the process

how blogging has changed our finances and our hearts

this is definitely not a post about monetizing a blog — you’ll see no ads here. we do this purely to connect with *you* — not to make money.

we’ve been going this early retirement road alone for the past few years, and realized — because planning for early retirement is still so very rare in society at large — that we needed to be able to talk to other people about it who would understand. understand the frugality when society tells us that we can “afford” a lot more. understand the relentless obsession with increasing our net worth. understand the endless work travel and long hours that we’re willing to endure because we know there’s a light at the end of the no-longer-very-long tunnel. understand what we dream about in our “next life.” and, most importantly, understand that we’re making that dream a reality, not just talking about it for thirty years, like the one that got away.

and that’s a big part of why we’re here, writing this post that you’re reading. because we crave that connection with other folks who are doing what we’re doing. or even if you’re not doing it yet, you’re at least thinking about it, which is a lot farther than most people get. we also know that the mind has a way of forgetting about the process, once you get to your destination, and just remembering the end. and we don’t want that. we want to remember these working years, and the process of getting to early retirement. we want to remember how hard we worked, what we learned, what we did wrong, and what we did right. so that’s part of why we’re here, too.

something we did not anticipate is the financial part. how much writing this blog and — just as importantly — reading all of the great blogs by so many of you, would motivate us to shave even more off of our spending, and tighten our focus on getting to retirement day prepared. how much blogging would increase our motivation to save more and faster.

you may recall from our post on our financial independence day that we’re planning to quit our long-held jobs at the end of 2017, pretty much no matter what. we’ll have the house paid off, and will have sufficient cash cushion to be at least mostly retired. but oh how we would love to be able to call it a day at that point, and not have to hustle for consulting gigs we’d rather not take on. fun work is fine, but work we have to do is not part of our retirement vision. we’d decided our timeline before starting this blog, but something about putting that out there publicly turned up the heat for us. 2017 as an end date to all work is a stretch goal, for sure, but it’s starting to feel actually possible. (the markets have to cooperate, of course.)

the part we really really didn’t anticipate about jumping into the blogosphere was how much it would touch our hearts. we wanted to connect with you all, but in a pretty miraculously short period of time we’ve actually come to feel supported by you. though we know we don’t actually have it all figured out, your positive comments have helped us feel good about how far we’ve come in a way we hadn’t thought about before, beyond the dollars. it makes us feel that perhaps we can do more than chronicle our journey. maybe we can actually inspire others to do what we’re doing, or at least prove to anyone wondering that it’s possible. that the famous early retiree bloggers aren’t just flukes. we know a lot of you are going to prove it, too, and that our numbers will eventually force society to take notice, and see that there’s a different way to plan your life.

we were most humbled by the response to our post “why the urgency?” in which we talked about the disability that’s looming over one of us as a possibility, and which helps motivate us to save faster. we’re anonymous bloggers, we don’t make it clear which one of us is writing our posts, and yet we still felt this huge wave of sympathy and compassion that was palpable. that still is palpable. from people we’ve never met, and likely never will meet. there’s so much kindness in the world, in our blogosphere. there’s so much support, too, and we feel it in a big way.

we’re so grateful.

so the moral of the story, if there is one, is — don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in  blog form. it pays off. if you’re already blogging, maybe it means sharing more of yourself, and not just your balance sheet. if you’re not blogging, maybe it’s time to start. and for all of us, let’s keep paying it forward by reading and supporting other blogs, especially the brand new bloggers, the ones just dipping in their toes, unsure of the response they’ll get. cheering them on could literally change their lives. we know it changed ours.

you all are awesome. thank you.

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Categories: the process

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30 replies »

  1. Love it and couldn’t agree more. When I first started my blog, all I really wanted to do was put forth some ideas on how to save money and live a bit differently than everyone else, but it quickly turned into something much, much more than that. The truth is we’re operating within a very supportive community, one where we regularly give encouragement to those who are going through the same thing that we are. It’s great.

    And we often talk about these different personal finance blogs as if they were friends of ours. My wife and I take a walk every evening with our dogs, and we’ll often mention to each other, “Hey, did you read the new Our Next Life post, or Even Steven article, or Money Mozart piece…” As if these blogs were actual people, we discuss them like we would anything else. And really, blogs ARE people. Especially in this community, they represent the thoughts and feelings of the person or people behind them. It’s a wonderfully supportive community. I can say with absolute certainty that my wife and I feel the same way you do.

    As you’ve probably figured out by now, I am a bit of an open book when it comes to this stuff. I openly post with my name and my wife’s name. We talk about our plans to retire early freely and with a smile on our face. We post our budget online and net worth for everyone to see. Maybe this is smart. Then again, maybe it isn’t. But the one thing that we do know is it keeps us honest, determined and motivated to see this whole FIRE thing through to the very end.

    In large part, our September of 2018 FI Day is due to this community.

    As usual, very nice article. I think that I will mention this post to my wife this evening…on our walk with our dogs.

    • Favorite comment ever. :-) So glad you guys feel the same way we do about our great FI community. Love that it’s a community, too, that allows for differences. Some folks like you all are open about everything, we’re probably on the more private end of the spectrum — though we will put our names and faces up once we quit our jobs, which will change the blog a lot!

  2. I live with a sort of possible future disability in that Hubby Dearest is 16 years older than me. Part of my retiring early was to share his later good years with him while he still has health. While either one of us could go first or we could go together in a big crash, odds are he will go first and I will have a long stretch of living as a widow. Facing a deadline does change one’s perspective and in a positive way.

    • How great that you planned ahead like that. One of our sets of grandparents had a big age gap, and the younger one retired early for the same reason — and was always happy that she had done so! That definitely influenced our thinking in a big way.

      • Our age gap isn’t quite as big, but it’s big enough that I don’t want to wait until I’m 65. Honestly, we got started on our careers so late that it’s been hard for us to think about hard dates for retirement. But blogs like yours definitely motivate us to figure that out.. at least we’re contributing now… That’ll get us there faster than before!

        Supporting new bloggers is so important. I’m forever grateful to those that read me before I was showing up on any search engines. I would have quit long ago without them! Keep on writing and inspiring!

  3. I enjoy reading the optimism and kindness in your posts. You guys have inspired me to write more about our experiences and journey towards financial independence and early retirement. I have found it challenging to have two writers with different writing styles (especially when I think my partner is the better writer), but I should get outside my comfort zone and write more! I cannot wait for you guys to ‘reveal’ who you both are – hopefully we do get to meet in person someday!

    • And that’s the nicest comment ever! :-) Our experience definitely tells us that it’s worth sharing more of yourselves, not less, and the world would love to hear from both the MC and the DJ! And we would LOVE to meet up one day!

  4. That’s very sweet! I agree — blogging has had hugely positive effects on my emotional life (sense of support, ability to support others) and on my financial life (definite encouragement to do the best I can possibly do, and it’s paid off, literally.) What a nice post. Cheers!

  5. I always look forward to reading your new posts and this one did not disappoint. You are so sweet and encouraging. I wish you both the best of luck! When I first started my blog, I was trying to post what I thought people would read, but now I am trying to just be myself, but I’m still not willing to attach my own name to it. I am always afraid of what people will think (people who know me in the real world). I have always been shy about anything I write so I just stay anonymous and that allows me to be who I really am.

    • Wow — that’s so nice of you to say. Thank you! If anonymous blogging is what you need to do to feel comfortable, then go for it! Certainly it’s an accepted practice in the PF blogosphere, unlike in, say, cooking blogs. ;-) Maybe over time you’ll want to pull back the veil a bit — or not. Your blog, your call. But please keep sharing as much as you’re comfortable sharing!

  6. Almost everything about FIRE is about going against conventional wisdom, from saving when others are spending, figuring out your finances when others think it is impossible, realizing that less is more, etc.

    Blogging in this community is just another thing that goes against preconceived notions. You will have a hard time getting traction if you are trying to compete with others. However, it is a very positive and rewarding experience if you instead focus on being honest with yourself, your readers and supporting and collaborating with others.

  7. Definitely agree with you. My favorite part over the last few months has been finding other like-minded people and following their journeys to independence. I can relate to your writings so much and you’ve really inspired me, especially these last few weeks as I’ve been extremely frustrated at work. I know this post is a little older, but you’ve been killing it lately!

    • Can’t tell you how much this comment means. That’s really the nicest set of compliments you could give us! There is nothing better than feeling like we’re inspiring others. Thanks. :-)

  8. Kick Ass
    Climb Mountains
    Blog like a Rockstar
    Save like a Champ
    Be Awesome

    LOL, thanks guys I liked this post and blogging (social media) creates great motivation and connections when used in a creative constructive manner. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  9. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had just started reading your blog (and reading from the beginning) and I have to say that I just love what you have to say and have recommended it to family and friends. Yours is actually the first blog I felt was worth investing time in and it is captivating! I will catch up sooner than I want to but, in the meantime, am thoroughly enjoying every post. You seem to be a lovely couple and again, I wish you all the best in your next life!

    • I’m touched that you’re still going! :-) Your note completely made my day — I so appreciate you reading the blog and sharing it, as well as your lovely well wishes!