Well I don’t know about anyone else, but in my case it all started out harmlessly enough.
Back in 2013, I stumbled across a website called Mr Money Mustache. Here I find some bloke making some pretty bold claims…saying he retired age 30 and that anyone can get rich by following some simple steps.
Well that’s OBVIOUSLY horseshit right? WE ALL KNOW that you don’t trust some bloke on the internet who says he’s discovered the secret to getting rich (even if its on the BBC website). Your Mum & Dad taught you that years ago. Obviously a total scam.
And yet…and yet…
I read the MMM content. And I mean the actual content…not the emotions it stirred, not the dark motivations that my suspicious mind projected onto the author…not the feeling that this was all too sunny side up and too good to be true.
When I worked in corporate finance, it sometimes felt like everyone was trying to fuck me over. I worked on deals / disputes where there was a lot of money at stake. Clients hired us to help them win their case / knock down someone else’s case. I’ve pulled apart more glossy powerpoint presentations and found more errors in spreadsheets than most people have had hot dinners.
My point is: back then I wasn’t the sort of guy that fell for a nice story and some puppy photos.
But after a few days binge reading Mr Money Mustache, I came to the conclusion that it was actually true.
It added up: the maths worked and was consistent with everything I knew about investing. But the main reason I knew it was true was that, without even knowing that financial independence was a thing, I’d been on The Path for 20 years (unfortunately with higher spending…3 kids and living in London will do that).
It is therefore a cosmic irony when I now read suspicious comments online from people reacting to The Escape Artist’s blog. I see them going through the same
cynical sceptical thought process that I went through. They’re pretty sure there’s a catch, but they don’t quite know what it is. After all, if this guy had really found the secret to getting rich, why the hell would he share that valuable knowledge for free?!?
So I thought…why not spare people the effort of inventing lame conspiracy theories and just tell everyone why I write the blog?
Reason #1 : Miss, he told me to do it!
Whenever I got into trouble at school, the teacher would ask me why I had done it? One of my go-to answers would be that one of the other kids had told me to do it. The teacher would ask whether I would jump off a cliff if someone else told me to? I would then put my puzzled face on 🤔, look like I was weighing up the pros and cons…and wait for everyone to get bored of the game and move on.
In 2013 I wrote a guest post and emailed it to Mr Money Mustache. He was kind enough to email back to thank me and encourage me to
copy his blog write a UK financial independence blog telling my story.
So…granted, it’s not a great reason, but Miss…he told me to do it!
Reason #2 : Organising your thoughts
This is the best reason for anyone to write a blog.
We humans are prone to irrationality, flakiness, group-think and general nonsense. Most people don’t know their own mind from one day to the next. Their emotions change in ways that are baffling and unpredictable to them…like they’re driftwood on the ocean.
How do you get your shit together? Well, you need to do the work to understand yourself and how the world works…based on reality, not on how you’d like things to be. That means accepting that life is unfair and will test you. You have to play the hand you’ve been dealt as well as you can.
Writing helps me organise my thoughts and beliefs (and be able to back them up…see reason #5). Writing helps bring order to chaos.
Reason #3 : To pay it forward
If you’re like 99% of the population, your parents didn’t teach you properly about money.
Maybe if you were born working class you saw your parents lurch from pay check to pay check with little or no safety margin.
You may have grown up with a money blueprint that made you suspicious of rich people, the stockmarket and landlords. That is what Little Miss Fire calls The Shopfloor Mentality…that great article is what paying it forward looks like.
If you were born middle class, you may have been raised as a sensible saver but not to invest in the stockmarket or take other intelligent risks. You may (like me) have been conditioned to cling onto a safe (seeming) office job. Finding Mr Money Mustache helped me shake off some of my limiting beliefs and I wanted to pay that forward.
How can we best help everyone to handle money and become rich(er)? What if we told them the “secrets” of financial independence ? What if we told them about the mistakes that we’d made and learnt from? What if we put it all on a free website where everyone could see it?
Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, that’s what I’m doing here folks.
Reason #4 : To make money
Bad idea…blogging is an awful way to make money.
When I think about how many hours I’ve put into this blog, its comical how little money it’s made me. I used to make good money working in finance. Yes I started off as a modest earner on £12,500 per year but by the end I was a top rate taxpayer. So the idea that I would quit that to start blogging for the money is utterly hilarious.
Every FI blogger thinks about monetising their blog at some point….no doubt encouraged by Mr Money Mustache earning $400,000 a year…just by tapping some shit into a computer, as he would put it.
There’s nothing wrong with that…earning more is not cheating. But I don’t run adverts on my site. And there isn’t really any decent money to be made from blogging unless you recommend commercial products.
Reason #5: To be popular
If you thought reason #4 was lame, check this one out!!
This might be the worst ever reason to start blogging.
Firstly only a minority of the population reads anything sensible…so good luck reaching the rest with just a blog (that’s why the Playing With FIRE movie is going to be a game-changer).
Second, when you first start blogging, even blog readers ignore you. Tumbleweed blows past your blog stats page and, in the desert wilderness, there are fewer page views than rattlesnakes.
Then a few people notice you and take pity on you as the underdog. Some people linked to my blog (thank you Monevator and Rockstar Finance). I started to get some readers. Even better, some of those readers emailed me to say thank you and offered to pay me for coaching (see point 4 above).
Then you get some media attention and with that come trolls and haters. This envy is all a bit silly, but there are advantages to having haters. They seize on sloppy wording, keeping you on your toes and making you a better writer.
These clowns also act as your unofficial guerilla marketing team. 🤡🤡 They leave angry comments about you around the internet that spark other people’s curiosity (honestly, who walks past a fight without looking??) and drive traffic to your website. You don’t even have to pay them for this!
Reason 6 : To have fun
You have to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
As I wrote in Get Rich with the Process, there are 2 ways of motivating yourself:
- focusing on the outcome
- focusing on the process
Imagine a new blogger. If they focus on the outcome of having a massive readership, they may never even start because the risk of failure seems too high. If they do start, they’ll avoid controversial subjects to avoid offending anyone. Result: something bland and boring.
Better to enjoy the process. If you write because you enjoy it, you’re WAY more likely to follow through when you hit “The Dip”. In a world full of would-be bloggers that come and go, consistency is important.
I have a lot of fun writing this blog. Just writing this article, I’ve cracked myself up. Jokes are like cooking…home made is best.
Reason 7: To save the world
People often want to change the world for the better.
That’s great but I don’t think anyone’s qualified to change the world until they’ve got their own shit together first. Take student activists…I’d take them more seriously if they weren’t being funded by The Bank of Mum & Dad or loans from The Taxpayer.
But we do need to change for the better. Not to save the planet (the planet will be here long after we have made ourselves extinct) but to save ourselves. I don’t know exactly what’s gonna kill us all, but filling up our oceans with plastic and our air with pollutants seems like a pretty good place to start.
Let’s face it, we humans are a bunch of monkeys that conquered the world. Unfortunately, if you have 7 billion monkeys with shopping malls, drive-thru MacDonuts and SUVs, that’s a gigantic ecological disaster.
That alone is good enough reason to write a blog about buying less shit.