Top 4 resources for new bloggers

Starting a blog can be an exciting, but challenging endeavor. You have creative ideas that you want to share with others, but learning how to implement those ideas onto a blog can be difficult. I am experiencing this personally and would like to share some of the best resources I’ve come across since I started blogging a few months ago.

Why I started a blog:

A few months ago, I decided to start a personal finance blog that would document our journey to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom. I also wanted to share some of the tools and techniques I use to save money on purchases like groceries, clothes, and vacations. All of the things I write about I have tried and have been mostly successful (with the exception of this vacation fail).

Find out where to get free pictures for your blog and a free course on how to make pinterest pins. Udemy courses on how to write and how to use social media to get traffic to your blog.
Try these cheap or free resources for new bloggers. Learn how to make pinterest pins, effective writing, free picture resources, and more!

I am not an expert on blogging. I have never worked on a webpage before, and, minus daily email, I’ve never written about anything that wasn’t technical (aka boring facts and figures). All of this has been a learning curve for me. To be completely fair, I really like learning about this stuff! Not just about blogging, but how websites work or how to engage via social media.

Resources I’ve found both helpful and educational:

There is plenty of informative, free/cheap education out there that can cut through some of the mystery behind starting a blog. As a new blogger, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices. While I am still learning, I found these resources to be very helpful.

Create bright, colorful Pinterest Pins:

I had no idea that pinterest could be so important to a blog. I thought it was just an app that you use to find delicious recipes. Not so! Pinterest can be a very good source of traffic to your blog so don’t ignore it. One of the resources I used to get started in Pinterest is Kristen Larson’s blog, Believe in a Budget. She is a fantastic example of how to succeed in blogging. Her side business of becoming a Pinterest expert has paid off well, and she shares some of her knowledge in this free Pinterest Presence Mini Course. I took it a couple of weeks ago, and was surprised at how educational it was. She shows you how to create eye-catching pins from stock photos. My first few attempts weren’t great but I’m getting better with practice (at least, I think)!

Learn how to leverage social media and track metrics on your blog:

I check Udemy periodically for courses that are relevant for blogging. There are a lot of them out there so I try to stick with ones that have high ratings. During one of their recent sales, I stumbled across this course, “Build a Successful Blog: Traffic and Monetization Level 2”. The instructor is a full-time Amazon seller who has successfully implemented blogs, websites and other side hustles. She covers the basics on leveraging social media to drive traffic to your blog and how to set up tools to keep track of your website’s metrics. I learned how to setup google analytics and about other tools and websites you can use to grow your following. Some of these tools I’d never heard of before. Udemy has this course on sale for $10. Totally worth it for beginners. (Note: If it’s not on sale when you read this, watch it for a while. Udemy has sales at least a few of times a year.)

Find out where to get free pictures for your blog and a free course on how to make pinterest pins. Udemy courses on how to write and how to use social media to get traffic to your blog.
Try these cheap or free resources for new bloggers. Learn how to make pinterest pins, effective writing, free picture resources, and more!

Learn how to write:

As I said earlier, I’m not a writer by trade. Engineering school does not prepare geeks like myself with the skills to communicate well. With the exception of a few British Lit classes, all of my writing was focused on conveying technical information.

Here is another Udemy course that I bought for $10 after seeing a list on Business Insider (an article I tweeted). Full disclosure, I haven’t actually finished this course yet, but I continually find myself pausing and thinking about what the instructor is saying. That is a good sign! If you need a quick education on how to thoughtfully convey your ideas through writing, check out this Udemy course, “Ninja Writing: The Four Levels Of Writing Mastery”. So far, it has helped me organize my thoughts into less of a jumbled mess.

Use Free Stock Pictures:

Looking at a blog post with tons of text and no pictures is boring. Adding images to your posts can break up long, boring paragraphs and add depth to your posts. Not using images is a mistake I made when I started and one I am trying to correct. However, do not use other people’s photos without permission! That is a quick and easy way to get yourself into trouble. Instead, use free stock photos out there like Pexels. They offer free stock photos that you can copy and manipulate without a license or sourcing. They work pretty nicely with Believe in a Budget’s free pinterest course.

Free resources like pictures for your blog
Get pictures like this from Pexels
Free resources like pictures for your blog
Even more pictures from pexels

Starting a blog can be so much fun, and I hope these 4 resources are as helpful for you as they were for me! There are a lot of other free/cheap resources out there that I might not have heard about so please leave a comment if you have one in mind. Thanks for stopping by and happy blogging!

Top 5 financial podcasts – My favorites

A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided that we were going to have to make some dramatic changes if we were going to get our financial lives together, a goal we are still working on. But we needed schoolin’…So we turned to the internet and looked for financial advice on how to get out of debt.

After I stumbled upon the personal finance blog scene, I began looking into other ways to learn about all things personal finance. Since I have a long commute, I did some research into podcasts that I could listen to on my way to and from work. I came across a few that I really enjoyed and continue to listen to today.

There are couple of things that I look for in a podcast. One, I like lots of interviews. Personal finance is such a broad topic, and there are a ton of different ways to succeed. Hearing about the different ways others achieved financial independence, either by starting their own side business or making smart investments, is important for me to stay motivated. I even like hearing about how people have failed in their finances. The financial independence world seems more relatable when I hear about a blogger who had issues with saving money or struggled with student loan debt. Two, I prefer podcasts that have at least a second person to talk to when they aren’t interviewing someone. It feels weird to me when a single person just talks. Don’t know why.

Top 5 personal finance podcasts that I listen to the most. Learn about retirement, 401k, saving money, paying off debt, etc.
A list of my favorite podcasts that talk about personal finance and financial independence.

Here is a list of my favorite personal finance podcasts in no particular order:

Martinis and Your Money – check it out here.

I’ve been listening to Martinis and Your Money for about a year now. Shannon McLay has interesting guests including other entrepenuaers, bloggers, and authors. A couple of months ago, she had a guest who talked about her delicious-sounding custom cake business and some of the challenges she faced spinning her business up. This one really sticks out in my mind…probably because it was about cake AND money. Also, about once a month, Martinis and Your Money features a Happy Hour episode which includes other financial independence bloggers. I love these episodes! Very entertaining on my long commute to work. I wish Happy Hour was featured more often.

The Mad Fientist – check it out here.

The Mad Fientist is a classic and was probably the first financial podcast I listened to. I think I blasted through all of his episodes in a few months. There is usually quite a chunk of time between episodes although they are worth the wait. He never fails to score sweet interviews with amazing guests. Plus, he’s technically already retired from the rat race, so its nice to hear from someone who has actually achieved this early retirement thing.

Mo’ Money Podcast – check it out here

I accidentally stumbled across Canadian-based, Jessica Moorhouse’s podcast after I had binged on my regular podcasts and ran out of episodes. I am so glad I did. I learned about the second hand economy, side hustles, and other money saving techniques. She’s cheerful and upbeat which makes her episodes very not boring (important on a long commute), and she usually introduces guests I’ve never heard of before. There are a few podcast/blogs I’ve started following after listening to their interviews on her show.

The Money Guy Show – check it out here

These guys are honest-to-goodness professional accountants and investment advisors based in Nashville. I enjoy listening to their thoughts on investment funds, retirement, taxes, etc. They have educated me! Totally learned some stuff I never would have otherwise. For example, you can actually invest in an IRA in 2018 and have it count towards your 2017 taxes up until Tax Day. I had no idea! Both Brian and Bo offer insightful personal finance advice, all served with a southern drawl, ya’ll.

Millennial Money Minutes – Check it out here and here.

This podcast is interesting because its quick and easy, and features 2 personal finance bloggers in one podcast. Grant and Matt offer personal finance advice in episodes that are 5 minutes or less with the occasional 20 minute episode. They typically talk about everything personal finance related like what is minimalism to how to get a raise at work. Not the kind of podcast I usually listen to and at first, I had to get used to their format. I’m glad I did. I have to save them up so I can binge-listen during my commute.

These are just a few that I listen to, but easily the ones I listen to the most. What about you? Do you have favorite podcasts that you listen to regularly? What do you like about them?

How to deal with guilt of past financial mistakes

May seemed to fly by and now the official start of summer is nearly upon us. Summer always starts early in Texas so the weather here has been warm and muggy. For the past few weeks, summer storms have been rolling through the area, bringing lots of rain and wind.

Mr. Cents loves to watch thunderstorms. When the thunder rumbles and lightening starts flashing, he sits on the back porch trying to capture pictures of lightening and comments on what he thinks the clouds look like. The latest formation he saw in the clouds was “Asgard”. If you aren’t a comic book nerd, here is an explanation of what Asgard is. As far as I know, he hadn’t been drinking.

Do you see Asgard?

Our porch overlooks an old farm in a pasture filled with yellow wildflowers. Unless its boiling hot (like it will be in a few weeks), we like to sit out there, eat some dinner, and watch the sunset while enjoying a glass of wine. Its easy to have a conversation out there, away from the TV and computer. Frequently, our conversations will involve money and what our future plans are.

The future is frustrating to talk about sometimes. I like to think about all of the possibilities for our lives, and make plans to get to where we are going. But at the same time, I wonder if we wouldn’t be there already if we had made different choices. Where would we be right now if we I hadn’t taken out so many student loans? Where would we be if we had kept renting that small townhouse instead of upgrading to a big house with a big mortgage? Where would we be if we had been smarter with money when we were younger? Truth is, I don’t know. I have no idea how different our lives could have been.

I have a tendency to wander down this crazy thought process a lot. When I start talking about the “what if’s”, my husband has to remind me that beating myself up about past decisions isn’t really going to help me plan for the future. He points out how far we’ve come since the early days of our bad money habits. And he’s right! We have done some smart stuff with money, even though I have a tendency to focus on the bad stuff we did.

We got rid of our gas-guzzling truck and bought a used two-door commuter car that gets amazing gas-mileage. We even paid it off completely in less than 6 months. Our other car still has a loan, and now we are working on paying it off too.

We both started saving for retirement in our mid-20s. We didn’t save a ton but that small chunk of change we deposited per pay check added up quick and will be worth a lot when we are older.

We moved out of a high cost of living area to somewhere much cheaper. AND we got rid of our giant mortgage in the process. We still want to downsize even more in the future, but for now, our house situation is good.

Don't let guilt ruin your financial mindset. Learn from the past.
Learn from past financial mistakes

 

We stopped shopping like it was a freaking hobby. When I was younger, I can’t tell you how many times I bought something just because it was “on sale”. I still slip up sometimes, but, for the most part, our purchases are more purpose driven and not “just because”.

We paid off all of our credit card debt. A few years after we got married, we racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. I’m happy to say that debt is all gone, and we will do everything within our power to never have it again.

We decided to learn from our idiot choices. I love reading financial blogs and listening to financial podcasts. There is a ton of great advice out there from people who have made better decisions. OR even people who were dumb like us and turned it all around.

Guilt is a powerful force. It can overwhelm you and turn to shame if not properly channeled into something productive. Its easy to focus on all of the bad financial decisions I’ve made, and overlook the good ones. Its easy to feel guilty for the stuff I did wrong rather that channel that energy into learning from bad choices. In the future, I am going to do my best to focus on all stuff I did right and learn from my mistakes so I can do better.

Do you feel guilty when you think about all of the things you could have done better financially? What are some of positive things that you have done? Leave a comment!