Photo by Cristian Escobar via Unsplash.com
You guys– it’s official. It’s been a year of me writing to you (almost) weekly, consistently baring my money wounds and slowly healing, paying down debt and building wealth. I am thrilled and truly surprised that I’ve stuck to something like this for a whole year. I mean it when I say I really didn’t think I would. So I’m ready to celebrate: this post is going to take a look at all the money + life wins that I’ve achieved in the past year since I started blogging.
Let’s talk tangible money wins:
Debt. It almost goes without saying now, but I am completely debt free. Since I started my career, I paid off $13,500 in student loan debt. Since starting this blog, I paid exactly $8,191. Now I will begin 2020 and my 23rd year alive without any debt to my name.
Income. Including my summer job, my gross income was $52,000 when I started this blog. I took on stipend positions at my school and saw a significant increase in income. I became the JV Field Hockey coach and newspaper sponsor, positions which have already added so much joy and fulfillment to my life. I’ve also taken on a third position, which I’m going to share about next week 🙂 With all of these side jobs, I’m now making around $60,000 in gross income– without having to work over the summer.
Net Worth. The first time I measured my net worth was December 2018– almost a year ago. I calculated it at $131, a small-but-exciting number for me, someone who had previously had a negative net worth from student loan debt. I last added it up on October 28th and saw $12,797. This means that in 10 months, my net worth saw an increase of +$12,666.
Now for some tangible life wins:
I started grad school. And it’s been awesome! I’m in a program that focuses on teaching for equity and I’ve learned so much. The workload is sometimes tough to manage on top of my other responsibilities, but I’m learning how to schedule and prioritize to complete it ahead of time and not wind up overwhelmed.
I’m making moves in my business. A year ago, I had no direction for where this blog would take me. I just wanted an outlet to talk about money openly, and I wanted a hobby for myself outside of my tumultuous first-year teaching career. It definitely served those purposes and helped me get out of debt. Now, I am part of the personal finance community that I never knew existed– they welcomed me with open arms and I’ve made virtual and real-life friendships. I didn’t know FinCon existed when I started my blog, and less than a year later, I was sitting in the Washington Hilton listening to Ramit Sethi speak while I sat with people I met online. I’m now starting a podcast which will air in 2020– more details to come 🙂 — and I’m building a following on my social media platforms. Follow me on Instagram @wrachelwrites where I’m trying to post daily! I also created my first freebie (my budget template) and my email list! Click below if you want in on this 🙂
I am a writer. I was petrified of publishing my writing when I started this blog. I’m not trained in this style of writing and have had to step up my game a lot. But the real challenge was the self-discipline and determination involved. I set a goal of posting once a week for the whole year of blogging. I didn’t always meet this goal, and even stopped writing for 3 weeks straight once, but at this point I have published 58 posts– more than one per week on average– and achieved much more consistency than I originally thought I was capable of. Additionally, the personal finance community has welcomed me with such open arms that I have been featured in The Financial Diet, Collecting Wisdom, Educator FI, Dr. Breathe Easy Finance, and CampFIRE Finance. I don’t hesitate to call myself a writer now– because that’s what I do.
And, finally, there are so many wins from the past year that can’t be measured, but must be celebrated:
I am a much, much better teacher. I remember starting this blog and being so happy I had something I was doing entirely for myself. That’s the thing about teaching: if you’re not careful, you get stuck in this cycle of doing everything for others. And last year, when I was in the thick of getting my sea legs in the classroom and feeling like an inadequate teacher, my blog was definitely an escape from not feeling good enough at my career. Thankfully, I’ve become a much more skilled educator who sets boundaries. I no longer measure my worth by my students’ success in my classroom. Rather, I measure it by how I show up to meet their needs each day. I don’t need my blog as an outlet anymore, but I still have something that’s entirely mine, that I can work on everyday when I get home for the sole purpose of achieving my own goals.
My friends and family talk about money. I can’t get enough of this. I love meeting up with friends and getting to talk money– whether we share incomes and rent prices out of curiosity, or they’re asking for guidance because they know I’m a safe space for this taboo talk, I love that this blog has allowed these beautiful conversations to be a part of my everyday life with the people I love.
I feel better about money all the time. You guys have read my tumultuous journey and seen how I go back and forth all the time– from feeling awesome about money, to feeling stuck, to feeling content, to feeling like I’m making mistakes. It’s abundantly clear to me that I’m still not where I want to be with my money mindset, but my mentality has still shifted drastically. I used to wear my frugality like a badge of honor, and now I’m working towards being unfrugal through intentional money moves. My goal going into my teaching career was just to make enough money to feel comfortable, but now I have no fear of abundance and building wealth.
This year has seen more positive change than I could have hoped for. I feel like I really have a direction for my business now and the confidence to make it happen. As always, THANK YOU for reading my blog. Here’s to another year of writing– and more– for you guys 🙂