As you’ve probably already figured out just from the title of this article, this is my 900th post here on The Amateur Financier. Yes, three years, eight months, and twenty-nine days ago, I began this blog with the hope of sharing my growing interest in personal finance with other people, increase my ability to interact with others who shared that interest, and yes, hopefully make some money in the process. It’s been a long road to get here, but I’m proud to have posted 900 posts on The Amateur Financier.
With the spirit of celebrating how much I’ve learned and shared in the past 899 posts to make it to this point, I though I should share some of the favorite things that I’ve picked up by writing for nearly four years (and reading blogs and other financial advice for even longer). Some of these are tips about money, some are thoughts on blogging, some are simply things I’ve learned from doing this for so long. In any event, here’s things I’d like to share:
Nine Deep Thoughts after 900 Posts
1. Managing Your Money Isn’t That Hard: It’s tempting to think that money-management is a hard thing. After all, there are dozens of magazines, hundreds of websites, thousands of books, and millions of individuals devoted to money management and helping you to do so; it’s got to be a Herculean task just to get started with it, right? Really, though, it’s not that tough. Keep track of how much you earn, make sure you spend less than that amount, invest a sizable chunk of what you save in something with a fair chance of growth (and limited possibility of losing value), and let that investment grow, and bingo, bango, bongo! You’ve got your money well-managed. It’s not quite that simple, of course, but if someone is trying to convince you that managing your money is too hard to do without lots of help from them (for a sizable fee, of course), you can probably do pretty well without it.
2. Investing Is Only As Hard As You Make It: Let’s talk a bit more about investing, one of the biggest topics all those money media sources discuss. It can be a pretty tricky subject, with the thousands of stocks, even more mutual funds, and a nigh uncountable number of other types of investments. But investing doesn’t have to be any harder than you want it to be. There are simple investment options out there, like target-date funds or broad index funds, where you can put your money, arrange automatic investments, and not think about it again for years, possibly decades, while still having a sizable amount of money when you come back to it. While there’s a lot more you can try, including plenty of things that do have the potentially to increase what you can earn (while also usually raising the risk of losing money in the wrong investment), you can usually do quite well with a simple investment, frequently as good or even better than with the harder, more complicated and time-consuming investment options.
3. Mistakes Happen, Particularly With Money: You will make mistakes. It’s part of life, and when it comes to money, those mistakes can seem particularly pronounced. It’s easy to look back at what you did with your money a few years (or decades) ago, and think about how, if you did things just a little differently, you’d be much better off today. I can easily think of a few dozen things I’d do differently if I found myself five years in the past, but the important thing to do is to try to learn from the mistakes and improve things in the future. Unfortunately, the technology to travel to the past doesn’t exist yet (and is fairly unlikely to ever exist), so you, and I, just have to live with our mistakes.
4. Blogging Is A Great Way To Share Your Thoughts…: If you’ve never tried to blog, I would suggest that you give it a try. It’s hard to describe how enjoyable it is to be able to put your thoughts on a subject you care about out there for people to read. You can end up having readers from all over the country, frequently from all over the world, and can get comments expressing all sorts of thoughts on the subjects closest to you. Even if you are only read by a few people, it can serve as a public type of diary, giving you a chance to voice your thoughts in a format where others can read what you feel.
5. …But To Be Popular, You Need to Be Ready to Be Social…: All of that said, though, there is sometimes a mistaken belief among new bloggers that, to paraphrase A Field of Dreams, “If You Blog It, They Will Come”. Alas, it’s not as simple a process as writing and watching as the readers start to pour in (as I can attest from the hundreds of posts I’ve written and my moderate, at best, success so far). There’s much to do to draw readers to your blog outside of simply writing, from commenting on other blogs to writing for other blogs to working with other bloggers to help them build their blogs up. As you might notice, if you are hoping to turn your private diary into something that people will actually read, you’re going to need to work with your fellow bloggers and try to help them get more attention and more money if you want them to help you in return. (I’ll be honest, I need plenty of work in this area myself.) And speaking of money:
6. …And Don’t Expect Too Much Money From Blogging: I’ll be straight with you: you aren’t likely to be able to quit your day job on your blogging income. Chances are, if you earn significant money at all (which is a tricky process of combining a blog subject that appeals to enough people and writing that draws a decent audience with advertisements that pay a good amount, a tricky task at the best of times), it’s still going to be far from the amount you are earning at a full-time job, to say nothing of the six- or seven-figure income for which you might be hoping. Don’t get me wrong, there are ways to earn money as you blog; but as with any alternative method of earning money, it is not always as quick as some promoters make it out, nor is it as easy as sometimes portrayed.
7. It’s Vital To Have Emergency Money, and Lots of It: This is one of those basics of money-management that everyone who writes anything about money mentions at least once. It’s one of those things that’s easy to overlook, or to think that you’ve got more than enough. But those months of emergency funds can disappear pretty fast when life gets to the really tough, and there is this unfortunate habit of the bad things in life all occurring at the same period of time. There’s simply so much bad that can happen in life, and:
8. Life Can Be Rough At Times…: This year has been a difficult one for me, to say the least. From problems with my graduate research making it impossible to graduate in spring when I expected to graduate to epileptic seizures that have kept me from working and led to some huge medical bills, 2012 is going down in my records as the hardest year I can recall. Unfortunately, that’s how life is at times, decidedly tough to make it through. One big thing I’ve learned in the past year is that sometime you need to stick to it and handle whatever gets thrown your way. Because if you do…
9. …And Life Can Also Be Wonderful: This year is also going to be one of the best in my life so far, though, because I am going to be a father. I have a sweet and caring wife, who is currently pregnant with our baby girl and due to give birth on December 5th. I don’t know that I can ever express this fact with enough happiness, because it brings a smile to my face and a small tear to my eye even to think about it, but it is fantastic to consider. When life takes away, it also seems to give, and I’m happy for that.