Where I Was
Tomorrow marks the 6-month anniversary of Frugaling.org! On May 4th, 2013, I finally wrote about my struggle with student loans and my hope for a better life – one without the worries of excessive debt. My debt sat at $37,719 and would be pushed over $40,000 with the fall semester’s loans. I was scared, and I wondered aloud, “Would the amount of debt I have prevent somebody or scare them away from a serious relationship or marriage? Could debt be so burdensome, if shared, that people just avoid it at all costs?”
Remarkably, I’ve been able to continue to churn through article after article, while maintaining one of the busiest graduate school semesters of my life. But I’ve been motivated by a pressing need to change the paradigm. I live a life where everything I enjoy is taxed at an artificial rate: 6.8% active interest.
Starting a website like this was almost comical. My friends, coworkers, and family members generally gave me a resounding “That’s nice” message. Most thought it was a waste of time. I appreciated their rejections and skepticism, while completely fighting against every concern. People thought I was crazy to be in grad school, writing about personal finance, and have the lofty goal of paying back debt while in the process.
Where I Am
When I started, there were about 10-20 readers per day. It was safe to say my friends were taking pity on me and visiting to be nice. 6 months later, the site brings in 20 times that per day, and is consistently growing. Concerns over car/student loans, ways to save, and ideas about making more money have led to a site with growing popularity. Frugaling is about to cross the top 150,000 websites in the world and received about 83,000 visits in 6 months.
The excitement goes beyond website statistics. As I open up my Mint.com account and peek at my debt balance, I’m reassured by positive change. My debt load now sits at $34,179 – that’s a reduction of $3,000! I was able to pay back all the loans I took from this semester and pay back an extra $3,000 – in total it’s about $6,000.
By creating this site, I’ve been able to making serious amounts of advertising revenue – in the neighborhood of $10,000. I’ve shared this number with a couple of most closest friends and family members; suddenly, this is a serious living. Comically, I’ve never made more per month than the last 6 months. The money has been directed primarily to student loans and creating financial savings. I’ve grown more hopeful by the dollar, as I realize there’s an out – I can do this!
I feel like a lottery winner. Now, my monthly interest payments sit at $100 a month for the student loans. This is both manageable and something I’m ready to devour. Left and right, I’ve been paying my loan manager $500 to $1,000 at a clip. I’ve been paying so much money that the servicer sent an email reminding me that nothing was “due” yet. Little do they know that I want to pay off the active interest loans prior to graduation. If I fail, that’s okay – I’d rather fail trying.
Where I Am Going
I don’t want to lose my original intentions for starting this site, though. I created Frugaling to share my voice about personal finance, offer a reflective perspective, voice frequent opinions, help people tackle their debt, and encourage my readers to get frugal. For the next six months, I’m going to attempt to deliver the best content to my readers yet.
From experimental diets and budgets to new writers and perspectives, Frugaling is going to get a tremendous upgrade. By the year’s end I’d like to reach 500 Twitter followers, 100 Google+ followers, and write another 40-50 articles. Over the next couple months, I’m looking forward to cultivating some new contributors to the site and beginning to expand beyond my sole perspective.
When it comes to my debt, I intend to pay another $2,000 to $3,000 more by year’s end. Get ready NelNet (my loan servicer), some massive payments are coming. Oh, and on top of that, I won’t be needing any student loans next semester! The direction is changing, and I’m ready to catalog this entire experience for you. Please subscribe and share the site! Thank you for your support and encouragement.
Your friend and less broke grad student,
(See Related: Five Months Of Frugaling: A Reflection)