That's it, the blog has just passed the 5-year mark. At the beginning of this adventure, I felt that the end of each year was a new achievement. On the one hand because I'd managed to keep a blog alive 365 more days. And on the other hand, because it meant that I was still on the road towards financial independence.
I have a different feeling this year.
Of course I'm still surprised to write "5th anniversary" because it's a great personal achievement.
But I feel more serene. I no longer doubt that we will achieve financial freedom. Mrs. MP and I are increasingly aligned on this subject, and that must certainly help. Same for the blog, it has become a habit to share my journey with you and I don't think I'll stop anytime soon.
Zenitude and fulfilment, that's how I start 2019!
Before going back to last year's retrospective, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a healthy and happy new year (otherwise your cash won't be of much use) for 2019. May it be the year of early retirement for some, and accumulation of wealth for others!
2018 retrospective of the blog
2018 was quite intense in terms of exchanges and projects.
A beneficial break
I started the year with a break. It allowed me to take a step back from the blog. I came out even more motivated to make it grow in different ways.
I have a very clear desire to make it a business, in the good sense of the word. I want to bring you even more value, and derive benefits in a win-win and sustainable way (i.e. by avoiding blinking ads everywhere).
The frugalism topic took off in Europe in 2018. About five years after the US, the media of the Old Continent discovered financial independence it seems...
The same goes for Switzerland where I had the chance to be interviewed and mentioned three times:
- At the beginning of February, it was Blick which mentioned the blog
- This summer, big surprise when the Tages Anzeiger contacted me for an interview that appeared on the frontpage of their Sunday newspaper (aka. the "Sonnstags Zeitung")
- The end of the year ended on a Romandie touch with a second detailed interview which was published in December in the newspaper "Le Temps"
Compared to previous years, the blog has taken off in terms of visits as you can see on the graph below.
Similarly, the media interviews made it possible to introduce the Mustachian principles to many new Swiss readers. They subscribed to the newsletter so as not to miss any articles that would allow them to increase their wealth.
An interesting figure is the number of comments. In 2016, you posted 280 comments. In 2018, the blog reached 365 interactions. I feel that I need to be more attentive to your needs so that my articles will be even more useful to you. Or maybe you just find it too long to create a Disqus account?!
This metric is perhaps a little biased because it doesn't include all the email exchanges I have with readers, nor the whole forum part.
By the way, since we are talking about the forum, here are some figures from our Swiss community since the launch of it at the end of 2016:
- 484 users
- 10'800 posts created (from which 5'200 in 2018)
- 25'600 unique visits (from which 15'600 in 2018)
- 1'100'000 page views ! (from which 691'000 in 2018)
The costs and benefits of the blog
This is a part that interests me particularly when I read other blogs because I like to know the profitability of such personal projects. There must be one or two curious readers like me, so below you can see how much the blog and forum cost and brought me in 2018:
- Hosting costs at DigitalOcean (affiliation link) and domain name : CHF 310.45
- Income (via affiliation and Patreon) : CHF 3'997.52
I started tracking my time last November to be able to calculate an hourly wage in 2019. To give you a taste, in December 2018 only, I noted down 25 hours!
The MP team is growing
Do you think this paragraph is about bragging? So do I! But I think it makes the project much more serious to say that I now employ someone. It looks great, doesn't it?
My ego aside, I decided at the end of last year to reinvest almost everything I've earned via the blog. I will explain why later in this article.
Outlook 2019 for the blog
The blog and forum are now well smoothrunning. I can keep a regular pace with about two articles per month. On the financial side, everything is fine. We have been in autopilot mode since some time.
You may think that I'd enjoy it by feeling I've got enough of what we've accomplished over the past five years. But my entrepreneurial side couldn't help but to generate dozens of other ideas...
Before I present my plans for 2019, I want to clarify one important thing: I see these new projects as a way to grow personally by doing things that have an impact. And not as an additional negative burden in my life. So you're right, you have to know when you've enough of something without always wanting more. But this is not my case.
I also always have the idea of creating other passive income for us than my ETF investments. And if blogging can be an option, I want to seize it while I'm still relatively young and motivated. Especially since adding a source of income will only bring us closer to the day we'll be financially independent and can both leave our jobs!
Real estate investing
I discussed a lot with a reader at the end of last year. I thank him because he allowed me to understand a lot of things in terms of rental properties. And this both for Switzerland and abroad (France).
This is clearly less passive than making three clicks on Interactive Brokers or Cornèrtrader per quarter.
"Why bother with all the difficulties of a real estate purchase then?" you ask me.
The leverage effect.
"Uh, Marc, what does that banker's term mean?"
Concretely, in real estate, this means that you generate money without initially putting it on the table. Imagine a building or apartment worth 150'000 euros, including renovation work. In France, you can borrow the full amount. And the goal is that the rents paid by the tenants fully cover the repayment of this mortgage, as well as all the charges and other taxes that this generates.
After 15-20 years, you end up with 150'000 euros more. Without having paid a cent.
It sounds pretty magical when you say it like that. But you've to understand that there is a lot of research work to do, then renovation work management (because it's impossible to my knowledge to buy a brand new property and to be 100% auto-financed).
So it's different from an ETF investment where you put for example 10kCHF and hope to get about 6-8% per year, meaning CHF 600-800). Because yes these 10kCHF work for you, but it's money that's invested in the stock market and can't be used for anything else.
In general, I've a negative opinion on leverage because I picture stock market investors trying to make bets on companies they don't know or understand, with money they don't have.
I see the leverage effect differently in real estate because it's much more tangible and understandable.
So that's it, we decided with Mrs. MP: we want to acquire a rental property in 2019. Of course, I will document the whole process if we succeed in achieving this objective (the hardest part being to find the property).
Eat better and cheaper
I've been wanting to tackle this issue of food for a year now. Both in terms of what we eat and how much it costs us. Until then, I had deprioritized the subject because it's a point that I've little control over, since it is mainly Mrs. MP who cooks. She also knows what we need in terms of grocery shopping.
But I'd an idea that kept coming back: to challenge us by preparing meals costing CHF 2.00/person, while eating fewer ready-made industrial dishes.
The conditions were all there at the beginning of this year at the end of the holidays. I'd time to look for healthy and cheap recipes. We also took the time to discuss with Ms. MP a strategy on how I'd get my hands dirty helping in the kitchen. And here we're, preparing our own dishes (even more), and planning our grocery shopping a little more consciously.
I hope that this project will last longer than the usual New Year's resolutions (although this was decided on January 3 ^^). I'll in any case document this project as well.
I want to be even closer to the issues you have, dear readers. I hesitate to do a "Ask Me Anything" series with the most common questions from readers.
Or by taking 30 minutes a month or quarter on the phone with one of you to answer your questions, and then document them in a blogpost. If you have an opinion, don't hesitate to let me know via the comments' section below :)
The blog crosses the Röstigraben
Some have surely noticed that the link to change language is no longer in the menu at the top, but at the very bottom of the site. And that among English and French, we now find German !
I actually decided to translate the whole blog. Our Swiss German friends will finally be able to know all the keys to becoming financially independent. With all the Swiss specificities that this implies.
That's why I needed to use an extra brain with a German translator who joined the MP team. I use the Fiverr service and I can only recommend it if you are looking for professional skills at affordable prices in the fields of design, digital marketing, writing and translation, video/animation, music, programming, and more.
I know a lot of other entrepreneurs who use it and I dreamed of using it to grow my own business one day. It's done!
The translation has already started and should be completed by April. I'm looking forward to it!
If you've family or friends who only speak German, then you can now share your favorite articles with them!
One more thing
Those who follow the blog know that I'm currently working on a book about financial independence in Switzerland. The project made good progress during the last quarter. I will publish an article with a preview before the end of January if all goes well. So don't hesitate to subscribe to the newsletter if you don't want to miss the news :)
Thank you !
This year, I'd like to put even more emphasis on quality rather than quantity, always being closer to your problems.
2019 looks to be a good vintage for Mustachian Post. I look forward to continuing to discover ways to grow our cash stack together! And above all, to shorten this timeframe that separates us from the day when we'll no longer need to get up to work :D
Thank you for still being here after 5 years. It means a lot to me.