What I've Learned From 3 Years of Blogging

All of these little moments have taught me some precious lessons

Three years ago tomorrow, I wrote my first ever post on Mixed Up Money. It was 300 words on the dot, and for the first time in my life, it was me publically admitting my struggles with debt repayment. It's downright embarrassing reading a lot of my old blog posts these days. However, this one, although terribly written, is pretty cool to look back at. I've come such a long way since that day three years ago. Back then, I had just finished another year of we'll say, unnecessary post-secondary attendance. I had just gotten engaged to my now-husband, I had just started a new job working for a credit counselling organization, and I was in over $12,000 of debt. I had two maxed out credit cards, a student loan and not a penny to my name.

That year and that day I decided to hit publish on my first ever blog post, I had no idea what was to come. My only thoughts when I started to write and share about my personal experiences online were that "this will hold me accountable" and "I'll be able to learn more about debt to help me market towards others for my new job." I never thought I'd still be writing, let alone be able to earn an income from my writing and that I'd get to IRL meet some of the incredible people who have helped me become who I am today.

So much of my life and who I am as a person has changed since that year, and I honestly owe it all to this blog.

In 2015, I paid off all of my debt. In 2016, I saved and paid for my wedding up front. In 2017, I increased my income, went to Portugal and started to build my net worth. Now, 2018 — I am planning to double that net worth and also have some more exciting things to look forward to over the next few months. But, I'll save those for later (so that you're forced to come back for more).

Mixed Up Money has allowed me to travel to events, participate in activities and meetings that I used to dream about and build relationships with people who have done some seriously amazing things. All of these little moments have taught me some precious lessons. In fact, five of the most important lessons I've learned since starting this blog three years ago are these:

1. You will never know everything there is to know about money

To this day, one of the things I love most about money is that although mathematically it's easy to figure out — in every other way it's difficult. Most of those reasons are because as you start to understand simple parts of your financial goals, you'll, in turn, start to uncover some more complex ideas that require more research and learning. Once you finally figure out those complexities — you'll quickly learn that you want to change your financial path yet again. Money takes a lot of patience, understanding and education.  All of which are not things you can manage overnight.

2. Planning can only take you so far

As much as I try to get ahead by planning out my blog posts, my social media and my life in general — those plans don't always end as I once imagined they would. Take this blog post for example. It's currently less than 24 hours from the time you'll be reading as I write this sentence. I'll always think of myself as a planner. I'll always write in my notebook, schedule events and milestones into my calendar and daydream about where I'd like to be in the next five years. However, those plans are more fluid than they used to be. Each day I try to do one actionable item that gets me closer to achieving a goal. But when those goals are accomplished is a touch more up for debate. Although it's hard to live your life one day at a time, I find that if I don't — I miss those tiny, irreplaceable moments that I never want to forget. Damn girl, you deep.

3. You'll probably only learn your limits through failure

Last year was pretty crazy for me professionally. On top of working full time, blogging part-time and freelancing part-time — things in my personal life were pretty intense. I thought that if I kept busy, focused on making money and ignored how overwhelmed I was, things would be fine. But, we all know that's a disaster waiting to happen. I've learned a lot about how much stress I can handle, how much work I should manage and why limiting myself from taking on too much at once is important. I can't say I've ever learned what my limits were without failing. This time, the failure was not putting enough energy into my mental health. Getting to share those tough times through writing and all of you readers was a great lesson in self-care. Sometimes you need to learn your limits and choose your focus, which is never an easy decision.

4. Not every side hustle has to become anything more than that

Back in November, I was on a panel discussing side hustles and entrepreneurship. While on that panel, I explained how my side hustle had led me to find a dream job that I love and had also offered plenty of other professional opportunities without forcing me to pursue entrepreneurship. Although I love the idea of working for myself, I am even more in love with the idea of keeping a full-time job and growing my experiences through this career path. One of the other panellists suggested that you cannot maintain a side hustle while working full time because one or the other will suffer. I disagree. Don't feel like because you start a blog, walk dogs on the weekend or sell handmade crafts online that you will eventually have to pursue that passion full time. Blogging has stayed so enjoyable for me because I don't feel the pressure to push myself into achieving something that wouldn't be best for me. Your side hustle can always and forever be your side hustle, and there are ways to balance both parts of your life while still giving each of those jobs your all.

5. People challenging you is the best possible lesson

Although we like to keep it mostly sunshine and rainbows over here on Mixed Up Money, sometimes the occasional dark cloud likes to show its face and voice its rather aggressive opinions. When I first started to write online, I knew that some people would criticize my ideas and style. However, I didn't think it would affect me at all — until it did. It's hard not to focus on the unsubscribes, the mean comments and the low-traffic days. Those things used to weigh on me. It felt like I was doing something wrong, I wasn't doing enough or the always classic fear that I wasn't good enough. I've now learned to embrace those opinions, comments and months that can only be described by saying: weak analytics. Challenging ideas and people who are angry just to be angry actually teach you how to be happy, see things from a new perspective and also to realize that some days will just suck. But if out of 365 days of the year, only 5% of those days suck — things are actually pretty great.

Thank you for reading, commenting, subscribing and laughing with me over the past three years. I plan to continue to learn a few more lessons over the next few years and to grow and change Mixed Up Money as my readers grow and change, too.

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What are some lessons you've learned since repaying your debt, writing your blog or focusing on your mental health? Let me know in the comments!