Celebrating a milestone – Latestarterfire is 14 months old

I am crap at celebrating personal milestones.

Birthdays, anniversaries, (blogoversary?) – I am happy to let them slide by, without fanfare. 

Most of the time my friends are the ones who insist on celebrating my birthday. I am more than happy to celebrate others’ milestones, just not my own.

I don’t like being in the lime light and certainly do not want to be the centre of anyone’s attention.

Lately, there have been a rash of celebrations in the personal finance community. Lots of blogs I follow have turned one, two or more and quite a few bloggers celebrated birthdays.

I am conflicted as to whether I too should celebrate these milestones publicly. Aren’t people tired of reading another blog post about a blog turning one? Would non bloggers be interested? Is it self indulgent?

Upon reflection, I decide that I should at least acknowledge that  my blog is past the one year mark – yes we are now 14 months old! 

 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Why did I start a blog?

Here’s the truth … I did not read any blogs before May 2018. Sure, I have looked up the odd recipe online and been directed to someone’s blog.  

In May last year, I discovered FIRE while researching traditional retirement strategies and literally stumbled on the infamous blog post,  The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement by Mr Money Mustache.

I rapidly went down the rabbit hole – from link to link – from blog to blog. When I found an article I liked, I would read previous posts as well. I suppose, much like when I discover a book author I like, I end up reading as much of their work as possible.

But a lot of these folks I read were young, some very young. Their life circumstances did not reflect my own. I am female, in my late forties, single and childless. I have a paid up home, no other debts but oh so anxious about not being able to retire well because I am starting so late.

So, my first ‘why’ of blogging is to add an ‘older’ voice into the mix. I figured if I struggled to find older voices, maybe others did too. Perhaps this is where I can add some value.

My second ‘why’ is that I want to encourage and support other late starters – others who start on the FIRE journey in our 40s and beyond. I have no idea if I can make it to retire earlyish; I certainly haven’t made it yet. We can all trundle along and learn from each other.

My hope was (and still is) that as I write about my struggles and wins along the way, maybe that will encourage one person in their 40s or beyond to take the plunge and take control of their finances. And to know it is never too late to start taking control. 

Now my third ‘why’ is more selfish – I want you to keep me accountable. I know myself pretty well. And was afraid I may quit my FI journey when the going gets tough.

know that the path to FI can be a long hard slog, particularly in the middle when the excitement wears off. When I think the hard decisions have been made, but really even in maintenance mode, I still need to make conscious decisions to spend less or be more mindful about my expenses.

First stage of blogging - Honeymoon

Remember when I said earlier that I didn’t read or follow blogs until May 2018? Three months later, I was writing my own blog. 

Did I know what I was doing?? Absolutely not!

But my ‘whys’ were important enough for me to try. So try I did.

I was so nervous as I clicked “Publish” – and just like that, the blog was born! Days after I turned 47 years old. 

The feeling of elation and achievement! I am technically challenged at the best of times ie not tech savvy at all. So the fact that I set up a website by myself and published a post was an incredible achievement. Especially when I have never ever done anything remotely similar.

I look back fondly on this period – it is bliss not knowing what I don’t know. I was just happy that I pressed Publish once a week. 

 

Second stage of blogging - Overwhelm

The honeymoon period lasted about 3 months. 

It was now November. Christmas was fast approaching. Traditionally it is the busiest period at work. And I knew I had family visiting from overseas soon. Plus all the craziness of preparing for Christmas – the baking, shopping etc.

My blogging is inextricably linked to my FI journey. 

At this time, I had just returned from a holiday in Uluru and was absolutely dreading tracking my expenses. Because I knew it was expensive. I was wrestling with wanting to be frugal and wanting to experience all that Uluru offered. 

Self doubt and impostor syndrome set in. How can I blog about being on the FIRE journey if I can’t even bring myself to record my expenses? After all, I’d written a post earlier, extolling the benefits of tracking my expenses.  

The pressure was just mounting up. I was really time poor and mental exhaustion set in. 

I was not coping with posting once a week on the blog. It takes me ages to write one post – I am not a natural writer. So I reduced it to posting once a fortnight. Kudos to those who can write 3 posts a week!!

Among all this turmoil, it dawns on me that blogging is not as easy as some big bloggers make it out to be. No one was reading my posts. I had no idea how to promote them, let alone find readers or my ‘tribe’.

I was happy (in the honeymoon phase) to just be able to publish.

But now the expectation is that somebody should be reading my posts. Where are all of you?

Enter doyouevenblog – Pete is a lifesaver! I enrolled in his courses and he suggested I join Twitter as that is where the personal finance community lives. He was not wrong! The thriving community there welcomed me. And suddenly I felt I wasn’t so alone on the blogging and FIRE journey.

Third stage of blogging - There is so much I don't know how to do but apparently I must do

As I engage on Twitter, I discover lots and lots of people to follow (and some even follow back!). There is so much awesome content every day from new bloggers and some that I never knew existed. Down the rabbit hole I go again. I can barely keep up. I am not on social media in my personal life so all this is very new to me.

This stage is overwhelming too. I learn there is so much I should be doing – SEO, Pinterest, Facebook groups, attending conferences, guest posting, email lists and so on and so on. So I dabble in some, encounter roadblocks in others and just plain give up on others.

I read of bloggers who do their tasks in batches, who can write a post in two hours and who seem so effortless in reaching out and engaging with their community. 

Me? Not so much. My biggest task is still to produce weekly posts. And attempt to write faster. Besides all the technical stuff I must learn ….

 

Photo by Ryan Wallace on Unsplash

Glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel

This is where I am at now.

I accept that every blogger is different and that just like being on the FIRE journey, we all start from a different place and have different resources, talents and skillsets. Everyone’s milestones occur at different stages of their journey.

What keeps me going is that every now and then, I glimpse a light far away. I am rejuvenated when I receive an email from a reader thanking me for ‘putting myself out there’; another telling me that they resonate with my posts. These emails mean a lot to me – thank you for taking the time to give me feedback, support and encouragement.

And a big thank you to all the curation sites and other blogs that have featured my posts. It is such a thrill when I open an email and see my article featured that day. I appreciate all your support.

Be kind to yourself this Christmas seasonRockstar Finance

Why 40s is the PERFECT time to pursue FIRECamp F.I.R.E. Finance

How I reduce my electricity bill – by installing solar panelsRockstar Finance and Tread Lightly Retire Early

Is being a self confessed foodie compatible with achieving FIRE?Tread Lightly Retire Early

The frugal gene bypassed me – my struggle with frugalityWomen Who Money

 

You can’t enjoy your money if you are deadPersonal Finance Blogs

Working 9.30 to 6 is blissCollecting Wisdom

 

I also wrote a guest post for The $76k Project’s Finance After 40s series – FIREstarting after 40 – Latestarter – thank you for sharing my story. 

And I must thank Michelle from Frugality and Freedom for asking me to be a guest curator for her weekly newsletter, Australian FI Weekly, which showcases 4 Aussie posts and 4 International articles. 

 

What did I learn from blogging?

Blogging is therapeutic. I would never have guessed that this is a benefit of blogging. Or that I would enjoy the process of writing. It is easier to find clarity as I write, mulling over concepts or ideas or problems. 

You can argue that perhaps I should write a journal instead. I do. Sporadically. Not very consistent.

Blogging teaches me discipline. And consistency. And accountability. I have to ‘show up’ and ‘do the work’. Real life does get in the way 🙂 I apologise if I haven’t kept to a posting schedule consistently.

 

Blogging can be lonely. You can feel like you are just typing away and releasing your work into silence. Once again, I am especially grateful to those readers who have commented on posts or emailed me directly; or connected through Twitter and Facebook. Being part of a community is what sustains me. And encourages me to keep going. Thank you for your support.

This brings me to resilience – ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’. Blogging teaches me to be resilient – that there are ups and downs but nothing that you cannot recover from. Tasks that seem insurmountable can be broken down into smaller steps and tackled. 

Blogging’s steep learning curve satisfies my need to learn new things – teaches me that I can figure things out, that I can still learn new skills. Skills I didn’t realise existed. Or that I needed, haha!

Final thoughts

I am not one to set goals. 

I knew my ‘whys’ when I began writing this blog.

But I did not set specific goals of achieving anything in a certain timeframe. I had no idea what was achievable, what metrics to measure and did not want to set myself up to fail. 

Because quite frankly, I have always been afraid to fail.

And finally, blogging teaches me to face this fear – each time I press ‘Publish’, releasing my work into the silence.

 

A heartfelt thank you to all who have supported me in the last 14 months. I appreciate all your comments and feedback - please continue below 🙂 And I'd love to keep in touch - the easiest way is to subscribe to my email list. Love you all!

19 Replies to “Celebrating a milestone – Latestarterfire is 14 months old”

    1. Haha – it’s the classic ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ but jump in anyway and figure it out later. Turning 47 was momentous for me – a lot of anxiety about traditional retirement, discovered FIRE and started a blog.

  1. Congrats on this momentous milestone! I’m glad you are celebrating it and I love your honesty about all the phases of blogging you have been through to get you where you are today. Your blog and point of view resonates with me because I’m a late starter too. But this post in particular is serendipitous because I recently started a blog and I am experiencing all of these things you describe here!

    “My biggest task is still to produce weekly posts. And attempt to write faster. Besides all the technical stuff I must learn ….” YES! Omg the technical stuff is a job in itself! Anyway keep up the great work! I really enjoy your content 🙂

    1. Thank you, Amelia! and Welcome to the blogging world!

      We got this – FIRE and blogging – both as late starters! The technical stuff is ‘figureoutable’ even if it takes a while. I will be following your journey on theusefulroot.com – love what you have written so far.

  2. 1-year blog milestones are definitely to be celebrated in my view as I have seen so many fall by the wayside after the initial 2-3 months of prolific posting of the ‘honeymoon’ phase you mention, many just disappearing into the ether, never to be heard of again.

    So, congratulations on your 14-month milestone!

    As a late starter to FIRE myself, we’ve got to keep the flag-flying for older single women! 🙂

  3. Congrats on the milestone! And I am so glad you decided to write this post and share your thoughts! I am still new at blogging and relate so much to many things you said and I recently feel like I entered stage 2. I was trying to post twice a week but skip a week and then did once a week. Oh well… I love to have found you and I look forward to read more of your content!

    1. Thanks so much, Jaimee! Yeah, I’m not very good on the consistency front – hoping to improve in this next 14 months! Keep writing – I love reading your blog too 🙂

  4. Congratulations! I’ve only recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it so much, especially since I’m facing similar issues!

  5. Congrats on this milestone! I’m about 5 months behind you and look forward to also reaching 14 months. 🙂

    I fully agree with every point you’ve made about blogging in this post. It’s a rollercoaster ride of a journey, isn’t it? And I’m glad I’m not alone in my feelings of overwhelm and frustrations with technical issues!

    I’ve enjoyed following your story so far and look forward to at least another 14 months of Late Starter FIRE!

    1. Thanks very much for your support, Chrissy! You will definitely reach 14 months, no worries. Loving all that you are doing on the blog and podcast 🙂

  6. Loved reading your honest description of becoming a blogger. You’ve come so far and should be really proud of your achievements.

    I can really relate to going through stages of honeymooning and overwhelm! This sentence particularly hit home for me – “No one was reading my posts. I had no idea how to promote them, let alone find readers or my ‘tribe’ “.

    Your post gives me hope that I can get out of the overwhelm stage too :). Do you mind if I asked how you did this? Was there any particular thing that really helped? Would love any advice at all.

    1. Hi Jordan! Blogging is definitely a roller coaster ride for me. Some months I cruise along then when I think I’m getting somewhere, a worldwide pandemic hits and I have no time to devote to the blog and I’m back to square one 🙂

      I take the view of it being a really long game and to go with the flow – it decreases the stress then.

      The best thing I did though was to join Online Impact (was Blogger U) – run by Pete McPherson of Do you even blog fame – https://www.doyouevenblog.com – I found a community who could help me with technical issues as they come up (I am not tech savvy at all) and are supportive and encouraging while I was struggling.

      Hang in there! And reach out if you need support 🙂

  7. I haven’t joined twitter for my blog yet – I dunno, going around posting my blog on twitter is just too self-promotey for me! Even commenting in the Facebook group the first time made me feel strange!
    Certainly agree with you about how blogging is therapeutic. I actually do journal as well – I journal more than I blog, actually. But the blogging, in my head, is about accountability in my journey – publishing it online where anyone can read it, rather than writing things down in my journal, keeps me motivated not to cheat myself!

    1. Being on Twitter is time consuming. I am uncomfortable about self promoting too but if my ultimate goal is to connect with others on the same path then they have to know I exist.

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