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I’ve talked a lot over the years with family and friends about what I wish we’d been taught in school; it perplexed me that as young adults we weren’t taught how to do our taxes or create a budget, but we all knew that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Earlier this year I was tossing around ideas with my sister, who had been encouraging me for some time to start writing & sharing my experiences with financial literacy; I’d coached her and our youngest sister through their student loans, helped them budget, and advised them on what to ask for when job hunting. In our talks, we discussed how it seemed like the common sense financial basics were simply missing from our education; and just like that, Common Cents was born.
In February I started writing content and officially launched a few weeks later; I revamped my entire site and went self-hosted in April, and it’s been a whirlwind of activity and support ever since. To celebrate the first 6 months of this journey, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned so far, and how blogging about common sense money management has changed me in ways I never expected.
I’m Held Accountable
While I’ve always been an advocate for leading by example, blogging about my financial education has forced me to be incredibly honest about my goals and whether or not I’m actually hitting them. Having readers means that I’m being evaluated to some extent on how well I can follow my own advice; if I’m telling you not to blow your tax refund on a jet ski, then I’d better not be caught riding one!
All joking aside, having this level of accountability has kept me on track like nothing else; knowing that I not only have to answer to myself but to all of you has made me far more diligent in sticking to my budget and working towards my goals. I definitely wasn’t prepared for this side effect of blogging, but it’s been an incredible reminder to stay true to my values and my aspirations.
I’m More Conscious of My Words (& My Actions)
In keeping with the theme of accountability, blogging has made me so much more conscious of choosing my words wisely, and I don’t just mean that in regards to writing. Yes, putting my words in black and white on the internet for eternity is a daunting fear to overcome, but it’s had the unexpected impact of making me far more aware of what I’m putting out into the world.
I find myself questioning whether what I’m saying is going to have a positive impact or a negative response; am I putting words of encouragement out there, or is my tone one of judgement? Whether it’s a new blog post or how I’m represented on social media, I find myself thinking through the cause & effect of my words & actions, and I’m loving this added layer of self-reflection in other areas of my life.
I’m Thinking 10 Steps Ahead
Blogging has also had the unexpected side effect of forcing me to think ahead; even while writing this post I’m thinking about what images might pair well with it, how to present it on social media, and how cool it would be to do another check-in post at the one year mark. I’m constantly evaluating what I want my blog to look like in a month, a quarter, a year, and long term; having these new goals in mind has trickled into other areas of my life, and I’m pleasantly surprised at the results.
Since blogging can be time consuming, making it a priority means planning ahead. Writing content beforehand, scheduling posts out, and setting time aside to work on it means that I’m thinking further down the road. It’s forced me to consider my other goals to see how Common Cents ties in, and to start looking into the future if I want to balance my time and energy well. Thinking about what I want long-term from my blog has meant looking at what I want from my career, my family life, my free time, and it’s got me more excited than ever for what the future has in store.
I’m More Confident
With each passing day since I’ve started my blog, I feel like I’m finally coming into my own, both as a writer and as a person; with each post I feel more sure of my voice, and my ability to break down complex ideas into simpler and more palatable terms. If you had asked me a year ago, I never would have considered myself “tech savvy”, but every day I learn something new and I’ve never felt more capable & proficient.
Overcoming the fear of failure and diving into the unknown has made me more confident, more sure of who I am, and more determined than ever to share my message. Before starting Common Cents I had helped a number of people with their finances on an individual basis, but I didn’t know if what I had to say would resonate with a wider audience. The response has been overwhelmingly positive; the support and encouragement I’ve received from close friends to total strangers is nothing short of astonishing.
I’m More Organized Than Ever
Running a blog requires a level of organization I’ve never experienced before, and it’s been one of the biggest challenges and benefits to this entire journey. I’ve always considered myself an organized person by nature, making lists and checking things off, but blogging has literally redefined “organization” for me. Between tracking the slough of logins and passwords, improving analytics, posting to social media, and writing content on a regular basis, I’ve had to establish new standards for what is really a priority, and it’s had positive impacts in other areas of my life.
Finding that balance between career, blog, family life and free time has been tricky, but it’s forced me to reflect on my priorities and where my time is best spent. As a new blogger you constantly wonder if you’re doing enough to promote your content or whether you’re spending enough time on social media, but the reality is that there are only so many hours in a day. Accepting that fact and finding the right balance is critical, and I’ve inadvertently become a professional multi-tasker and master of prioritization along the way!
The most surprising aspect of my blogging journey thus far has been the intrinsic sense of community and the unfailing kindness of strangers. It’s been beyond humbling to join the ranks of some incredibly talented bloggers, and even more astounding to find that they’ll answer your questions, give advice, and share their knowledge. To find that a group of busy, successful people wants to share their secrets and warn you of their failures is a great reminder that there are good people out there that are ready and willing to help.
I’m exceedingly proud to have started something from nothing, and love watching it grow and flourish with my hard work, but I’m constantly reminded how much I still have to learn. I’m inspired watching other bloggers succeed and am in awe of the talent that abounds in this community; seeing others turn their passion into their livelihood motivates me to work that much harder and to reach for more.
Six months in and there’s no slowing down now; thank you to all of you who are reading this, I wouldn’t be here without you!