How can I make this blog more valuable to you?

There are scads of personal finance blogs…many of which, of course, are specific to financial independence and early retirement. I’ve tried to set this one apart by easing back from predominately technical material—“money mechanics” like Roth conversions and such—and instead focusing on the more inspirational & philosophical & entertaining & humorous aspects of FIRE that I’ve learned about from having been out of the workforce these last thirteen years.

And as you’ve probably figured out, I love BSing around and telling stories.

But ultimately this blog’s about you. I can sit here slinging words all day, but if you’re not finding them valuable, and if they’re not making your day a little brighter, then I’m only slinging a bunch of narcissistic shite to no good purpose. Talking to hear myself talk, in other words. You don’t need that.

And so: why do you come here? What do you expect to find? What’s working for you and what isn’t? What do you want more of and what do you want less of? Are there subjects I don’t get into that you’d like to see me cover? Would you like more frequent posts? Less frequent?

In short, how can I make your visits more worth your while?

If you have suggestions and/or observations and/or criticisms, I’d very much appreciate it if you’d leave them in the comments section. Don’t worry that I’ll get defensive: as the owner of this place I own it, so to speak. Anybody who’s ever worked retail will tell you that the customers aren’t always right, but you’d damn well better listen to them, and you’d damn well better do so humbly.

So I’m listening.

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit http://EarlyRetirementDude.com or email EarlyRetirementDude@gmail.com.

14 thoughts

  1. What makes your blog so unique for me is the way you write. Anyone can put together an informational post about money mechanics but you have something more. You are master of the craft of writing & storytelling and that is what makes your money/business/life related posts so exceptional.

    For me when a notification pops up about a new post on a blog means that I have to check the topic to know if I want to read it. When the notification pops up from your blog I know that there will be an interesting read whatever the topic is.

    To use a metaphor, checking out most blog posts are ranging from watching the news to watching a good documentary while checking out your posts is like watching another episode of your favorite series. There is only another one blogger who can do the same and he publishes rarely so please keep using the craft and making us happy often. 🙂

    1. That’s incredibly kind. Thank you.

      I’m no master of the craft or anything like that. The only thing going on, really, is that I’ve learned a prose style, a structural method, and a philosophy that work for me. Anyone can learn/use it. It’s this:

      The prose style is what it is. I prefer a stream-of-consciousness approach.

      The structural method, which is freshman comp stuff I don’t claim to have discovered, has four parts. First, whether in fiction or fact, sentences should each contain a complete thought and flow smoothly from one to the next to build a minor conclusion. Note that I don’t say “flow logically” because people write from emotion too.

      Likewise with paragraphs, which should also flow smoothly from one to the next to build an intermediate conclusion. The intermediate conclusion should end a section/chapter. Each section/chapter should end with a hook so as to pull readers through the entire work.

      The intermediate conclusions should, yeah, flow from one to the next, etc. to hammer home the theme.

      The entire piece should then end with a callback to the lede and a hook that leaves readers wanting more.

      That’s it.

      My philosophy is that as a writer you owe your readers the very best you’re capable of. This most importantly pertains to the topic conveying your theme. If you can dig deep down and pretty much disembowel yourself and find even ten words of the truth of what it means to be human, then you’ll connect with your audience no matter their culture, politics, religion, emotional makeup, upbringing, primary language, or anything else. That’s your job.

      What that means is that the very thing you’re afraid to write about is what you SHOULD write about.

      I have a piece of my own writing that makes me cry when I read it. It’s the most painful thing I’ve ever written about, and reading it brings back a shit-ton of repressed grief. I avoid it when I can, but sometimes I have to fall back on it as a pressure valve.

      And that it, man…that’s where I’m coming from. Again, I appreciate your compliments, but I’ve gotten just barely good enough at this to understand how much I suck. Anyone who wants a master of the craft should read Cormac McCarthy.

      How about PM-ing me on Twitter and telling me who that blogger is? If I’m not familiar with him, I’d like to read his work.

      1. > What that means is that the very thing you’re afraid to write about is what you SHOULD write about.

        An interesting point, I should do more of this. Coincidentally I am writing a post atm which I was hesitant to write.

        Sent you the PM 😉

  2. FIRE intrigues me because I like the idea of pursing a passion full-time and working part-time, rather than the other way around. Whether my passion can generate income in the future is less important, for now. Like many in this community, I believe if you’re good enough at something and can offer a unique product, you will be able to monetize it.

    But because I’ve always tried to make myself valuable and productive, I’ve generally thrown my whole self into my work. And while its paid off in my professional career, I’m not quite sure what I’m passionate about anymore (other than spending time with my wife). After a full day of work, and personal care (gym/cook/clean), there are so few hours left in the day. I read during commutes, but that feels like entertainment/work and not working to attain mastery or creating something. The older I get (I’m 28), the more drawn to this idea “producing something valuable and timeless” as being something I need to do.

    So my question:
    Before you retired, how did you figure out what it is you would pursue in retirement? How did you dedicate your little spare time to figuring out how you want to spend your days? How did you carve out time to dedicate yourself to your craft? How does one take energy away from their professional to put into personal endeavors without feeling guilty they are not giving their profession 100%?

    1. >I’ve generally thrown my whole self into my work.

      I feel like that’s an excellent choice, my friend. “An it harm none, do as ye will.” Sorry to hear about your loss of passion, though. What you say about “so few hours in the day” can be excellent motivation.

      To your questions, forgive me for answering with maxims I often repeat.

      First: anyone who says, “I can’t imagine what I’d do if I retired,” won’t. I had a multiplicity of interests and I wanted to pursue ALL of them.

      Second, as far as carving out time to study writing, I MADE it by exercising self-discipline. Just got home and want to relax? Nope. I gotta get over to my writing coach’s apartment and sit down with him for a two-hour session. Then during the train ride to work tomorrow morning I’ll make myself start on the homework he gave me. Etc., etc. These aren’t my words, but “discipline equals freedom.”

      Third, to retire early you have to commit to devoting at least as much of your energy and creativity and ingenuity to your own enrichment as you do to your employer’s. Giving your profession 100% is laudable, and such, but how are you defining “profession?” Do you mean your career? If so, you need to reconsider that: your “profession” ougtta be building a fine, full life.

  3. I’ve only just recently subscribed to your blog and didn’t read many past posts, but the missing piece IMO in many FI blogs is the post FI topics. There are plenty of bloggers on the path and discussing the technical issues, but lots of them disappear once they’re FI. My understanding is that you’re pretty far post FI, so I think that’s the unique voice you can add. What’s it like? How did you transition? What would you do differently given what you know now? How do you interact with people who are still working? How have you dealt with family/friends who might think you have plenty of money/time and should give them some? What’s it like to go from saving to spending? What’s it like to live through a recession when you don’t have a job? There are probably some post FI technical issues you could cover too if you want like taxes, healthcare, how you get money out of your retirement accounts (we all know the basics, but how are you actually doing it in real life), deciding how much to spend, etc.

    1. Ho my God, man…thanks for the kind words and especially for the column ideas. I think I’ve covered most of them, but I’m sure there are holes…so if as you work through my stuff you find empty space you’d like filled in, don’t hesitate to let me know.

    2. I think this is a good point. Once we achieve FI (even if we continue working), FIRE enthusiasts often drop out of FIRE forums. The technical material becomes redundant or too basic to maintain our interest on a daily basis. There are only so many times you can read about reducing expenses, maxing out tax-advantaged savings accounts, and investing in index funds…or even tax efficient asset location and ROTH conversions vs. 72(t) withdrawals for draw downs. Once you’ve got that, it’s the other, touchy-feely stuff that’s of interest. That’s why this blog fills a niche.

      Having recently retried at 50, I’m now going through the transition phase so that is my area of interest. For example… I failed to develop a life to which I would retire while I was working so have to do some catch up in that area. I am trying to rekindle old hobbies/interests and develop new ones. I am looking for opportunities to meet new people since I had NO friends outside of work (not a good situation). I am trying to determine an appropriate productivity/relaxation balance while also wondering if I should even care about that. I’m excited about this opportunity but also worry that I’ll fail to make the most of it. I’m staying up until midnight, sleeping until eight or nine, and wondering if that’s OK. I don’t post about my retirement on social media due to concerns about how some family members may react. (It’s like not bragging about winning the lottery while others are worrying about paying their rent.) Surprisingly, I suddenly have an interest in the weather because rather than being stuck in an office, I can go for a bike ride or flat water kayaking or clean the gutters. In my first two months, I’ve read two books, taken two online classes, volunteered with the Sierra Club (resulting in a terrible case of poison ivy), and taken a surprise vacation with my wife to New Orleans. I’m exercising more, eating better, sleeping better, and am happier than I’ve been in years. It’s been great for my marriage too. This transition phase has been interesting.

  4. I enjoy reading the comments and your responses to them the best. I also like the wide range of topics and your writing style.

    1. >your responses to them the best

      Hmm…interesting choice you’ve presented me with. Do I now act like an complete ass, or be over-the-top nice? Kind of an inkblot test, when you think about it…

  5. Thanks ERD
    I just binge read all your blog posts after finding you off of Go Curry and I’m happy to have spent the time. I like your ‘voice’ and hearing from another 40something person (I’m almost 48 but alas, not yet FI).
    Slice ‘o Life stories appeal to me – it helps me learn & internalize, so please keep it up.
    Best wishes for a good autumn!
    🙂

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