AwesomeBloggerAward - Money Mage

More about Money Mage, and a little something towards the #AwesomeBloggerAward

AwesomeBloggerAward - Money Mage

My good friend Jonathan of Joney Talks fame nominated me for the #AwesomeBloggerAward. Thanks Joney!

I don’t usually take part in these kinds of chains. Apart from a nod and a smile.

This time is a bit different. Not just because Joney nominated me, although that’s a big reason. But you don’t know a huge amount about me and the other-MM. We’re anonymous, and don’t say a huge amount about ourselves. So I thought this would be a good point to shine a bit of light!

So I’ll be answering 10 questions Joney has set: 5 about Money Mage the blog, and 5 about me! I’ll then pass the chain on to 5 blogs I find valuable, so you can take some inspiration from those who inspire me.

And by the way, both Joney Talks’ podcast and blog are awesome, so you should subscribe and give his show a listen. I was on an episode too, if you want to know more!

Let’s do it!

5 Questions about Blogging

The first 5 questions are about Money Mage the blog.

1. Who should read your blog and why?

Anyone looking to sort out their finances, grow their wealth and reduce their expenses.

I try to keep things broad and down to earth.

My approach is simple: earn more, spend less, save & invest. I have a cautious approach to investing, so you won’t hear high-risk strategies here.

Slow and steady wins the personal finance race.

These principles of financial independence can apply to anyone, no matter your current wealth or background. If you’re struggling day-to-day, you can take inspiration from our approaches to building an emergency fund, clearing debt, or making more money.

If your finances are on track, you can take inspiration from our approach to financial independence.

In reality, I expect my content is most useful to those seeking financial independence.

2. What excites you when writing?

I’m excited by topics that have meaning and impact. I’ve been particularly vocal about the risks around P2P Lending. Specifically how the PF blogging community was looking to make a quick referral-buck, even if they were referring their readers to probable Ponzis.

I’m quite principled and believe in sticking by those principles. I like to do the right thing. Sure, it’s slower than making a quick buck, but a principled approach brings value to others. I like to think so at least, and that drives me.

3. What are some of the unexpected outcomes of blogging?

Blogging is hard work. I didn’t expect it to be such an effort!

There’s a ton of work in researching topics, writing, SEO, keeping on top of social media.

Those who are thinking about starting a blog to make money are almost certainly going to be disappointed. There are a thousand easier and more effective ways to make money than toiling over blogging. Sure, some make it, but remember survivorship bias. You only hear about the success cases. Even the successful blogs have seen their income dry up during COVID-19.

Somewhat more positively, I’m a software engineer by trade: writing and communication are not my strong points. I’ve found blogging has helped my written communication immensely. That’s been a big help, not just in my day job.

4. What are your sources of inspiration for writing?

I try to take inspiration from conversations I’ve had recently. Either with the other-MM or friends & colleagues. Some good examples of this are about being child-free: the other-MM were talking about it when walking the dog. I’ve also been upset by seeing people so uncaring over lockdown.

Sometimes I take inspiration from what I’ve been up to. Like refurbishing the hall last year. It saved us a couple of grand.

And sometimes from current affairs. During the 2019 election campaign, there was a Question Time (politics panel show in the UK) where a guy who earnt over 50 grand. He ran his own business, so had all the tax benefits that come with that. He was making out he was poor. This led me to talk about how we struggle with empathising with situations other than our own, and how very numbers are an alien concept.

5. What keeps you going?

I’m not a huge fan of Myer’s Briggs or Belbin or other similar bucketing psychology. But as always, simple abstractions have their uses. I’m what Myer’s Briggs would classify as INTJ. I’m introverted, data-driven, action biased & driven.

My Brain
My Brain

Money Mage I run like I’d run a business. I have a strategy of where I want it to go in 5 years. I have an annual plan and quarterly/monthly goals. I have tactics that I’m going to experiment with to meet those goals. I empirically track each week how I’m doing against those goals. Just like I’d track my finances. Spreadsheets are my crack, my opiate.

I try to stick to a posting routine of 1 article per week. This can be tricky if I have a busy week. But, it’s a hobby, not a job, so I try not to spend more than a couple of hours a week on it.

I make sure I stick to this routine, every week. It’s called habit building!

Everything is trending upwards: visits, time on site, twitter followers, subscribers. I could double down and 10x accelerate, but it’s a hobby, not a job. I’m just happy seeing things working out, growing, and people getting some value from my words!

5 Questions about Money Mage

And now a little bit about me. As you know, I’m anonymous, I’m hoping this will give you a little more insight into how my crazy mind ticks!

6. You get the keys to the delorean, to which era do you fly to?

I’m going to cheat and give two answers.

I’ve been doing a bunch of family history work recently. Over the past 7 years, I’ve lost my Mom, Nan, Grandad, Aunt and Uncle, so my close family is very diminished. It’s been hard.

I’ve been asking those still alive about family history, especially my Dad, as it’s also an interest of his, so a bit of common ground.

On my paternal side of the family, they were all extremely poor manual workers & labourers. Ironworkers, bricklayers, you name it. My paternal great-great grandad died in the Birmingham Workhouse on Western Road. This was the case as far back as I can find records - from the mid-1700s right the way up until the turn of the 20th Century, when my great-grandad managed to get his family out of the cycle as an engineer during the first world war, and my grandad followed in his steps.

It’d be really interesting to go back to see just how hard they had it, as I expect no definition of hard would do it justice. I expect this would be a big wake up call of just how privileged we are in 2020.

And then I’d travel forward a hundred years to 2120, to see if we’ve beaten the plague of overpopulation, dependence on fossil fuels, climate change, and the politics of populism, lies and deceit. Or if some horrid lack of progress lets the status quo reigns. Or if we’ve gone backwards.

To prove or disprove we’re as privileged now as we’ll ever be.

7. What is one habit you have developed over the last 12 months?

My new job put me through their leadership course. I’ve been through so many management & leadership training courses over the years, I can become a bit sceptical.

I’ve been a senior leader throughout my career.

But this training course was a little different.

There was a point where they asked you to pair up & pretend to unload on someone who you’d recently had a conflict with. Which was cathartic, sure. Unexpectedly, you were then asked to switch roles: to pretend to be the person you are having a conflict with, unloading back at yourself.

This highlighted something fundamental to me. Listening, and I mean intentionally listening, is hard for me. My mind often races. Empathising I find unnatural too. So after this wee exercise at work, I’ve been trying to intentionally listen and empathise more, in all aspects of my life.

8. What music do you listen to in your free time?

My taste in music is… weird. Not very mainstream. It’s something I don’t talk about very often, nor relate to many people about.

I have a massive playlist of basically anything I’ve ever liked, it’s pretty eclectic. Varying from crappy Britpop stuff like Oasis, Blur and Supergrass that I grew up with, to camp romps like 4 Non Blondes, to The Chemical Brothers. Like I say, varied. It’s stuff from the 2000s and earlier.

When I am coding I sometimes don’t want lyrics, so I’ll listen to instrumentals and musical scores on repeat for hours at a time. Hans Zimmer scores like Interstellar, or Tony Anderson’s The Heart of Man, instrumentals like The Cinematic Orchestra or electronica-dance-rock from bands like 65daysofstatic & Maybeshewill.

And I have a very soft spot for Scottish Indie. Bands like Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, Arab Strap & Phantom Band.

I think my ‘fun’ album of all time is David Shrigley & Malcolm Middleton’s (of Arab Strap fame) collaboration ‘Music and Words’, it’s explicit but hilariously fun. I love David Shrigley’s work

So yeah, I think my taste in music is pretty odd. I’ll expect you’ll agree.

9. What are your other passions beside “writing behind a screen”?

I do a hell of a lot.

My first passion is coding. It’s my job, but it’s also my hobby. I spend a good few hours a week doing hobby programming. Either little games, or ideas I have. It helps keep skills sharp.

My second passion is computer games. The other-MM and I play games together, quite a lot. I know this is frowned upon by the ‘get up and go’ crowd, but the escapism is great, and it’s a significant common interest we have. Relationships are important, you know.

My third passion is astrophotography. Taking very long exposures of the sky through a telescope. Stacking multiple exposures, then playing with curves to remove light pollution & bring out the colour that’s there. It’s pretty impressive what you can capture even in light-polluted areas with quite cheap gear. I tend only to get the scope out in the evenings over winter months. I’m not very good at it, as to be good at it you need much more expensive gear than I have, and I’m unwilling to sink thousands of pounds into a hobby.

Andromeda Galaxy, Messier 31, NGC 224
Andromeda Galaxy, Messier 31, NGC 224

My fourth passion is reading Sci-Fi. Again, a shared passion of the other-MM and I. My favourite is a trilogy I read as a teenager, the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s a ‘future history’ of colonising Mars, funnily relevant given Musk’s insanity. Also an avid reader of Anne McCaffrey (Cassini sequence & Dragonriders series) and Peter F Hamilton (both his Commonwealth & Confederation universes).

10. What would you do with your time if money was not an issue?

I’d quit my job. I wouldn’t retire to a golf course. We’d keep ourselves busy.

I expect I’d try out some business ideas.

Not to work full time on them, but part-time, semi-retired work to kick up my own business.

Many people have business ideas they want to try out. However, we’re on track to retire (or semi-retire) by our early to mid-40s. Quitting a well-paid job and a plan that’s working to start a business is super high-risk.

Survivorship bias is real, and I’ve seen several colleagues burn their savings pursuing a false-dream.

But when we can semi-retire in a few years, it’s way less of a risk.

I wouldn’t want it to become a 40-80 hour a week chore. I’d be looking to get it running under its own steam, retain controlling equity, then set it free.

Money Mages’ Awesome Blogger Award nominations

So that concludes my contribution to the #AwesomeBloggerAward.

I hope you enjoyed it. And I hope it has shone some light on how I think.

It’s now my turn to choose some nominations.

The rules of this chain are quite simple. Answer the 10 questions I’ve set out below, then pick 5 other blogs that inspire you, and you can pick 10 new questions.

My Nominations

My Nominations, in no particular order are:

These are people who follow and value, so I hope you do too!

Money Mages’ 10 Questions

Here are my 10 questions, 5 about your blog, 5 about you. If you take up the challenge, pick 10 new questions to pass on!

AwesomeBloggerAwards. Money Mages' Challenge
AwesomeBloggerAwards. Money Mages' Challenge

Questions about Blogging

  1. What made you start your blog?
  2. Why is your blog different from other personal finance blogs?
  3. Are you monetizing or are you looking to monetize? How is it going?
  4. Which article are you most proud of and why?
  5. What is the best personal finance advice you have heard?

Questions about You

  1. Are you too money-centric, or do you live life to the full?
  2. Can you cook, and if so what’s your favourite dish to cook?
  3. What does your ideal early retirement look like?
  4. What drives and motivates you?
  5. How close are you to achieving your personal finance goals?

Have fun!

Subscribe now, follow me on Twitter @moneymagery, stick by your principles and you’ll be mortgage-free in no time.

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Sources and Attribution

  • 37 my brain (c) Sustainable Economies, CC-BY
  • Andromeda Galaxy, Messier 31, NGC 224 (c) Money Mage, All Rights Reserved
  • AwesomeBloggerAwards, (c) Money Mage, CC-BY