Returning to the Scene of the Crime…

Hawaii, here we come!

Hawaii, here we come!

Next week, I’ll join Mr PoP on a trip that he’s taking for work. Getting all of the details arranged for this upcoming trip also has me thinking about a similar trip we took to the same destination back in 2012 and one of the biggest things that came of it. That is, this blog – our own little home on the internet where we write about money, happiness, and kittens.

You see, it was nearly four years ago while on a similar trip to Hawaii that Mr PoP had the inspiration for us to start a personal finance blog. He envisioned it as a way for us to add a little easy passive income (fellow bloggers, don’t laugh) to our portfolio, and I agreed to participate, envisioning it as a project that we would really be working on together. But we had a compromise. To do it the way Mr PoP wanted – with full financial transparency into our income, spending, and net worth – I required us to be anonymous.

It Hasn’t Really Worked Out Exactly As We Thought

As it turns out, monetizing a blog isn’t effortless, and to top it off, we (well, mostly I) don’t really have the personality for it. So, other than paying for hosting expenses, the ad income generated by this site (from those lovely Google ads you see in the sidebar and hopefully aren’t too intrusive) pays for the ongoing expenses of the site, but not a whole lot more.

It also hasn’t really turned into as much of a joint project as I really wanted it to be. Mr PoP does do all the back-end work (minimal though it may be for our rather low tech and old-fashioned web presence here). But I’ve ended up being the person writing almost all of the content. That continues to be true seemingly no matter how many times I tell Mr PoP, “You should write a post about that!” when he says something rather insightful about money or happiness. For the record, his strokes of brilliance are never about kittens. All kitten ideas come from me and me alone.

What’s interesting is that the compromise that we struck for presenting full financial transparency into our money-lives (which overlaps with the rest of our lives pretty heavily) while maintaining anonymity has been mostly maintained. The transparency part is there… Heck, you can go to this one page and see links to our income, spending, and net worth since May 2012. That’s a long time, especially as we have watched other bloggers start and stop sharing similar information for various reasons in the same period.

Our anonymity has also mostly been maintained as well. About a year in, we “came out” to Mr PoP’s parents when we paid off a loan they had extended to us to buy our rental duplex. Then a couple of years ago someone emailed us wanting to talk generally about real estate in Florida and it turned out they were a great couple our age and had just moved to our small town. We met for coffee and became IRL friends (as opposed to internet friends), so they know who we are. (But I don’t actually know if they still read our blog on occasion since we never really talk about it!) The only uncontrolled “leak” of our anonymity was when one of Mr PoP’s colleagues put 2 and 2 together maybe a year ago. He’s a smart guy who also had the benefit of sitting in a cube just steps away from Mr PoP at the time and had also been seated next to me a few months before that at a fancy work dinner. So… given that most people don’t have this colleague’s proximity or intelligence, AND that we try not to provoke enough internet ire for someone to set their mind about tracking us down, it seems our anonymity is still fairly safe.

Where We Are Today

While we’re not working together on the blog in the way I had hoped we would, we’ve definitely been working together more than ever (hello, kitchen renovation!). As a result, it hasn’t really felt like the blog has been needed to fill a void in that arena in the same way it did in 2012 after coming off years (sometimes too many) projects that we worked on together in the first couple years after buying our house and then our duplex, both of which were foreclosures in pretty rough shape.

Our finances have also gotten kindof boring. In the early days of the blog, we had a decent amount of debt (~$100K not including our mortgage) from buying our investment properties and our car that we paid off. Since then, our finances feel like they’ve gotten a lot more boring. We’ve gotten a pretty good handle on what we feel is worth spending money on and what isn’t, and use our money accordingly. The rest gets put into our retirement accounts and our taxable investment accounts each month. Heck, the most exciting thing we did financially in 2015 was buying a photo-voltaic (aka solar) system to power the electrical needs of our house. When it comes down to it, we’re in the boring part of our overall journey for financial independence.

In terms of our writing on the blog, I’ve been feeling like it’s been reflecting that boredom as well. Where once there was inspiration for posts emanating from our everyday financial “to dos”, now there’s a distinct dearth as we feel like most of our recent financial moves are ones we’ve now visited again and again. And as even with the chorus of a great song, encountered enough times it can still start to sound tired, so I really don’t want to start writing about the same things ad nauseam.

And so we get to the heart of the matter…

Where Do We Go From Here?

Personally, we’ve got a broad outline for what we’re aiming the next few years for us to be like, and other than finishing the kitchen and then restoring Sunny to her former glory (or will we?), it’s going to be a lot of “staying the course” for us financially. And that’s kindof boring.

We’re not exactly sure what it means for our blog here. Perhaps we’ll find some more inspiration on the shores of Hawaii this time around.  But it does lead me to ask the following…


Is there something in particular you’d like to read about from our perspective?  

22 comments to Returning to the Scene of the Crime…

  • I still like reading your blog! I enjoy the stories of every day life too. So many voices (media, the internet, etc) are all about dynamics or big decisions or change or drama. It is great to have voices about the small decisions of daily life. It’s okay for the excitement to ebb and flow.

    I sometimes think people expect their lives to always be exciting because we absorb so much media in different forms. I really enjoy seeing examples of stability too. Gives me something to aim for in my sometimes tumultuous life.
    Leah recently posted..The Evening RoutineMy Profile

    • Thanks, Leah. I think you hit a good point that our lives (and I bet most people’s lives) are more full of small events and decisions than big ones. Over time, those small decisions add up to something, though. And maybe that’s what the blog and recording our thoughts here will mean for us long term – a way to go back and see all the little decisions that got us where we are.

  • I really appreciate you not writing any redundant material. That’s a big pet peeve of mine, with bloggers especially.

    As for something else to write about, why does it have to be financial? I named my site something open-ended so that when I inevitably get tired of writing about money, or start repeating myself, I can write about whatever I want and still pretend it’s “within the purview.” I imagine some day in the future when all of the readers drop off as I decide to turn it into a music and movie review site or an Etsy store or something. I say you should write about whatever you want to write about.
    Norm recently posted..The things we do for frequent flyer milesMy Profile

  • Levi

    I agree with Leah and Norm, write what inspires you, after all your inspiration of financial independence and want to spread that knowledge started this blog. Of course there will always be kitty pop to write about :).

    Decisions and impulse hit everyone all the time, so while your finances may seem boring at the moment, that may change or the boring finances may continue to grow and motivate people to act in a similar fashion. When I fist started reading POP, I thought it was amazing how quickly your net worth grew. This may be the same reaction in another 3 years, who knows. But talking about the needs and wants that we pass-by or realize are emotional wants, really should be talked about more and this is a great blog to read about that topic without someone trying to sell you something (financial advice) or really goes heavy with the ad space.

    I think you should continue to write about financials and the emotions/practicality that you tie them to.

    blog post idea – While I haven’t read all the blog posts as I am relatively new to this blog, I haven’t seen a post about monthly animal spending (besides what you actually spend in the monthly statement)? Food, vet, meds, etc. While this may be more of a dog thing (since they go outside more), I have owned both and it is very easily a monthly budget line (or two). While I never took my cats for routine vet visits as a child, now owning a dog and having a girlfriend who is a little dog crazy(to put it lightly), he goes to the doctors more than I do; also food ranges from $20 a bag to well over $50 (Gus, our dog, gets blue buffalo in our house – which is at the $50 mark, I struggle with this decision sometimes). We budget about $100 a month for our dog – $50 for food and an occasional toy and then usually the vet every few months ( frontline, and heart guard). I think where I am going with this winded rant is how it sometimes feels harder to draw the line on the pet then ourselves (maybe its just us). We recently considered getting another dog or cat but after looking at the budget, we couldn’t justify the extra expense while paying down student loans and saving for a home. Sorry to lump dogs into the kitten section! :)

    • Thanks, Levi. When in doubt, I’ll try and include a picture of Kitty PoP being adorable.

      The short answer for our pet expenses is that most years, Kitty PoP runs ~$20/mo on average. That’s his annual vet appt/shots, dry food (he does well on the basic stuff and his vet approves), litter, and maybe a couple of toys. The last two years were a bit more expensive though as he destroyed screening that we had to replace to the tune of ~$250 last Thanksgiving, and the year before that we bought him a $300 litter box. (The litter robot, it’s kindof amazing.). So he’s probably between $250-$500 most years. We don’t feel like we skimp on him, but cats are definitely cheaper than dogs as a rule. Have you thought about adopting a kitten instead? Kitten season is soon – and actually today is the day we “celebrate” Kitty PoP’s birthday!

  • Debi

    I’ve always enjoyed the he said she said posts. The topics don’t even necessarily need to be tied to personal finance. Would like to see more of these.

    • mrplantingourpennies

      Thanks Debi! We’re working on one of those now, probably about restoring Sunny vs. buying a different car.

  • Levi

    We actually put in an application to adopt a little kitten a few weeks back (i think someone beat us to him). We are taking it as a blessing in disguise since we figured out shortly after that we will be living in our apartment another year (pet rent is $25 per pet per month), it makes sense to wait until we have our own place where there are not these types of nickle/dime fees associated with pet ownership.

    Have fun on the Island, aloha!

  • […] Planting Our Pennies finances got boring so she’s looking for something to write about.  Suggestions? […]

  • Michelle

    I like the net worth updates a lot! If you stop blogging, at least keep updating us on your net worth! Also, what do your early retirement plans look like? And I like seeing kitchen progress.

    • mrplantingourpennies

      Yeah…we’ve never really talked about FIRE! Part of the reason is that if somebody at my office found out it could theoretically limit my earnings.

      I bet you’ll see some more kitchen progress on the other end of Hawaii…

  • I really like this post. I enjoy how honest you are when you’re writing. I feel like a lot of blogs out there have personas they put on for their readership and I don’t get that false air from you. When it comes to my posts, one of the blogs I read (maybe livingafi?) said to just write a draft whenever an idea strikes you. So, while I’m reading other blogs (AKA getting inspired), I always keep my dashboard open to add new drafts. I also have a text line in my phone that I’ve kept for literally years in which I text myself any ideas I may have throughout the day. It’s really helped me with inspiration. In terms of boring, I wish I could relate. I tend to force change into my life (consciously or unconsciously), so there’s always something going on.

  • Wellll………. coming up you’ll have a post about Omaha where I hear you’ll be meeting up with some pretty cool people. Then you’ll have your post about the Chautauqua which can be one, two or even more posts depending on how your time goes.

    Sometimes I suffer from “what the heck do i write”-itis but things pop up unexpectedly sometimes. Although I’ve only been at this thing for a year so maybe it gets even harder after 4 years. Congrats on the 4 year mark though!

    • mrplantingourpennies

      Thanks Gwen-it’s been a pretty good 4 years! Omaha and the Chautauqua are definitely on the writing list.

  • It’s great that you’ve been able to keep your anonymity all this time. I ended up spilling the beans to some of our friends, so a lot of the nitty gritty details of our budgets/net worth are no longer on the blog as a result.

    I hear you on hitting the routine of personal finance, and I’m right there with you. After a while, it’s just putting one foot in front of the other and staying the course.But for what it’s worth, I think your writing is probably really inspirational to new readers, even if it’s something that’s no longer novel for you.
    Done by Forty recently posted..I Miss My Tax RefundMy Profile

    • mrplantingourpennies

      We hope that people are getting inspiration/value from it. One of the goals was to have a complete financial history of a married couple becoming wealthy. For years I searched high and low for this; when I could find it I guess we built it =).

  • Jacq

    I am a fan of all posts Kitty POP. :) I second or third ‘he said she said’ posts are fun. As someone not ready to have income properties, I enjoy hearing about your searching for them, even if you pass, and some of the things that come up with your existing rental, good and bad. :)
    Congrats on the blog & have a wonderful time in Hawaii!

  • Somehow I read “kitten renovation” and I scratched my head at what that could possibly mean :)
    Stockbeard recently posted..Review: The Global expatriate’s guide to investing, by Andrew HallamMy Profile

  • LOL! Most bloggers seem to have similar experiences where monetizing is concerned. FaM just barely pays for the site maintenance costs…admittedly, I do have an incredible guy doing the back-end stuff, so it must be said that sometimes revenues decidedly do NOT cover those costs. Oh well.

    But PoP is sure worth it for us readers… I’ve loved reading about and seeing photos of your kitchen adventures. Other stories have been interesting and often entertaining, too. Hope you’ll be here for many happy returns.
    Funny about Money recently posted..VOTE! Monty Python Show or Kurt Vonnegut Novel?My Profile

  • A thought provoking post. Poopsie and I also blog anonymously, that’s mainly due to the nature of our jobs. Oh and when I say we… I write all the content, just like you. Maybe I should try and get Poopsie to write a post.

    We’re still in the very early days of blogging, with barely any readers, so I don’t think we are yet at risk of being found out in real life. We haven’t told anyone about the blog. We post our expenses, which I’m not sure how someone who actually knows us would react- it’s possible some would think we waste money and others would think we are lying about spending so little.

    It’s an interesting concept to think about- I wonder how we would react to being found out. I’d probably knee-jerk panic and want to shut the blog down, but I’m sure Poopsie would talk me round.
    Adventures with Poopsie recently posted..Where We’ve Travelled: VietnamMy Profile