There are a lot of people that I have interacted with this last year that have been a huge help. I have participated in 3 masterminds, went to the FinCon conference and gotten to know many local bloggers.
To everyone that I have interacted with and met at those events I thank you. It is so great to be around those working towards common goals, and more typically, meet those of you that have been there and done that and are willing to spend time and share what you have learned with me.
FinCon was such an amazing event that it felt life changing by the time it was done. Unfortunately, upon coming back I hit a period of burnout between work and the blog and I haven’t really implemented anything that I learned.
I am finally coming out of that period and look forward to the future as I have big plans for the blog. It has been tough though as I have just been doing the bare minimum with it to keep going.
With that, I want to share with you how so many people have made a positive impact in our lives this year. This post got longer than I wanted it to be, but it is important for me to say.
A Year Ago
Almost a year ago to this day I woke up to this strange phenomenon with my blog. At around 5:00 AM I checked it to make sure that the scheduled post had gone up. After verifying it did, I checked the traffic. What I saw shocked me.
People were actually viewing my blog. I had much more traffic than I had ever received in a day and it was only 5:00 AM. My first thought was, “what is wrong?!” Why would I have such traffic? It was only 128 views but that was a big deal to me and honestly still is a big deal.
As I was getting ready for work I suspected that I was featured in Rockstar Finance. I opened the daily email they send and sure enough, my recent article on my debt thermometer was one of the 3 articles they featured each day!
What a surreal moment seeing my post included. The funny thing is it makes you feel vulnerable. Like you want the traffic, but then you realize that hundreds to thousands of people are reading what you wrote. Very weird.
The reason I am mentioning all of this is because that moment literally set the stage for 2018. Not so much for the blog, but more specifically related to the debt thermometer. I’ll get into that part in a bit, but I want to talk about who made that possible.
J. Money, the blogger behind Budgets Are Sexy, also started Rockstar Finance to feature quality content by other bloggers. It became a place where you could find all sorts of finance related blogs. What he did that day for me was something that he did 3 times every day for anyone he thought had a quality post that deserved to be shared. He didn’t know me, he just decided it was worth featuring.
It was a small action, but it had a significant impact on my life because it gave me a boost of confidence with the blog and the debt thermometer. I can only imagine how many other people he positively impacted while running Rockstar Finance. Two weeks after my debt thermometer was featured he ended up selling Rockstar Finance, but don’t worry, it is still running with the mission of featuring our stories. With that, I am so glad he was the one choosing article that day he featured mine.
He put a lot of time, effort and sacrifice into Rockstar Finance and it is now a staple of the personal finance community just like his other blog. More importantly though, he’s helped so many people by using his skills to develop this resource and really make it about the community and not him.
Fire Drill Podcast
Right after I had the boost of confidence with the Rockstar Finance post I heard an episode of the Fire Drill Podcast who had a guest that sold digital downloads. It was one of those moments where I thought to myself, “I can do that!”
A while after that, J & Gwen who are the hosts of the Fire Drill podcast, announced they were holding a mastermind for those wanting to start an Etsy shop selling digital downloads. To be honest, running an Etsy shop was never really anything that interested me for multiple reasons, but I knew that if there was interest in my debt thermometer that I could probably sell it on Etsy even though I give it away for free on this blog.
That confidence boost from J Money was a big reason I joined that mastermind. That, and over my first year of blogging I had found J, who also runs the blog Millennial Boss, to be a resource for random blogging questions I had.
You know those people you meet that you leave the conversation saying, “let me know if you have any questions.” Well, she said that to me when we first interacted regarding a message I sent her about a post of hers. When I naturally had a newbie blogging question I figured I should take her up in it. So, over the year I would ask her questions and she helped me every time. During that time, I saw her and Gwen (from Fiery Millennials) launch the Fire Drill Podcast which became a staple in the FIRE community very quickly.
Throughout the mastermind I found Gwen and J to be such helpful resources, coaches and friends. Just as J was willing to help a stranger with random blog questions, she was open to everyone in the group and interested in the success of us all.
The environment they set allowed me to thrive and as a result, my Etsy shop, ModernPrintableShop, has turned into a legit source of passive income. Since March of this year, I have made $2,250 in gross revenue. All of this based on a debt thermometer that I give away for free on here and started selling for $2 on Etsy. I know that isn’t a life changing amount of money, but what it represents to us is though.
Since then, I have added more items such as a budget planner, debt payment tracker and monthly bill pay tracker which has helped build the income. Half of the items though are just different types of thermometers. Erin and I often joke that we should just call the shop ‘World of Thermometers.’ Still waiting for someone to buy that wedding fund thermometer though!
Following the Etsy mastermind, I followed that up with another mastermind with J and Gwen held on blogging. While I was the most advanced person in the group, besides Gwen and J of course, I got a ton out of it and it really helped push me forward with the blog.
At FinCon, Erin and I got a chance to meet J. Money and hang out with Gwen and J and they were all amazing, cool and down to earth.
I also was paired up with Scott Trench from Bigger Pockets to give me pointers on my blog. It was so great to be able to spend a couple hours talking with him and getting specific advice.
FinCon was such an amazing experience that it is tough to put into words. The community that PT from PT Money built has benefited so many people.
It was our first time going to FinCon and it did not disappoint. Things kind of came full circle for me in many ways though.
As I have said many times, Dave Ramsey is the reason we are out of debt. Starting 7 years ago, listening to his radio show was the only outlet for personal finance that we had, and it helped me realize that we could pay off our debt.
Once we completed our debt payoff we were ready to start investing. I was interested in learning more about investing so I started looking into the world of podcasts as a resource. While we continued to listen to Dave Ramsey, I discovered many amazing podcasts such as Stacking Benjamins, the Money Tree Podcast or Radical Personal Finance that introduced me to the FinCon community.
These were regular people that had a passion for personal finance and it help fuel my passion for the topic. While I didn’t always agree with everything the podcasts or the guests said, it really helped to round me out and challenge my beliefs.
Therefore, after listening for a while, Erin and I started Debt Free Happens in the spring of 2017. We had things we wanted to say and were hoping we had enough street cred to be noticed. We were noticed by some, including Joe Saul-Sehy who invited us on Stacking Benjamins to tell our story, but man is it tough to launch a blog.
That was a huge learning curve and since then many have surpassed me in success. It is so common for me to wonder if I should even be doing this but through interacting with each other it really makes such a difference.
By the way, Joe is so nice. We got a chance to talk at FinCon and he is just as down to earth as he is on the show. I was also hoping to see a guy walking around with a bag on his head, but alas, no OG. (If you didn’t get that joke you need to start listening to the podcast!)
A Funny Moment
Anyways, having both the Dave Ramsey crew alongside fellow bloggers at FinCon things came full circle for us. It is very clear to me that the Dave Ramsey camp is making an effort to interact with us bloggers and I sincerely appreciate it. We are stronger together and with financial literacy so low and debt so high, we all need to work together to spread the message of strong money habits and make a difference.
They even held a reception after Chris Hogan’s keynote speech that a contact in their camp so generously invited us to. As we entered the reception, we realized that the best and brightest bloggers and podcasters were all in there. We did not deserve to be in there for our blogging skills, but what a fun night it was hanging out with so many of our heroes even if we didn’t get the chance to really talk.
Imagine being in a room with the leaders of your industry. Yeah, it was like that. Everyone was super cool though and no real egos from what I could tell.
While taking stock of the room upon entering, a hand reached out to us and it was Paula Pant fresh off her receipt of the Lifetime Achievement (she is 34) and Podcast of the Year award (even before her famous Suze Orman interview).
The room was small, and she was backed into the corner inadvertently, so it might have been a reach for help, but I’ll go with handshake. We awkwardly said hi and moved on after drawing a blank for what to say so that she could get some breathing room.
I hope I said congratulations to her at least, but that isn’t uncommon when meeting people at FinCon. So many people you know through reading or listening to, but then you actually get to meet them, and you just draw a blank. There is information overload and sometimes you just can’t find the words to express yourself. Fortunately, most conversations weren’t so awkward and actually involved an exchange of words!
The reason I am writing this is because it is important to know how much you have all impacted my family’s life and given us so much hope and encouragement. All in various ways though, but from hearing Dave Ramsey tell me I have a debt problem and then doing a debt free scream in his studio 33 months later, to hearing Joe and OG interview amazing guests and then us, then having J. Money feature our debt thermometer, to joining Gwen and J as they helped me actually have some side hustle success to being able to meet everyone at FinCon it has been a whirlwind of a year.
I have found a confidence in myself and abilities that I never knew I had and for that I am thankful. While I have so much work ahead of me it is important to thank those that have helped me get to this point.
Of course, my wife Erin to which I owe everything is a big part of that, but with each little action by J. Money or J, numerous possibilities have opened for us.
I sincerely hope that I get to make a positive impact in my readers lives just like the countless others have in ours. Through all the crap or trying to build traffic or monetize the blog there is a reason why we started this blog and that is to help you become the best you can be. I don’t want to lose sight of that.
I do think it is important to pay it forward, so I encourage each one of you to say thank you to the people in your lives that have helped you get to where you are today. Whether it be your family, for which I have an amazing one (thanks Mom, Dad & Jen), or your friends, co-workers or random person that held the elevator door for you, say thank you.
To everyone of you, I say thank you.