Greetings, fellow Yakezies! My name is Andrea and I’m here from So Over Debt. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified to share my Member Post with all of you.

My Blogging Beginnings

When I entered the world of personal finance blogging, I felt I had a worthwhile message. I was a former teenage mother, now a divorced single mother, who was finally making some sense out of money. My son was getting closer to adulthood (he turned 13 on Sunday) and I realized I was in no position to help him with anything if I didn’t make some changes in my life. After years of overspending, dodging collection calls, and begging the bank to reverse overdraft charges, I decided it was time I showed my son that life doesn’t have to be a constant struggle to make ends meet. I also wanted to help others find their own motivations to make better choices.

As I settled into the PF community, it was easy to compare myself to everyone else (and come up short). So many people made better financial decisions than me. Some were younger and already on the road to early retirement. Some never even had credit card debt! It was a little depressing. I began to think no one would read what I wrote, but I continued posting – if nothing else, it was helping me keep track of my resolve to stop spending.

Almost Didn’t Continue

One day in particular, I remember holding my finger over my mouse, ready to click “Delete Blog” and forget about this crazy idea to influence other people. I had received a scathing email in response to my post about how things changed in my life. Basically, the person stumbled across my blog, read the few things I’d posted, and decided to berate me for “making it sound too easy.” And the fact that I got pregnant at 15? “You’re just an irresponsible person all around; you have no business telling anyone what to do with their money.” It was upsetting. It made me angry. And it made me want to pull my story off the internet before anyone else told me what they thought about it.

Randomly, I thought of the quote my parents used for my senior ad in the high school yearbook:

Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.

I realized that I would never convince everyone to agree with what I had to say. Some people will always consider me an idiot when it comes to personal finance. And I just have to be okay with that. The fact is, I am an idiot when it comes to personal finance. That’s what got me into this mess! But my willingness to admit my shortcomings and work through them in a semi-public arena is what makes my blog unique in a world where “experts” often run the show.

If You Blog It, They Will Come

I’m glad I didn’t give up on my blog that day. A few weeks after I received that hateful email, I discovered the Yakezie Network and felt bold enough to enter the Challenge. For me, it was about more than achieving a certain Alexa ranking and driving traffic to my site. I wanted to find out if it was possible for a total financial failure to be accepted by a group of people who had knowledge and authority in the PF arena. Imagine my surprise when I was welcomed to the group with no questions asked! I can’t thank all of you enough for your support and encouragement as I’ve worked to find my voice – there were many times when a forum post or email from another Yakezie member or challenger inspired me to keep my finger off that “Delete Blog” button. In return, I’ve been able to encourage others who might be struggling with their blogging identity in their own way.

Since I began the Challenge in March, I have continued posting from my point of reference instead of trying to be something I’m not. And while there are still those who don’t understand what business I have blogging about money, I have developed confidence in my ability to provide a different point of view. I still don’t have all the answers, but that’s not what So Over Debt is about. By keeping a positive attitude, I have overcome (most of) my fears about telling my story and have stopped worrying so much about what people may think. Traffic has increased, and I have a small group of regular readers who keep me motivated even when it all seems like too much to handle.

If you are a current Yakezie challenger (or thinking about joining), please don’t let anyone tell you what the focus of your blog should be. As so many here told me when I started, concentrate on providing solid content that tells the world who you are and how your blog can benefit them. If you are enthusiastic, it will come through in your writing and help your site grow into something you can be proud of. And I can assure you, the Yakezie community will do what we can to help you along the way.