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?
I’ve loved reading your blog, and I personally learn a lot from your perspective. Happy Anniversary! I hope you have many more to celebrate!
I started my blog for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I could see a career growing out of it, but another reason is that I needed an outlet for voicing my ramblings without exhausting my very introverted husband.
I’ve definitely learned that I’m better at making money than saving it, and I’ve learned that I am more than okay making life choices that are in line with my values even if they are out of line with my skill set.
It’s been a good year to learn.
Thanks, Hannah. I’ve enjoyed your site a lot as well. That’s funny you started yours in part to give your husband a break. And what big lessons those are to learn. I’m glad you’re embracing your values over skills set at this point in life 🙂
“…I’m learning to be content with doing my best…” I love this line. I’m new to this whole blogging thing, and, yeah, when I compare myself to other bloggers I’ve got nothing on them. There are so many talented people doing amazing things with their blogs, and I’m just a small blip on that radar. I think naturally we compare ourselves to others, but over time we do learn to be content with doing our best and eventually realize that being true to who we are is where the real journey is. It’s not about getting a certain number of page views, or followers or any of that stuff. I’m slowly learning this.
I’m glad to know I’m not the only one learning this!
Happy birthday! I have enjoyed your blog’s frugal twist in order to be generous and give. I have been a many year stay at home mom. We have valued that investment in our kids. Thanks for celebrating today and not just focusing on early retirement or net worth. Blessings!
Thank you for your encouragement and blessings! It’s great to hear from others in a similar phase of life.
Happy Birthday! I love hearing how people got started. I think it’s easy to get caught up with comparing ourselves to other bloggers, even if we feel strongly about our path. I know it happens to me from time to time. I’m glad you are happy with your choices!
Thanks, Tonya! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in these thoughts.
Congrats on 1 year of blogging! I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and I look forward to the next year of your blog!
Thank you, I appreciate it! I’ve also enjoyed YAM.
Happy blog birthday!
Happy blogging anniversary! I can’t wait to see where you go in 2016!!
Happy Blog Birthday!!!! Look forward to reading more from you throughout the new year!
Thanks for the motivating article, I need it. Happy New Year from tiny Malta 😀
Happy New Year!
I am also thinking of leaving my part time work from home job. Everyone thinks I’m crazy because they say they’d love a job like that, but it takes so much time and energy away from my family. Glad to hear you don’t have any regrets.
Working from home with kids is hard! Unless you have childcare, you are still on full-time mom duty and it can be hard not to let something suffer.
Congrats on the anniversary! I really want to work on my perfectionism. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Good luck; I agree it has both pros and cons.
Happy Blog-birthday!! Glad you are finally sharing these valuable insights with a broader audience!
Thanks, Diana! Thanks for being my beta group.
Congratulations on one year! I am quite new to your blog, I think I found you through Becoming Minimalist. Love your perspective and am excited to read along with you this year now that I’m subscribed. Happy New Year!
Thanks, Lisa! I’m always happy to hear from those who share a similar point of view.
I have really appreciated your blog, Kalie. This post has actually made me misty-eyed – which surprises me. Your struggles in finding, modifying, accepting, and affirming your path in writing and in personal finance philosophy are common to many, but you have expressed it all better than I’ve ever seen it expressed before. You are very good at hitting the nail on the head – with that combination of strength and vulnerability that you’re not afraid to share. Keep on writing! You’re work is a blessing to many of us.
That’s so encouraging; thank you!
I appreciate your honesty and can relate to many of the things you mentioned in the post. I too often feel a struggle with myself, between my desire for perfection but understanding that I need to be content with doing my best, which might look night and day compared to someone else. Understanding your family values and prioritizing them is so important and you have that down! Happy New Year 🙂
I’m glad others can relate, and I hope putting it out there unites us!
This constant nagging about religion is annoying. Most have made up their mind about the truth or wisdom in one or more religions. Just cut back a little bit. Please ?
Happy blogiversary! I love the focus on your value as people, not income earners. I think that’s something that’s all to easy to forget, especially when you’re firmly entrenched in the PF blogosphere. Also, I totally hear you on the having young kids thing. I have chosen to return to work, but we both have flexible schedules luckily. When they’re all in school, we will miss that time with them, but man! How much more time we’ll have to get things done!
Thank you! That’s great you have flexible schedules for work. That would make working after kids a little more manageable.
Congrats on making it one year so far. I didn’t realize how much of a time commitment a blog was. Call my wife & I naive as we didn’t realize it until we started our own blogs 3 months ago when we started a new chapter in our lives and figured we had time to devote to blogging.
Thanks, Josh. It is pretty time-consuming!
Happy birthday Kalie! I love your blog.