I’ve finally made the decision. I’m retiring! Time is precious. It’s a scarce resource we can never get more of. Many people (and it’s hard to argue) consider time to be the currency of true wealth, and the ability to spend it how we want as the ultimate luxury. There are so many important things I want to spend time on that I have to be ruthless in how I allocate my time “spending”. So I’ve decided to stop working on this blog!
I’ve really enjoyed the adventure of starting a blog and sharing thoughts with all of you. For those of you who found some value in what I’ve written, thanks for following and I wish you the best in your own financial and life journey! The only regret I have is that some of you may be a bit disappointed that I’m stopping. This blog continues to gain more subscribers (sorry for those that recently joined!) but it’s still relatively small.
For those that are disappointed, don’t worry. There are a lot of great blogs and books out there, so you’ll find many other sources of great information and insight with a little searching. I believe there is a healthy movement towards early financial independence and a focus on happiness that will continue to grow. This movement will continue just fine without my blog.
Since it is my blog, I reserve the right to still post once in a while, or even start back up again on a more routine basis in the future, but for now, I’m taking a break. I’ll keep open the option to “come out of retirement” if something inspires me to start back up again, but I make no promises.
Inspiration for this blog
As I posted before, I started this blog as an offshoot of something I was doing for my two young boys. I started documenting key research results and life tips regarding money, human psychology, and happiness in a mini-book of summaries and key findings for my kids. I also included my own thoughts and experiences.
After a while, I thought that maybe others would find some of the content useful as well. The thought of helping others with their personal financial situation, and particularly helping others become financially independent, was very appealing to me, so I started this blog.
I think the world would be a much better place if more people in society had more financial freedom. Workplaces would likely become nicer and more fun. Work schedules might be less brutal than they are today, allowing for a better balance. The environment would benefit as less consumption occurred. Maybe we’d shift to a less stressed lifestyle where human progress would still be made, but at a healthier pace. Overall, while being very difficult to say for certain, I think there would be a lot of very positive benefits if people saved more of their income and became more wealthy (and had more freedom) earlier in life. This blog was a small contribution to this goal.
Ironically, the same thing that inspired me to start this blog (my kids) is the same thing inspiring me to stop for now so that I have a more time available.
The truth is that I’m not making a broad enough positive impact to be worth my continued time and effort. I know I could be doing more to reach more people. I could work on becoming a better and more entertaining writer (I write posts that are too long for example). I could actually get on social media and do other things to connect more with others. I could improve my use of graphics so the blog was more like an appealing online magazine to engage readers. All of these things are possible and would surely help.
However, I already have a job. And it’s one that pays really well. It also takes a lot of time and effort so a side-job/hobby on top of that is not very rational compared to all the other things vying for my time and attention. While this blog has grown, it’s still relatively small in terms of visitors and the whole point is to share with more people. I’m just not willing to put in the marketing effort to reach a broader audience, and without the ability to reach more people, it’s not worth the continued effort to keep posting. Hopefully you can understand. It’s the same cost/benefit analysis all of us should use in all our decisions, especially when it comes to how we spend our precious time in life.
So I’m living my own advice and using the time spent on this blog for other things. In particular, spending more time with my young family. My boys are growing up quickly and I am passionate about being a very involved and loving father. I am also passionate about health so time for exercise is critical. Adventure is also important to me. For example, I just finished my annual mountaineering trip in the Pacific Northwest. I’d hate to feel stress due to taking time away from a rigorous blog posting schedule on a trip like that. It’s quite easy for a blog (or any hobby that starts consuming you) to feel too much like a job. This is why I’ve never made a rigorous posting schedule one of my goals.
Another important consideration is that my wife and I are still talking through and figuring out what we want our future lifestyle to look like. We hit financial independence a few years ago and now have a nice cushion as well. But we don’t yet have a clear vision of what we’d like the future to be. We need some time to sort that out and we’ve put it off for too long already.
We will continue to work for now. I realize that seems contradictory since our jobs certainly take a lot of time. But I don’t see it that way based on our current cost/benefit analysis. We generally like our jobs and we are also well compensated. We have stopped putting in very long hours and have consciously cut back on travel so we’re currently at an acceptable work/life balance (for us). We also save enough each month that I would regret walking away at this point. The amount of future financial security and extra (future) freedom we gain with each month of savings is substantial enough that I don’t want to stop working yet. If our jobs become miserable, or we shape exciting future plans we want to get started on right away, this decision will change but for now, we feel it makes sense for us to continue working.
From a purely financial perspective, if I actually tried to make an income from blogging, it would probably take at least 50% of the time I spend on my job each week and would likely only provide 5% of the income compared to my job so the cost/benefit analysis is clearly in favor of continuing to work at my current job. Granted, this blog was simply a non-financial hobby but it’s taking a bit too much time for the small positive impact it is providing. I enjoy blogging but it’s not like I hate my job and love blogging, as seems to be the case with many other bloggers.
I had read that most blogs end within a year. Many within 3 months. So I set myself a goal to blog for at least one year. That would be long enough for me to consider it a true experiment. I passed that milestone in May of this year.
I also set a loose milestone of posting once every two weeks on average. Sometimes I’d post more often, sometimes less, depending on what else was taking my time in life, but overall I also met this personal goal.
A final goal was to simply learn the basics of blogging. How to actually start a blog. How to link to amazon for things like books I was recommending, etc. The different features to customize. And so on. I ended up learning a few things I didn’t expect like how to create a gravatar and set up an amazon affiliates account. I also learned that I was barely scratching the surface. There is a huge amount that I didn’t even try to tackle but I did manage to learn the basics. This may come in handy in the future if I start again. But I also realized to do a blog properly would take a lot more time than I was willing to invest.
Overall, I’m happy with the experience.
Downsides of Starting a Blog – Time
Writing the content certainly took some time. I wrote rather long posts compared to others but that is how I like to write. I also felt there were enough blogs out there with very short posts in order to just have more posts and therefore views. Too much of this is done just to maximize ad revenue. But most readers also seem to like shorter posts. Blogs have become more like a polished magazine that constantly needs new articles. I personally like more in-depth information even if it’s less frequent so that is what I tried to write. Of course if I was truly focused on this being a business instead of a hobby experiment, I would have to tailor my writing to what readers prefer. But then I might not enjoy it as much (it would largely depend on how much readers seem to benefit). Writing a book might be a better fit for my preferences.
In addition to my long, perhaps rambling posts, I didn’t spend much time polishing the content, making it more entertaining, formatting for visual appeal, or adding graphics. That saved me a lot of time but it probably saved me from some readers as well. Plus I only posted about twice a month. Even so, it still took several hours a week which is precious time I could have for other things.
But the biggest downside from starting a blog was unexpected. It’s that I found myself too absorbed in the online FIRE world.
Despite the fact that my main motivation was to help others, I found myself spending too much time reading other blogs. While I enjoy it, and at first I convinced myself that it was beneficial as a type of research, I’m not really learning much that is new so it’s hard to justify the time. It was simply a feel-good addiction to a topic I’m passionate about and a pseudo-social connection with others. Without a strong personal development angle though, I can’t justify the indulgence. I didn’t get where I am by spending a lot of time on entertainment.
The self-reflection driven by my own blogging journey is driving me to disconnect more from the FIRE community so that I can focus on living my life at this point when time is especially precious.
Benefits of Starting a Blog
Despite the negatives described above, I have no regrets, including the time I did spend. Starting a blog has been a great experience. I learned a lot, met a few new and interesting people, and enjoyed the writing as well as engaging more in the FIRE community.
I can certainly see the appeal of doing something like this in a more serious way. It seems like blogging could be a perfect retirement “job” if you were good at it. It would probably take 20-30 hours a week to do it right which I think is about perfect based on my own thoughts for a perfect weekly schedule (leaving enough time for other important things). You have a ton of autonomy as your own boss and you get to be creative. Plus you get engaged in a community online. And you learn a lot. Finally, it has the potential to be a nice supplementary income stream which is nice even if you don’t need the money.
Overall, a blog has all the core elements of autonomy, community, and competence-building that research shows is key for happiness and engagement.
It was great to experience this over the last 16 months. When I have more time available, I’ll certainly consider doing something similar in the future, although I like change so I’ll probably end up doing something a bit different in the future.
To those readers who spent some time here…….THANKS! I truly hope what you read here has helped you out! If you’ve learned something that has helped you become a bit happier, or accelerated your journey to financial independence, then I’m very happy I was able to help.
I also have a final request for those reading. Please consider adding a comment for feedback on this blog. I have enjoyed starting a blog and would consider starting back up again but I would only do it if I was ready to dedicate more serious effort to it. It would be very helpful to hear your feedback on what you liked or didn’t like about the blog. Don’t hold back…..I have very thick skin and I’d much rather have honest feedback than just nice comments.
Did you think my writing was bad (and why exactly)? Was the content not interesting? Any tips for what I could/should have done differently? Again, I’d welcome any feedback and thanks again for spending some time with me here.
To everyone reading, as always,
I wish you the best in your own FI journey.
Perhaps we will cross paths again sometime.