Subscriber Swap Saturday: Saving to Invest

by Kevin on July 11, 2009

This is the twenty-eighth edition of Subscriber Swap Saturday.

For the uninitiated, every Saturday I do an interview with another blogger. That blogger also interviews me and posts that interview on their website.We then tell our readers — hey, I think this guy is interesting, you should subscribe to his blog for a week.

This week I’m interviewing Saving to Invest. I highly encourage all of my readers to subscribe to his blog and see if you like what you find! Read more about Subscriber Swap Saturday at the link above. His questions for me are up on his blog.

Andy is the brains behind the blog – Saving to Invest, a personal finance blog covering topics from investing, frugality to economics. You can subscribe to his blog by RSS or e-mail.

1. You mention that until last year you were on track to be a millionaire by age 40. Two questions: how hard of an impact did 2008 have on you, and are you including any real estate holdings in your potential millionaire status?
Answer: The perils of writing one’s goals! Last year my portfolio was down by 50%, and since I have a lot of my assets overseas (moved from Australia a few years ago, and since I was earning 7% on my ING account there, kept most of my savings there), I took an even bigger hit as the US dollar strengthened. This year has been better and overall stocks/401K portfolio is up about 25%. In regards to being a millionaire by 40, I am still on target to be an “asset” millionaire – which includes real estate holdings. Being a “liquid” millionaire (i.e. ex-primary home) may take a little bit longer. Particularly if we have another year like 2008.
2. Where did you get your personal finance knowledge? Did it come from wise parents, a sage professor, or just reading on your own?
Answer: A few factors. My parents were not particularly rich growing up, and while I had a great up bringing, I was never spoilt and learnt the value of money and saving for what I wanted from an early age. This provided a good grounding for my personal finance knowledge. I then stumbled on to this personal finance blogging thing shortly after moving to America and discovered content which I could really relate. But honestly, the best personal finance (and generally all) lessons I learnt were from mistakes I made. I try not to repeat them though, as one lesson is enough!
3. You make a good bit of change from blogging. How have you pulled that off in such a small period of time and what do you do with your blogging income?
Answer: I am still surprised/amazed at the fact that I can actually make a nice chunk of change from blogging. I have written a number of articles on blogging characteristics and success factors, but I think that from a revenue perspective the reason for my success has been focusing on 2 or 3 advertising/affiliate partners (focused but diverse stream of income), writing articles that are relevant in the popular media and spending some time publicizing my articles through various channels. I am always surprised at how many people write great stuff, but spend so little time promoting it. At the end of the day, search traffic to one’s website equals revenue. The more links you have to your article, the more traffic you are likely to get. I also keep tinkering with layout and ads to see what works best. Finally, when thinking about revenue, put yourself in the shoes of someone coming from your website (not what you think looks nice!). Would they click an Ad or banner? Why? Then make sure you check you stats regularly to see how your new ads/placements are working. Going from $1 a day to $100 a day in revenue is definitely possible, but it does take hard work and experience is the best teacher.
4. Being a married guy, how do you and your wife handle finances? Joint accounts, separate accounts, or …?
For better or worse, I do all the finances in my household (joint accounts in most things). I keep a monthly budget and generally use the “pay my self-first” principle (i.e. automatic savings and 401K contributions) so that any money left over can be spent without worrying about our financial future. We also have a rule to let each other know if we plan to spend more $100 in a single transaction, so that we can give each other a reality check to see if really nice the item or service. She does however provide a good balance to my sometimes overly frugal nature.
5. where do you want to take Saving to Invest? Continue to grow your income and go full-time blogging, eventually sell it, or keep it as a nice side hobby?
Good question. I have been thinking of that a lot of late. I don’t think it will be able to replace my current job any time soon and from an income perspective I think I will earn more in my corporate career than through blogging. My blog would have to grow significantly in size to replace my salary and benefits – which in the highly saturated blogging market will be hard to achieve. Right now I see my blog as a passive or back-up source of income. Selling down the road is possible, if I get a good offer. But more likely than not I will just start another blog because I like to write, have an opinion and love the dynamic aspect of the internet.

Question (No Debt Plan): You mention that until last year you were on track to be a millionaire by age 40. Two questions: how hard of an impact did 2008 have on you, and are you including any real estate holdings in your potential millionaire status?

Answer (Saving to Invest): The perils of writing one’s goals! Last year my portfolio was down by 50%, and since I have a lot of my assets overseas (moved from Australia a few years ago, and since I was earning 7% on my ING account there, kept most of my savings there), I took an even bigger hit as the US dollar strengthened. This year has been better and overall stocks/401K portfolio is up about 25%. In regards to being a millionaire by 40, I am still on target to be an “asset” millionaire – which includes real estate holdings. Being a “liquid” millionaire (i.e. ex-primary home) may take a little bit longer. Particularly if we have another year like 2008.

Q: Where did you get your personal finance knowledge? Did it come from wise parents, a sage professor, or just reading on your own?

A: A few factors. My parents were not particularly rich growing up, and while I had a great up bringing, I was never spoilt and learnt the value of money and saving for what I wanted from an early age. This provided a good grounding for my personal finance knowledge. I then stumbled on to this personal finance blogging thing shortly after moving to America and discovered content which I could really relate. But honestly, the best personal finance (and generally all) lessons I learnt were from mistakes I made. I try not to repeat them though, as one lesson is enough!

Q: You make a good bit of change from blogging. How have you pulled that off in such a small period of time and what do you do with your blogging income?

A: I am still surprised/amazed at the fact that I can actually make a nice chunk of change from blogging. I have written a number of articles on blogging characteristics and success factors, but I think that from a revenue perspective the reason for my success has been focusing on 2 or 3 advertising/affiliate partners (focused but diverse stream of income), writing articles that are relevant in the popular media and spending some time publicizing my articles through various channels. I am always surprised at how many people write great stuff, but spend so little time promoting it. At the end of the day, search traffic to one’s website equals revenue. The more links you have to your article, the more traffic you are likely to get. I also keep tinkering with layout and ads to see what works best. Finally, when thinking about revenue, put yourself in the shoes of someone coming from your website (not what you think looks nice!). Would they click an Ad or banner? Why? Then make sure you check you stats regularly to see how your new ads/placements are working. Going from $1 a day to $100 a day in revenue is definitely possible, but it does take hard work and experience is the best teacher.

Q: Being a married guy, how do you and your wife handle finances? Joint accounts, separate accounts, or …?

A: For better or worse, I do all the finances in my household (joint accounts in most things). I keep a monthly budget and generally use the “pay my self-first” principle (i.e. automatic savings and 401K contributions) so that any money left over can be spent without worrying about our financial future. We also have a rule to let each other know if we plan to spend more $100 in a single transaction, so that we can give each other a reality check to see if really nice the item or service. She does however provide a good balance to my sometimes overly frugal nature.

Q: where do you want to take Saving to Invest? Continue to grow your income and go full-time blogging, eventually sell it, or keep it as a nice side hobby?

A: Good question. I have been thinking of that a lot of late. I don’t think it will be able to replace my current job any time soon and from an income perspective I think I will earn more in my corporate career than through blogging. My blog would have to grow significantly in size to replace my salary and benefits – which in the highly saturated blogging market will be hard to achieve. Right now I see my blog as a passive or back-up source of income. Selling down the road is possible, if I get a good offer. But more likely than not I will just start another blog because I like to write, have an opinion and love the dynamic aspect of the internet.

* * * *

Thanks for the interview, Andy!

Hey bloggers, interested in being featured in Subscriber Swap Saturday? Check out the requirements and drop me an e-mail.

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