The Millennial Revolution Turns 1 Year Old!

FIRECracker
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FIRECracker

FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
FIRECracker
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photo credit: Ardfern @ Wikipedia

Last year, after we’d left our jobs and travelled the world for a whole year, I decided to start a blog.

I had been getting an earful from my parents about what idiots we were for not buying a house. And I could see that many of my friends, Millennials and Gen-Y’ers who had followed the “tried and true” Boomer advice of buying a house in Toronto were up to their eyeballs in debt and stressed out of their minds.

And having seen first hand the Boomer dream turn into a nightmare, my clueless co-workers working themselves to death at a stressful and unstable job, I realized how many people were trapped in these “lives of quiet desperation”. I knew exactly where they were coming from. After all, I had been working the same stressful job and wondering “is this it? Is this TPS report the last thing I’ll remember before I die?”

Luckily, after achieving financial independence, I was able to get off the hamster wheel and overhaul my life.

But it didn’t matter how many times I told friends and family about how much FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) has changed my life, they quickly dismiss it and continue complaining about their stressful jobs, lack of fulfilment, and record-levels of debt.

So the idea of starting a blog to capture not just everything we learned on our way to financial independence, but also new discoveries from our world travels really appealed to me. Even if we couldn’t change our friends and family’s opinions about FIRE, at least we’d meet some like-minded friends along the way.

As it turns out, we didn’t just meet a “few” like-minded people. Since the birth of this blog 1 year ago, we’ve had 243,000 unique readers stop by, and 1.63 Million page views!

Which is insane when I think about it, because I almost quit before I even wrote my first word.

Something that people don’t know about writers is our crippling insecurity. We tend to agonize over every word and question everything we write ALL THE TIME. No matter how many articles or books we publish, that insecurity is always there, following us around like a creepy stalker, whispering, “This is it. This is the time they’re going to find out you’re a fraud.” I can’t tell you how many times my finger hovered over the delete button on articles I spent hours working on, because I was sure “it wasn’t good enough.”

Luckily, Wanderer, my better half and eternal optimist, reminded me of the real reason I wanted to start a blog wasn’t to produce flawless articles. It was to do what I love.

Write.
Without selling out. Without caring about success or failure. Without needing approval. Because FI gives us that freedom. The freedom to be my authentic self. Warts, freckles, and all.

And so one year ago, I bit my lip, squeezed my eyes shut, and hit publish on our first article.

Since then, Wanderer and I have collectively written 170 posts, over 140,000 words and along with the community on this blog, generated 6000 comments.

Since an average Young Adult novel is around 70,000 words, that’s 2 full novels we’ve written in just 1 year! Thus providing that small, incremental efforts over time produces BIG results.

So, on the anniversary of the Millennial Revolution, I’d like to share with you what I learned from 1 year of blogging:

Stick to a Schedule

This might be the best or worst part of blogging, depending on your personality.

If you enjoy writing, sticking to blogging schedule will ROCK, but if you don’t, it will SUCK, and likely you will bail the second anything remotely interesting is playing on Netflix.

Love it or hate it, sticking to a schedule is vital to your blog’s success. It sets up the expectations that you’re a serious blogger, and lets readers know there’s a regular scheduled program they can come back to. Plus, it lets you come up with fun names for publishing days of the week. Like Mayhem Mondays. Wealthy Wednesdays…or FreakingOutBecauseIHaveNoIdeaWhatToWriteSoI’mHidingUnderMyBedStuffingMyFaceWithCheeseFridays

Let Out The Crazy

Try this. Go to your best friend or significant other and start talking like a) a politician, b) a robot, or c) a data wonk

See how long it takes for them to slowly back away from you, and ask whether you need to take your crazy pills from a safe distance.

This is because humans are the best bullshit detectors there are. We don’t like fakeness and we are very good at detecting people who are pretending to be something they’re not.

People connect with other people. Living, breathing, authentic people. So don’t be afraid to let out the cray cray. By being yourself, you end up putting people at ease because they know you’re human, not a cyborg.

Unless, you’re really REALLY boring. In that case, don’t be yourself. Be a unicorn.

photo credit: Monica @ Flickr

Laugh At Your Own Insanity

Humans are naturally competitive creatures. We are constantly comparing and one-upping each other on a daily basis. That’s why we like other people we can relate to. People who are down to earth and not with their ass firmly planted high up on an untouchable pedestal.

That’s why you will be more likeable as a blogger if you can learn to laugh at yourself from time to time and not take yourself too seriously. No one is perfect, and no one is better than anyone else. We are all full of flaws and insecurities. That’s what makes us human. Expose those flaws and have a laugh at your own expense. This helps people realize that, like them, you are not perfect and relate to you better.

Plus, people who are perfect all the time are creepy…and kind of make you want to pry their face off with a crowbar to see where all their wires are hidden. Or…is that just me?

Anyway, what were we talking about? Something about insanity?

Social Media, Social Media, Social Media

As Millennials, we constantly get flak for our obsession with social media.

But what the Boomers don’t know is that Social Media is the number one tool for getting our brand out there. Through Social Media, I’ve meet other wonderful bloggers like J.Money, Financial Samurai JLCollins, MadFientist, RootofGood, and GoCurryCracker, many of whom have posted my articles, written guest posts, or asked me to guest post on their blogs. This kind of exposure is priceless, and that’s not even mentioning the friendships I’ve made along the way. Especially since no one ever succeeds in a vacuum. You NEED to learn and grow from interacting from other bloggers.

So get out there, get on social media, and get to know your fellow bloggers by reading and commenting on their posts. Who knows? Maybe one of the cool kids will feature you, thereby making you cool by association. Just remember that joining the cool kids at FI Club comes with rules. To quote the GodFather of FI, JLCollins:

Rule #1 of FI Club. You Do Not Talk about FI Club.

Rule #2? See Rule #1.

Teflon Up Your Skin

Elbert Hubbard once said “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.”

In order to have a successful blog, you HAVE to step outside your comfort zone. You’re going to get haters. You’re going to get critics. If you’re going to create anything, you HAVE to grow an impenetrable skin.

If you crumble or hide every time the critics come out, blogging is not for you.

Your love of writing and connecting with the FI community MUST be greater than your fear of the haters. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose steam and give up.

That’s not to say you should always ignore critics and never listen to feedback. It just means you need to be selective. Basically, I like to follow the advice from author Brene Brown:

If you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.

What she is saying here is that by creating anything, we are opening ourselves up to ridicule. It takes a ton of courage to forgo comfort, step into the arena, create something and be vulnerable. And if our critics don’t have the courage to create something themselves, step into the arena with us, and be ridiculed, then their opinions don’t matter.

So there you have it. I’m not an expert blogger by any means, but this year of blogging, interacting with readers, and learning from other bloggers has taught me a lot. And I don’t regret it for a second.

If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog but were too afraid to, ask yourself these questions:

1) Do I like to Write?
2) Can I stick to a blogging schedule?
3) Do I have a thick skin?
4) Do I like interacting with commenters?
5) Will I continue blogging even if the blog doesn’t make money?
6) Do I have something useful to teach others?

If you answered “yes” to most of these, then blogging is for you! And if you do decide to take a plunge, feel free to use our web-host Bluehost. We’ve been with them for multiple website over about 2 years and they’ve been great, so check them out! This is an affiliate link, but again we never recommend products unless we use them ourselves.

If not, no biggy. Continue spending your time on the things you love instead.

So yeah, that’s our first year of blogging. To all the readers out there who stuck with us despite (or perhaps because of) the crazy, thank you all for joining us on our crazy adventure. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Chautauqua UK is now SOLD OUT! Click here to add yourself to the waiting list

60 thoughts on “The Millennial Revolution Turns 1 Year Old!”

  1. Congratulations on your first year, and thanks for the entertaining perspective on the world of FI.

    P.S. You’re wrong about property ownership being inherently evil, it isn’t the asset class that is at fault but the stupid prices people pay for it in overheated markets! 😉 … [puts on helmet and runs for the exit]

    1. No, you’re absolutely right here. But it’s also a lifestyle choice. World travelers are better served as renters, not being tied down to a property.

      Sincerely,
      ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    2. I never said housing is evil. I said house horny idiots who don’t do the math or do funny real-estate math are morons. I agree with you. In some cities where home ownership is less expensive than rent and the home price is low enough, it’s not a bad option.

      You can take off that helmet now 😀 I tend to go for the jugular anyway, so helmets don’t help 😛

  2. Congrats on your first year Millennial-Revolution! You guys have done a great job on the blog so far….

    OK, who am I kidding. 1.63 Million pageviews in a year? Your foo-king killing it!

    I’ve been writing almost 2 years and haven’t seen 1/5 of the traffic you have. So don’t hum-brag! 😀

    I’m lucky if 10 people read my blog on any given week…

    Here you are worried about your writing! Ha!

    You’re funny, and a consistently good writer too! That’s hard to pull off all the time.

    Looking forward to your next year!

    1. Thanks, Mr.Tako! Feel the same way about your blog. Always look forward to reading about your take on investments and awesome budgeting tips! Keep up the good work.

  3. Congrats on your first anniversary! I’m on my way to my third myself.

    The thing that’s most important is to stick with it. Even more than scheduling (to which I cannot do despite my love of blogging), just keeping it up and doing it no matter what is the only way to make it in blogging. When I started keeping track of page views, I was getting 200 per month. Now two years later, that number is closer to 3,000. I’m barely making money, but I did get noticed enough for guest posters and sponsors to start contacting me.

    I have a lot to do, a lot to learn, and a lot of improving. But the effort to get where I am is worth it. And that’s my advice to anyone on the fence. Just do it and don’t stop. You may be the only one reading your blog at first, but things will take off from there AS LONG AS YOU DO IT AND KEEP DOING IT.

    The failed bloggers are the ones who gave up in the first six months.

    Sincerely,
    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. Tee hee. Well, I do have role models like you, JLCollins, Jeremy to teach us how. Potty training accomplished and now to figure out how to get us to eat our veggies…

  4. Congratulations on your one year anniversary 🙂

    Yes, the #1 rule on social media is wise advice – having experienced what can happen if you don’t follow it in a facebook business group myself!

    1. Thanks, James! Yeah, if those FB haters don’t want to hear about FI, it’s their loss. They can continue working and supporting us in retirement. 😉

  5. Well happy anniversary!! I think that keeping the schedule is so important…I know that one of the first things I do on a Mon, Wed or Fri is to check your blog….HAH! You both also have such a refreshing writing style that appeals to all ages. I know you are geared towards millennials, but I am…ahem…mid-50’s… just announced my retirement..and I love your blog….Keep up the great work!!

    1. Thanks, OlderbutWiser 🙂 Appreciate you reading and following us since the beginning. Congrats on your retirement!

  6. Congrats on reaching 1 year! I know your blog has been super inspirational and it’s crazy to see how big you made it in such a short time. Sticking it out is definitely key. The ability to stay on that 3 times per week schedule is amazing. I basically failed on the schedule part right off the bat.

    How much does it help to have 2 people doing the writing (you and Wanderer)? Do you two proof each other’s writing beforehand or just let it fly?

    I have a buddy of mine who handles all the web design for me, which saves me a ton of time, but sometimes I wish he could write something once a week or something too.

    1. Thanks FP! I gotta say we definitely have an unfair advantage since there are 2 of us. We always proof read each other’s writing (like we did when we wrote a novel together), which helps a TON. It’s also nice to have a breather for a few days when Wanderer is writing his investment posts. I have NO IDEA how bloggers like Financial Samurai can write 3 times a week when it’s just him. He has serious hustle.

      Has Mrs.FP ever expressed interest in writing? Maybe there’ll be a writing partnership in your future?

      1. It’s crazy. If this was my full time gig, I could definitely do it I think, but it’s so hard to keep to the schedule when you also have a day job and other regular stuff you’ve gotta do.

        And Mrs. FP has ZERO interest in writing, as she’s told me many times.

      2. It’s cuz we retirees don’t got nothing better to do! So why not write! 😛

        But then again Financial Panther… I clearly remember publishing 3X a week while I was working in finance 50-60 hours a week from 2009 – early 2012 and trying to manage a PF blog network. So I donno… maybe it was b/c blogging was so much fun back then!

  7. Dearest Firecracker and her sidekick Wanderer; thank you both so much for your great blog! I really love receiving your weekly emails and have learned much from them. Keep up the great work!

    Sincerely;
    Robert Dunne

  8. Woot! Congrats on the first year, and I appreciate the honest take on writing. Learning to deal with the self-doubt that is part of creation is one of the best benefits of writing, though it’s a lesson I seem to keep learning. Wait, should I have written that in the comments section?

    Sounds a little pretentious, doesn’t it?

    Who do I think I am?

  9. Congratulations on one year of blogging! I’m at 5 months so far, coming up on 6. I definitely second the sticking to a schedule tip – it helps me out way more if I know I have to produce content at least once a week.

    Here’s to Year 2!

    1. Thanks and here’s to blogging schedules! I know I never would’ve been able to write so much if it wasn’t for the schedule. Even though there have been lots of “shit, what the hell am I going to write?” moments, it always ends up coming together somehow.

      Congrats on getting to 5 months! Keep going!

  10. Congrats on your first blog birthday! I can honestly say that you guys were what got my wife and I seriously into FI and helped us make the realization that it is an attainable goal. Also you get credit for putting us onto JLCollins who has been another huge influence on us. Finally it was just encouraging for us to see that there are other people out there who can see the housing market is an insane place to be investing your money at the moment!

    Keep rocking the blog 😉

    1. Thanks, Shaun! I always look forward to your fun and clever tweets 🙂 Glad you are now on the FI path and agree that JLCollins ROCKS! Everyone must know of his brilliance!

  11. Happy Anniversary! And thanks for entertaining me for the last few months. I have to admit that when I first came across your blog I didn’t think it would apply to me because I’m a Gen Xer. However, I was turned on to you by Mr. Collins who I had been following for some time. I’m glad I took a closer look because I now look forward to your posts, your take on FI and life in general. It doesn’t really matter what generation you represent, we FIers are connected by a similar theme. Freedom and happiness through financial Independence.

    I’ve been writing my own blog for a few months now. I’m guilty of not using social media to promote it and get the word out there. However, I have been waiting to build the content up a bit more before I do so. Which brings up another problem, finding time to write and build up the content. I think I’ve been so busy busting my ass hustling to make more FI money that finding the time and energy to write has been a bit tough. I do feel I have a lot to share though, so I’ll keep at it.

    I would like to thank you two for your hard work and commitment to writing this stuff. It’s nice to have a place to go where like minded people talk about this FI stuff, especially when noone in your personal life gets it.

    BTW… Thanks for stopping by and commenting on the blog. Come back any time.

    1. Thanks, RJ! Completely agree. Getting to know other like-minded people and talking about FI is one of the BEST things about blogging!

      As for building up the content…yes it does take a bit of time. But if you stick to a schedule it happens quite naturally (though easier said than done). And it’s the same with social media. At first it takes a long time to develop a following, but overtime it snowballs.

      Keep writing and adding content! I enjoyed reading your articles!

  12. Oh Firecracker…I’m love….w/ your blog ! urhgg!!
    Of everything, the thing that attracts me the most if the schedule of posts you follow. Some days at work it feels so boring that I find myself checking the calendar hoping it’s Monday, Wed. or Friday because there is always a MR post to read and inspire to work one more day because it’s one day closer to my FIRE (July 2027 that is). Best series for me are Investment workshop and Reader’s case. Keep up the awesome work and ignore the idiots!

  13. 1 year woot woot! That is awesome!! I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and am so happy that you hit the publish button rather than the delete button. Great advice too! Thank you for being you!

  14. Hi Firecracker 🙂 … Congrats … I always enjoy your posts …. and the beginner series is quite fun and entertaining as well as informative …. I like your candid reflections reflecting how tricky things can be …. I really enjoyed your Switzerland and German Let’s Go pieces etc …. I am thinking of possibly going back to Switzerland etc maybe doing AirBnBs for 10 to 30 day slots …. they can give 7 to 18% discounts for a week or to a month … perhaps it is even negotiable for longer stays … so say do extended stays in Lake Lucerne – (Lake) Zurich, Munich, Konstanz, Basel, Salzburg, Innsbruck or Vienna …. 2-3 months slots for more discount then 18%? ….I need to be more savvy on travel and enjoy your tips …. AinBnB is more mobile and beats being stuck in one holiday house … anyway I am also looking at maybe trying the 399106 or 399102 Shenzhen Index funds seeing they are handy here but more volatile …. Keep all those wonderful blogs and writing …. they are great! Your fellow Canadian … God Bless, Beijing, China 🙂

    1. Thanks, Michael! Switzerland is absolutely mind-blowing! Expensive but so worth it. And yes, it’s a good idea to mix in Germany and get monthly discounts from AirBnb. I’ve never tried to negotiate stays for longer than a month, but I’m sure it can be done if you reach out to the host.

      Enjoy your travels!

  15. Happy 1 Year Anniversary FIREcracker and Wanderer!

    I ve been following your blog since July/August 2016 and still love it.
    And for me it all started with the CBC article eh =)
    You’re probably the ones who made me discover the FIRE movement/community.

    Thank you for that!

    1. Yes me too, I saw the CBC article on a facebook post and saw all the naysayers in the comments on the article and the youtube video but I decided to read the blog anyway and it changed my life!

    2. Thanks for sticking with us, Jacky and welcome to the FIRE community! It was life-changing for us and I hope it’s just as life-changing for you!

  16. Happy one year anniversary! You guys just exploded onto the FIRE scene and have a great perspective. I especially love that you guys lived in a high cost of living area and were still able to reach FIRE. Gives us in HCOL areas some hope. And your case studies mathing shit up help the person asking the question as well as all the readers.

    1. Thanks, Andrew! People think living in HCOL cities means the end of their FIRE dreams, but as we’ve seen from other readers in our Reader Cases, and having lived in a HCOL city ourselves, it is definitely possible.

  17. Congrats on your first year! Hopefully with many more to come. As many have mentioned, I too look forward to reading your blog every week and it is in fact the only blog I have ever followed before. I really love the writing style. I came here for investment tips but I ended up reading all of the blog posts even the travel ones that I originally had no interest in.

    All of the advice in this post reaffirms all of the research I’ve been doing for years in creating internet content. As I’ve mentioned before my spouse and I plan on building an art business and a lot of it is going to rely on internet exposure. I’ve been doing a lot of research over the years but never had time to make a go of it as keeping a regular schedule would have been difficult when we were both working full time but now that we have a lot more time it is finally time to “just do it!”

    1. Thanks, Liz! I always look forward to your thorough and well thought-out comments 🙂

      I’m super excited for you and your art business! It’s always difficult to put yourself out there and build something, but considering how much you’re going to learn and all the incredible people you’re going to meet, it’s going to be worth it!

  18. Congrats you two on your anniversary. I will say that my blog (even though I don’t have the traffic that you) has, in some respects, taken away from my academic writing. I don’t know if that is good or bad, but I just posted on my Facebook that I would love some help on getting some of these projects done that I seem to start, but don’t necessarily finish (some do). I would rather, in many respects, just write about personal finance because I can get an article done in 30 minutes (usually stream of consciousness) whereas my academic writing takes much longer, particularly when I am working on a new project. Actually, a collection of essays from various PF bloggers might be an interesting book idea….see you guys inspire as I am writing.

    1. ” a collection of essays from various PF bloggers might be an interesting book idea”

      That IS a cool book idea!

      As for the blog writing influencing your academic writing, yeah, I can see how that would happen. Back when I was working, my work writing style would inevitably leak into my novel and mess up my voice. So I can see how that would be challenging and take some getting used to.

      Academic writing (which I did back in University) and blog writing are completely different beasts, and like you I enjoy blogging more…though some posts have taken me 5-6 hours of editing to get the voice right. When I was writing academic reports, the time was mostly spend on research, typing it up and editing took up much less time.

  19. I think the scheduling thing is important to begin with to gain a readership, but you will notice many of the popular bloggers have no real schedule anymore. To me, that’s the hardest part about blogging, you end up forcing yourself to write something that may not necessarily be interesting or worthy of a post, or might be rushed, but you write it anyway to stick to your schedule.

    MMM virtually never posts anymore (once a month at best), JLCollins is similar. Financial Samurai posts frequently but on no schedule that I’m aware of. I think FI bloggers generally don’t like being boxed into a schedule at all haha.

    That being said, I do love knowing that when I get to work on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday I can incorporate reading your blog into my routine, so I appreciate a schedule as a reader, just not as a writer.

    Congrats on your first year! You’re kicking butt.

    1. Thanks, Vancouver Brit! Always appreciate your thoughtful (and brutally honest) comments! 🙂

      Stick to a schedule isn’t easy…especially if you been blogging for a while (like the big bloggers you mention above). And I also think that once a blog gets big enough, writing to a schedule seems to be less vital since there are always new readers coming in and combing through the archives.

      No idea if we’ll ever get there, but as long as there are awesome readers like you to write for, we will continue our consistency 🙂

  20. Congrats on the 1 year anniversary! Sticking to a schedule really is important for growth. You’ll have huge surges and slow times, but sooner or later you’ll catch something MASSIVE and take off. Blogging is like fishing in that way.

    I just started a FS Facebook page last year btw… not much action and not much to do. I spend hardly any time on FB. Too much stuff to do on FS.

    Let’s see what the next year holds for you guys! And don’t forget to let me know when you are in SF next.

    Sam

    1. “You’ll have huge surges and slow times, but sooner or later you’ll catch something MASSIVE and take off. Blogging is like fishing in that way”

      Well said, Sam! If we’re ever in SF, we’ll definitely let you know!

  21. Keep up the great work! You are truly making a difference in my (and other people’s) financial success journey!

  22. Congrats on your 1 year anniversary!

    I stumbled upon your blog back in September after you guys were featured on CBC and have been hooked on your site ever since. You guys taught me all about investments and how getting into the Toronto housing market can be financial suicide. Better to save and find other forms of investments!

    So thank you for sharing and keep up the great work!

    – Vanessa

  23. So proud of you! I started reading your blog back from when you first started and I was so happy to see another UWaterloo survivor making it big in a totally unconventional sense. I said this to you before and I’ll say it again, I hope you return to your alma mater and speak to the current cohort of students there and give them hope. I’m sure Feridun would love to post your story on the alumni newsletter.

    What I appreciate most about your story is that you’re telling people to take responsibility for their lives (F U Money!) and not be dependent on their employers/any external party for their livelihood and sustenance. I’m working in one of those “transformation project” jobs which is going to automate and streamline certain people-intensive systems, getting rid of the people operating them now. This niche world is going to look very different in the next five years. Changes have already started in some parts of the world. It saddens me to think that there are people I know currently studying in this field, completely oblivious to the fact that by the time they have their fancy degree, most of the jobs in their field will either be automated or outsourced. I have tried telling them but they are not willing to open their eyes. It’s much easier continuing on a path rather than start afresh even if that path is leading to doom.

    This is why it is so important to not get complacent. To always not only “save for a rainy day” but to have “F U Money”. I am sure even my fancy analyst job is going to be automated one day. But before that happens, I’m going to build my pile of FU money and preach everyone sane around me to do the same.

    1. I would love to speak at UW! If we end up going back, I’ll even eat one of those poutines from the campus cafeteria for old time sake.

      And yes, I agree with you that it’s so important not to get complacent. Jobs just don’t have the security they once had, as much as we like to think they do.

      Kudos for building your FU money pile and spreading the word!

  24. Keep kicking ass, guys! Still love stopping by to see what crazy adventure you’re up to, or piece of insightful knowledge has been recently posted.

    Also, I’ve had many people contact me about teaching abroad and have even helped a few get out to China or Korea because they found me through your website!

    Collateral goodness.

    Colby

    1. That’s awesome, Colby! I’m so glad readers are following in your footsteps. The next time we’re in South Korea, we should meet up!

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