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Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and your family lots of love and happiness today. :)

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Happy 6th Birthday to GMBMFB!

Did you know that I’ve been blogging about personal finance for six years? Yep, that’s right. Today marks the 6th Blogoversary of GMBMFB. Crazy, eh? I can’t imagine the number of Starbucks lattes I’ve consumed while blogging over those last 6 years. :)

Whenever I meet new people, or I talk with friends about my career for the first time, they always seem so surprised that I write about personal finance. “Finance! That’s random – how did you get into that?” or “Wow, that seems, um… interesting.”

I usually give them a short answer about how I started blogging to keep myself accountable while I was getting out of debt. It was a really fun way to exchange ideas with other people. I was happily blogging for years before I had the amazing opportunity to write for the Toronto Star. This little website started getting recognized a bit more, and I’ve been mentioned in major media outlets. Oh, and I have also appeared on television (CTV) and have done a bunch of radio interviews too.

But anyway, when I saw that my pal Cait from Blonde on a Budget responded to a questionnaire about blogging (and included me as someone who inspired her to start blogging), I decided to do the same. It seems fitting to do on my blogoversary. :)

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1) How did you come up with your blog name?

It was a random conversation with my sister. I think she said the phrase, “give me back my five bucks!” and it kind of stuck with me.

2) Which bloggers inspired you when you first started writing?

To be honest, when I first started blogging about money in February 2007 (nearly 6 years ago!), there weren’t many personal finance blogs out there to read. Especially in Canada. The community was really, really small. I remember reading one blog by a 30-something Canadian woman that I just adored. I thought she was amazing, and when she commented on my blog I nearly died. Then, she stopped blogging suddenly, and I can’t even recall the name of that blog to look it up online. In fact, all of my early PF friends have stopped blogging. :|

So when I discovered blogs like Squawk Fox, Money Smarts Blog, and Canadian Capitalist, I really became motivated to keep on writing. And since then, the PF community has absolutely exploded. I once used to be able to name most of the Canadian PF blogs on the internet, and now new ones are popping up every single day. It’s amazing and overwhelming and inspiring.

3) Why write about finance?

I love writing about finance because whether we like admitting it or not, money influences most of what we do in life. It affects everything from where we work, to what we eat, to how we spend our free time. The relationship we have with our money is for life, so the better (and less turbulent) we can make it, the better. :)

My passion with personal finance is in making things uncomplicated. I started this blog to show other people that if I can get out of debt, you can do. I’m just an average person with an average salary and an average education. But determination goes a long way. I’m not the best writer out there (just ask some of the Toronto Star readers – ha!), and I’m not the smartest either… but I truly care about the financial well-being of others, and I want others to be able to learn something from my mistakes (as well as and my achievements).

4a) What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Being able to express myself is something that I really love. I’m a bit shy in real life, and I’m not a great public speaker… but give me a keyboard and I can happily type away for hours. That being said, what I love most about blogging is the friendships I’ve formed with readers and fellow bloggers. I’ve been e-mailing with some readers for years! I’ve met many readers/bloggers offline, and have created great friendships with some of them that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

4b) What do you enjoy least about blogging?

I feel like most people would think that the thing I enjoy least is the criticism. I don’t know what it is, but people love to hate me. But that’s fine. The first few times I read mean things about me online or comments on my blog, I was really upset. Now? I just don’t care. During the 2.5 years I wrote for the Toronto Star’s Moneyville.ca, I would say 95% of the comments were mean. When I was anonymous, readers would go out of their way to threaten me or send me mean e-mails. Even today, I’ve read mean things about me in forums, and someone even created a meme about me (!).

But, the thing I enjoy the least about blogging is the anxiety I get when I post something that I’ve taken a lot of time to write. It’s the same feeling you might get when going to a big job interview, or when you have to speak in front of a large audience. Sometimes I delay posts by weeks or months just because I’m scared. I need to remember that usually, those end up being the best posts on the blog.

5) What’s the most helpful piece of advice you have learned from reading other PF blogs?

  • Pay yourself first through automated savings.
  • Aggressively pay down debt.
  • Spend on what matters in life, and cut the fat everywhere else.

6) In terms of finance, what is your main focus at the moment?

It’s a bit of a toss up right now. I really want to pay down my mortgage, but at the same time I want to make sure I’m on track with my retirement goals.

7) If you could give your younger self financial advice, what would it be?

Don’t compare yourself to others – you’ll eventually achieve everything you want in life. It’s just that everyone takes a different path to get there.

8) Who in your real life knows about your blog?

I don’t openly tell people about my blog unless we get into a conversation and I’m asked specifically what kind of writing/blogging I do. That being said, most of my friends are pretty aware of my blog, and it’s on my LinkedIn profile, as well as my own personal website.

9) Does your real job have anything to do with finance or money?

No, I work in a completely different industry. But I do have to manage a budget, so that counts a little bit, right?

10) What’s the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars?

I asked myself that question back in 2007, and revisited my answers in 2011. So now that it’s 2013, would I do anything different with $1 million? Well, maybe. I would pay off my mortgage ($227,000). Put some money into my Emergency Fund ($50,000). I’d likely take time off to go travel the world for a while ($50,000). I would give some money to my sister and my parents ($100,000). Give some money to charity ($50,000). Then I would invest the rest ($523,000) into my Retirement Portfolio.

A fresh, new look to GMBMFB

Just a quick note today to let you know about the design changes here at GMBMFB. I’ve switched themes to the one I’m using over at Frugal Wanderer. I think the layout is a lot cleaner than the one I was previously using, and a bit more mature. It’s a move I’ve been thinking about doing for the past few months, and while it’s up and running for the most part, there will always be tweaks that need to be made. :)

Here is my old blog look, in case you forgot:

A lot of my older posts look a bit weird due to the new format I’m working with, so over the next week or so I’ll be working hard to fix most of the major things – especially the images and the wonky looking mobile theme. Thanks for your patience!