Before you jump to conclusions, I am not deleting this blog! I’m simply changing the name. :)
On October 1st, 2010, I created a free blog: blondeonabudget.wordpress.com, to be exact. (Which, oddly enough, looks like someone setup again just a few weeks ago… huh. Anyway!) I setup the blog when I was 25 and had approx. $24,000 of debt. At the time, I thought I was ready to get serious about my finances. I thought I was going to start paying down my debt and get my life on track. I also thought I was going to quit drinking on January 1st, 2011. Neither of those things happened. Instead, I went down one more spiral in February, drank away all my savings in eight weeks and deleted the first version of the blog. I wasn’t ready to deal with my reality yet, and I certainly didn’t want readers to know what I was doing to myself and my finances. So, I hit delete and gave up on both goals.
Just a few months later, however, that spiral led me to be maxed out with $28,000 of debt. When you’re maxed out, you have no option but to get serious about your finances, so that’s what I set out to do. I relaunched the blog in June 2011 and announced my first debt repayment plan: I wanted to pay off $7,000 of debt in three months. It was an aggressive goal, and I didn’t quite meet it, but I did pay off $4,500 in that time. I paid off an additional $5,500 in the three months that followed, for a total of $10,000 in six months, and used the momentum (and the heavy weight that was lifted) as motivation to keep going. By the time I hit the one-year mark, I’d paid off a total of $17,000 of debt. And I made my final payment on May 21st, 2013 and have been debt-free ever since.
When I started this blog, I never meant for anyone to read it. The majority of my posts in the first six months were just weekly spending reports. I wrote them to stay accountable to myself, and the few readers that stopped by along the way. But the more I wrote, the more you stopped by. With each update, you came into my corner and cheered me on – even if it was just for those weekly spending reports! I can honestly say I don’t think I would’ve paid off my debt, if I didn’t have all of you to answer to – and that’s been true of many of the goals I’ve tackled since. You were with me when I started taking better care of myself and lost 30lbs. You supported me in my recovery from the accident and surgery. And your love has poured through every time I’ve written about sobriety.
The last five years have been full of personal growth and huge life changes. Sometimes, I look back at the posts I published in the first year and can hardly believe how different my life is today. Changing my relationship with spending, budgeting, saving, and investing has set me up for a much better future. Making my health a priority has surely added years to my life. And there is no doubt in my mind that embracing minimalism and giving up shopping for two years changed my values more than almost anything else (second only to sobriety, which will always be at the top of my priorities). But for as much as I have grown as a person, as a woman, as a worker and as a writer, one thing hasn’t grown up with me: the name of this blog.
I started growing tired of the words “blonde on a budget” last fall. It began to feel young. I started hearing more dumb blonde jokes, which didn’t help. And considering how many different topics I touch on now, it just didn’t feel like it fit with the new direction the blog seemed to be going in. It’s true that I will always be blonde (until I go grey) and I will always be on a budget, and this is the reasoning so many of my friends told me not to rebrand (not to mention the brand recognition BoaB has right now). But I noticed that I cringed whenever I told someone the name of my blog. You shouldn’t cringe when you talk about your favourite project – you should feel proud of it! I’m proud of the blog and I love the community we have here, but I’m done with the name. I just want to be me. :)
After humming and hawing about it for months, I made the decision on Friday and asked a friend to help me do it as soon as possible. My domain is now caitflanders.com. If you type in blondeonabudget.ca or .com, you’ll still get here! But you won’t see the words “blonde on a budget” anymore. Everything else, however, will stay the same. I’ll still write about personal finance, minimalism, travel, health, social media, etc. And something I’ve recently realized is that my overall message, these days, is about conscious consumption – from what we buy and trade our time for, to what we bring into our homes and even put into our bodies. The message is the same, the design is the same, the writer is the same. And my name will never change, so I’ll never have to do this again!
For all you bloggers out there, you can imagine this change will come with some implications. We setup 301 redirects for the old site, so anyone who visits old links should end up at the same page/post but with the new domain. However, I’ll still lose some search traffic for a few months, and it’ll take Google time to go through caitflanders.com and rank me for any search terms. Fortunately, I’ve never written for SEO or setup AdWords campaigns to make money, so I don’t really care about that. And traffic always dips a little in the summer anyway, so it seemed like the perfect time to make the switch. There are still a bunch of things I need to change on the site, like content in the sidebar and static pages. (I did this fast, give me a break!) But the change is done and I am happy.
From a financial/legal perspective, Blonde on a Budget is still the name of my business, I own the trademark and it’ll still be at the top of all my invoices to clients. It’ll probably always be part of my life, and I’m ok with that. Entering those four words into WordPress in 2010 was the first step into a world I never could’ve imagined. This blog helped me get my first freelance writing job, my first full-time editing job, my first paid public speaking gig and a literary agent. It also helped me connect with hundreds of incredible personal finance and simple living bloggers, podcasters and reporters, as well as all of you. I’ve shed tears writing some of the most personal posts I never imagined sharing, and smiled reading your comments. This blog has truly changed my life.
So “blonde on a budget” may be gone, but I am here to stay. :)