the year I’ve blogged I’ve already gotten contacted by people that want more and have more specific questions, and that alone has made it worth it for me. Not counting the other “friends” I’ve made and blogs I’ve found that I really like and can relate to. It’s been rewarding in a lot of ways.
You’ve done well adhering to my standards for commenting on other peoples’ blogs, SSC! Thank you! 😀
Seriously I’ve enjoyed your remarks over the past year or so. You do a nice job on your own site — keep it going.
And completely agree that helping others on their own journeys is the most rewarding part of blogging. I receive quite a bit of direct email via the contact-me form on the blog and it’s great fun to connect with others and offer guidance. It doesn’t get old.
Just in case you do close the blog soon I wanted to make I took my chance to say thank you. I’ve really enjoyed the blog. I totally get the freedom angle. It’s definitely what motivates me.
You’re very welcome – thanks for the warm comment.
I’d hate to see this blog stop, but that is just selfish of me. Your posts, especially the work series and the mental prep posts really helped me as I was facing the same issues at the same time. It was like having an Internet twin, but one who not only had the questions, but had some possible answers. These issues are not easy to confide in someone in real life – having an anonymous forum helped. And, oddly, I feel like you are a friend, though we’ve never met, via your honesty and openness about your life.
I hope the ‘contact me’ link stays live after this closes, just in case a real life meeting opportunity comes up.
I feel the same way about quite a few people in the community, you included, absolutely. There’s a real connection there, as we’re striving for similar things in life.
The site will remain up for a couple of years even after I stop posting. If I get tired of spending the paltry $20/yr for domain names I’ll probably migrate it to the 100% free non-www version of wordpress i.e. https://livingafi.wordpress.com just so it’s around for posterity.
Ha ha ha, so I guess you’re really not interested in monetizing the blog as I suggested in my recent email to you. 🙂 I get it – we all draw the line somewhere and I’ve figured out where that line is for my own blog (and life). For me it makes sense to have affiliate advertising and google adsense but not to do super low quality sponsored posts about life insurance offers etc.
I think the juiciest nugget out of this whole post is:
“Living life on your own terms. Being free. Rejecting dominant paradigms, for no other reason than because you want to. Not allowing your identity to be defined and ruled by others. Leading a life rich with variety and fulfillment. Not worrying about money or stuff much. Using your freedom to cut out the bullshit in life that makes you unhappy. Focusing instead on things that both science and your personal experience tell you are pleasurable and provide contentment on a daily basis, like relationships and learning new skills and exercise and spending time out of doors and having the abundance of cycles which allow you to exist peaceably without feeling like you always must be moving, moving, moving, just to survive.”
I struggle to write a better life philosophy than that. Money is just a tool to be used to allow personal freedom and plenty of time to seek happiness and contentment.
It’ll be a sad day when you hang up the keys to the WordPress admin panel for good, but I would say do what makes sense for you and not what is expected of you by others. I’m not sure if or when I’ll hang it up or that I would know I’ve hung it up until I look back and realize I’ve ignored my blog for weeks or months and it’s time to move on.
RoG, sir – nothing personal. It was a huge coincidence that I got your offline note today, the same day this post came out, and I did appreciate the sentiment behind it – I know you’re making very reasonable suggestions. 🙂 I stand by my oft repeated phrase: Bloggers deserve to be paid for blogging — there’s no shame there and I think it’s great you and others earn something for your contribution to the community. It’s just not the right choice for either this blog (given the blog goals) or me as an individual to pursue it.
>> I would know I’ve hung it up until I look back and realize I’ve ignored my blog for weeks or months and it’s time to move on.
That sounds about right. While it hasn’t been months since I ignored the blog (looks like I get a post a month out) I do have that sense that it’s just about time, and I don’t want it to be a surprise for anyone. Not trying to be a drama-queen, just trying to set expectations. There will be a few more articles this year — probably earlier rather than later — and that’ll likely be it.
Thanks for the support throughout, I’ve appreciated the comments of absolutely everyone. Half of what makes reading the posts interesting are the comments, IMO, where people share their own thoughts and experiences on whatever subject is being explored.
Oh and BTW, I finished Studs’ “Working.” Two days, eight hundred pages. I could not stop reading — great suggestion.
I recently set up an “editorial calendar” (as if I were a real hard core blogger!) and jotted down all the topics I could think of off hand. That has me posting 1x/week through the end of April so I know I’ll have something to say until then. 🙂 And I’m sure another pot of thoughts will boil up that I’ll want to simmer down to a thick, saucy post or two.
Glad you enjoyed Stud’s Working. He’s got another couple of good books. The Good War (interviews about WW2) and Hard Times (interviews on living through the Great Depression) come to mind. If you have another 4 days on hand to read another 800 pages x2. 🙂
Ok you two (RoG & LaFI)…no conspiring. It’s a sad day already when LaFI has an expiration date on my Feedly. Thanks for sharing your story with an authentic voice. I found it extremely helpful in working through my current journey to FI.
No conspiring on my side! I simply acknowledging that what’s rewarding and fulfilling today may not be forever. 🙂
“Fuck yeah” on the non-monetization!
On one of Mad Fientist’s podcasts, “Afford Anything” mentions the shift from “permission” mindset as a transition into adulthood. (Or maybe it was the JD Roth podcast when he tells MF about the book “Finding Freedom in an Unfree World”- idk, both good episodes.)
Ashame to hear you predicting your own impending doom. Was kind of hoping you’d choose to document your ongoing search for happiness. However, hanging up the cape may be the ultimate sign of having achieved that happiness. Congrats!
I’m of that mindset that happiness and joy are fleeting, but contentment and satisfaction are sustainable and are therefore better states to attempt to consistently achieve. And on that note, I’m there: content and satisfied with life. I think of it as a nice, steady floor underneath me. Some things will always make me happy, too, of course — catching my wife smiling at me, that feeling of numb exhaustion after running ten miles, crushing n00bs in some dumb online game. But I don’t strive for a continual feeling of “happy” as most people understand it – I don’t think that’s possible to achieve and I’m not all that interested in pushing for something that probably doesn’t exist.
I am sad that you are leaving this blog. Your journey has been inspirational to me, even if we live in different countries. Your style was always entertaining and sincere. I wish you the best in your future life and thank you for all the fish.
Achieving FI is pretty close to 42. At the very least it allows you the time and energy to search for your own personal version of meaning. Good luck.
I am definitely bummed you’re considering closing up shop this year, I have gotten a lot out of your blog.
I have only recently started my own blog and I was getting a bit… obsessive… about the lack of readers I had. It has only been a month. This was a really good reminder that it may take me a long time to get more readers. Also, as I am not doing it to earn money, it shouldn’t be about how many readers I get, but about me writing and enjoying it. Thanks for the reminder!
Don’t sweat the reader thing. And keep writing! As long as you’re getting something out of it, it’s a good use of your time, IMO. You never know where it will lead. A month is nothing — your blog is practically a premie.
Have really enjoyed your blog for a couple of years now. The series of posts you wrote about your work history–and your awareness of what can get sacrificed when people a) spend so much time at work and b) are utterly dependent on work to support themselves–was thoughtful and thought-provoking writing. I read a number of blogs on different subjects, but your writing style is distinct–reflective, conversational, nuanced, coherent, and yet complex. I also really enjoyed your recent posts on … detaching from the Matrix and the ambivalence before and after. My career is entirely different from yours (teacher), and I imagine that we are dissimilar in other ways, but so much of what you have written about work and how our identities become wrapped up in our jobs/work/careers makes me think more deeply not just about me and my relationship to my job, but about the way in which work shapes and sometimes subsumes us. This is not always a bad thing, but it sometimes is–and yet we are often so unaware. Anyway, I hope you do keep writing in some capacity.
p.s. And thank you for this: “I will not become someone who suggests that it’s probably OK to live off 4% a year while at the same time personally living off .5% because I make a shit-ton off of my blog.” That is certainly someone’s choice to make but not being completely transparent about it seems … disingenuous?
Thanks for the support, Clare. I’ve appreciated your comments in the past, too.
>>but about the way in which work shapes and sometimes subsumes us.
Nice word choice. And I agree: Some of the qualities we assume as a part of adapting to our jobs and becoming successful are good qualities, but many are not. I’m not suggesting that we all remain children. But allowing your job to strangle your inner child as it takes over your identity completely is probably also not a good thing. That inner child is what allows us to be playful and goofy sometimes, to take life more lightly than we might otherwise be able to, to laugh fairly serious horrible things off somehow and move on.
>> That is certainly someone’s choice to make but not being completely transparent about it seems … disingenuous?
Yep. The specific person I think we’re talking about has hinted that he will donate his surplus riches to charity but he hasn’t. I wrote him several emails asking him to address the topic. Crickets. When I think about the situation, I think of animal farm for some reason, pigs turning into humans in the end. Love the guy, but not on this subject.
Three years of blogging and out?
What a wimp.
Just kidding. We’ve estimated that the attrition rate of personal-finance blogs is at least 70% per year, so after three years you’ll be in the top three percent merely by persistence. It’s good to have an exit strategy– and you can always journal at MMM.
But I wonder if you might find yourself wanting to write about more topics as the months go on, and if you could bundle it all together into a book… it’ll be interesting to see what projects you decide to tackle.
I have not yet learned how to stop writing, and I keep seeking reasons to do so.
I still haven’t found anything in life that really pulls at me other than basic day to day stuff. Honestly I’m pretty content with consistent, enjoyable routines with occasional novelty (travel, a trip to an old arcade, etc) thrown into the mix. I thought by now that I’d feel passionate about — something? That I’d have a pull in one direction or another.
But it’s absent — the drive to really want to do something new that requires a lot of effort is just not there.
You’re a true writer. You feel compelled to write for its own sake. I only want to write to explore certain topics that feel urgent, and nothing has felt all that urgent for some time, to be honest.
And I’ll be the first to say that I like life this way. For now — and maybe for as long as it lasts.
“Honestly I’m pretty content with consistent, enjoyable routines with occasional novelty (travel, a trip to an old arcade, etc) thrown into the mix.”
Count me as a member of that club too. I like the label “professional dilettante” – just dabbling in whatever I fancy at the moment without really trying to hard to master anything. If it’s fun and interesting, it gets my attention. If it’s tedious, I only do it if I have to (brushing teeth, trimming my toenails, etc).
I’m hemmed and hawed about starting a blog for some time, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger. ERE, Lacking Ambition, BNL, and now you — most of the blogs I read and personally relate to the author end up shutting down after a couple of years. Sometimes I just think “ahh, they figured it was more hassle than it was worth. Maybe I’ll just learn from them and not start”. But obviously there’s a difference between not doing something and doing it and then getting tired of it. Or I think “yeah, sounds fun now. But then 1 year later it feels like a chore hanging over you and you’d just rather go outside and bike”. And to your point about post-retirement decisiveness: If I were retired already maybe I’d read this comment and think “start the fucking blog and then quit it when you don’t want to do it”. But I’m not yet retired, so I’ll probably hem and haw a bit more.
Anyway, I’ll be sorry to see you go, but I can understand getting tired of the topic and not feeling like there’s that much more to say. Your voice was certainly appreciated and I enjoyed the honesty and introspection you brought to your posts. Take care — I wish you and Mrs. Doom the best.
>>But obviously there’s a difference between not doing something and doing it and then getting tired of it.
Right. Based on your comments over the last year(ish), you’re a reasonably good writer and could make a go of it. The interest from the community is there.
It doesn’t have to be a chore. Only a small number of posts I’ve made felt like obligations, and I realize now I probably could have just not posted those. For the most part, it’s been a great deal of fun, and most importantly, blogging and writing has helped me to mature and grow as a person in ways I could not have predicted going in. Secondarily, it’s also terrific to feel like you’re giving back or helping others in some way. You never really know going in how it’s going to progress, what directions you’re going to take, where the effort might lead.
I could have a) monetized b) publicized like crazy and c) become another FI guru. The opportunities were there. Messages in my inbox. Invitations to do podcasts.
In the end I decided I didn’t want FI to define me any more than I wanted my job to do so.
>>I can understand getting tired of the topic and not feeling like there’s that much more to say.
Thanks for understanding. Boredom is certainly a factor. I’ve been immersed in this line of thinking for a decade and a half and there simply isn’t much ground left to cover.
I’ll put it like this:
The PF blogosphere (because of the nature of the blog post form) reads like a bunch of people yelling about shiny things. You can retire young! Personal Capital! Save $$$ by biking! Pay less taxes!
This is fine and useful when one is starting the journey. The reader can come up to speed quickly.
Your blog, however, reads like someone has taken the time to quiet their mind and really think things through thoroughly. It is unique in this respect in my opinion. I’ve found that I’ve particularly enjoyed it now that I’m firmly on the path to FI, with things humming along and years yet to go until the inevitable outcome. Its introspection has helped me to come to an understanding with the process, let go of the exciting obsession, and find the peace to move on to new things.
Thanks for sharing.
>>The PF blogosphere (because of the nature of the blog post form) reads like a bunch of people yelling about shiny things.
I think you’ve just described the entirety of the internet. 🙂 Business and marketing have taken it over. Everyone’s got their own agenda and they push it here instead of television, newsprint, radio, etc. Wasn’t always this way.
In all seriousness, thanks for your comment. And I think you’re right: many aspects of this blog address sort of ‘advanced’ questions about FI. How do I actually draw off my pile of assets? When should I really quit my job and how might I approach it? What the hell comes next?
Once you’ve been on this path for a long time, the excitement does fade, there’s no doubt about it. But if you’re doing it right, it’s replaced with a calmer internal knowledge that you’re doing something that’s going to give you an opportunity to live a very different life than the vast majority of people on the planet are able to achieve. And that life will be whatever the hell you want. It’s remarkable when you take a step back to think about it.
But it’s also OK to let these things happen instead of feeling like you must continually force the issue. You don’t have to look at your spreadsheets every day. You don’t have to make deposits into your accounts more than once monthly. There really isn’t much to do or think about when you’re in the middle of your accumulation phase other than work, hobbies, and family. That’s honestly not such a bad place to be; it’s where practically everyone is. And you can then focus on building a life you’re relatively happy with while simultaneously planning for the next one.
My stomach dropped after I read the last section. Nooooo Doom….Noooo!!
From someone who’s had a blog for almost 13 years (and hasn’t blogged much in the last 3 years) I have to say you’re one of the best bloggers I’ve discovered. Definitely authentic, inspirational and you break things down so well! That’s a gift, fwiw!
While one could argue that now is not the time to stop blogging cause hello, you ARE living a FI so tell us what that’s like, at the end of the day it’s your life and you need to be happy and fulfilled, no matter what your FOD’s (Fans of Doom) think.
Until that day comes, I’ll keep reading what you keep writing and do my best to follow in your FI footsteps.
>>cause hello, you ARE living a FI so tell us what that’s like
This made me laugh – thanks Kath. Yeah, living a FI is, well, awesome. I can do what I like, for the most part. Life is still life but I’m not working all the time, so it’s much better. I’m a responsible adult, which means I still have to do a lot of stuff that isn’t all that pleasant, like chores and what-have-you, but instead of being exhausted all of the time I’m generally even-keeled or even good-natured.
I just don’t want this to be a blog about how motherloving terrific my life is. It’s good, sure, but people hate braggarts who can’t seem to do anything but brag. And by “people,” I mean me. 🙂
You know what I enjoyed the most out of your blog, Mr. Doom? It wasn’t the retirement stuff. It wasn’t your message about detoxing. Truthfully, it was your “The Job Experience” series of posts that I thoroughly devoured when I first discovered them. Like, hardcore man-crush devour. I actively looked forward to reading the next one like a little school girl. Part of me thought that it was pretty pathetic to feel that way, but honestly, you gave people something very, very different to read and consider, something you don’t find on many other blogs.
And your writing style – my Gawd man, your writing style. Whether you wish to admit it or not, you have a NATURAL way of writing easy-to-read, entertaining prose. You have a gift, my good man. I’ve read enough blogs online to tell when people have to muster up the energy to produce a well-written and entertaining piece, and it is easy to figure out that it comes more naturally to you.
Well done, and best of luck in whatever future endeavors that you choose. Until you officially hang it up, I’ll be right here waiting for your next blog to enter the digital airwaves.
I admit it: I poured my blackened heart into those work posts while managing to weave my personal FIRE-story into the mix so people could see the whole of it —
fourteenfifteen and a half years of working for pay, job-hopping, and striving — all the while planning the final escape.
It wasn’t as easy as it seems to get them out, though. I agonized over some of the content and presentation, mostly in an attempt to pull back on the throttle labeled ‘disgust’. I’ve worked with some really terrific people, but also some enormous pricks, and when you absolutely must work for a living, you have to find healthy ways to cope with your workplace demons. There are inhuman aspects to it, and yet we seem to as a society pretend that this (working) is what it (life) is all about. The messaging sometimes makes me a little crazy.
I will add that many aspects of business encourage people to let the less-than-wonderful parts of ourselves — call it our personal internal asshats, which most of us diligently (and thankfully) suppress — shine through. People are rewarded for bad behavior; Business has a tendency to create worse human beings, as you’re taught to value profit and promotion over people. And we accept all of these things with the catchphrase “That’s just business.” As if that makes it OK. We teach kids in Disney movies to treat one another with love and respect and then as adults we go into business and fuck one another over because hey that’s just business.
The best part about not working is not not being busy, not taking orders, not feeling threatened by job security or ageism or whatever else — the absolute best part of it is that I’m allowed to return to the ideals and value systems that I internalized in my childhood. I can be a better person again. I’m not constantly placed in situations that seem to call for me to behave badly.
Some people say that you can be a wonderful person and still be successful in business, but there seem to be so many counterpoints that I call bullshit on this. (Steve Jobs anyone? Enormously successful genius, and fairly big asshole.)
Anyway, Steve, thank you — a very heartfelt thank you – for your support.
Been reading your blog for more than a year now. It is in my top 3 favorites and mostly for your writing style and how it helps me in my struggle to finally pull the trigger. I hit my number last September and currently deep into my own “one more year shit show”. Just wanted to say Thank You for helping people like me. I will miss your blog. I hope you find a new chapter to write about. And I wish you a quiet mind!
Just wanted to say: Congratulations on hitting your number. You’re in the home stretch and should be very proud of yourself. It’s challenging to work through the last couple of years, but you’ll figure things out, I have absolutely no doubt.
Definitely feel you on the freedom bit. I simply feel it in my soul that I can’t do the 9-5 M-F (read: 7-7 and more or less on call weekends). Sometimes it takes a while for people to come around to that, but I just don’t believe humans are supposed to leave for 2 days out of the week, and 2 weeks out of the year. What’s that? Your promotion nets you THREE vacation weeks??
Right…because that sounds so much better to me…
Yeah. I know. I think the most powerful scene in Office Space is when Peter says “We don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way! Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements!” I get it completely.
Ah. Now I has the sads. Doom is leaving us. 😦
Dirty little secret: my secret goal for blogging is to create enough retired people that some of us can work on space colonization together. That was the whole point in becoming FI. Way back in 1998, I found The Living Universe Foundation and set myself to the goal of being able to work on it full time. I used to think once I pulled the trigger, people would just naturally follow (because I led??) Hahahahahahaha [I was such a fool]. People have so many excuses for remaining wage/debt slaves. So now I’m trying to spoon-feed FI to some people. It’s probably just as pointless as my first stab. So yeah, its because I’m a big nurd.
Ok, it is 10:22 PM on a Wednesday night and I am (moderately??) inebriated. Or more. Whatever. I just have to say, your introspective posts mean something to those of us (ok, me) who have been FI for some time. See, I didn’t do any of the hard work of facing my Jungian shadow (fuck that!) I was just crabby until I wasn’t anymore. But I recognize what I went through (in my subconcious?) for all those months because I was too afraid/weak to face straight up. You nailed it bro. Work DEFINES us. Until it doesn’t no more. Have to say, I wish I had the guts to face the things that consumed me straight on conciously instead of just waiting for time to clear it up organically. I’ve probably wasted some glorious FIRE time. You are hero to some of us. Rawk on brotha!
Ahh FV. I love the hell out of your comments. How could there be a better goal than creating Zombie Legions of the Early Retired? I think that might have been part of my own motivation for writing, too — to see if other people were as fed up with the bullshit of work and keeping up with societal expectations as I was. It turns out that yeah, there are quite a few of us who don’t just want to ‘get rich’ — what we really want is to just. not. work. for. someone. else.
>>So now I’m trying to spoon-feed FI to some people. It’s probably just as pointless as my first stab.
Not pointless. Do it. Turn more people to the ZLotER. The planet will tremble under our combined forces.
>> You nailed it bro. Work DEFINES us. Until it doesn’t no more.
Yeah. It does. And it’s really hard to erase that definition from yourself once the money says you don’t need to work for pay anymore. Assuming you want to (and I did want to.) How do you purge identity? (The answer is, I’m discovering: You don’t. Attempting a purge is futile. You have to accept that the working years are just as much a part of you as anything else — good, bad, weird, all of it.)
I’m a fellow Mass native who has devoured your blog and is on my path to FIRE. Since you have inspired me, I wanted to thank you before you left the blogsphere. I found MMM a few years ago through a non-FIRE blog, and it opened up a world to me that I never imagined. I couldn’t quite understand my discontent with my engineering career and reading FIRE blogs helped me to formulate a goal and an end game. From MMM, I have connected to many blogs, MadFientist, JLCollins, RootofGood… and more recently (a year ago) found yours. All of the blogs have some wonderful pieces to sit and read and digest (mainly at work when I needed a break). Yours, though, spoke to me in a slightly different way. Your writing style fits my personality and your words hit me directly. Your brutal honesty with your work series and your working through your internal conflicts on your way to FI were inspiring as well as reflect my own thoughts and feelings as I travel my own path. I am probably 10 LONG years out because of changes in my personal life as well as mistakes I made that I realize I can’t go back and change, but your analysis of paralysis will help keep me focused from getting afraid to pull the plug. Your talk of freedom is exactly what I crave and that’s why I check my spreadsheets way too often. I am grateful I found your blog before you hung up your pen, and only wish I had been in my 20’s, rather than almost 40. Thank you for being as honest and open about your struggles because I think it will help others like me prepare for the transition that is FIRE. If you do move to wordpress, I know that I will be going there as I get closer to read your posts because of their insight. Thank you tremendously for the inspiration and insight that you provided me.
I just wanted to offer encouragement: You can definitely do it. Try not to sweat the mistakes along the way — I’ve made plenty of my own, and lots of other successful early retirees do, too. It feels a hell of a lot nicer to focus on the present and future, make changes, and chart that new course. I’m sorry your own work experience was somewhat lacking — the only thing I can say is that a majority of people feel this way. This isn’t just me guessing: Large scale studies by respectable groups like Gartner back this assertion up.
Good luck – I believe you’ll find this path to be very rewarding.
As a pro journalist, my blog lets me write about early retirement and personal finance on my own terms. It makes me no money (especially considering my rate of pay in my day job) but I hope my readers find it helpful as well as entertaining. The feedback I get from them is reward enough.
When I write something for the national newspaper I work for, it is read by a million people. But when I started my website I was lucky if a hundred people read my first article. That certainly made me chuckle and popped what little ego I have. Thankfully things are a bit better now.
All the best.
>>Thankfully things are a bit better now.
In most cases, you just have to persist, while also publicizing a little bit. Glad things are going well — keep up the good work!
I feel like shaking my fist at the sky and yelling, “It’s not his time!” I’ll probably even pound my computer with brute force to try to resuscitate your blog. After that I’ll curse you for tricking me into reading a blog post that’s actually about not blogging. I really need you to hem-and-haw over this decision and turn it back-and-forth in your brain. I need to see you dip your toe in the water one or two times to make sure everything is going to be all right. Certainly there is a Monte Carlo simulator for bloggers that will prove that you’re making the right decision. Please, string it out a bit. I want to yell at the computer, “Make a decision already!” The agony makes it real and relatable. I feared that someday you would go the way of Slim Pickens ecstatically riding a bomb in Dr. Strangelove. Or drift blissfully away like this guy http://www.bravenewlife.com. And so it goes. A cinematic circle wipe seems appropriate for your ending. Then again, it’s probably just the beginning of something else that’s good. Thanks for the great read(s).
You’re right — it’s not my time yet. It’s just: soon. I also need to point out that contrary to your statement, this post was, in fact, about blogging. It was also about not blogging. It was about everything.
>>Certainly there is a Monte Carlo simulator for bloggers that will prove that you’re making the right decision.
There is probably going to be a parallel universe where future me decides to keep the blog going. Maybe it’s even this one. Although, disappointingly, I recently read that just because there is an infinite number of universes doesn’t mean that all of them contain you, or they account for all possibilities that ever could have occurred at the molecular level. It sounds paradoxical, but people smarter than me have apparently proved it using The Maths.
Thanks for all of your wonderful comments BP. They never fail to make me laugh. You are the definition of a careful reader.
Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to write your blog. It covers a side of FIRE that is rarely covered…in that there is a lot more to RE than just amassing a big pile of money and walking out the office door. There is a TON of anxiety and indecision involved…at least there is in my case. So it was a huge relief to know it was an issue for you as well.
Here is an anecdote you might like. I keep a bunch of snippets from my favourite FIRE bloggers in my draft folder of outlook to inspire me and about half of those snippets are from your blog. So you and your blog have definitely been a helpful influence on someone.
Good luck in all your future endeavours! And enjoy your ER! You deserve it!
>>So it was a huge relief to know it was an issue for you as well.
You’re very welcome. And it is an issue for most people. One of my readers told me via email that after retirement, the “real work” began for him — he had to discover his life’s real purpose. (Now that’s some serious pressure! If that’s the way most people feel, it’s really no wonder why no one wants to ever quit working.)
Point is, it’s normal for many of us to feel this way.
That being said, I just don’t really buy that particular piece of conventional wisdom (that you must find your purpose, or that we even have one). I think that as long as you have strong relationships and a lot of curiosity (read: varied interests and hobbies) that it’s possible to enjoy a life without constant industry. You can feel valued via social contributions to your friends/family or other aspects of community if you are single via volunteering or joining other groups and organizations.
People only need to work in a traditional sense if they internally believe that working is an inherent good (and therefore by not working they are being ‘bad’ somehow.) I don’t feel that way — that working is automatically great. A more thorough analysis shows that much of what occupies our time at work is either fundamentally useless, or worse – actively harmful. When I look back at my career and view the sheer number of hours stuffed into the Incinerator of Oblivion via paperwork, politics, silly meetings, or Projects for the Sake of Projects, it makes me cringe. Probably 25% of all of the hours in my career were spent doing actual, honest-to-god, productive work. And even a good percentage of that ended up creating products of questionable value to the world at large. (Example from my career: Making trading systems faster. Who does that benefit exactly? I’ll tell you: Mostly the 1%.)
So I feel exactly the opposite way most of the time: Incredulous that people derive as much satisfaction from their jobs as they sometimes claim.
>>about half of those snippets are from your blog.
All I can say is: Thanks for sharing this.
Your comment to Doug N. above is why this blog has resonated with me; “I still haven’t found anything in life that really pulls at me other than basic day to day stuff. Honestly I’m pretty content with consistent, enjoyable routines with occasional novelty (travel, a trip to an old arcade, etc) thrown into the mix. I thought by now that I’d feel passionate about — something? That I’d have a pull in one direction or another. But it’s absent — the drive to really want to do something new that requires a lot of effort is just not there.”
I feel exactly the same way, even after 3 years of ER, but often felt guilty about not finding the ‘greater life purpose’ or ‘the passion that earns more money’ especially when reading blogs such as Mr. MM. I can’t count how many times I have been told personally, or have read, that since I’ve retired I will now find my ‘x’ (x being some sort of money-making passion apparently or worthy society contribution). One friend recently wrote, “you are in the stressful process of figuring out what your next great purpose/project/cause will be. You may be done working, in a traditional sense, but not in a life goal sense…in a way that incites curiosity and engages that gorgeous brain of yours.” So apparently the quiet life I lead currently is not enough and my brain may be stagnating. I want to be content with the life I have chosen. It feels right, but then outside influences cause me to think that I should be striving for more – be more, do more. ARGH! All this to say, I believe I am getting stronger at shutting down both the internal and external voices and you have helped tremendously. I may not have commented much, but I read and appreciated your voice. Thank you for your honesty and voicing what most others do not dare to acknowledge.
Hey Lisa – see my reply to Pamela, as it touches on some of the topics raised here, too. If it makes you feel any better I also have people in my life hint that it’s not perfectly OK with them that I’m doing quote nothing with my life and that eventually I’ll have to return to work of some kind. I find these comments to be unhelpful, condescending, and even offensive. Make no mistake about it: Some people do feel called to a particular office of work. But many of us do not.
I’ll draw an analogy. We’ve all heard at love at first sight. Some folks think that something similar takes place for us professionally, that we’re automatically attracted in one particular direction and once we find it — boom! Passion! Sparks! Total work-love, forever. There’s a spiritual element to this belief.
I just can’t believe this myself, though. I’m in the compatibility camp. People are imperfect. In love, you make an attempt to find someone with a personality that fits yours where it matters. Similarly, some professions suit us better than others, but it’s rare to find something that is a complete and utter 100% match, to the point that it’s a calling and you’d do it without reservations or pay. It seems like a fantasy to me, absolute dreaming. True — it happens to some, but it hasn’t happened to me, and studies I read about peoples’ attachment to work on a broad scale indicate it doesn’t happen to most people. We work because we need to (financially) and eventually it takes over our identities because we do so much of it, end of story.
>>It feels right, but then outside influences cause me to think that I should be striving for more – be more, do more.
Yes, I know. I read a young woman’s blog the other day — she’s in her mid 20s or so — and she has a post about methods to become more productive (seemingly for the sake of being productive) and I gagged. Won’t call it out or provide a link because that’s kind of rude in the blogosphere and it was a well intentioned blog post, but it’s still it’s at odds with my own philosophy.
Re: insinuation that you are ‘wasting’ your life (or your beautiful brain.) That’s terrible for a friend to say, in my opinion. It is self-evident that if you are doing what you want, you are not wasting your life — at least from your perspective. I’ve gotten this my entire life. LAF, why don’t you want to work harder? You could “really go somewhere” with your incredible package of forthrightness, tech knowledge, verbal skills and unrelenting cynicism. The insinuation is: I could be more successful if I really tried. The insinuation is: Success means status and money. I can’t be a “success” by simply being a good person and leading a quiet life. I must DO something.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I haven’t worked since April and I consider my life since then to be much more successful than the version that preceded it. Specifically I have been much more successful being happy on a consistent basis.
This comment is getting waaaay too long, so I’ll close with this:
Don’t let other people tell you how to be happy. The things that they are chasing may work for them but it doesn’t mean they work for you. You know yourself and what you want best. Use your financial freedom to continue to choose the options that work best in your life: Do nothing. And do it with pride.
Ok, if you’re hanging up the hat here, I want to pitch you and Fin Velociraptor (and any desired guest posters) to start “Drinking A FI”. It’s a blog/drinking game where you get drunk and semi stream of consciousness write the most vulgar/ridiculous FI shit that comes to mind. I’d love for someone to write a Mr Zombie Mustache: a post where an insatiable zombie guides other zombies on how to “save some brains for later”.
Also, if there’s enough running interest in the community, it would be awesome to coordinate an FI Ragmar Relay
Zombie Mustache is a fantastic idea, but I wouldn’t be able to run a site like that, unfortunately. Maybe I could be a guest contributor? It practically writes itself.
Every zombie knows that as soon as you’ve eaten one human’s delicious brains, you’ve immediately got to shuffle off to find another. It’s exhausting. All day every day, you’re in pursuit of cranial chow. The secret is to generate skull candy passively, and this blog will show you how…
And so on.
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Oh please make this happen. You know there is some frugal zombie out there stockpiling brains.
Like Dr. Doom, I’m neck-deep in other projects right now. At the least, we can tweet article ideas!
A Brainilionnaire is made one brain at a time.
Does the 4% SBWR apply in a bear market?
YNAB is not ‘you need a brain’ – find the right software for you!
I’ll just go ahead and echo what everyone else has been saying. Your writing style is not only extremely engrossing, you’ve got a great niche in tackling the emotional and philosophical aspects that are normally glossed over or completely ignored by other FI blogs. I will definitely be sad to see you go, but of course understand why. Best of luck!
I am quite proud to say you’re welcome. As I say in that thread, I made a topic on this because I was surprised it wasn’t there already.
Nathan – thanks for the support. It’s very meaningful, you know. The primary reason I was able to continue to blog this year was I felt there was some use to it to other people who are interested in making similar journeys. It’s motivational. (Extrinsic versus intrinsic, to be sure, but motivation is motivation in the end.)
I’ll be very sad if you do stop posting for ever and ever. There are a few blogs where I’ve read the entire archive really intensely and loved it all, and while I don’t need constant content, I like checking in every so often (like every few months) to catch up on what’s been going on. For example, I am really sad that there have been no posts on Lacking Ambition for over a year. I’d come back even for an annual update but it’s just total radio silence. I hope you’d consider doing an annual update on how you’re doing (personally and financially!) even if you write absolutely nothing else all year. Readers get very invested in bloggers and we like to hear from you, even if it’s just a round robin at Christmas!
Ahhh Suzie… you know how to hit me where it hurts. I miss that blog and wish Mike continued to update it once in a while — I thought he had a unique take on the journey and there are many parallels with the way that we think. (Specifically, we both kind of enjoy chilling and having a quiet life. )
I could commit to doing one lengthy update per year, no problem. I don’t want to go full LA on anyone.
“I could commit to doing one lengthy update per year” – can we read that as a promise…? 😛
I have so many experiences in the tech field just like yours, we play the same video games, I understand nearly every reference you have given… I just have to say your blog was the best blog I have ever read and really has helped me put this “job” in perspective and not take it so seriously. You have been a huge inspiration for my journey to FI, while MMM has been more a teacher, you have been more like a friend that actual did it (since we have so much in common) who happen to go FI. I REALLY appreciate what you have done here, thank you so much.
I love the image of ‘zombie legions of the early retired,’ you should trademark that!
Hey, I just started reading the blog and I’m in the “Holy shit, this is amazing. It’s just like another blog I know and love but the voice is a little different and some of the subjects have a unique feel to them as a result” phase, so leave it up for at least a year while I binge read (yeah, I’m that slow).
“Living life on your own terms. Being free. Rejecting dominant paradigms, for no other reason than because you want to. Not allowing your identity to be defined and ruled by others. Leading a life rich with variety and fulfillment. Not worrying about money or stuff much. Using your freedom to cut out the bullshit in life that makes you unhappy.”
Dude…you nailed it. I’m not sure I could have used fewer words to say so much.
Also, as a new blogger I really find these kind of articles insightful. It helps hearing from people with more experience and a unique perspective. Thanks for writing it.
Refreshing post. I thought that this post was going to be another “How to Start a Blog” post with an affiliate link to Bluehost that I have been seeing pop up on many of the PF sites I read. I noticed you didn’t have “my work found out about my blog and there was a negative reaction” on the list of cons. Was that a fear of yours or no because you were so close to FI? I think that is a fear of many of us anonymous bloggers.
” I noticed you didn’t have “my work found out about my blog and there was a negative reaction” on the list of cons.”
Very powerful con, no doubt. I wasn’t as worried about this because I don’t name employers directly and yes, as you pointed out, I was very close to leaving which reduced the weight of any potential consequences. I’m an anon blogger and I think the only way they’d find out about my blogging activity would be to scrub my machine and I knew for a fact that they didn’t do this sort of thing because I worked in the IT department so I was privy to policies.
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