Turning Four

The 9th was the 4th birthday of my blog.

I started writing just to keep track of my own plans and thoughts. So I could see how they evolved over time, from month to month and year to year.

Financial planning, like all long-term planning, requires constant tweaking and revision. And after many iterations over months and years, it can be easy to forget where you started; where you were off, and where you were right. And so I wanted a record, a log, to look back on so that my future self could compare notes with my past self.

The blog has been a great success in that arena.

When I started the blog I was just beginning to finish my Bachelor’s degree. I was making 6-figures a year as a utility lineman and spending less than $15k/year. My employer was paying for all my schooling. My plan was to work about 5 to 7 years, finish my degree, pick up an advanced degree, and then retire to a rural cabin with over $400k in investments, plus a place to live.

Then I got laid off in the middle of law school. And only about 1/4 of the way to my $400k goal. Until then I had planned on working another 3 or 4 years or so.

So things were tweaked and adjusted.

Now here I am, 4 years after I started writing, unemployed with $10k-$15k/year in passive income, a so-far-successful budding land-lording business, with some savings sitting around to buy more houses. And one year of law school to go.

I never tried to build up a reader base here. I’ve never asked anyone to link to my site. I didn’t even really realize I had an audience until last winter when a few people started emailing me. The writing was always just for me, and if someone chanced upon it, they were welcome to whatever they wanted to take from it. I opened up comments and took a look at some traffic logs earlier this year. When I saw almost 200 people were visiting my site everyday, I was flabbergasted. I thought maybe there were a half-dozen or so of you following my journey. I didn’t realize I had an audience.

I remember going to write my next couple of posts after I realized people were actually reading my stuff. There was this amusing moment of self-consciousness as I realized I was no longer just writing for myself, but that someone was actually going to read it. Dare I put in this fluffy, extra sentence? Is that joke clear enough? Is this even interesting?

That only lasted a moment though. Then I thought, “Screw them. I write for me. They’re just nosy rubberneckers coming to see what I’ve been up to.”

More than just a log of events, my writing has become a bit of an end in itself. I’ve always enjoyed composing letters and essays. – These posts have been no exception. I enjoy putting my thoughts to words and my words to screen. Putting aside some time for writing a post can be an immense pleasure for me. Sometimes I plan it out ahead of time. – A topic hits me while I’m on the train. I think it through forwards and backwards. A few catchy one-liners might come to mind and make it into my notebook for reference later, lest my wit be forgotten. Then I sit down in a quiet moment and write.

I’ve occasionally thought I might like to expand my writing to broader topics. I’m not sure in which direction though. Whether it be trying to get a column in a magazine, contributing to a group blog, or trying my hand at fiction. But I haven’t thought very seriously on it. In the meanwhile I’ll just keep up with the posting here. I’ll be too busy with school and property-hunting in the next year to dedicate many productive hours to much else anyway.

Thank you to those who have commented or emailed me in the past year. It’s nice to hear the otherwise silent voice from my audience from time to time. And it’s immensely gratifying to hear that my personal story has helped, at least in some way, to convince someone that they too can live as they wish, rather than as others wish they would.

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  1. Shawn
    Posted August 16, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    screw you too! (cant wait for you next post)

  2. Maus
    Posted August 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Good writing is it’s own justification, regardless of audience. But if it’s honest and fresh, people are going to read it with pleasure. And your’s has been. Thanks. Keep scratchin’ the itch. I look forward to welcoming another unambitious lawyer into the fraternity.

  3. Posted August 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I’ve enjoyed reading you blog over the last several months. Particularly your adventures in real estate (just bought a duplex myself).

    My favorite post is the one about wanting to be a draw bridge operator or something, because it would give you lots of time to think and read.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be a park ranger until I found out there was this whole law enforcement aspect. I thought it was all about telling people where the best scenery is.

  4. Ellen R.
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Love the blog – been reading it for a couple of years now.

  5. Pam
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I really relate to a lot of things you are working towards. I’m glad you blog especially because I get the perspective from someone similar in age, life stage, etc. Also, your style feels as if you write to yourself (as was your original intent) so it is very enjoyable to read- almost in a voyeuristic way but without all the creepiness usually associated with that word. I look forward to more posts.