Happy Birthday to Pretend to Be Poor
It’s been one year since we launched this site and I’m itching to reflect, so here goes.
Back in 2008 I wrote a blog series called “How to Be Cheap,” by which I meant how to be frugal, not how to be a miser. I did nothing to promote the site and it was read by just a couple of friends and my grandmother (who is still my most faithful fan). I also worked the material into an e-book-type document called “Seditious Christianity” which explored a philosophy of simple living and generous giving from a biblical angle. I was about 22, knew very little about making or investing money, and thus never tried to publish it, but I emailed it to friends who were requesting help with personal finance.
One friend agreed with my assessment about publication, but a few years later started encouraging me to write a blog on the subject. Neil concurred. By this time I had an energetic two-year-old and a baby who wasn’t sleeping well. I was barely surviving. Blogging sounded like a nice idea for someone else’s life, but not mine.
As baby’s first birthday approached, I was slightly less sleep-deprived and decided I needed something more intellectually stimulating than read Goodnight Moon for the thousandth time (literally). Neil thought of the site name from Proverbs 13:7 and set up the back end. I drafted ten posts and we went live within moments of the turn of 2015. It was the first time I’d made it till midnight on New Year’s Eve in several years. (The time and date stamps on our early posts are inaccurate.)
Here are our first two posts in which we established the basis of our message:
Now that you know how the site was conceived, I want reveal the rather raw lessons I’ve learned from my first year of real blogging.
My True Value
I like to be the best at what I do. But in a blogosphere crowded with fellow over-achievers who are in fact much better at writing, or blogging, or social media, or making money, or investing money, or giving away money, I’m learning to be content with doing my best and being happy for others’ success.
Reading other blogs, as well as some books, has challenged and motivated my thinking and actions when it comes to all things personal finance. I love thinking through different philosophies about money (or just about anything). Hearing other viewpoints has helped Neil and me tweak and solidify our financial plans and dreams.
It’s also been a bit hard, as a stay-at-home mom, to read so much about “side hustling,” increasing net worth, or growing successful blogs, because when my second child was born I quit even my PT work-from-home job to fully focus on the kids. I’ve never regretted this and don’t believe I ever will. The time with them is precious, and my focusing on the home also allows my husband and me to each spend approximately 10-15 hours a week in volunteer leadership ministry. (BTW, that’s why you won’t see us write much about side-hustling. We’re too busy “working” for free.)
I embrace my current choices, but there is something about opting out of making money that can be a bit challenging to one’s identity. Especially when you read about money every day! Our ability to earn income isn’t what makes us valuable as humans. We all know this, but it’s a truth to be wrestled with when that capacity is stripped away, whether by choice or circumstance.
An Imperfect Over-achiever
While I haven’t built the biggest blog, I’ve been surprised and thrilled to grow our readership, receive many engaging comments, hear real-life friends mention content that’s helped them, and be featured on other sites ranging from Rockstar Finance, Lifehacker, Frugal Rules, and The Globe and Mail, to the weekly link-shares of blogs both big and small. I didn’t even know what Rockstar Finance was the first time we were featured, and we’re honored to be on their list of Best Savings Blogs and Best New Money Blogs. We’re also truly grateful for each time a reader has shared a link, commented, or simply read a post.
Here our first post to be featured on Rockstar Finance: The Secret to Financial Freedom
Here’s the piece that got on Lifehacker: Inflate Your Usefulness, Not Your Lifestyle
My biggest blogging challenge hasn’t been what I expected. I thought the PF scene would be replete with critics looking to debate against our sometimes-alternative philosophy. Turns out it’s actually full of friendly, encouraging people who are also questioning mainstream assumptions.
And it turns out my problem doesn’t have anything to do with others, but with taking my value from what I do. Whether it’s making money, writing a blog, or making a delicious homemade dinner, it’s all bonus when added to an already-full life. I’ve always strained for perfection. The obvious verdict is I’m not perfect. So while I enjoy all the positive feedback and engagement we receive, I’m also happy for the opportunity to continue learning to rest in my true value, which is not found in net worth or page views or subscribers, but in being a child of God.
Here are some of my other favorite posts:
- Live Like Grandma Challenge
- Why You’re Failing at Frugality
- What Seeing Real Poverty Showed Me About Pretending to Be Poor
- Hospitality Hacks
- Is Minimalism the New Materialism?
Thanks for reading and being part of our adventure!
Any fellow over-achievers tracking with me? What has a new venture taught you?