On Tuesday, I wrote a post that outlined the resources that helped me get out of debt – at least in the beginning. There’s one other resource that has been a little more obvious than the rest but, after typing 1,100+ words already, I didn’t really think there was time to get into it. Can you guess what it is?
Of course, it’s this blog.
When I first started writing Blonde on a Budget, I thought I would start a blog and just post either daily or weekly spending reports – for myself, nobody else. I had no idea that the personal finance community even existed, let alone personal finance blogs. Then one day I came across a personal finance blog written by an anonymous girl in Vancouver. Well, wouldn’t you know it but the picture in her banner (which didn’t show her face) was easily recognizable and I realized it was my friend IRL (in real life) Krystal! Is this your blog!? I asked her over Facebook. She said yes but begged me not to tell anyone, because she was just getting ready to go public and finally attach her real name to it.
This seems to be the way most personal finance blogs start. We come up with pen names, or only share our first names, and write in a certain way because we hope no one in our real lives will ever identify that it’s really us. My blog was certainly no different. I started writing Blonde on a Budget under the name LC (my initials), because I was ashamed to talk about how bad my financial situation was with anyone I knew. I never imagined that blogging would become such a powerful outlet for me to share what was going on in my life, get advice from all of you and give me the chance to use your words as fuel to keep me going. Fortunately for me, you all came into my life exactly when I needed a little extra support.
More than two years later, there are now 297 pages of comments in the backend of my blog, with nearly 6,000 comments in total. Of course, nearly half of those are my own, as one of my goals has always been to try to reply to each and every comment that you all take the time to write. Recently, I decided to go back and read some of my first few posts, comments, etc. to see how things have changed.
One of the very first comments I received was written by Trish at the Financialite. Trish said:
I love your style of writing! You are honest and you aren’t shy about any of the things that you did to get yourself into debt (which I started to think that I was reading the story of my twenties!). BUT you also know why and how you got there which is the key to getting yourself out of it! I think its great that you will be able to pay everything off by 2014 and live debt free.
It’s incredible to think that my original debt-free date was April 2014. I beat that by 11 months, which I honestly don’t think would have been possible without writing about my journey and receiving so much support along the way. I tried to share any tips and tricks I learned with you all, but the things you taught me, shared with me, etc. were (and still are) invaluable.
This blog has not only helped me get out of debt, it also helped me change the direction of my career. First, it helped me land a job on LearnVest’s editorial team, where I worked as a remote intern for more than a year (on top of already working full-time and going to school). From there, I started freelancing more often and guest posting on various personal finance blogs, startup blogs, etc. It’s also because of Blonde on a Budget that I eventually connected with Alyssa Richard, which ultimately led to my current position as Managing Editor at RateHub.ca. That ended up being a dream come true, but it was a dream I’d given up on just before it finally happened.
Look at one of the comments I made in June 2011, when a friend said Toronto would miss me:
Thanks! And don’t worr I have a one-year plan here and after that I’d consider coming back out again. I miss the city and everyone in it!
Just 14 months later, I was living and working in Toronto again.
Now, I’m not saying that anyone who has debt should start a blog about their debt repayment journey and it will somehow make all of their dreams come true, but what I can say is I am now a firm believer that if you want something to happen then you need to talk to people about it. I wanted to pay down my debt, so I made a couple debt repayment strategies and wrote about my progress. I’ve talked about some of my goals and dreams, and a few people have felt my passion and helped me make them happen. I feel lucky to have accomplished all of those things. But it hasn’t all been easy. I’ve worked hard, lost a lot of sleep and taken a few (very calculated) risks along the way.
Recently, and also with the help of this blog, one more opportunity was presented to me that I could not pass up. As of September 1st, I will be one of the “other voices” on Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s blog. Starting September 1st, every Sunday morning you’ll be able to find a new post from me there. I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with Gail, write about some new topics and potentially grow my readership. If nothing else, it’s an honour to join the team of writers who are all currently there.
And to think: two years ago, all I wanted to do was keep track of what I was spending my money on.
Thanks for your support, friends. :)