I’ll be the first to admit that the contents of this blog are all over the place. Some days I’ll be writing a blog post about my kids, then a couple days later I’ll be posting an article on my investing philosophy.
To outside eyes, my post topics can seem almost random.
When people unsubscribe from my mailing list, they usually do so in protest of my seemingly random content, saying, “I signed-up for your mailing list because I liked your [post type here] posts, but you hardly ever publish those. I’m unsubscribing!”
I even get feedback from other bloggers telling me, “You would get more readers if you just focused a little more.” That’s very humbling feedback of course, and I totally get it. I do. I really do!
Well, I’ve guess I’ve got some explaining to do…
A Method To The Madness
Many of the most popular blogs on the planet choose a particular niche and stick with it. Back when I first started MrTakoEscapes back in 2015, I knew picking a niche worked really well, but I decided not to paint myself into a corner.
Can you imagine starting a blog about waffles and then having to write about waffles for every single post? (Not just on Wednesdays!)
Frankly, I’d be bored to tears after a couple of months. (No offense to my waffle loving readers)
I also looked at blogging as a serious commitment to write 3,000 to 4,000 words every week. I thought it might be really hard to write about just one single topic day-in and day-out.
So I left myself a little extra wiggle room on those chains. A little freedom to move around if you will. Despite the appearance of randomness however, there’s actually a method to my madness. A signal is actually hidden in all the noise.
To explain it, I need to start with a story…
My Rollercoaster Career
Earlier this year I wrote a post called The Fire Movement Was Inevitable. In this post I recounted how the modern workplace had changed considerably over the last 50 years. Not only were traditional financial safety nets disappearing, but people are working shorter and shorter durations in one job and a larger percentage of their lifetime job hunting.
Like a roller coaster, income levels rise for a couple of years while we’re employed, and then they fall again during the job hunt.
What I’ve failed to mention in the past was how turbulent my own career was. Mostly, because it’s pretty embarrassing. During my short 19 year working career, I worked at 18 different jobs (spanning everything from a restaurant dishwasher to a project manager at a famous video game studio). The longest time span I ever managed to stay employed at any one job was 5 years.
That’s a lot of different jobs isn’t it? My career was tumultuous to say the least. It’s not that I wanted to change jobs, but life just happened. I worked hard of course, but recessions happened and companies downsized… I lost my job during both of the last two recessions.
There’s nothing to do but pick yourself up, put on the stoic face, and just keep going…
Then there’s the temp-jobs I took to fill the gap. Those were alright. Some lasted 6 months and some for 9 months, but they all came with a predetermined end-date. Most didn’t pay very well. They’re not idea jobs, but you take what you can get, right?
Occasionally I even found myself in the situation where my “job description changed” suddenly, and the company was unwilling to spend the money to retrain me. They let me go instead.
Oh well, try again…
Then there’s the jobs where find yourself under a manager who just doesn’t like ‘the cut of your jib’. There’s not a lot you can do in a situation like that. Eventually the boss finds a way to fire you. I’ve been fired more than once. I was a good worker too. I never once showed up late. I always did my work and conducted myself in a serious and professional manner. It didn’t matter.
Managers gave me a raw deal … and can you blame them? With all these tentacles I don’t exactly ‘fit in’. It’s painful to write about, and frustrating to say the least… because the work wasn’t what mattered.
Your ass is going to get fired when you’re the puzzle piece that doesn’t fit. (I know this might sound unbelievable to some, but unless you lived life as a misfit you’ll never understand)
3 years and 294 blog posts later and I’ve finally healed enough where I now feel strong enough to write about this.
So, I found financial independence thrust onto me like a giant tsunami. You ride that wave or it crushes you. I’m still a little angry about my career, but dwelling on the past would accomplish little. I have kids to feed and that’s just how Corporate America works. It’s not a nice place to weirdos like me.
I needed an escape plan. Hence the name ‘Mr. Takoe Escapes’. I formulated an escape plan, and it followed three major themes.
Theme 1: Building Wealth Continuously
When you have a crazy career like I did, it’s hard to make any real financial progress. One month you have an income, and then the next month you don’t.
Trying to build wealth like that is hard, but you make things work. Despite the big fluctuations in income I learned how to build wealth continuously. I did whatever it took.
Eventually I learned (perhaps earned?) the skills necessary to cut my expenses to the bone. I’ve lived in a lot of different rat-holes in my life, but I always tracked my expenses carefully… just like I do now in my monthly financial updates.
Believe it or not, those monthly updates I write are as much for me as they are for the readers of this blog. I use all that information to track our family finances. Crazy huh?
I also learned how to save money like nobody’s business. I saved 50% or more of my income every single year. That’s really hard to do when you’re unemployed! (Pro tip: Just save more when you have a job.)
Food was one of the ways I learned how to save. I’ve put away A TON OF MONEY over the years by cooking nearly all of my own meals (Seriously! 99% of my meals were made by my own hands).
I enjoy eating out as much as the next person, but restaurant spending IS A GIANT HOLE that most people throw gobs and gobs of money into.
Yes, cooking every single day isn’t easy. You really have to stick with it. Some days I reeeaally want to quit, but I tell myself, “Suck it up buttercup. You’re no special snowflake!”
Theme 2: Investing
Of course, saving money is only half the battle. You have to invest that spare capital too!
Like many people, I entered the corporate world with zero investing knowledge. Thankfully, I’m a voracious reader. It might be the cause of my myopia, but I learned how to invest. I read thousands of books, publications, and business newspapers on the topic. I’m now a giant money nerd and read everything I can about investing. I easily spend 4 hours a day reading about investing… often more than that.
That knowledge came in handy when I didn’t have an income too — Having passive dividend income that filled any income gaps was a huge help in reaching financial independence. It’s one of the reasons why I consider myself a dividend growth investor.
Dividends have been a friend to me when no one else was. Dividends don’t care if you have tentacles or a third eye. They show up every quarter and help you pay the bills rain or shine.
Now that’s a really good friend. (The only downside is they’re terrible conversationalists)
Investing has really been my bread and butter for the last decade, and I can honestly say “I love investing.”
Another reasons why I write a lot about investing is my kids. I’d like to give them a leg-up on the investing world that I didn’t have. What I learned through trial and error (mostly error), I can share here on this blog and give them a GIANT HEAD START in life.
I can write about what truly matters in investing and help them ignore all the noise put out by Wall Street. The younger they can learn the better.
Afterall, compounding takes time, and the more time you have to compound in life, the better chance you have at seeing large amounts of money in your lifetime.
Theme 3: FI is For Regular People Too
The third and final theme of this blog is that financial independence is for regular people too. There’s this common misconception out there that you have to be this highly paid engineer earning over $100k a year to reach financial independence.
You don’t have to be a rich engineer to do this. I only made over $100k in one job during my entire career. That only lasted a couple of years. For the rest of my 18 jobs, I made considerably less than that.
Financial Independence isn’t some fairy tale that only applies to overpaid engineers. Neither do you need to be a super famous blogger on TV like Mr. Money Mustache, 1500 Days, Millennial Revolution, or Root Of Good in order to create a job-free existence.
While those bloggers (and a handful of others I didn’t mention) do make a ton of money from blogging, most blogs don’t. Those folks are the exception.
My blog (for example) makes around $100 per month. (Actually, only $35 last month!) I’m completely transparent about that. My blog does make an income, but it’s pathetically small. It’s certainly not going to pay my bills.
It needs to be said more often — Financial Independence is a feat achievable by regular people. You don’t need a blog. You don’t have to “get lucky”. You don’t even have to be one of the beautiful people, or the conniving asshole who screws over his co-workers to get that promotion.
Heck, you don’t even have to be that smart! (I’m a shining example of this!) If weirdo’s like me can do it, then the normal people of the world can do it too.
All too often I think some of the good, honest, and hardworking people of the world get overlooked when it comes to monetary rewards. You don’t need to let the world keep you down.
Fight back. Financial independence is a way for us regular folks to still win at life.
So there you have it. That’s why I write about the topics that vary wildly from investing articles to frugal food recipes. Those three themes are where my passions lie. What I care about.
I blog about this stuff because those were the things that helped me achieve my rather miraculous escape from the corporate world.
When I look back at my rocky career, I’m rather surprised I actually managed to reach Financial Independence. My career was something of a worst case scenario. A horrific shit-show of employment and unemployment. Thank God that’s all over with.
Now, I’m just a (sometimes) humble SAHD and blogger.
Having such widely varying content might not be what makes a popular blog in this world, but it is what keeps me writing. So far, I haven’t run out of things to say…