10 Years of Blogging & Life Changes

10 Years of Blogging & Life Changes350Can you believe it’s been 10 years since I started blogging? It has been an amazing journey and my life changed in so many ways. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t take up blogging. Thank you so much for your support over the years. I couldn’t have kept going without it.

So what happened in 2010? Why did I start blogging about FIRE? At that point, I was completely burned out with my engineering career. The only reason I went to work was for the paychecks. That kind of attitude is extremely unproductive. I was miserable at work, my performance suffered, and my health declined. At the same time, I was reading many personal finance blogs and discovered an alternative lifestyle that differed from the day-to-day slog. I learned about financial independence and it became the key to escape the toxic corporate culture. We saved and invested since 1996 so we were close to financial independence by 2010. We only needed a final push to cross the finish line.

The decision to start blogging came very quickly for me. One day, I was reading blogs instead of working and the name Retire by 40 popped into my head. I knew I had a winner and registered the domain name right away. That evening I went home and shared my idea with Mrs. RB40 and the rest is history. I wrote my first post and published it within the week. It wasn’t a great post, but that was fine. I always believe it’s best to learn on the job. If I waited for things to be perfect, I’d never get going. Coincidently, Mrs. RB40 was pregnant when I dropped Retire by 40 on her. Understandably, she wasn’t happy to hear I wanted to quit my career in a few years. She didn’t make a lot of money at that point so my income was crucial. However, she also knew I was miserable at work so she didn’t shoot it down right away. I worked on a cash flow spreadsheet and showed her that we’d be okay even if I didn’t make any income once we reached FI. She was still skeptical, but she gave me a chance and supported me 100%. She’s a saint.

Today, I want to share how my life changed since I started blogging. 10 years is a long time and a lot can happen. Honestly, these last 10 years really flew by. Also, ask me anything! I’ll answer in the comment section.

Blog stats

I want to share some statistics. I’m quite proud of myself and I want to show off a bit.

  • 1,397 blog posts! When I started, I blogged 3 times per week. Over the last few years, I cut it down to 2. That’s a ridiculous amount of blog posts to me. I hated writing when I was in school so I never imagined I could write this much. I’m pretty sure that’s over a million words. You never know what you’re capable of until you try.
  • 54,271 comments. The comments kept me going in the early years. Thank you, everyone!
  • Over 12,000,000 pageviews! We have visitors from 239 countries and territories. That is amazing.
  • $440,548 in revenue (before taxes and expenses). I didn’t know a blog could generate this kind of money when I started. I was hoping for $500/month to help supplement my retirement, but this was beyond my wildest dreams. You can read more about my online income here. 2020 is a pretty bad year, though. I’m not sure if the revenue will ever recover.

Family

In 2010, we had two incomes, 3 cats, and no kids. RB40Jr joined us in 2011 and life changed forever. He was a big part of why I retired from my engineering career in 2012. We found a very nice daycare, but we didn’t like other people raising our son. He spent 10 hours/day at the daycare and we missed many milestones. I accelerated my FIRE plan and retired when I was 38. It worked out extremely well. I became a SAHD and spent a ton of time with him when he was little. There were many bumpy spots, but overall, it was a positive experience for all 3 of us.

The first few years were really tough. It got easier when he went to preschool for a few hours per week. Kindergarten was the real turning point. Life became much easier then. I could spend more time blogging, running errands, doing chores, and had more personal time. I love school. RB40Jr is in 4th grade now. I think this is the sweet spot in family life. Kids don’t need as much supervision and they are still loveable. I’m not looking forward to the teenage years at all.

Also, my mom came to live with us in 2013. She lived with us for 5 years. In 2018, she was diagnosed with dementia and we figured she’d be better off in Thailand where she could speak and be understood in her primary language. There she has a better caretaker (my dad) and she can go to a dementia facility when the time comes. It’s a terrible disease.

Interestingly, I think our lives will change a lot over the next 10 years as well. By 2030, RB40Jr should be in college. Mrs. RB40 and I will have a lot more time for ourselves again. I hope to travel a lot more then. It’ll be interesting to see how life will change.

Work after FIRE

Some people think retirement means no work at all. I disagree especially if you retire early. It’s against our nature to stop working completely when you’re young. Work is great if you can do it on your own terms. I retired from my engineering career when I was 38, but I didn’t stop working completely. Being a SAHD took a ton of time when our son was young. Now that he’s in school, it’s not much work at all. My verdict – being a SAHD/M is work before our son started school. Once he was in school, the SAHD part is equivalent to retirement. Now, let me share my working timeline.

  • 2010: I spent 40-80 hours/week at the office. Most of the time, it was closer to 40. Occasionally, it spiked up to 80 hours/week for a few weeks at a time. I also spent about 20-30 hours/week on Retire by 40. I remember staying up until 1 am to finish a blog post quite a few times.
  • 2011: I worked a lot less at the office because we had a baby, 40-50 hours per week. Blogging still took 20-30 hours/week. The rest of the time was spent being a dad.
  • 2012 to 2013: I quit my job. Hooray! We took our son out of daycare so I spent a ton of time being a SAHD. Blogging still took 20-30 hours per week.
  • 2013 to 2015: RB40Jr attended preschool so I had a little more time to myself.
  • 2016 to 2018: RB40Jr went to public school! Life improved a ton.
  • 2019 to 2020: I started to spend less time on blogging. Now, I spend about 10-15 hours per week on Retire by 40.

Here is a chart for illustration. It isn’t 100% accurate, but you get the idea. In 2020, I spent more time being a SAHD due to lockdown.

evolution of working

This isn’t full retirement, but I didn’t want that. Retire by 40 meant retiring from my engineering career and working on something I enjoy. The plan is to gradually work less as I get older. It’s turning out quite well. Over the next 10 years, I’ll reduce my blogging and SAHD hours further. By 2030, I’ll be much closer to full retirement.

There is one unfortunate side effect of being a FIRE blogger for so long. I’m a lot less passionate about the subject now. It’s still fun, but I’m not obsessed with it anymore. I read blogs a lot less, never read PF books these days, and can’t write as often anymore. These days, I’m more interested in making cooking/travel videos on our YouTube channel. My son wants to stream video games so we need to figure out how to do that next. I tend to lose interest quickly so 10 years is quite a good stretch for me.

The future

Currently, I post twice per week. One is a brand new blog post and the other is an update/rewrite. (Many of my older blog posts are not very well written.) I went to this schedule when the school shut down in March. It was too hard to write 2 new blog posts every week while RB40Jr is schooling from home. This schedule is very good for me and I can maintain this pace for a while.

Our next inflection point will be in 2022. Mrs. RB40 plans to take a year off and figure out her next step. We plan to travel extensively that year so my blogging schedule might change. Also, I’ll probably write a lot more about travel and the nomadic lifestyle. It’ll be hard to keep up 2x per week and I expect to post less frequently. After 2022, who knows? I guess we’ll see how it goes. We plan to come back to Portland. RB40Jr likes his life here and wants to go to school with his friends.

Alright! That’s it for today. Thanks again for supporting Retire by 40. You’re the best. If you have any questions, leave a comment. Ask me anything.

*Check out my guide – How to start a blog and why you should.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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