The Best and Worst Parts of My Second Year Blogging About Money

Well pals, it’s that time of year: the anniversary of my totally half-baked idea to start writing about money on the internet. Last year, I did a roundup post of the year – what worked, what didn’t, what was stressful and what was oh-so-fun. While I’m not about to replicate the same format entirely, I do want to use this anniversary as a chance to look back on the year, because holy heck a lot of things went down.

This post is going to be a lot less “financial advice” and a lot more “here’s what I did with money and blogging, just FYI” so like… manage your tabs accordingly.

First up, what did you like most?

Based solely on my Google Analytics – aka any blogger’s best friend / harshest critic – here’s what you guys loved reading this year by number of pageviews alone.

  1. Three Things You’ll Hear if You Wear The Same Thing Every Day (still doin’ it, still lovin’ it)
  2. How Much Does it Cost To Have a Dog Per Month? (gotta update this with additional data!)
  3. The Real Truth About How I Save Half My Income
  4. How to Save a Five-Figure Down-Payment (And What to Do After That)
  5. A DIY Plan to Manage Your Money Like a Pro (Even If You’re “Not” One)

Since I’m not here to give you guys a deep dive into my blog stats (dullsville) let’s get to the juicy stuff – what went really well, and what was a… uh… “learning experience.”

The best things that happened this year

I attended my very first CPFC in Toronto

Honestly, this is hands-down a highlight of the year, as I’m sure Fincon will be this coming year. Getting together in person with your nerdy internet friends is underrated as heck, no matter how much people rave about it – and did I ever rave about it, as you can see in my recap post here.

A lot of blogging happens solo, or in an office with a dog at your feet at best, so getting to meet people in person was huge, and hugely encouraging. Plus, I benefitted from the best roommate ever, and we’re getting the gang back together for Fincon – plus our friend Kate from Goodnight Debt, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I joined a mastermind group

If you’ve ever heard of mastermind groups, they are as underrated as conferences, and I owe mine entirely to Andrew from Family Money Plan. He pulled Alyssa and I into a monthly-ish mastermind group where we talk everything from freelancing to affiliates to email marketing to Pinterest, and the support we all get as we make our way through the ups and downs of blogging has been amazing.

Andrew, you have been one of the biggest supporters of me and this blog this year, and I so value our friendship. I probably don’t say it enough, but thank you so much for everything!

I (we) bought a house

After all my talk of saving up a down payment, and how to buy your first home, I actually did it! I’d be a horrible personal finance blogger if I didn’t mention that I did it with a partner, which made it a hundred times easier (and about two times easier from a purely numerical standpoint) but still – we did it! We are the proud owners of a suburban monstrosity our dream house in our dream neighbourhood.

Which is attainable in Ottawa, especially when you have deeply suburban tastes.

I scaled my freelancing income

Well, scaled might be the wrong word… but it got bigger, and I took on more clients and more projects! As I’ve talked about multiple times before, adding an extra income stream or three has been a huge boost to my financial situation, and is something that I recommend considering if you’re staring down lofty financial goals and a not-so-lofty paycheque.

But… more on that later, because it was not all sunshine and rainbows.

I launched the Quick Budget Fix

Back to definitely-was-sunshine-and-rainbows, though! This year, I launched the Quick Budget Fix budgeting course to the first round of students, and it was so much fun. I’ve always taken a slightly different approach to building out my own money plans – goals first! – and I loved working through that process with the 50+ people who took the first round of the course.

I’m so happy to have helped, and connected with all of you as students, and I can’t wait to run another round of the course!

The hard things that happened this year

I (we) sold a house

I know my experience isn’t universal, but buying a house was so much fun and selling a house was so stressful I thought I was going to lose my mind. The amount of attention to detail you need when staging a house – at least to do it well – is staggering, and every time we thought it was as perfect as it could possibly look was horribly defeating when it turned out we had even more things to fix and paint and tweak.

The worst part is, we had it pretty easy. We had tons of family help, a hugely supportive realtor, a place to stay fo’ free while the house was being shown (again, thanks family!) and it sold in under three weeks.

I cannot even imagine what we would have done if it had lasted months on the market, but even with our free pass on so many hassles, it was one of the most stressful periods we’ve ever been through as a couple. Of all the arguments for buying a house and staying put, the “selling a house is literally the worst thing in the world” argument doesn’t get trotted out enough.

I burnt out a bit (and am slowly finding my way back)

I took a two-week vacation when we moved into our new place, and as I’ve said jokingly a lot recently, that vacation broke me. It turns out – surprise! – I enjoy leisure time, which is something you don’t get a lot of when you’re constantly stressed about deadlines and deliverables during the time you should be relaxing from the deadlines and deliverables at your full time job.

So I scaled back this summer. Way back. Instead of taking on additional projects and new work, I tried out this whole saying-no thing, and it was good. It meant that instead of trying to crank out six to ten articles a week (more accurately, a weekend) I have been taking the time to decompress, crank out six to ten reruns of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, and spend time doing things like cooking.

It also meant that sometimes, I was so relaxed that I slipped on a few of our Saturday email newsletter hangouts, and I’m truly sorry to have missed them – and it also means I’ve been hella delayed on my email inbox, and I am working on getting back up to speed there too. If you’ve been waiting on a reply, it’s coming!

And if you’re a student who went through the Quick Budget Fix, you might remember I was going to relaunch it in September with totally updated content and videos and… that plan was a victim of burnout. It’ll likely launch on a delayed timeline of January for the next round of students (and if you were already a student, you’ll get free access to the next round and any new bonuses, as promised!)

What’s happening next?

Over the next few months, I’m really looking forward to diving into a few topics that I haven’t yet talked about much on the blog.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been toying with the idea of eating a much more plant-based diet. I say much more, not entirely, because I’m taking the 80/20 approach to it. Eighty percent of my meals are directly in my control, and for those, I’d like to eat entirely plant-based, because those are so flippin’ easy to handle. The other twenty percent of my meals are things like family dinners, potlucks, holidays and the like, and they require a significantly higher degree of commitment to go fully plant-based – and I’m not at the point where I want to take it that far. Regardless, I know we’ll see a big impact on our monthly food budget, because uh hi, tofu for a week’s worth of lunches costs literally $1.97. Canadian.

We’ve basically got our entire wedding planned already. And yes, of course I’m going to get into the nitty gritty of the financials eventually, but I also want to talk about how the process of budgeting and managing our money has made the entire thing about a zillion times easier from a mindset perspective. When you’re already used to evaluating purchases based on how much you care about them, and discussing when those value-based decisions differ, everything gets a whole lot easier when it comes to weddings.

The Fiance and I are sharing more of our finances than ever. And when I sat down to list out all of the “steps” we took to get to this place, it was comical. The process of setting up a joint account, a joint budget and joint savings goals felt pretty painless, which makes sense in retrospect, because we took so many baby steps along the way to get to this point, which is something I greatly want to share. (But now that so many of my financial decisions are joint, sharing in a way that respects that they’re not just mine anymore is something I also want to balance.)

What can I do for you?

My consistently-favourite part of blogging – and what gets me through the omg-why-did-I-commit-to-so-much moments – is helping you guys out with your finances in a way that doesn’t end with me selling you a 2.7% MER mutual fund or totally inappropriate life insurance.

That’s why, instead of doing a once-a-year survey of how I can help, I keep the Half Banked reader survey open allllll year round. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s a survey that helps me figure out how to create stuff that actually helps you (instead of just random rambling abut money, which you know, is what would happen if I never heard from you guys! I’d be the crazy millennial cheers-ing people about drinking their lattes with zero context on the internet, which is not a good look.)

If you have heard of it, but want to get new topics and concerns on my radar? This is how to let me know, and I’d love to hear from you even if you’ve already filled it out!

Lastly, as always, thank you

I (probably?) wouldn’t keep writing if you guys weren’t here reading, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you for what has been another amazing year of running this little money nerdery on the internet. Answering questions about TFSAs is pretty much my favourite hobby, and I’m so grateful I get to talk about that and so much more with you, friends.

…And this is where I was going to close out with a dog gif, but I fell down an internet hole and couldn’t choose just one. Next year, I promise you my third anniversary post will be built around a series of dog gifs to make up for this travesty.