No one wants to know how the sausage gets made.
I admit that most people would find the last few years of my life somewhat strange. I started on a path to improve my finances about ten years ago. I saw my lack of savings and my increasing debt, and I started trying to determine how I could turn my situation around while still working for a non-profit organization, earning enough for my long commute to the office and not much else. I started reading the “living below your means” message board at The Motley Fool, which helped me learn some tricks of the trade. I downloaded a free clone of Microsoft Money and switched my notebook computer from Windows to a free version of Linux just so I could run the software.
I was a long-time blogger, so after my journey towards financial improvement began, I started this website to help me track my finances. The main purpose was to use Consumerism Commentary as an outlet for me to learn more about personal finance and track my personal progress month after month. After the end of each month, I post a monthly net work report that helps me evaluate my progress and analyze my spending, saving, and income.
Though it was never the intent, Consumerism Commentary tuned into a business in its own right, earning revenue, affecting those numbers I posted every month. No longer was my financial improvement a result of just managing my money better, making better spending choices, and finding odd ways to earn income here and there. For the last few years, the increase in my net worth is due in no uncertain terms to Consumerism Commentary itself.
This is why I completely understand when I receive comments about my financial progress like this:
Unfortunately for us, your success story is no longer relevant for us (yes, the blog will contain quality articles in the future). I’m just talking about your particular path — similar to getting rich by creating a blog about getting rich, or becoming successful by writing a book about becoming successful.
It always bothered me when I see a heavily marketed book about getting rich through marketing, or a multi-level affiliate marketing scheme centered around a product that offers nothing but the multi-level affiliate marketing scheme itself. I know where this visitor is coming from. At one time, my financial progress was enhanced mostly by just making better choices, but now the story of my financial progress has become the driver of my success.
I have tried to keep the business of blogging outside of Consumerism Commentary because I know it does not interest most readers. Other personal finance blogs whose readers are primarily other personal finance bloggers often find it necessary to write about blogging because other bloggers like reading it. I don’t write for other bloggers, though, so I leave those topics alone for the most part. Nevertheless, the way I have progressed financially does not apply specifically to most casual readers who are not interested in building a web-based business that relies on advertising or product sales.
I do believe that my journey may still apply to most people in general terms. It may not be building a successful website with an advertising-based revenue model that drives the revenue. In fact, it may not even be starting a business that improves one’s personal finances. I think the most important takeaway applies to everyone in some form. The approach that I’ve been taking to my life can be summed up in three points:
- You don’t need to live your life by someone else’s rules. I knew I wouldn’t fit in with the world of education as a teacher. I knew a corporate environment wasn’t right for me, either. I had my own ideas for living and I needed to find a way to make it happen for me.
- You are in control. Any situation you are in is the result of choices you make. There may be some extreme circumstances that prevent this from being 100% true all of the time — there are a few things beyond one’s control, but only a few.
- Find your passion. It’s almost always possible to earn a living doing something you love doing if you make your passion the center of your life. Life is too short not to enjoy all twenty-four hours a day. I made many sacrifices in my life by devoting most of my waking life outside of my day job and a good portion of the time I should have been sleeping to my online projects, and sometimes those crazy sacrifices are necessary.
I don’t want to border on “motivational guru” type of encouragement, but these three things have been proven to be true for me so far in my life, and I strongly believe that these concepts — not the fact that my main income is now coming from the operation of a website — are at the core of my apparent success so far.
As far as my monthly financial reports go, I will continue to post them on Consumerism Commentary for now. Their relevance may continue to decrease; the need for closely tracking your personal finances dissipates when spending no longer consistently approaches or exceeds income. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of your financial progress, regardless of the main source.
Published or updated May 23, 2011.