Hey friends! I have another awesome dear debt letter from my friend at Even Steven Money. I have to admit you guys are rocking my socks off lately — I completely fell in love with this letter. My whole blog is about our relationship(s) to debt and this letter just took it to a new level. Enjoy!

Dear Debt,

I have welcomed you into my home for the last 14 years. I have had many members of your family come to visit and in some cases even stay a long time. It all started with your friendly brother, student loans, he told me he would only be around for a couple years. He even said that I needed him, if I wanted to go to school, graduate and become a major success. 14 years later he is still staying at my house. He takes money from me every month in the form of payments; these include principal aka the promise to leave, and interest, aka the promise to make my working days last 12,000 days.

That is just the beginning; I met your sister Credit Cards shortly after letting student loans enter my home. I dated your sister and to me she is one of the worst people I have ever met, some people say there are good ones out there if you find the right one, but I have been damaged and beaten down by her, I don’t think I will ever find the right one. It did not help that I didn’t know how to treat a woman so early in my financial life, but she made things painful. She charged me a high interest rate, fees, and told me I had to pay at a certain time otherwise the interest rate and fees would go even higher. It was like when I would pick her up one minute late, she would make me feel guilty the whole time we were together and it would cost me.

You must have a lot of sisters because this is not first or the last one I have ever met. Sometimes they are nicer, offering you low interest rates, but they are all the same eventually they go back to the high interest rates and fees because they have you locked in, they know nobody wants your sorry minimum payment of a relationship or maybe it is everyone wants your minimum payment relationship, but they don’t really care about you. I quit them all together a couple years ago; I was through jumping from girlfriend to girlfriend of credit cards. I held on to one and gave her extra money to go away. Finally it worked your sister(s) left for good. Despite others saying how attractive she is I refuse to date her, I found what I like to think is my new girlfriend, Cash. We have been getting along great and she doesn’t expect things from me, she’s not secretive and manipulative, she’s honest and I can see myself with her for a long time.

During my time with your sister, credit cards, I also came across your Uncle, the car loan. I didn’t see him until I was out of college, but man is he a talker. He saw that I needed a car and had no problem showing me the most expensive car I could afford, a nice Mercedes Benz. He didn’t even care I wasn’t making much money; he just wanted to stay at my house with his expensive car loan. He told me things to get me on board: you worked hard throughout college, you have been in the same car since high school, you have a real job now, get the car loan, that’s what everyone does. The good news about your Uncle is he did not stay long, I was able to sell the expensive car he talked me into getting and thinking I deserved and I kicked him out, but not before hurting me with car maintenance, gas, insurance, expensive monthly payments, loss of car value that I had to pay, and to make matters worse I used your sister to pay for all of these except the last one because I didn’t have any Cash. I have not had your Uncle in my home in over 4 years and not having your Uncle, made getting rid of your sister that much easier, funny how that works.

The last family member that is currently staying at my house is your child, the mortgage. They say having a kid is a great thing, that kids are the good kind of debt. I’m not sure I agree. When you already have a whole family living of debt staying in your house it makes caring for your child that much harder. Your child is going to grow up with us for 30 years is what they told me, assuming I make all the payments on time. The good news is I will not be raising your child for you; I am making extra payments on my own and even have come to an agreement with a couple other families to help pay off this debt, only then can this child go out into the world on his own. If I have your child stay in our house for 30 years I’m not going to be able to make all of the choices I want, I want freedom; I want to be able to live a debt free life. I’m sorry debt that’s just the way it is.

I’ve made a plan to kick out your friendly brother, student loans in April 2015, he’s just annoying. He won’t go away, he’s not hurting me financially, but I don’t want him living in my home anymore. I have 2 of your children staying at our home, but I don’t plan on them staying long. One will be gone in December 2016 and the other in July 2020. That’s the day the home is really mine, the day I can kiss your family goodbye. The day I can declare financial independence  and I don’t plan on ever asking or inviting your family to come visit again. I don’t care if you write letters or send emails, advertise on my favorite website, or talk to me when I’m going to grab some Cash; the answer is a loud NO! Our time is soon to be over, I may have had some fun with your family, but it was short-lived. The foolish thought that you would help me was my own fault, I should have known better. I’m sick of taking care of your family like it is one of my own. I’m ready to never see you again, it might not be tomorrow but I have plans to kick them out forever.  Debt I’m going to share my story with others so they know about how terrible your family is and how they are using almost everyone out there to drag them down, I hope they will read this and realize Debt, your family is the worst.

Gone Forever July 2020,

Even Steven Money

This post is in: dear debt letter

Ignorance is such a seductive state of mind, because it allows us to think that everything is ok with the status quo.

It convinces us that we are doing just fine and gives us permission to turn a blind eye to some of the harder truths in life.

Sometimes you are ignorant of things because of someone else – they withheld details or information from you.

But most of them time, ignorance comes from our own doing. We stop asking questions, we stop caring about outcomes, we stop doing the research, or asking for more information.

And that is what keeps us ignorant – a lack of knowing on our part, driven by inaction.

Read more at VOSA.com

This post is in: debt, life

Have you ever had one of those moments where you were just paralyzed with fear? Those moments of self-doubt, where you question everything and feel like a complete loser in the purest sense of the word?

That was me two weeks ago. The Financial Bloggers Conference (FinCon) was approaching, and I felt stuck and scared. With the impending event right around the corner, I started to freak out. I started to feel like I wasn’t good enough, not experienced enough, and that I was just a fake-ass phony.

Even though I had quit my job two months earlier, I didn’t have to go through the requisite, and sometimes awkward, “What do you do?” chat with anyone in real life.

This would be the first time that I’d be faced with people, 600 of them to be exact, and I’d have to confidently respond and discuss what I actually do.

I’d have to accept the fact that this is the real deal, not some game that I play on nights and weekends anymore, or use as something to do in my free time (and there is nothing wrong if you choose to do that, by the way).

It was a bad case of feeling like an imposter — like a complete and utter fake-ass phony. How could I get over this?

My friend Brittany said it best when she recently told me, “When you are confident, it’s like you can accomplish anything in the world, but when you are low, you have this crippling self-doubt.”

It’s true. When I start to feel that fear, I start to doubt everything. I start to doubt my talent, my path in life, my decisions, and everything that comes along with it. My normal extroverted self turns into a wannabe hermit. I want to hide in a corner and not return to the “real world” until I feel something different.

Luckily, I was able to get over this terrible feeling and rock it at FinCon. Here’s how I was able to overcome feeling like a fake-ass phony:

You are what you say you are

I am a writer. Saying those words is still tough to say, but I am a writer. I get paid to write (holy crap!). As a freelancer, I’ve had to come up with my own job title and have had to come to terms with my new profession. There are no longer any crutches related to a “day job,” and if I want to be taken seriously, I have to own what I do and make it clear to people.

So on my business cards I put “Wordsmith & Idea Maker,” imbuing some creativity into it. When people asked me what I do at FinCon, I would say, “I’m a freelance writer and I blog about breaking up with debt.” Simple and to the point. I have realized that if I don’t take myself seriously, then no one else will either. In the end, you are what you say you are — and your actions back that up.

Be uniquely you

Everyone is unique in their own special way. We all have idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. In order to stand out and not feel like a fake-ass phony, you need to embrace all that is you — even if you are scared, even if you are vulnerable, even if you think it will offend someone. Embrace your wild side, your weird side, and don’t be ashamed of it.

While at FinCon, I let loose and sang my heart out and danced all over town. I’m sure it was a different side of me than what people expected, but that’s who I really am. I also like to speak in strange voices and fake laughs. What can I say, I am an only child with a wild imagination.

It’s easy to be shy and revert into your shell when meeting people. But if you are confident in who you are and let your real self shine through, you will stand out. When you are your authentic self, you feel at home, and you get to avoid those slimy, insecure feelings that you are a complete fake.

Get comfortable with discomfort

If you are constantly feeling like an imposter, it’s likely you are outside of your comfort zone and feel like you don’t belong. The good thing is that the more you get out of your comfort zone, the more it stretches and becomes more normal. Strive to feel uncomfortable. Push yourself. Try something new. You’ll start to feel more confident and more secure as time goes on.

Practice

If you’re feeling like a phony, start practicing and preparing for events. This means talking to yourself in the mirror, repeating mantras during meditation, writing positive notes on your hands, etc. With a little practice, you’ll start to feel more confident and less like a phony.

Realize that most people feel the same way; they just present themselves better

I would venture to say most people feel like a fake-ass phony at various times. It’s like we are all scared we are going to get found out and uncovered as a fraud. So, what is the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people in this regard? I would say confidence and presentation.

People make so many judgements about you in a millisecond depending on your clothes, your posture, how you look, and how you talk. Start faking it until you make it, and think about how your ideal version of yourself talks, walks, dresses, and approaches other people. If you are feeling stumped, think about people around you that inspire you. What is it that makes them so charismatic?

Once you realize how you want to present yourself, you can be confident and own any room.

The bottom line

It’s normal to feel scared, nervous, insecure, and like a complete phony from time to time. But it can’t be a lifestyle. To be successful, you need to get out of your comfort zone and really own the situation in order to get the outcomes you want. That means that instead of saying, “I’m just a personal finance blogger,” you say something more definitive: “I’m a personal finance writer.”

It’s all about presentation. Consider people who are successful, compared to the many talented folk who never rise to the top. It’s all about marketing. Marketing is a fancy word for presentation.

And the most important thing to overcome feeling like a fake-ass phony? Not giving a shit what other people think. This is still my hardest lesson to learn as I am neurotic and want people to like me (doesn’t everyone?). But you are wasting your precious energy if you care too much about what others think.

You do you. And forget the rest.

This post is in: career, life

Hey Debt Fighters. As you know there are many different types of debt. One such type of debt comes from installment loans. It seems simple to pay back installment loans, but some consumers are confused with the process. The information here will help you understand your options when making scheduled payments. Before getting into the repayment process, here is a bit of advice on accepting the loan and its terms. Make sure that you are able to make the payments as they are noted in the agreement. Also be sure to read the terms and conditions of the loan carefully for hidden fees.

What is an Installment Loan?

Installment loans are an extension of money based upon your need, income and credit rating. These loans are mainly secured for business purposes, mortgages and car loans. Installment loans are paid in monthly increments including interest over a specific period of time. Some lenders offer multiple repayment plans to better assist their clients with repaying the loan in full.

Frequency of Payments

The repayment terms are broken up into a specific number of payments. The payments are typically on a monthly basis. Some can be broken up into semi-annual payments if the loan amount is not significant. Keep in mind that you will need to set reminders for when your payments are due to prevent the inclusion of late fees or administrative fees that lenders can impose. This causes the next payment to be slightly higher due to the additional fees. Late fees and administrative costs do vary depending on the lender.

Scheduled Automatic Payment

The easiest method of repaying an installment loan is to set-up automatic payments. This will automatically debit your checking account on a specific day each month. This is a convenient option and prevents you from ever missing a payment.

It does become inconvenient, however, when you are faced with a financial crisis and are unable to make the payments. It is ideal to contact the creditor to stop the automatic payments and begin receiving actual statements from this point forward.

Individual Payment with Received Statements

You can opt-out of automatic payments with an installment loan. This will direct the lender to send statements either via email or by regular mail each month. You’ll have a due date on the bill and it will show the payment amount. It is ideal to make this payment ahead of time and pay a little more than the requested amount to help pay down the principal faster.

Methods of payment accepted by most lenders:

These are the most common forms of payment and are widely accepted for nearly all lenders.

Given the options listed above, you should be able to obtain a feasible plan of action for repaying your installment loan. Again, it is important to make these payments on time or early as late payments reflect poorly on your credit rating and accrue interest. Always make sure that you select the best option for your financial needs when setting up the repayment of an installment loan.

This post is in: Other

September 25, 2014

Hey party people! Do you know that when I receive a new dear debt letter, my week is made? I know I say it again and again, but you all inspire me so much. Your dear debt letters are so creative and awesome! We have a few dear debt letters in the queue that I’m so jazzed about!

This week, we have one from my girl Erin, who I was able to meet at FinCon last week. She is so talented. More about Erin: Erin is the blogger behind Journey to Saving. She talks about living frugally, paying off her student loans, and budgeting, all with the hope of inspiring other millennials to start their own financial journey. She is a personal finance freelance blogger who enjoys the simple things life has to offer, including her family, friends, and cats.

—–

Dear Debt,

You and I go way back. You wrecked havoc on my childhood. You trapped my parents, baiting them and baiting them, until they succumbed to your embrace.

Constant worried whispers found their way to my ears, and there were times I wondered if we would pull through.

It was all because of you, dear debt. But you probably don’t remember. You hop along from one person to the next, playing each like a fool. Like a plague, you infect millions with your sickness.

After seeing the destruction you wrought back then, how you entered and left our lives without so much as a care, I vowed I would stay away from you.

I decided to turn the tables and use you for something practical: my education. I figured that getting a degree out of you would be better than falling prey to buying things I couldn’t afford.

Of course, you had to prove me wrong. I hear you laughing, mocking me every time I think of what could have been. You hang over me like a storm cloud. Whenever I think better days are near, the rumble of thunder reminds me that you still linger here.

But once I’ve paid my dues, I will no longer have any use for you. After all, it is you who used me, isn’t it? I was just a pawn in your game.

Well, even though you gave it your best shot, I’m not one to stand down and admit defeat. You’ve been a thorn in my side for years, but you’ve also given me a gift. I bet you didn’t plan for that, did you? You’re all about taking and never giving back, but I managed to get something out of you.

Because of you, dear debt, I now know what I am capable of, and I know you won’t get the best of me. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today had you not infiltrated my life so many years ago. And for that, I thank you, because I am stronger. And that strength will serve me well in persevering the storms you bring.

I’m looking forward to sunny days, debt; days where you don’t cloud my skies. In the meantime, I’ll be busy telling others how they can live without you, and helping to cure the disease you’ve given them.

Erin

This post is in: dear debt letter

September 24, 2014

One of my main goals this year was to go to FinCon. I wasn’t sure how I would get there, but I was determined. A few months later, I felt doubtful and confused and wrote the post, Should Debt Bloggers Go to FinCon?

If my message is to get out of debt, how could I justify it?

Well, two things happened that made FinCon absolutely worth it for me:

  1. I started freelancing more, and eventually quit my job. FinCon would be a networking dream.
  2. I got a unique opportunity to partner with a company and host a special event (more on that later).

So let’s give you a rundown on everything that happened:

Tuesday:

I flew into New Orleans and it’s balmy and grey. It felt like a humid Portland, at least weather wise. I checked into the hotel and sighed with relief.

I made it, I thought.

Knowing that my online pal Shannon had already arrived, I texted her so we could explore the town.

We hit it off instantly! The one nerve-wracking thing about meeting people in person is, what if you just don’t click? I have to say that didn’t happen at all with anyone, but Shannon and I were like insta BFFs. We went to a dive bar called Sneaky Pete’s and were talking and catching up. We strolled through Bourbon street and got a greasy, yet delicious slice of pizza. While we there we were totally suckered into getting a large daiquiri and jello shots (don’t judge).

After that, we saw some live music, and hung out with PT and the gang for a pre-camp party.

Bedtime: 1:30am

Wednesday:

I woke up bright and early because I wanted to get my hands on those hot little beignets at Café Du Monde, before FinCon camp started. The walk was nice – I got to see the old streets and cultural influences of New Orleans. I had some delicious beignets and a café au lait.

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Honestly, a city hasn’t pierced my heart as much as New Orleans since New York. I just loved it there and you can really feel the heart and soul of the city.

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I got back to the hotel and we started camp! Camp was great because I could get to know a small group of 75 people, before the other 500 people showed up on Thursday. There was a great session on writing, SEO, and making money.

But let’s be real. My absolute favorite part of the first day was the karaoke party! I told you all that I LOVE karaoke.

I sang 4 songs and sung my little heart out. What did I sing?

The Nearness of You by Norah Jones

Just a Girl by No Doubt

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Night

Tom Drake from Canadian Finance Blog told me that it was like watching a play when I performed Bohemian Rhapsody. Best compliment ever! Tom, who was the KJ, asked me to sing another song as it was slow, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I had exhausted all my “go-to” songs. Then I decided on Midnight Train to Georgia. Holy whoa was that fun! I got really into it and I think I found my new song.

Then we all headed back to the hotel to party some more. At this point, I’m realizing that personal finance bloggers are not nerds, but intense partiers in disguise. Or at least that’s what being in NOLA and being at FinCon will do to you.

Bedtime: 2am

Thursday:

Finished up camp and was interviewed by the ReadyForZero team for their podcast, which was so freakin’ awesome. I love them! Then went on a brewery/cocktail tour! My favorite was the Carousel bar, which was so darn classy and lovely. I also got to meet Michelle from The Shop My Closet Project, Erin from Broke Millennial, Stefanie from the The Broke and Beautiful Life and Cat from Budget Blonde and so many others (including J. Money heyyyyy). It was so awesome to meet everyone in person.

That night we went to Ignite, but it was so loud that I could barely hear. I cut out early and then had some fun conversation with JD and Shannon in the lobby.

Bedtime: 1:30am

Friday:

I was magically able to wake up in time for the keynote speech by Jeff Goins. And I’m so glad I did! He talked about doing the work of a dream and building a bridge between where we are now and where we want to go. It’s easy to reach a goal and stop dreaming, but we have to let our dreams evolve. Jeff was magical and was officially my first FinCon crush.

I then got my network on at the Freelancer’s Marketplace, and went to a session about the Power of Stories and How to Create a Thriving Community.

One of the main quotes that stuck out for me was from JD Roth, “Everything is in service of the reader.”

I want to make Dear Debt a great place for you, the readers. So please let me know if you have any feedback. I got some great feedback from the survey a while back, but I’m open any time to chat.

After the sessions, I got to meet the whole Careful Cents team, including Kali, Cat, and Erin! It was a great time to connect — I simply adore these ladies.

Then I got all gussied up to host a very special dinner! In partnership with Perfect Circle® Jewelry Insurance by Jewelers Mutual I co-hosted a dinner with Tonya from My Fab Finance and Farnoosh Torabi! We invited some of my favorite bloggers and had a blast.

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We started off taking a trolley tour of New Orleans, which I am eternally grateful for. I hardly left the hotel at that point, so it was nice to see parts of the city I wouldn’t otherwise see. This is where my heart started to swell again, just falling deeper in love with New Orleans.

After the tour, we arrived at NOLA, i.e. Emeril Lagasse’s awesome restaurant. BAM! It was amazingly delicious. Farnoosh shared her top tips for financial wellness, including protecting the things we don’t often think of, like jewelry.

This dinner was the absolute highlight of my trip. We had planned for months to make it an awesome experience for everyone involved and I think it was great. I got to have a nice dinner with some of my favorite old and new friends AND got to meet one of my inspirations, Farnoosh Torabi. In case you don’t know, she was the keynote speaker and also is the author of When She Makes More, a book about being a female breadwinner. I’m so excited to read the book, as I am also a female breadwinner.

After the dinner, I was spent. I went for a short walk and caught up with some other bloggers for yet another trip to Café du Monde. I then went to bed “early” as I knew Saturday, the last night would be crazy.

Bedtime: 1am

Saturday:

I attended the Freelancer’s session A Better Way To Work, and also the How to Make Editors Fall in Love with Your Work. My girl Carrie did an amazing job at the first session! The second session with the editors was so invaluable for me.

I then went to sessions about an Auto Responder Sequence (email marketing) as I really need to kick it into gear and get started with an email list, which was followed by LaTisha’s talk on how to supercharge your brand with video. Video is something I’m curious about integrating into my work – mostly so you all can experience for yourself just how silly I can be.

Then it was time for the Plutus Awards! I sadly didn’t win Best Debt Blog, but I was happy to be nominated. I was so happy that my friends Laurie and Cat did win though!

Right after the awards, I had dinner with the awesome folks from PenFed. They are such a great, awesome group of people and have a ton of great promotions going on. We had a delectable meal and some yummy drinks.

After the dinner, we headed to the final party on Bourbon street. I arrived and my senses were overloaded. It was straight up club status in there. Like people dancing on stage, drinks everywhere, and people having a REAL GOOD TIME.

After getting oriented to my now high-energy environment, I got a drink and got down with my bad self. I had so much fun dancing! Like, too much fun.

Seriously, if you could see that party…but what happens in New Orleans, stays in New Orleans. But damn it was a good time.

Bedtime: 4am

Sunday:

I set my alarm for 10am thinking 6 hours would be “sleeping in” at this point, but somehow I woke right up at 8am. Ugh. My legs were so sore and my voice was hoarse. I hung out with some cool bloggers in the lobby for a while, then decided I needed some me time. As extroverted as I am, I just needed some time to chill, so I walked to the French Market and just walked around, which is one of my favorite things to do in any new city. I had lunch by myself, and then caught up with Shannon yet again for a last day adventure.

She let me know that the Palace Café had bananas foster beignets. I had mentioned the whole week that I really wanted bananas foster. So I met her there and ordered them. Then we realized that they actually had the REAL bananas foster, so we ordered that too. Shannon, as baller as she is, wanted to celebrate our newfound friendship and awesomeness, so we got some champagne.

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After a few hours, we had to head back to the airport, so we got our to-go cups and took the rest of the champagne (New Orleans has an open container policy where you can drink on the street!!). We booked a shuttle, which was over 30 minutes late, so ended up taking a taxi instead. Luckily, the shuttle is refunding my money.

Then I slept on both flights. I kept waking up though, excited and full of ideas.

Now I’m back and so re-energized and happy! Meeting everyone in person and solidifying these online relationships was 100% worth everything to me. I learned a lot, got out of my comfort zone, partied, made new friends, and connected with old ones.

I can’t believe my first FinCon was this awesome; a dream come true, really.

I loved it so much, I bought my early bird ticket for next year.

I found my family – a bunch of money loving nerds who DEFINITELY know how to party.

See you next year?

This post is in: FinCon

September 23, 2014

Dear Debt,

It’s been so long since we last spoke.

We’ve been on quite a journey, huh?

We met as a teenager at the ripe old age of 17. You were so alluring with your promises, telling me all my dreams would come true. I never doubted you, not even once.

But then troubled times hit. You started to drain me emotionally and financially. I lost myself in you and didn’t know who I was without you. As much as I tried to fight it, you consumed every fiber of my being.

I was tired of fighting. I was tired of being defined by you. I wanted to take back me.

So I started talking about you to all my friends. I started writing about your conniving ways. I shared my struggles, my dreams, and my hopes of overcoming you with the world.

By opening myself up to others and not living in the persecution of my head, or in the shadow of your image, I started to connect with others. I believed I was more than my debt and that I could overcome you.

That even as dysfunctional as our relationship is, that I could become my own person and remedy the mistakes left in your wake.

And from this, I’ve built a community of people all working against you – a group of friends, mentors, and confidantes that inspire me to do better. Somehow, I’ve even created a career that was born out of struggle.

My pain became my passion. And herein lies the silver lining.

I’ve found a new path. You haven’t changed, but my relationship to you has changed. You no longer have absolute power over me. I’ve taken back my life and I’m happier than ever.

So while I still hate you and everything you represent, I have to thank you for making me stronger, making me work harder, and giving me a different path in life.

Best,

Melanie

This post is in: debt

September 22, 2014

Graduate school can seem like the logical next step for many people wanting to advance their careers and specialize in a specific field. But with the high price of graduate school, it’s important to consider the return on your investment.

For me, I had always dreamed of getting a master’s degree. It seemed so prestigious – a way to stick out from the crowd and learn about wildly philosophical ideas. But my dream school came at a high price, which I gladly paid, because I believed it was worth it at the time. Although I can’t honestly say I completely regret my decision to go to grad school, I have mixed feelings now about my graduate school experience. Even though, I’ve learned a lot from attending graduate school (it’s a learning experience in and of itself) through my own experiences and those of my classmates, I feel I would have been better off trying other things.

Read more at VOSA.com

This post is in: Uncategorized

Hey everyone! I’m at FinCon, so I have a special How My Blog Changed My Life for you. My friend Eric, who I met at the local personal finance blogger meet-up here in Portland, is “kind of a big deal” at FinCon. He runs the Ignite event at FinCon, which happens to be tonight. So whether you are at FinCon or not, meet Eric! He’s a blogging veteran and is so inspiring because he’s turned blogging into many lucrative side hustles.

Find out how Eric’s blog has changed his life…

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1. What was the inspiration for starting your blog?

I started my first blogs in 2006. I found it to be a fun way to connect and share information and thoughts online. Through those sites, I learned all about how blogs work and got a brief insight into how some blogs grow and make a little money. When I was working in a bank in 2007, I found that what I was learning as a bank manager might be useful to lots of people out there, and decided to share it with a new blog. I saw great sites I enjoyed like Poorer Than You and Fabulously Broke and thought to myself, if these girls can do finance blogs, so can I! So I started Narrow Bridge Finance on October 7, 2008. Six years later, I’m still here!

2. What has been the most challenging part of having a blog?

The most challenging part of having a blog is the hard work and many hours required to maintain the site, keep it fresh and up-to-date, and bring new and useful content to my readers every week. The blog has about 900 live posts representing countless hours of writing, a design that took even more time and a bit of money, and products like a book that I created as part of the business.

3. In what ways, direct or indirect, has your life changed because of your blog?

In one way, I got to meet Melanie and write this post! But meeting Melanie is just a small slice of the friendships and opportunities that have come from my site (no offense Melanie, your part is pretty sweet). My blog has led to some of my closest friends around the world that I would never have met otherwise, great experiences and conferences like FinCon (the conference for finance bloggers and the media) and World Domination Summit.

The biggest impact, though, has been the income directly from the blog and from related services that I have begun to offer. I now make about 20% of my income online from Narrow Bridge Finance and my freelance writing, web design, and social media consulting business Narrow Bridge Media.

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4. What have you learned from blogging?

Blogging has taught me so much that I can hardly scratch the surface here, but I’ll do my best. On the most basic level, the blog has dramatically improved my writing, website design, WordPress development, graphic design, and business and project management skills. Beyond that, I have learned about topics as diverse as project outsourcing to workers abroad, online marketing, monetization, networking, building a brand, and kicking ass on the internet.
Being successful online takes a huge amount of work, a wide skill set, and business acumen. I didn’t have all of those when I started with this whole blogging thing, but I can confidently say that I have improved at all of those, along with personal finance, the topic of my blog, as I’ve gone along.

5. What advice would you give to new bloggers who are thinking of starting a blog?

My biggest advice to new bloggers is to seriously consider the effort it takes to maintain a blog before you start and, when you do, treat your blog professionally. A blog is your personal online presence and the work it takes to blog makes it a big part of your life. If you really want to succeed, you can’t do it without really trying. Look at what you like and what works well and what it takes for them to succeed. If you think you’re up to it, follow their lead and see where it can take you. You might be surprised where you end up!
Thank you so much Eric for sharing your insights!

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September 17, 2014

Accomplishing big, larger-than-life goals often comes with a certain amount of sacrifice. Oftentimes if something is too easy, the stakes aren’t big enough. It takes drastic change to really shake things up and reach those unthinkable goals.

Losing weight is one of the biggest examples of a big goal that requires a huge sacrifice. It requires changing your eating habits, pushing your body even harder and making long-term, consistent change.

Read more at VOSA.com

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