This is a guest article by Brian Fourman. Brian is a former private school personal finance and Bible teacher now turned stay at home dad, blogger, and freelance writer. His hobbies include baseball cards, rental real estate, running, cooking and sports. In his down time, he loves hanging out with his four kids and hearing his wife talk about all the cool things CPAs do at work.
Everyone has a different journey that led them to start blogging. I’ve found many personal finance blogs were born because the owner had come through or was still wading neck deep through a financial hardship. The blog became their outlet to share their story and maintain accountability as they worked through the financial struggles.
I think that’s admirable and greatly needed. We want to hear compelling stories about people who have paid off $100,000 in debt and are now killing it financially. It’s inspiring and offers hope to the millions of readers who haven’t quite reached that level of success but desire to do so.
But what if you don’t have a story like that? Where does one find the inspiration to not only start a blog but also to write all the time? What inspiration creates the level of stamina needed to come back to it day in and day out?
The answer is that the inspiration must come from other sources. That’s how my blog at Luke1428.com came to be.
On Finding Inspiration
My wife and I really never had any significant debt issues to overcome. There were minor college and grad school loans we had to pay off but those were taken care of by the time we reached 30.
The biggest challenge we faced — mostly I faced — was a spending issue. We (again I) simply spent too much each month. We were routinely dipping into our savings account to pay off our monthly credit card bill. Consequently we could gain no traction with starting an emergency fund, funding college or building for retirement.
In 2008, we (mostly my wife) started listening to Dave Ramsey. His thoughts about money didn’t click with me right away but over time I became intrigued by the message. In the summer of 2010 I decided to lead his Financial Peace University class at our church.
In the middle of one of the lessons Dave made an off-hand remark regarding financial principles found in the Bible. He said that you could get a degree in finance just by reading the book of Proverbs. “It’s in there,” he said, and then moved on with the lesson.
I don’t know why but that comment stuck in my head. I couldn’t shake it. I decided to read a chapter a day for a month to see what I could find.
Now, growing up in a Christian home, going to a Christian college and choosing to work as a teacher and principal in a Christian school, I’d read the Bible a lot over the course of my life. With that being said, I was still amazed at what I found.
There seemed to be verses on every page and in every chapter. Verses about money related to debt, spending, saving, working hard, being generous, and planning ahead. I really don’t know how I could have missed that all those years of reading. I guess I wasn’t looking.
That month of reading set me out on an exciting journey. I decided to read through the Bible in a year and record all the Bible verses about money I could find. On that reading journey, I became convicted about my use of debt and how I was recklessly spending money. That’s when our financial lives began to improve by leaps and bounds.
The conviction I felt led to great change for our financial lives. It was also the topic of an interesting conversation I had with my wife in early 2012.
Overcoming Mental Obstacles
In early 2012, my wife was midway through a career transition that would eventually take her from high school math teacher to CPA. It had been an arduous year already as we shuffled schedules and household responsibilities so she could go back to school and adjust to her new job at an accounting firm.
One winter night we sat down to talk about our hopes and dreams for the future. As we sat in our bedroom sharing our hearts she asked me, “Why don’t you start writing a blog and share your ideas about the Bible and personal finance?”
My first reaction was gut-wrenching fear. That emotion was quickly followed by an unequivocal response of “No.” I saw no value in putting myself out there (wherever “there” was) to risk ridicule and rejection by those who might question or not appreciate my faith.
I felt entirely safe and comfortable where I was.
Before she could offer a rebuttal, I quickly came up with a list of excuses built out of my fear.
“Besides,” I said, “I don’t even know what a blog is.”
“I won’t have time to write now that I’ve taken over the major family responsibilities.”
“I’m really nobody of importance. Who would listen to me?”
“We can’t deal with any more change now. Your schooling and career transition is enough.”
Have you ever been there? Ever made an excuse to convince yourself an idea is not valid? In that moment I was. There was no way I was going to share my meager thoughts about money or faith on the Internet.
My wife wouldn’t let it go though. She didn’t nag or badger but kept gently prodding and encouraging from time to time over the next few months. She knew I had it in me.
I only had to believe and want it myself.
It took nearly six months to convince myself and deal with the mental roadblocks I’d erected. As I slowly did, a little voice inside me began to emerge telling me to go for it — that it was the right thing to do.
Finally, I couldn’t convince myself why I shouldn’t do it and my site was born on July 3, 2012 — my personal Independence Day.
What My Blogging Journey Has Taught Me
There are many personal bloggers out there far more accomplished than I. I’m thankful for the connections I’ve made with some of them and what they’ve taught me about blogging. It’s my hope I can encourage them by sharing what my blogging journey has taught me.
To anyone reading whether you own a blog or not, I’d say:
Follow your core values. We all have values that drive us. My own are spiritual in nature. Yours may be something else. Whatever they are, your writing and lifestyle must develop and flow from them. It will create a greater sense of purpose for you and that purpose will translate in greater appeal to your audience and those around you.
Be open to changing what you value. This may not immediately make sense based on what I said in #1. Why would we change our core values? If I believe it then I should stick with it, right?
If I’d followed that line of reasoning, I never would have grown out of my financial infancy. I thought we were doing fine and that I could spend what I wanted with no repercussions. I valued handling money my own way instead of handling it a better way.
Changing what you value doesn’t necessarily make you a hypocrite. It simply means you’ve transitioned into a new way of thinking — hopefully one that’s for the better. Sadly though, too many blindly hold to their beliefs without even considering the alternatives.
Actively fight against the comparison trap. It’s so easy to compare oneself to others. We see people who are rock stars in their respective field and daydream about what it’s like to be them. In fact, we may so obsess about this that we manipulate our lives and order our every step to keep up with or become just like them.
Comparisons are deadly. In fact, I can honestly say that in over two years of blogging, every time I’ve become depressed about the progress I’m making it’s because of this issue. I see others who have more social media followers, more traffic, more knowledge, more resources or are making more money with their site. When you are active in the space it’s so easy to see this everyday and if you are not careful it will beat you down.
Life is competition with one person — you. Be the best person you can be and let the chips fall where they may. You’ll get nowhere wasting energy on trying to be like someone else.
Continue to inspire and be inspired. Whether you are running a blog or not, you have a story to share. And there are people in your sphere of influence that could benefit from hearing it. But others will not benefit if you refuse to act, if you refrain to reach out and touch them in some way. Making that initial connection often leads to further opportunities to share what great things are happening in your life.
I’m convinced that bloggers in the personal finance community want to inspire people. I’m also convinced that many fail because they lose sight of what inspired them in the first place.
I was inspired through a spiritual conviction that changed the way I think about money. That inspiration hasn’t left me. I think about it every week when I sit down to write. It continues to drive me forward day by day.
But every once in a while, I need a spark to rekindle the fire. I require a jolt that helps me remember why I started writing in the first place. I need to be re-inspired to keep the drive to write alive.
How do I get that?
- By continuing to dive into the Bible to see what else I can learn
- By drawing on my affection for my own family and friends
- From interacting with the blogging community at large and by attending conferences like FinCon
- Through the comments, success stories and encouragement of my readers
- From meeting my own goals and growing as a person and professional
I don’t think a person can continue to blog or be a success in life if they can’t find sources that will continue to inspire them. Here’s to hoping you can find those because you’ve got a lot of worthy things to say and a lot of people to touch.
Questions: Why did your blogging journey start? Are there mental obstacles you deal with on a day-to-day basis? Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap? Who or what inspires you to keep moving forward?
Are you a financial blogger with a story to share about your experiences or epic, life-changing advice for other bloggers? If so, contact me (Luke).