Penny from She Picks Up Pennies was a recipient of a Plutus Award in 2018. Now, a year later, we catch up with her about how her blog has changed since having her son, what keeps her going when things get tough, and her advice to future blogger writers.
1. Can you tell us about your blog and what Plutus Award you won?
My blog, She Picks Up Pennies, won Best Frugality Blog last year. My blog chronicles my life as a teacher who is trying to pay down six figures of debt with my husband (another teacher!) and my son (now a toddler!). There’s plenty of frugality advice on the Internet, so I try to share my story with a mix of mindful spending and living. Plus, I’m not afraid to share all the frugally awkward moments that happen!
2. How did you feel when you won the award, knowing it was from your peers?
It was such a huge honor and such a complete shock. I blog anonymously and it never even dawned on me that I might get called up onto the stage. Good thing I was laughing and crying so hard — I’m pretty sure I was unrecognizable in the photos. This community is simply the best, and I’m thrilled to play a small part in it.
3. What have you been up to in the past year; are you still doing the same blog? Have you decided to focus on anything in particular this past year or have you changed course in any way?
I am still blogging two times a week over at She Picks Up Pennies. I’m also doing more writing for other people in the community, like Women Who Money.
In terms of my focus or how my blog has changed, I’m still working on celebrating other people’s money wins and sharing my frugally awkward moments. But I’ve also added a lot of layers to my blog, I think, now that I have a son. There’s a lot of family finance issues that I can touch on now that I couldn’t personally speak to before.
4. Do you make stepping away every now and then a priority? What do you do to recharge?
My blog isn’t my day job; it’s a mostly unpaid labor of love. One of the best aspects of that is that I can step away if I need or want to. I haven’t this past year simply because it’s hard to come back to it, but I have taken time away previously.
What really helps me recharge or refresh my perspective is to have money conversations with people who aren’t in the personal finance world. It’s easy to feel like everything’s already been said, but then you realize, “Oh, wow, this community still has work to do.”
5. What advice would you give someone looking to start their own blog?
Be true to yourself and make sure you’re honest with yourself as to why you’re starting. Blogging is hard. Writing is hard. If you don’t love it, it’s going to be that much harder to weather the ups and downs.
Also, make sure you reach out into the community. That was the scariest part for me. I remember when I first created the “Penny” Twitter account almost five years ago. I think the first two people I followed were Cait Flanders and J$. It was so surreal to realize, “Hey, I could just tweet to these idols of mine!” And you know what? They responded! The community is just amazing, so don’t be afraid to join in!
6. What do you consider your greatest achievement outside of She Picks Up Pennies?
I have an incredible family and a great group of friends, and I’m pretty good at making time to enjoy them both. Plus, I love being a teacher. I have a pretty fantastic life right now, and I think the fact that I can honestly say that is my greatest achievement.
7. If you hadn’t ended up doing She Picks Up Pennies, where do you think you’d be right now?
I would definitely still be lurking in the personal finance community shadows. I read blogs and commented anonymously for a few years before my husband finally gave me the push to start my own blog. My blog actually opened up a ton of doors in terms of ghostwriting and freelancing. Without my blog, I don’t think I would have made the leap into any of that.
Penny, thank you for catching up with us! We love celebrating award winners and are looking forward to this year’s Plutus Awards ceremony, our 10th year of celebrating excellence in personal finance!