community

The Survey Results Are In! All About Our Next Life (and FIRE Blog) Readers

A few weeks ago, we asked you guys to help us out by responding to our second ONL reader survey, and a whopping 677 of you finished the whole thing, all the more impressive because it was not short, and it asked whackadoodle questions like, “If ONL was a car, what kind of car would be it and why?” (That was a real question. And y’all were total sports about answering it sincerely! Mostly. To the person who wrote, “Barbie Jeep,” I know who you are.)

We put the survey out there because, as the blog has grown, we feel in many ways less connected to you guys. We love all the emails (if you’re awaiting a response, I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m just slow!), and those are fantastic for offering a glimpse into your lives. Same with the comments here, though that mostly tells us which bloggers are reading. (You get lots and lots of bonus points if you comment as a non-blogger!) But before the survey, we didn’t feel like we had an especially good handle on who you are, what your life situation is, what you’re most interested in, and why you keep coming back. But thanks to you guys generously using your time to respond, we now feel like we know you so much better! :::group hug:::

Our Next Life has had 1 million views so far in 2017!

What I mean by growth. Still can’t totally believe this. Y’all are the bestest.

Sometimes it’s pretty fun to live in a house full of nerds, if two nerds equals a full house. (Sadly, the dogs are very cute but also very dumb, so they don’t contribute to the nerdery.) And Mr. ONL, our resident nerdy data guy, is to thank for taking a lot of these findings beyond the basic Google Forms tallies (X percent this, Y percent that) to some interesting analysis.

Best of all: There are some big conclusions we can draw from the survey findings that impact all financial independence and early retirement bloggers.

Read on!

Results are in from the Our Next Life reader survey! What we now know about FIRE blog readers. Personal finance blogs, early retirement blogs, financial independence blogs, FIRE blogs, FIRE bloggers, FIRE blog readers, who reads FI blogs

The Basic Demographics

First up, the demographics on who you are and what your basic situation is:

Reader demographics

The biggest surprise to me here is that the gender gap isn’t wider, given that I don’t pretend to write in a gender-neutral way (at least not since those awkward early posts when I couldn’t decide if I should write as “I” or “we”). So shout-out to the progressive dudes not threatened by strong women! And on age, I can’t even tell you how touching I find it that so many folks who are already retired find something worth reading here. (To those of you in your 50s and early 60s who often email to say your retirement doesn’t count as “early,” smack that thought out of your head! Every day you can steal back before 65 is a win worth celebrating!)

Where are you in your FI journey?

About three-quarters of you guys are working toward your big goal, whether that’s financial independence, early retirement or something else you haven’t quite figured out yet. And the remaining quarter are either recently or long-time retired/FI or in some other situation that applies only to you!

How knowledgeable do you consider yourself to be about finance?

From day one, I decided that this wasn’t going to be an “early retirement 101” blog. This was going to be a place where we could go beyond the basics, or where folks who don’t yet know the basics could find the inspiration to go off and learn that stuff elsewhere. And the knowledge stats bear out that those of you who read fit that profile. About two-thirds of you consider yourselves moderately knowledgeable, and a full quarter consider yourselves to be financial experts. This is self-reported, of course, not based on a quiz I administered, and we’ll come back to this one in the analysis.

How You Feel About ONL

How Long Have You Been reading?

Two-thirds of you guys have been reading for less than a year, which probably explains why 2017’s stats are so much bigger than 2016’s. (So glad you’re here!) And a special shout-out to the 3 percent of you who’ve been reading from the beginning!

In other shocking news, I was surprised in the best way possible that a full third of you read every word of every post, especially because the average post length has crept up to almost 2200 words! (In fairness, 9 percent of you said you’d prefer fewer words.) I’m completely touched, though, that most of you are reading deeply one way or another — either mostly reading every post or reading every word of some posts. That’s the best news any writer can ever get!

What You'd Change About Our Next Life

As for what you’d change, lots of you would like more concrete financial posts, followed by those who’d like more thoughts and feelings posts. That’s an interesting needle to try to thread, so keep an eye out for posts in which we ask the S&P 500 Index if it feels fulfilled in life. (Kidding.) Plenty of you want more charts and graphs (liking this post so far??), and lots of you want to know more about us, all of which is coming soooooo soon after we give notice. (Less than two months. No, you‘re freaking out.)

Readers' favorite personal finance blogs

In a finding that surprised me, a sizable majority of you cite your favorite blogs as ONL and Mr. Money Mustache. It’s not surprising in the sense of what we’re both writing about, but because I’m so unMustachian in so many ways. (Remember the confession about the $1000 dinner?!) Lots of other blogs big and small got shout-outs, too (most frequently cited: Mad Fientist, Frugalwoods, Cait Flanders, Financial Samurai), showing that this is a group that shares the love across the PF blogosphere.

Not many people care where we live!

We were so sure you guys would be most interested in where we live, but as the answers in some of the open-ended questions reveal, many of you already feel pretty confident that you know the answer. (Stay tuned for a contest on this in September!) So maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising that what you’re actually most curious about is what we do for work. Which we could tell you now, but then we’d have to kill you.

Readers are most curious about what we do for work!

What the Car Question Was All About

On the car question, a little explanation. Questions like, “If ONL was a car, what kind of car would it be and why?” are called projective exercises, and they’re used to get deeper insights through indirect questioning than you’d get through the more direct form. So if I’d instead asked, “What’s most essential about ONL?” a lot of the answers would have been things like “early retirement blog,” “posts about feelings,” etc. And that wouldn’t tell us much, because that’s stuff we already know. And what we wanted to know is what your less conscious perceptions are. And boy, did you guys deliver!

What kind of car you think ONL is!

Not surprisingly, lots of y’all think we’re a Subaru — outdoorsy, reliable, a good value. Lots of Hondas and Toyotas got shout-outs, too, (it’s like you saw our driveway!) along with Volvos and Jeeps. The Tesla answer surprised me most of all, along with all the others that mentioned “slick” or high-performance one way or another. I work hard on this blog, of course, but to me, I’m just chugging along, chronicling our journey and the things we’re thinking about at that point in time. I definitely don’t think of myself or this blog as “slick” or oozing in cool factor like a Tesla, but I’m going to take it as a compliment, even if I don’t totally get it. ;-) (Also, for future reference, even if you know exactly why they’re saying it, it feels kinda weird to have a whole bunch of people refer to your blog as “used.” Ha! Though one did say “a new car that smells great!” Thanks?) ;-)

The Deeper Analysis

Alright, here comes the fun part: Mr. ONL’s smartypants analysis! He’s out of the gate strong with this audacious claim:

ONL is changing lives! 38% of readers who were here from the beginning say they are professor finance, vs just 21% who have only been reading a few months. Keep reading and you too can be professor finance!

I’m not sure I’m ready to make such a bold promise, but I’d be stoked if that turned out to be true. ;-)

Analysis of the data also tells us that:

The modal reader is a 30-something five to 10 years from FIRE.

Though, as we’ve already seen, ages are all over the map, which is awesome, and that’s also true for where folks are in the journey.

More from Mr. ONL:

Gender Differences:

  • Male readers are generally farther along than women in FIRE journey: men (51%) more likely than women (36%) to be already FIRE or expect to be FIRE within 5 years.
  • Women readers more than twice as likely as men to be “still formulating a plan” (25% vs 10%).
  • As in most topics, men also claim to be more knowledgeable: 42% of men, 14% of women call themselves “professor finance.” [<– Mr. ONL’s words, not mine!]
  • Men are bigger podcast listeners (PF or otherwise): 65% of men, 50% of women listen to PF podcasts.
  • Women are a little more likely to be long-time and avid readers.
  • 31% of women vs 26% of men read every word of every post. [Girl power!]
  • 36% of women vs 29% of men have read ONL for more than a year.

Marital Status Differences:

  • Men (68%) are more likely than women (58%) to be married with fully combined finances, which is a big boost on the way to financial independence.
  • Married with fully combined finances: 15% are FIRE, 7% within a year. Everybody else: 9% FIRE, 4% within a year.
  • Older readers are more likely to be married, which makes sense demographically (75%+ of readers age 30+ are married), but even among readers in their 20s, 43% are married, and another 11% are unmarried but in a relationship with combined finances.

Age and Generational Differences:

  • Relatively few readers are already FIRE: 39% of those age 50+, but only 15% of those in their 40s, 3% of those in their 30s, and 1% (1 reader) in their 20s is already FIRE. [Matt, is that you?]
  • Podcast audience is younger. 83% of 20-somethings, 76% of 30s, 69% of 40s, 49% of 50s listen to podcasts. Interest in a totally hypothetical ONL podcast follows suit. 23% of 20s, 15% of 30s, 15% of 40s, and 9% of 50+ would be super stoked.
  • 20-somethings especially want to know about our careers in the reveal (and the dogs!), but are less interested in where we live. 30-somethings are most likely to care about where we live, and 50+ folks are most likely to care what we look like. [Why thank you, 50- and 60-somethings.] ;-)
You mostly don't care what we look like or who we are, but some want to know what's up with the dogs!

(Mr. ONL doesn’t actually have a fully-swiveling head. But there’s no “back of head” emoji.)

Random Fun Facts:

  • The farther away from FIRE you are, the more blogs you read. Those who are already FIRE’d or within a year read fewer PF blogs than people who are farther away from FIRE. Same for podcasts.
  • Those who call themselves “professor finance” do, in fact, read more PF blogs: 22% of professors finance read too many PF blogs to count (vs 13% overall), and 65% listen to PF podcasts (vs 56% overall).
  • The longest term readers are also the heaviest PF blog readers.

Big Conclusions for All FIRE Bloggers

There was plenty in here that I’m not sharing, because it’s probably only interesting to us — including several wonderful notes that totally made my day. But given the huge overlap between ONL and other personal finance and early retirement blogs out there, I think we can draw some larger conclusions that impact all of us bloggers writing in this niche:

  1. Don’t write only for the guys. Lots of ladies are reading and are interested in advanced financial content! And women have the potential to be the most loyal and long-term readers (true here!).
  2. People are reading all kinds of different blogs, including blogs that contradict each other. Let’s leave room for differences of opinion and different perspectives.
  3. As people begin their FIRE journey, they’re more likely to read a gajillion blogs and drink from the proverbial fire hose. As they get farther along, they are likely to be more selective about which blogs they stick with. If we want readers to stick with us, we have to keep things interesting for those who are likely as knowledgeable as we are (Hi, Professor Finance!).
  4. Folks who are already retired are reading, too! So there’s value in writing about post-retirement life, not just the journey. (This is my bald-faced plea to other bloggers not to quit after you hit the target!)
  5. We can all be Teslas. Aim high! ;-)

Let’s Chat!

What did you think about the survey results? Any surprises? (Ahem, Tesla!) Anything you wish you’d shared on the survey but didn’t get a chance to? Care to make a case for any different answers? For bloggers, anything in here give you a different perspective on what’s important to your readers? Let’s dive into all of it in the comments!

Want extra Our Next Life content? Get the e-newsletter!

Onls-profile6-closeweb

Subscribe to get our monthly newsletter with tons of top secret info we'll never share here on the blog. It's like a whole extra post or two a month!

No spam or slimy sales pitches ever. Unsubscribe any time -- no worries! Powered by ConvertKit

83 replies »

  1. How awesome to have all this data! I think it is really interesting that there was a clear shift in what readers wanted to know based on their age (20s, 30s, etc). I, for one, cannot wait to find out who you are and where you live!

    And congratulations on the page-view milestone :)

    • Thank you!! :-) And yeah, having this data is pretty incredible — feeling grateful to everyone who filled out the survey! It’s so helpful as we think about what the future holds for ONL!

      And thanks for letting us know that SOME folks do care about who we are and where we live. Hahaha. ;-)

  2. This is one very cool post with some interesting results. Definitely can relate to some of the (overall) results of the poll. Especially that when you blog/read for a while you tend to limit the number of blogs your frequent.
    Thanks!

    • Thanks! And yeah, it’s interesting to be able to quantify that drop-off in blog-reading! But it makes sense… we all reach a saturation point!

  3. Really good info to learn from here for folks that wrote a blog. Interesting you call yourself unmistashian. We feel the same way. Sorry we won’t get a chance to meet you guys at Fincon 17.

    • I feel unMustachian in just about every way possible (bought both cars new, don’t bike everywhere, spend way more than is “acceptable” on groceries, travel, etc.). But I’m sure compared to most of the people in our consumerist culture, we see plenty frugal. So it’s all relative! ;-) (And too bad about FinCon! After we unmask ourselves, perhaps we can overlap on some travels.)

        • Good for you guys for pushing toward ever-more-frugal! The way in which I DO identify with mustachianism is on the environmental front. That, to me, is the reason to cut back on purchasing, not because there’s anything innately bad with liking things. ;-)

  4. Very interesting! Personally, I’m looking forward to all the big reveals as I’ve not a clue where you live and I like putting faces with names. Congratulations on the page views and keep changing lives!

    • Thanks so much, Amy! And we’re totally putting our faces all over this thing, so those who don’t give a hoot will just have to deal! Hahaha.

  5. Congrats on the million+ page views!!!!

    And this is an awesome collection of data, thank you for putting it together and sharing!

    Can a tesla even even make it thrrough the mountain snow :)

    • Thank you!! :-D And the answer is yes, Teslas can make it through the snow. Which we know because we see a LOT of them around these parts, not because we’ve tested it ourselves. ;-)

  6. Interesting! I wonder why men are further along in their FIRE journey – do men skew older, do they earn more, etc… Same thing with women being more likely to “still formulating a plan.” I wonder why there was such a huge difference – are more women in the beginning stages and still paying off debt (like me!), do they have less assets than men, or are they just more cautious?
    So many questions…the sign of a great research study! :)

    • Hi. Women generally earn less than men, tend to be more cautious investors and are more modest (and less confident) about our skills, abilities and expertise. We have a long way to go. I find Ms ONL to be a great role model!

      • The question I wish we’d asked as a follow-up to where folks are in the journey is something like what multiple of X folks have saved up. (Assuming rough guidelines of 25X annual expenses to retire safetly.) Then we’d know if women are truly farther away from FIRE, or just perceive themselves to be that way.

        The other interesting thing, of course, is that such a high percent of readers are married or coupled, so there are women represented in a lot of those male stats. Hard to figure out exactly what that means, though, without more research! I guess we have early retirement project #47 identified! ;-)

    • We’ll keep digging into the data to see if we can answer any more of these questions! I had the same thought re: women and still formulating. Like, “Are they really still formulating, or just overly hesitant to declare it a real plan?”

  7. Hang on, wait… so you’re basically saying we’ve all been taking financial advice from a sweet smelling used Tesla, who is married to a swivel headed emoji, and lives with two Pokémon-Go style cartoon dogs?

    Wow! Who knew those AI self driving robots who are slowly conquering the world and putting all the do-ers out of work were also such talented and entertaining writers.

    And what do you mean that there are actual real life readers of PF blogs out there, and not just fellow bloggers hoping to hit the backlink lottery by commenting early on a post that subsequently goes viral? Who are these people?!?

    Fascinating survey results, entertaining analysis. Well done :-)

    • Yup!! Lololol

      All the things you never knew a Tesla could do! ;-)

      And — I KNOW — there are actual, non-blogging readers. Sometimes they even email me, from email accounts that don’t look like Russian phishing spam addresses! ;-)

  8. This was super interesting. Thanks for sharing the results.

    “So shout-out to the progressive dudes not threatened by strong women!” Different voices and perspectives are always helpful. Especially in finance, where men dominate the conversation, listening to female voices is important.

    “In other shocking news, I was surprised in the best way possible that a full third of you read every word of every post, especially because the average post length has crept up to almost 2200 words!” I feel like this is similar to the gender issue. There are tons of blogs that write short, snappy articles. There are far fewer that spend the time getting in depth and really working through everything. It’s useful to read both.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Matt! Couldn’t agree more — there is SUCH a danger these days of accidentally ending up in an echo chamber, so it’s on each of us to actively seek out different perspectives… and maybe also different length posts. ;-)

  9. I’m looking forward to learning if the S&P 500 feels fulfilled. Haha. Funny, the balance between “Hard” and “Soft” articles is something I struggle with on my blog, as well. Looks like an even split between folks who prefer one vs. the other. Best to keep mixing them up.

    Interesting analysis, thanks for pulling it together. Congrats on the impressive growth stats, well earned.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for the congrats! :-) The funny thing about “hard” and “soft” is I’ve come to see the feelings post as the actual “hard” content — so much heavier and more complicated than a few numbers on a spreadsheet. ;-)

  10. There’s some interesting stuff here. I like the idea of not writing only for the guys. I don’t really know how to do that. I may be in a minority, but I find personal finance to be gender neutral. I think that if I did try to write something that targeted women’s finances, I’d fear accidentally saying something insulting.

    • Oooh, sounds like you need to come to my session at FinCon, which will be ALL ABOUT THIS. Lots of people write for guys without realizing it (not saying you do this — this is mostly a shameless plug for any attendees who may be reading), and think that “writing to include women” means something different than it does. ;-)

      • You mean we don’t have to write about makeup and hair color and buying dresses, after all!? (It’s really too bad my wife doesn’t read all these things…though she’s going to do some guest posts at some point.)

        • Haha. Nope! ;-) Writing in an inclusive way is a lot less about topics, because most of us are interested in the full range of topics, and more about the basic assumptions we make going into the writing. Think of it as: writing inclusively is more about eliminating the subtle cues that might exclude. ;-)

      • I only go to Jessica Moorhouse’s and Jim Wang’s sessions. Maybe you’ll have better luck next time ;-).

        That said, most of my readership is women… because… well MLM scams seem to target them.

        • Hahaha. And YES to MLMs targeting women. Facebook is pretty much unusable now because of that crap.

    • I see PF as gender-neutral, too. In fact, I don’t perceive ONL’s style as intended for women. What I do see is a blogger who writes in her own style. This makes the blog authentic and honest to me.

      • Thanks for the nice compliment! I think a lot of the stuff that makes writing “gendered” is unintentional and hard to spot — which is why we’re doing a FinCon session on it! ;-)

        • Not going to FinCon but very interested in your session. Any chance a future blog post could cover the same material, or make it available some other way? Also maybe an interview on the ChooseFI podcast…?

        • Totally! I don’t think we can record the session itself, because that’s only available for people who buy the FinCon video pass, but I’ll see what we can do to share all the info after the fact. Also coming up after we do the big reveal: all the many secrets we’ve learned about successfully staying anonymous on a blog! ;-)

  11. Dangit, why didn’t I get the survey complete :) I promise next time….. Cool that you guys took the time to put this together and I feel it is pretty bang on. Of course you are a Subaru, you are backpackers and climbers lol. I can understand that people want more concrete numbers as then they can compare themselves better and real digits are tangible, they make sense much more than a graph. Blog feedback, slightly shorter posts and maybe drop to 2 a week……I honestly am impressed with the consistency and length of content you are able to generate but also attribute that directly to your success. Glad to see Cait in there as I have four blogs I stick to consistently, MMM JLC, Cait and You. I also think this is because I am FIRE and your point about the amount of blogs you read is directly related to the point of the path you are on. Anyhow I could ramble on so much more, I just know I am patiently waiting until you are retired so I can come on some good multi-day treks with you guys. Congrats on the insane page views too, wow

    • Okay, so you are NOT the person who described us a go-cart that had escaped the track?! Hahaha. (That was one of my favorite answers.) I’ve really concluded that none of the “rules” of blogging apply if you really commit to doing whatever your own thing is. So I know my posts are too long according to the conventional wisdom, but 91% of respondents wouldn’t shorten them! So I’m going with that. ;-) (Plus, I just may be incapable of writing short. Kidding, not kidding.) And yeah, I love that Cait was one of the top mentions, too!

  12. Love all this cool data! Nice!

    Also, just hypothetically speaking, of course… ;) If you did do a podcast, I think it would be super-cool to hear some interviews with just some average readers. People with nothing to promote who are just going about their lives. Maybe some people would find that boring, but I would find it fascinating. It’s always cool to be reminded how diverse everyone’s situation is, as well as discover the things we have in common.

    BTW – I totally flubbed up the car question. LOL! For some reason I thought we were supposed to describe ourselves as a car. My husband pointed out that I’d done it wrong after I’d already submitted it. D’oh!

    • Thanks! I’ll add this, too: In the totally imaginary world in which our hypothetical podcast happens, it would be a totally different format than others, and not just focused (or even focused much at all) on interviews, *certainly* not interviews with all the same PF bloggers who do the podcast circuit regularly. ;-) I love your idea of interviewing regular people and folks whose paths have looked very different from the “FIRE standard” — great minds. ;-)

    • I’m with you Rachael, I would love to hear more about random readers, it’s one reason why I like the “case studies” type posts on Frugalwoods. It’s so interesting to see how other people live differently and make different choices about how they want to live. It’s one of the benefits of travel… seeing other cultures and lives.

      There is a weird kind of false intimacy in reading (but not writing) blogs. I start to feel like I know the writer, maybe they are even my friend, but the reality is that I wouldn’t recognize the ONL’s on the trail, and they certainly wouldn’t know me! Personal details of people’s approach to life is the main thing I look for in PF blogs; I don’t need to ready another article called 10 ways to save money and get rich.

      • Great to know that’s interesting to you, too! ;-) And if it makes you feel any better, blog writers feel the weirdness of the false intimacy, too — just with other blog writers! And I’m totally with you — I don’t need any more basic how-to clickbait articles in my life, so I don’t try to torture readers with them! ;-)

  13. Love the data! Thanks for sharing, Ms. ONL! And congrats on the incredible visit numbers! Well deserved.

    I also found it interesting to see the different blogs people were reading within the PF community. I also like to get different perspectives, attitudes, and opinions. Blogs are unique because the author can speak so authentically. And readers can (and should) compare them with one another to get a more balanced view and also to find his/her own voice.

    Can’t wait to see how your blog continues to grow and evolve. Kudos so far!!

    PS – I definitely plan to be at your FinCon session. Sounds great!

    • Thanks, Chad! And yay — I’m glad we’ll get to hang out at FinCon! I wasn’t sure if you’d make the trip from the Southern Hemisphere, but happy to hear you’re coming. Couldn’t agree more on making sure we all get a diversity of opinions and perspectives, especially on big, consequential matters like FIRE. In some ways, that’s getting harder to do with the proliferation of echo chambers (and FIRE blogs could rightly be accused of being our own echo chamber!), so we have to work a little harder to find those different perspectives.

  14. Thanks for posting the data. I remember a couple years ago there was a reader poll on MMM and the majority was female. Honestly, I was surprised since most PF bloggers I ran across by that point were male and I just ASSumed readership followed suit. As a (now) 35 y/o single male, I was happy my assumption was incorrect since it gave me greater hope that I’ll be able to find a financially responsible female :)

    “So shout-out to the progressive dudes not threatened by strong women!”

    That was funny since I never thought to care whether the author was male or female. If the content is interesting, I read it and stick around. If the content is just the same ol’ crap, I move on. I’ve been particularly interested in your blog since I am pulling the plug on my job at the same time as you. Speaking of which, I hit my FI number last month! I still plan to work through the end of the year, but we’ll see what happens.

    I have definitely narrowed the number of PF blogs I read compared to a couple years ago. Now I need to limit the amount of time I spend on the MMM forum…

    “Mr. ONL doesn’t actually have a fully-swiveling head.”

    So disappointing.

    Signed,
    One of your non-blogger readers

    • As a formerly irresponsible financial person, I’ll just offer a quick reminder that people can learn and change. ;-) But given that you’re already mid-30s, I understand your desire 100% to find someone who’s already on the same page, instead of taking many years as Mr. ONL and I did to get to a more focused financial place. But I’m focusing on the wrong thing, because…

      CONGRATS ON HITTING YOUR FI NUMBER!!!! So awesome. And congrats on being so close… are you freaking out right about now, like we are? ;-)

      And you get ALL THE BONUS POINTS for commenting as a non-blogger, especially after the letdown of Mr. ONL not having a swiveling head. ;-)

  15. I’m very new to the blog, but any deep dive into data speaks to the nerd in me. So you guys are the latest addition to the blog roll (i.e. – the way I keep track of which posts to read, and which two other people probably use).

    • Thanks for adding us to your blogroll! I’m so curious to know if folks even really look at those any more — ours doesn’t send a ton of clicks to the folks listed there, but it’s totally handy for me to keep track of our friends!

      • I’ve heard from some people that they get clicks through our blogroll, and I know we get some traffic from being on others’, too. I think for people who don’t write blogs, it’s a neat way to find other sources on the topic.

        Also, I wanted to say that you’re going to fail at Early Retirement, and will be back to work in no time, because you’re idiots. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. Those tweets were how I found your blog!)

  16. The reason I keep coming back to ONL is because of your voice. Much like the reason I adore Penny from SPUP, she’s literally made me do a spit take and cry.

    Are we allowed to start guessing at where you live? You can’t be too far away from 1500days because you left the comment on their blog about her hair cut being worth it and the hiking trip that happened that weekend.

    Signed,
    Another non-blogger

    • Hi, non-blogging Jeff! :-) ::;me showering you with bonus points::: Thanks for that fantastic compliment! I feel the same way about Penny! She is one of my favorite writers.

      Re: where we live, it’s up to you how you want to play the strategy. If you throw a guess out there publicly and you’re correct, then others will see it, and you’ll lessen your chances of winning the contest next month! ;-)

  17. Yes, of course people can change, especially as they’re figuring out all this PF stuff. I figure they don’t necessarily have to be on the same page, but they should at least be reading the same book :) It’s going to be interesting to date after I quit my job and have total freedom. At least I’m keeping my business, so I have easy answers to questions like “what do you do?” and “how can you afford to travel so much?” without saying I’m FI.

    “…given that you’re already mid-30s…”

    Ha. Thanks for making me feel old.

    Thanks! Strangely enough, I’m not really freaking out…yet. I don’t think it’ll really hit me until I sell my house because, as of now, there hasn’t been any disruption to my regular routines — except for taking off a lot more days this year.

    So do these bonus points somehow translate into frequent flier miles? :)

    • Well we’re older than you, so…. ;-) What I meant to say and should have said is “Given that you’re already FI…” If I was starting over dating now, I doubt I would have the patience to gamble on whether someone might grow into a fellow FIer or not. But that said, I think it’s pretty obvious what folks value most, and that’s the biggest factor for FI compatibility, in my mind. Neither of us were name brand-obsessed before, or into status symbols. We just wanted to have awesome experiences and spent a lot of money doing that. We still value exactly the same thing now, we’re just a bit more discerning on the spending side. ;-)

      And wow, congrats on not freaking out yet. Maybe, given that you’re keeping your business, the stakes are a bit lower, so there’s less to freak out about? (Or maybe you are just more Zen than we are.) ;-)

      And hmm… I’ll have to think about a way for those bonus points to translate into some real world thing. Haha.

  18. Great data and as usual great insight. I never thought I would need to declare myself a non blogger (I plan to blog about how I FIREd myself when I retire next year, but for now I just read looking for excellent advice

    Since you guys don’t do numbers – I think it’s a real positive that has helped me think of many other things that didn’t entirely revolve around “the money”. It is however not a surprise the survey showed that that is what people wanted – more numbers

    So maybe (without knowing your balances of course) it would be helpful to know what your baseline retirement budget looks like in terms of percentages in each core category (since I know you aren’t going to tell us what your annual number is either). That might help many people think of how to save for those things as some will be elastic / discretionary and others won’t

    Waiting for the reveal!

    Phil (not a blogger yet)

    • Not that you were asking for advice, but if you plan to start a blog anyway, it might be good to start it before you quit — the “how” of it all is quite well trod at this point, but people really want to know about the personal journey, and there is value to recounting that in real time. ;-)

      As for the numbers stuff, all great suggestions, and definitely stuff we’re thinking about! It’s just a case of too many ideas and too little time. ;-)

    • Just remember that this is an extremely skewed pool when compared to the real world. ;-) So average here means crazy ahead of the game in real life!

  19. Curse you, Ms. ONL – you have shattered my very existence! Until now, I have felt secure in my belief that I was the only non-blogger in the FIRE blog universe. This belief was firmly reinforced every time I read comments in FIRE blog posts, all of which appeared to be from other bloggers.

    I was so pleased with this universe I had discovered. I was special! I felt like one whose favorite author had countless clones of him or herself; all writing with the same alluring style but producing different works of art. Imagine, countless Ernest Hemingways, J.R.R. Tolkiens, Jane Austens, all writing masterpieces for only one reader – me!

    And now, because of you, I find I am not the only one. You have revealed that others like me are out there – others who partake of the financial wisdom but do not contribute through their own blog posts. With your survey, you have even lured them into revealing themselves in the comments of this post.

    But, perhaps this is an opportunity… Unite, non-bloggers! We, too, can have a voice. Together, we can organize our own conference. Rather than FINCON, we shall have FINREAD (“Where Money and Readers Collide”). We shall overthrow rockstarfinance.com and develop a segment where only readers are allowed access to our forum, and bloggers shall be excluded (because we don’t want to bore you with non-blogger stuff). We will publish the top three non-blogger FIRE post comments of the day, each and every day!!!

    But I am not fooled. I know these other FIRE non-bloggers will not last long. Soon, each and every one will be seduced by the lure of “easy” Internet revenue and fame. They will succumb to their desire to attend FINCON and will eventually transform into FIRE bloggers. And once again, I will be special…

    • LOL. #commentoftheday

      And it does seem true that lots of folks seem tempted to jump into blogging, judging by the crazy proliferation in the last year of new FIRE blogs. Some are excellent, and some will likely discover, as countless bloggers across all niches have discovered before them, that this is a freaking lot of work. And even with those stats, I have made a grand total of $100, which doesn’t even cover my expenses. But I’ve never been too good at getting rich quick. ;-)

  20. I second your plea for more long term post-FIRE blogging (as a non-blogger so I probably don’t really have any credibility with that request). It makes me worry that I will no longer have anything interesting to say by two or three years post FIRE.

    • I think you have MORE credibility with that request. ;-) And thanks for being so consistent in commenting! We’ll definitely keep up the post-FIRE blogging, but man, I hope the trend of folks disappearing post-FIRE, or having their posts reduce to a trickle, reverses soon. And to allay your concerns, from what I’ve heard, none of the folks who quit blogging post-FIRE did so because they had nothing more to say. Rather it was that they just felt they had better things to do. Which to me means that they didn’t really love it, and that’s cool. But I can’t *imagine* quitting this! I constantly want to spend MORE time on it. ;-)

  21. I would also be curious to see what non-blog websites folks read related to money. I personally love theBillfold.com, but am always looking for others to read!

    Also, a thought on why women readers could seem to be farther behind in their progress toward FIRE: perhaps we are more modest in our self-reporting? I don’t have a source to back this up off-hand, but I’ve read that women are less likely to say they are 100% sure about things (even those that they may know well) and often leave room for uncertainty when responding to questions. Are some of us just less comfortable saying “yes, I definitely have enough saved to retire in 5 years”?

    • I had all those same questions! Unfortunately, we didn’t collect enough data to be able to answer the question on whether women actually are farther behind or just FEEL that way… but it might be a good project to undertake in retirement! ;-)

  22. Yes, keeping the business absolutely helps. While I don’t need the income, and the income is too erratic to rely on, I know it’s in the back of my mind that I’ll still make *something* to help pay the bills.

    Also, I’ve only had this job for three years and it doesn’t feel like it’s part of my identity. I never cared about getting a promotion, never got involved in the politics, never worried about leaving the office before my boss. Quitting the job is simply wrapping up a really strange chapter in my life.

    Thanks for asking the question — it was a good mental exercise for me to work through why I’m staying pretty mellow even though I’m down to about 60 work days left. I had a long reply with way too much detail that I won’t post, but writing it was really helpful with wrapping my head around my situation. I saved the reply, so now in a month or two when I finally do freak out, I can go back to my Google Doc and read through the reply to help calm myself down :)

    • I bet the business also helps with peace of mind in terms of having a continuous work history, should you ever need to send someone a resume again. Not that you plan to, of course, but nice to have the option, just in case.

      And I’m glad you wrote that whole thing out for yourself! When I have my “What the hell are we doing?!?!?!” moments, I take great comfort in reading my contingency posts. ;-)

  23. Wow! Those numbers are amazing and a tribute to your hard work, the quality of your writing and ability to build a strong community around it. Glad to have been a part of watching it grow since pretty close to the beginning.

    One question is what impact a female voice has on your writing? I don’t understand the comment about “writing only for males”. I can definitely see the difference between a blog like yours and MMM and all his “badassity” but aside from that macho aspect, I don’t see personal finance as being very masculine or feminine so just curious what a writer could do to appeal to female readers as well as male.

    • Thanks so much, my friend! :-D It’s been fun to watch our paths move forward in parallel, and to be able to celebrate at a similar time.

      I have gotten enough Qs on the “write for the ladies, too” comment to need to write a longer post on it, as well as other aspects of writing inclusively. I’ll definitely put more detail into that after we do the session at FinCon! The main thing, though, is learning to recognize subtle signals that exclude certain readers or turn them off — which is hard to do! And that said, I have never thought that your writing comes across as gendered. ;-)

  24. You only looked at data from people who completed every single question? If I had known that you were going to require an answer for every question before analysis, I would not have wasted my time. I also think it’s bad use of data.

    • Add-on to this: The total number I cited is the number who answered every question. But as I said in the survey link, we didn’t require people answer every question, and we crunched data based on responses to each question. Not every person is counted in every cross-tabulation, because you could only be counted if you answered that particular question, but every answer is counted overall. :-)

  25. Stats are always fun to take in; thank you for sharing yours. I used to look forward to the Wednesday sports section, because it would have the updated weekly NFL stats (the Monday night game ran too late to make the Tuesday edition). I preferred the back side to the front of my football and baseball cards.

    Anyway, it’s fun to see your growth, and equally fun to see my blog’s name in little letters in the word jumble up above. Tweeting that out now.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • You’re welcome! This was a fun one to do — of course there’s TONS more data that I shared here, which is the BEST. :-)

  26. I love all the data! I’m not surprised by your gender break-down. (I’m far more heavily skewed female, but my blog is the PF life of a lesbian. Sensible) Your posts aren’t aggressive, but they are ridiculously well-written and informative about deep underlying issues. They are great and folks are wise to value them.

Comments are where the magic happens! Let's chat!