The Intersection of Money and Life: The Evolution of The Happy Homeowner

Inspiration When I began this blog, it was merely a way for me to stay accountable with my money; a hobby that was more spending diary than anything else.

Quite frankly, I didn’t have much of a clue about what I was doing, as evidenced by having my roots on (non-self hosted) Blogger and choosing a name that had nothing to do with money or personal finance.

Cluelessly undeterred, I continued to read blogs, publish posts, and comment on the posts that others were writing.

A “Real” Blog is Born

As I began to pump out more posts, something pretty amazing happened: I began to connect with other bloggers, and I realized that people were actually reading what I wrote. Better yet, they were commenting on my posts. And sharing them. And linking to me!

In a surreal blur of emails, tweets, and Gchats, I began to sense that I could be onto something. Mind you, nothing Earth-shattering, but something that I could grow into; something that I could grow with.

Something that I could be proud of because it remains rooted in my authentic, down-to-Earth style–there’s no SEO magic or inflated income reports and cryptic “How-To” posts (that never seem to actually include what to do) developed strictly to drive traffic. Everything I write about here is published because I’m interested in it, it applies to my life in some way, and it’s purpose-driven content created to teach and inspire readers to strive to reach their goals and live a life they’re proud of as well.

A Proud Mama Bear

Two years after that first realization that I had some traction with this site, I stand here proud of what The Happy Homeowner has become. More than a place to read about the various aspects of managing your money well, this blog has grown to include many aspects of life: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Yes, I over-share sometimes. Yes, I sometimes slow down my posting frequency because life happens (or I’m paying well-deserved attention to my freelance work). Yes, I test things and abandon them if they aren’t working for whatever reason. It’s a constant flow; up and down–sometimes all around. Those of you who have been along for the ride since the beginning know what I’m talking about!  :)

And no matter the media mentions or subsequent spikes in traffic I receive, no matter the advertising dollars or affiliate income flowing in each month, I still write with two purposes: To inspire and to educate. I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes, be inspired to chase your dreams, and leave with some sort of takeaway.

The Intersection of Money and Life

So as I move into yet another chapter of life as The Happy Homeowner (sans home…haha), I will be transitioning the site into more of a lifestyle blog. With this has come some big architectural changes: The addition of a ‘lifestyle’ tab, more of a focus on fitness and cars and travel and all of the various hobbies and interests I have.

Perhaps the ultimate experiment as I have no idea what kind of impact these changes will have on my readership, traffic, and trajectory as a blogger, I’m excited to move into the next chapter. I can promise plenty of personal finance content but it will now be infused throughout posts that focus more on living a completely healthy, happy, and balanced life.

After all, life is a hell of a lot more than just money so why should I stop there?

Moving forward, what type of content would you like to read here?

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Nerds, Pull-ups, and How to Network Like a Boss: FinCon13 Recap

FinCon13

Exploring St. Louis with my awesome roomie, Kathleen from Frugal Portland!

This year, I was fortunate to be part of the FinCon13 madness. Being my first foray into the world of blogging conferences, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be nothing short of amazing based on what others had said about previous years’ events.

Let’s just get this out of the way now: In every sense of the word, FinCon was an EPIC experience.

If you have ever contemplated attending, you should start making your plans for 2014 now.

Nerding Out

As Pat Flynn, J.D. Roth and many others proclaimed, we personal finance bloggers are an interesting mix of…nerds. From fantasy gaming to incredibly detailed Excel spreadsheets we spend hours fiddling with, there’s no shortage of nerding out to be had when this group of people gets together.

Lest you think that we’re all a bunch of gremlins who hide behind our computer screens, the PF community at FinCon is an incredibly diverse group of people. Mothers, fathers, runners, fashionistas, even optometrists–there’s an endless array of interests, hobbies, and backgrounds to connect with; handlebar mustaches and all. :)

And if you’re nervous about what it’s like to meet the people behind the blog or to meet some of your blogging idols, rest assured that every single person I met was nothing short of incredibly friendly. Smiles and small talk galore, it was very easy to strike up conversation with the people around me.

Pull-up Bar Included

A random addition to the conference mix, there’s an unofficial, yet highly competitive (oxymoron much?) pull-up contest during each FinCon. This year, PT pulled out all the stops by bringing in an actual home gym setup and plopping it prominently on the stage inside the expo hall.

My only sentiments about the pull-ups are that I can actually do them and I should have gotten my butt up there to represent the ladies. J.D. and Johnny Moneyseed did their best to convince me, but I was battling quite a cold and sheepishly decided it was best to “not spread my germs.”

Gentlemen, next year it’s on like Donkey Kong, thankyouverymuch. This little lady has done up to 15 pull-ups at once, so it looks like there’s a new addition to my current marathon training plan.  :)

Network like a Boss, Even if You’re Shy like Me

The best part of any conference is usually the networking opportunities. This was certainly the case with FinCon as I had the pleasure of meeting many of my favorite bloggers along with industry reps, editors, and website owners.

While some might not believe it based on reading this blog, I’m a pretty shy person when it comes to being in large groups. I’m a fireball of energy in small groups and once I get to know people, but I can be painfully shy (and even awkward) in the larger settings.

Fortunately, I took advantage of the FinCon bootcamp add-on, and I can say that it was hands-down one of my favorite experiences. Especially considering that I picked up a hell of a cold/sinus infection en route to St. Louis, I was able to (literally) squeak through plenty of great conversation because I felt more comfortable in the smaller setting.

I also had the opportunity to meet people one-on-one and work in small groups. I even found the courage to participate in a site teardown where I put this blog up on the screen and asked the group for their feedback, suggestions, and opinions of The Happy Homeowner. It was a nerve-wracking yet amazing experience and I’m excited to already be incorporating some of the new changes into the site (stay tuned for more!).

If you’re a shy person and can’t imagine attending a conference, speaking, etc., consider the following tips that resonated with me during Jean Chatzky’s keynote:

FinCon13 For me, I’m good with small talk. I can connect easily with others in a small group or one-on-one setting much better than working the room in a large crowd.

So that’s just what I did: I sought out smaller, more intimate moments to converse with people and it paid off. Not only did I get out of my shell, I also landed the beginning of what will likely be my largest contract job to date.

FinCon13 This clearly applies to a lot more than just networking, but it’s an important reminder for learning how to connect with other people. There are countless times in our lives, perhaps even daily, when an open door is presented to us. If you don’t walk through it, you never know what other opportunity you could be missing.

At FinCon, one of the best things I did was to challenge myself to walk through the proverbial doors being presented to me. As I mentioned above, I put my site up on the screen to be critiqued. I approached Jean Chatzky and pitched an idea to her. I owned the mistakes I made this past summer with a failed staff writing job by apologizing to the blogger in-person. I built rapport with J.D. Roth and a few others simply by eating ice cream and talking about pull-ups. And I’ve been invited to be a guest on three different podcasts, with the first happening next week.

In each instance, I just kept moving forward, no matter how nervous or shy I was feeling. If you’re working towards becoming a better networker, take a few chances. At the worst, you’ll feel silly for a few minutes. But at the best, you’ll walk away with a new friend, business opportunity, or even a new job.

FinCon13 Above all, just be yourself. There’s no need for gimmicks or fanfare. Sure, I didn’t meet everyone, I probably came off as super awkward to some, and there were times when I questioned what in the world I was doing there. But then I remembered to just be me and things fell into place from there.

Smile, shake some hands, and make a wee bit of small talk. Keep practicing and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!

See you at FinCon14!

 

 

 

See You at FinCon!


Tomorrow I jet off for my very first blogging/PF conference, FinCon, and I couldn’t be more excited!

After missing this last year due to work conflicts, I knew there was a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d miss it this year. I’m packed (well, sort of..haha) and ready to go for the next five days of blogging/conference/nerding out awesomeness. It kicks off with tomorrow’s bootcamp and ends on Sunday with a day of fun in the city.

When I get back, I’ll be upping the ante with what I’ve learned, and I’ll finally be ready to share some of my secret projects that I’ve been working on for the past few months. :)

I’m looking forward to meeting so many of the people that I’ve emailed and worked with for over three years. It’s pretty wild how many people I email/Gchat with on a daily basis that I haven’t met in person yet, but I can’t wait to change that starting tomorrow.

If you’re reading this and you’ll be attending FinCon this week, drop me a line!

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