The more personal finance blogs I read, the more perspective I have about my situation. It seems everywhere I turn, someone has managed to dig themselves out of their rock bottom moment of $30k debt, sell all their stuff, keep a family together and be on their way to early retirement.
It’s rare to see a blog without some sort of ‘origin’ story to that effect.
Slacking Off’s origin story
I started the first iteration of this blog way back in 2012, just before starting my first job out of university. But in 2017, thanks to a SNAFU between me and a hosting provider that was going under, my website kind of just…vanished. Along with all of my posts, rankings, SEO efforts and the like.
The more I immersed myself in thoughts of financial independence, I started writing articles in order to teach myself about the different concepts I was coming up against on a daily basis. These were written in my usual blogging style (rather than notes that I’d probably never read again). When I had a few of these (okay…6) in a digital folder gathering dust, I decided to get Slacking Off up and running again.
What’s my Rock Bottom Financial Moment?
To be honest, I don’t really have one. Yes, I have debt, but it’s not consumer debt (student loans and a no-interest family loan). I’m pretty minimalist, which was compounded when I decided to move from the UK to Spain with the contents of half a van (most of which was inherited kitchenware – thanks nana!). And while I have been subject to redundancies (4 times…), I’m lucky enough that my skillset allowed me to get a job pretty quickly each time. (Hopefully including my current -ahem- interlude).
What got me so interested in Personal Finance?
I guess I just got caught between those wonderfully motivating points of ‘cannot be bothered with giving mental space to debt’ and ‘ohh, isn’t personal finance interesting?’ (Yeah, they exist). Add that to the fact that until recently, I worked for an Asset Management company here in Madrid, it means I couldn’t help but be surrounded with financial jargon all day, every day. Every now and then something jumps out at me as particularly interesting…and the rest is history.
But I recognise the fortunate turn of events that have given me the opportunity of working in not one but two investment firms (on waaay different platforms, admittedly). These have, in turn, given me learning experiences around money (although not personal finance) that I never would have been exposed to otherwise.
Does a RBFM matter for a personal finance blog?
I don’t think so – but it does serve as a sort of carrot for potential readers. “If this guy can pay off 50k of debt and travel the world within ten years, maybe I can too!” An impressive RBFM can motivate folks to start their own journey to Financial Independence.
For me, the most important thing is to not hype up my story. I guess I could have written it like this instead:
- Just over £24,000 ($34,000) (€27.500) of debt
- Living with my partner and mother-in-law in Madrid (where I’d just moved to be with said partner)
- Out of work (so paying private healthcare and unable to pay off debt)
- Starting from scratch with learning Spanish (so there were fewer opportunities for me work-wise)
…and this is where the hype falls down, because I can’t think of anything else. And the debt was low-interest student loans, I love my suegra (mother-in-law), I was out of work but had savings, there are plenty of Expats here that I did have the opportunity to go out a few times and network with folks, and I did tide myself over with some consultancy gigs before I decided to job hunt properly here.
So it’s not just about the RBFM, it’s about communicating it in an authentic, truthful way when you have had such a moment.
It’s not about the sob-story
The strength of personal finance blogs is that the the blogger genuinely (usually) wants to help folks. Whether that’s in not making the same mistakes they made, or by explaining concepts that aren’t in common circulation but may be second nature to someone who works in the financial industry. It’s not about one-upmanship in frugality or wealth accumulation (although we all know one or two bloggers who unfortunately do consider that to be the pinnacle!) it’s about chronicling our journey in a way that might help others.