And just like that, Money Flamingo turned 5 years old earlier this month!
This anniversary also coincided with a few other blogging/business milestones (more on this below), so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to reflect on how the blog has grown and evolved since I started it in 2018.
I’ll also share my views on blogging in general and the state of the FI Community in 2023.
To be honest, the future of Money Flamingo is something I’ve thought about a lot lately, so I think this is also a great time to address the “What’s next?” question.
But first, let’s take a little walk down the Money Flamingo memory lane together.
Hitting “Publish” For the First Time
I started the Money Flamingo in 2018 because I wanted to share our not-so-mainstream approach to FI and chronicle the last 1000 days of our journey to Flamingo FI.
I had first discovered Financial Independence in 2012 and gained so much from following early bloggers like Mr Money Mustache that I almost felt it was my duty to share what I had learned along my own journey and pay it forward in a way.
The blog officially went live with my first article on Flamingo FI on 8 May 2018.
I had actually been considering starting a blog for about two years before that. I registered the domain in early 2017, but it took me over a year to work up the courage (and tech skills…) to finally hit “publish” for the first time.
In retrospect, this now looks pretty funny to me – it felt like such a milestone. I was so concerned people might find our strategy silly or that my writing was no good.
In reality, it’s not like you start a blog, publish your first post and then a million people start reading and critiquing your content. Quite the opposite. It takes time.
I still remember how happy I was when I reached 100 email subscribers. One hundred people were interested in my content! It felt like a massive achievement. That email subscriber number ticked over the 10k mark earlier this year. I realise this would be peanuts to some of the bigger, more mainstream sites out there, but it feels like a huge number to me. I am super grateful I’ve been able to build up a loyal audience that shares my passion for a more lifestyle-focused approach to financial freedom.
To this day, I still love getting emails from readers who find my content helpful or who were inspired to make a life change after reading one of my articles. It’s a strange but nice feeling knowing that what I type on my laptop can touch someone else’s life in that way.
What Happened to the “Blogosphere”?
Thinking back, 2018 almost feels like a different era – for both the FIRE community and blogging/content creation. Internet years are a bit like dog years.
There were quite a few FI blogs back then, primarily US-based, but a couple of Australian and European ones had also started to appear in the “blogosphere”, as it was still often referred to back then. FIRE was a very niche topic and definitely not discussed in the mainstream media. Fast forward to 2023, and all the big media outlets have jumped on the FI bandwagon. I recently saw a post about Coast FI on a major US newspaper’s blog (it might have been the New York Times?) – written by a financial advisor of all people. Telling!
It is safe to say that the FI landscape has expanded considerably since I got started in 2018. Other forms of content like podcasts, YouTube channels (believe it or not, there were no YouTube channels on FI back then!), FinTok and social media have exploded. The “finfluencer” was born. The blogosphere is now really just a tiny part of a massive financial media universe. Some even argue that blogging in its original form is dying, and maybe they are right.
I actually count myself very lucky to have started Money Flamingo and grown an audience before the rise of short-form video and social media algorithms.
Speaking of social media – you probably know this is something I’m not great at (or that interested in). Not because my life isn’t “Insta-worthy” (I actually think it 100% is!). I just can’t help but think that people who share dozens of posts, videos and photos of their awesome life each week don’t actually have much time to live this awesome life – because they are on their phones most of the time. I do try to share all of my new articles on my socials along with the occasional idea or picture, but that’s as much as I can handle. Maybe I’m showing my age or ignorance here – I should probably try to get better at this! 😉
The FI Community in 2023
Overall, the FI community of 2023 is much larger than in 2018 and encompasses many different subcultures and stakeholders with different interests. Not all of this is great news, of course (I wrote about this here), but it is what it is. This is just what happens when a movement grows and expands. In some ways, you could even argue that the original FI Community has pretty much dissolved in the vast ocean of financial and lifestyle content out there.
But all this change also has positive effects – quite a lot of them, actually!
One that I am particularly pleased about is that FIRE is now widely known and practised all over the world. This is such a nice change from 10 (and even 5) years ago. Last time I checked, less than 50% of all Money Flamingo readers were based in Australia and only 20% or so in the US. I’m particularly pleased to see more and more Europeans on the list every year (I see you, my Swedish friends!). Yes, my content is pretty universal because I talk more about lifestyle, mindset, math, etc., rather than country-specific investment structures and the like, so this would have an impact on my stats being a bit more international, but still – it’s really great to see.
Another positive change: The whole conversation around Financial Independence and early retirement has become much healthier overall. In 2018, there was basically zero content about alternatives to the standard path to FI or options like semi-retirement. This has obviously changed over the years, which is wonderful to see.
More and more people in the FI community are now acknowledging the fact that they will almost certainly not retire early. FIRE now means many different things to different people. This has helped alternative FI approaches (like Coast FI, Flamingo FI, Barista FI, and semi-retirement…) gain popularity.
The conversation around Financial Independence has largely shifted away from ultra-frugal living and endlessly delayed gratification towards lifestyle design and using money to create a happier life on our terms.
It’s definitely interesting to see how much a movement can evolve – even in a relatively short time!
I started Money Flamingo as an anonymous blog because… that was the norm in 2018. Chasing Financial Independence and considering early retirement (or, in our case, semi-retirement) felt kind of illegal or at least like something that would cause raised eyebrows at work. I believe that this is definitely something that’s changed over the last five years, and that’s a very, very good thing. Speaking about financial literacy, investing and looking after one’s financial future is no longer taboo.
Would I go the anonymous blogger route again if I was to start Money Flamingo today? I’m not sure. Maybe not. There just isn’t a real reason to blog anonymously about this stuff these days.
But does that mean I will go public at some point? Probably not. Maybe one day, if there is a good enough reason. I like the fact that I have managed to stay anonymous (for the most part, anyway) over the years and still build trust with readers. I actually think being anonymous makes it easier to be transparent. To be honest, it’s fun to have this secret identity. I’m a pretty private person in real life as well, so the mysterious blogger thing works well for me. 🙂
Coaching & Find Your FI
In 2020, a reader who was financially ready to semi-retire but who just didn’t manage to pull the trigger approached me and asked for my help. This reader became my first-ever coaching client. Fast forward to 2023, and I’m in my fourth year of transition coaching, and my 30th coaching client just finished the six-month program. That’s a milestone I’m really proud of.
Somehow I’ve turned into a life coach for the rich and FI’ring. 😉
Holding people’s hands as they take that life-changing step into semi-retirement, transitioning to part-time work, or simply taking a sabbatical to evaluate their options has become something I’m really passionate about. It feels like an immense privilege to witness someone’s transformation and work through challenges with them.
Almost everyone struggles with one-more-year syndrome, anxiety about leaving money on the table and the fear of the unknown. Coaching people through these challenges has been a very rewarding experience. I am someone who likes to go deep and really get to know a person, so coaching suits me really well.
Earlier this year, I also launched a course (Find Your FI) designed to help people find their ideal path to FI. It is aimed at those in the earlier stages of their journey to FI who are interested in alternative FI strategies and following a “lifestyle first” approach to FI. My hope is that by taking the course, people will be able to avoid some of the regrets I see in my coaching clients who are at or near the FI finish line.
When I started Money Flamingo, I had no idea I would end up coaching people or creating a course. Looking back, it’s cool to see how something small, like starting a personal finance blog, can open entirely new and unexpected opportunities. This has definitely been a nice side-effect of starting the site.
The Not-So-Great Parts
Running Money Flamingo for the past five years has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I had no idea about content creation when I first started, and I’m glad I took the leap back then.
But, like with anything, it has not all been roses and butterflies. I’ve definitely experienced my fair share of trolling, mocking and even the occasional xenophobic slur.
Blogging can also be a little isolating at times, so I think connecting with other content creators is something I should have done more of over the years (but it’s something I’ve picked up quite a bit recently).
I’ve had content stolen, copied and even translated word-by-word into another language and reproduced on another blog. I know this is to be expected at some point, but it’s not a nice feeling when it happens.
Then, in 2022, ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investment Commission) dropped their Finfluencer Guidelines, making it clear that finance content creators risk hefty fines and even jail time if they talk about financial products online. I have written about this overreach in the past, and I still think that the personal finance community will be worse off in the long run because of these guidelines. I was one of the “lucky” bloggers because my content never talked about investment strategies or specific asset classes in detail. As a precaution, I took down my Project 1000 portfolio updates and most reader case studies as well, which was not fun.
As you can see, there have been ups and downs. I guess this is all part of the game, and I think it’s been worth it overall.
What’s Next For Money Flamingo?
The honest answer is: I don’t know! What I do know is that I’ve been thinking about this question a fair bit lately.
The primary goal of starting the blog was to share our approach to FI and show the FI world that there are alternatives to the standard “grind until the end” path to FI. I wanted to make an impact. I think I’ve accomplished this goal, and I’m proud of what I’ve built.
The blog and free tools, combined with the course (for those who want to dive deeper and follow a step-by-step structure) and my coaching offering (for those ready to transition out of the accumulation phase), cover all the bases I wanted to cover in order to help others find a more balanced and lifestyle-focused approach to FI.
Another purpose of the blog was to chronicle the last leg of our journey to Flamingo FI, which we completed in 2020. While I’ve been publishing quarterly updates ever since to share how the coasting part of our journey to FI is going, this element of the blog stopped serving its purpose almost three years ago.
So is it maybe time for the Money Flamingo blog to retire? I’m not sure.
I still feel like I have much more to say about Financial Independence and its role in living a happy life. So, while I’m sure things will continue to change and evolve over time, I don’t think I’ll stop writing and contributing in some way or another.
Thank you for being a part of the Money Flamingo community. Your ongoing support means a lot! 🙂
Bring on the next five years – whatever they may look like! 🎉