Two Years Later: How My Life Has Changed Since Starting a Personal Finance Column
I don’t know how this is possible but it’s now been two years since I started this weekly column here on Dyer News. In that time a lot has changed for me personally, professionally, and financially… while also staying about the same. I’m still married, we continue to live in our adopted hometown of Springfield, Missouri, and we still continue to learn as much about personal finance as possible. That said, my wife began a new job earlier this year, I’m making efforts to grow my Money@30 “brand,” and our financial journey continues with every passing day.
To mark this milestone, I wanted to not only discuss some the ways my financial life has changed in the past year but to also look back at a similar post I made one year ago and perhaps offer some updates there as well.
My wife’s new job and our “workationing” adventures
This past February my wife and I accomplished an exciting goal, which was securing a work-at-home position for her. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times in the past, I’ve worked as a freelancer for years, allowing me to take my business just about anywhere, while her traditional gig made planning travels a bit more difficult. But now, with her beside me in the “office” each day, we’ve been able to enjoy multiple business and “workationing” (a term I picked up from the podcast of the same name) trips over the past six months.
Granted, before we could enjoy all the benefits and freedom her new career afforded us, we were challenged to make some major changes to our finances as well as invest in a few tools. First, seeing as her old job came with benefits and her new life as a freelancer would not, we got to experience searching for health insurance on the Healthcare.gov exchange and budgeting for our monthly premium. Additionally, after bidding adieu to her job’s 401(k) (and, sadly, some non-vested matching funds), we’ve had to up our retirement savings efforts and ensure we’re contributing more to our Roth IRA. As for some of the startup costs we endured, we purchased not one but two new laptops in recent months, allowing us to work at home and on the road, and also invested in getting her a desk from which she can get her work done on the days when we are in town.
Since taking on her new role, we’ve enjoyed two trips to Walt Disney World, a visit to my mother in Delaware, a quick jaunt to the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee for a weekend, and a week-long stay in the City of Light: Paris, France. In each case, we were able to stay up on our work, maintain our income, and still enjoy all that each of these destinations had to offer. In other words, we’re really living the life we want and I couldn’t be happier.
Back in April, my personal finance site Money@30 celebrated its one-year anniversary while the YouTube channel for the site reached that milestone in June. During their respective lifespans, I’ve been truly inspired to see both growing consistently. In fact, the YouTube channel is getting closer and closer to hitting a major goal I have for it: qualifying for their YouTube partner program.
Speaking of monetization, in my post last year, I announced for the first time that I was releasing an ebook all about writing and publishing your own book. While I don’t have anything as big as that to announce this time around, a new feature that I recently debuted on the site — a round-up of various personal finance blog income reports — has me motivated to revisit a plan to turn my ebook into an online course. This is something I’ve had on the back burner for a while but, hopefully by the time I pen my “Three Years Later” post, it will be a reality.
Finally, I’m super excited to be visiting FinCon for the first time next month. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of my fellow personal finance writers, learning new things about both money and blogging, and spreading the word about Money@30 a little further.
Managing our money and racking up rewards
In my very first Money at 30 post two years ago, I shared how I had just checked my credit score for the first time ever, learned it wasn’t so bad, and had proceeded to apply for a new credit card. As time has gone on, my credit scores have become less of a priority for me (their obviously still important but I’m in maintaining mode, not actively trying to improve them) while obtaining credit card rewards has been a larger focus. This started with the introduction of my Discover It card and kicked into high gear when I got my Uber Visa Card late last year.
Since making an effort to seek out lucrative cards and utilize the ones we have to maximum effect, I’ve been able to accrue nearly $500 in rewards on my Uber card over the past nine months as well as a couple hundred more among our other cards. While I’ve stated that this experience has contented me as far as credit cards go, some might argue that I should take my rewards prowess to the next level and really give “travel hacking” a shot. Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t find the concept of travel reward hacking to be at least somewhat interesting, I’m still not convinced it’s right for me. That said, as we start to travel more and get more of a taste for the airline status lifestyle, there’s a chance my position could start to change… just don’t hold your breath.
As for the rest of our finances, aside from a few times where I felt our spending was starting to get the slightest bit carried away (especially after returning from a trip), I feel we’ve done a good job at keeping things in check and being practical with our purchases. Like I mentioned, the new laptops we got were a major expense that didn’t feel great at the time but have certainly proven their worth since. Additionally we continue to move money to our long-term and short-term savings regularly, which also allows us to earn on the funds were not currently using.
What’s truly funny about writing this recap is that, until my fingers hit the keyboard, I hadn’t really considered just how much has actually changed in the last year — let alone two years since I started this column. I continue to be truly blessed with a wife who not only has the same passions that I do but who is also in lockstep with me when it comes to our finances. As a result of these two realities, we’ve been able to enjoy a great lifestyle in this past year, one we once had only dreamed of — and for that, I’d like to thank Jon as well as all the readers of Dyer News and Money@30 for helping make it possible. Here’s to another great year ahead!
This article was first published on Dyer News.