I’m inspired by so many personal finance bloggers out there in cyberspace. That’s why I’m starting this interview series. Every other Tuesday I’ll (try to) post an interview with a top personal finance blogger. A special thanks to Mrs. Micah of Finance for a Freelance Life for agreeing to be my guinea pig. 🙂
Q: Did you write blogs before this?
A: I’ve been blogging for years, actually, I started at least 8 years ago. I’m not a financial professional, I write abot what interests me and I don’t want it to be taken as professional advice. I try to do good research and offer helpful suggestions/tools on the blog so that it can provide useful financial information.
Q: If you could tell yourself something 10 years ago relating to your financial habits that you know now, what would it be?
A: I think the younger me was pretty financially disiciplined. But I would tell her to make use of high-interest savings accounts, CDs, and even start saving a bit for retirement. I saved a good bit, but I was only earning 0.2% interest on my savings! I’m not sure when high-interest savings came into vogue, but I know CDs were available.
Q: What’s the one biggest mistake you’ve made in your financial life?
A: I used to think that all I had to do was save money, I was scared of investing or using higher-reward banking tools. As I said above, I’d tell my younger self to get more on the ball about this. Because I’m still quite young, I don’t feel like this has caused a major financial problem in my life but I do wish I could change it. Or you could say that the biggest financial life mistake was marrying someone with $100k in student loans. But the rest of my life doesn’t think it was a mistake, so I’d do it over. 🙂
Q: What financial advice do you have for people in their 20s?
A: It’s not too early to start saving for retirement. And you don’t have to have it all right away. Just because you got married or had another life event doesn’t mean that you now need a house, etc, if you can’t afford one. Don’t let your finances get you down, there are plenty of ways to enjoy life without spending much.
Q: What of your financial goals were the most rewarding to reach in the past?
A: When I was 16, I set the goal of buying a new violin. Saved like crazy and was able to find one I still enjoy playing. Then when I was 17, I went to Europe to visit my aunt and uncle. They paid for a good portion of the trip, but I covered a lot of it.
Q: Do you have any financial goals for 2009?
I’d like to pay off the car in 2009, get that out of the way. We’ll do this by using my blog income, my consulting income, and Micah’s teaching income while living off my library job. It should be doable. My goal is to put at least $1k/month towards it. I’m going to have to figure out whether or not that’s realistic. I’ll be writing about it on my blog once I get logistics figured out. I plan to have that done by mid-January, when I get my 2nd paycheck.
Q: It’s great that your blog is profitable, congrats! Do you have any tips or tricks to share on how to earn more revenue on a blog?
A: My blog does earn quite a bit more than the average one. I think it’s important to make sure your blog is at least somewhat search engine optimized, at least using plugins like All In One SEO or Headspace2. That shouldn’t be done at the expense of content, but it’s important to make your content available. Good search engine traffic will affect both PPC ads and CPM ads. And give it time. I made no money for almost 6 months at the beginning and then things took off.
Q: You write a lot about the challenges of a freelance lifestyle. What are the biggest challenges of being a freelancer and how have you dealt with them?
A: I think the biggest challenge is having faith that you’ll be able to find work. Otherwise the freelance life is terrifying. And sometimes I was truly terrified. It wasn’t rational, I knew I’d look for work and had found work in the past, but it was still frightening.
Other challenges include taxes, for which I’m hiring an accountant, and handling rates with clients. The latter can be quite difficult, depending on the client. It’s partially a matter of not wanting the client to get upset and partially how the client interacts. Some have a great sense of boundaries and others aren’t sure. I expect some of that comes from how I’ve communicated with them about what I’ll be doing. Financially, you can’t be doing 10 hours of work priced at only 5 hours.
Q: Do you have any tax advice for other independent contractors?
A: Save all expense receipts, log them in a spreadsheet as well as keeping hard copies, and turn them over to your accountant to help you figure out which can count as unreimbursed business expenses. Also keep detailed spreadsheets of your earnings (along with dates and client names, I also include the nature of the work). And reserve some of your income for taxes so you won’t have to come up with anything you owe at the last minute.
Q: Who are your favorite bloggers/writers?
A: One of the bloggers I’ve been enjoying the most recently is Vered at MomGrind. I’ve been reading her blog off and on for a while now, but I really started appreciating her voice this fall. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t feel like she has any kind of agenda. She just writes, she’s a good writer, and it’s always interesting or funny.
Q: What free/low-cost thing or activity makes you happiest?
A: Reading. I love stories, I love learning about new subjects. And I like mixing it up with mysteries, thrillers, classics, paperback romances, and then non-fiction. One of my favorite things to do is sit down with a good story and have an hour to lose myself in it.