Hello, my friends! I’m Roger, the proud (and slightly crazy) writer and creator of The Amateur Financier blog. Go ahead, feel free to check it out; I’ll wait.

Are you back? Great! As you can see, I’ve been blogging for nearly two years now, and I’ve written nearly five hundred posts in that time. But I wasn’t always an eager, semi-successful personal finance blogger; in mid-2008, in fact, I was pretty oblivious to the issue of managing my personal finances in general.  I was working at a reasonable paying job, earning a healthy income, saved most of it, and even invested some in the 401(k) plan being offered.

I only invested 5% of my income into my 401k, and all of it was dumped into a stable value fund.  I wasn’t very knowledgeable about personal finance or managing money at that point. What changed, you ask? Well…

My First Personal Finance Experience

I picked up an audiobook version of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I was starting to date my now fiancée, traveling more than six hours across the state to see her about once a month, and wanted something to listen to on the trip. While I hadn’t given much thought to personal finance or money management up to that point, there was something about this audiobook that made me decide to give it a chance.

As I listened to the audiobook, I started to think; I hadn’t given much thought to my finances to that point, beyond making sure I earned more than I spent and putting the rest in a savings account. But here was an audiobook suggesting that my practice of working and saving would take decades to allow me to retire, if I was ever able to. It opened my eyes to the importance of making my money work for me to reach my financial goals.

But…it was also a bit discomforting. Kiyosaki’s writing style, and the information he relayed in his book, seemed rather risky, even to someone with almost no financial backing. I did some online searching to find a second opinion or two, and found Trent of The Simple Dollar (among other sources).  After reading a few posts, I was hooked.  I was following his blog on a daily basis, and started to read and comment on several other blogs to boot.

Because of everything I read, I made quite a few changes to my financial life: I bumped up my 401(k) contribution and shifted to investments in stocks, I started a Roth IRA account, I found a credit card with a lower interest rate, and a bank account with a higher interest rate. I was sitting pretty as 2009 started to wind down.

The Turning Point

Then, I lost my job in November, 2008. I was surprised; it came out of nowhere, and in spite of all the assurances that ‘it wasn’t my fault’, I was still upset by the change. Although unemployment kept my head above water, I was still much more strapped for cash than when I was fully employed.

All of my reading had encouraged me to do one thing in such a situation: start a sideline business to generate some passive income. Given my interest in personal finance (and ever increasing level of knowledge), I decided to opt for a PF blog, starting The Amateur Financier in February of 2009. In the time since, I’ve learned a lot about building up a blog, mainly about the difficulty of doing so. In fact, I probably would have stopped my blog, either offering it for sale or simply no longer posting, if I hadn’t gotten some unusual encouragement.

Enter the Yakezie

I read about the Financial Samurai’s Yakezie Alexa Challenge, challenging us (that is, personal finance bloggers) to work as hard as we can to increase the visibility and influence of our blogs. It was one of those things I had never even considered before (or would have known how to, even I wanted to), trying to work to increase my visibility to people looking for personal finance information, and building up a group of like-minded individuals for mutual help in doing so.

By joining, promoting others as much as possible, and doing my best to keep my own blog growing and changing, I managed to greatly improve my online standings. From an Alexa score of 750,000 or so and almost no audience, I managed to get my score down to a respectable 150,000 or so, and greatly increased the number of commentators I had regularly. Plus, I got to follow a number of other interesting bloggers so all in all, it was a wonderful experience.

Unfortunately, I’ve let my blog slip a bit in the time since; since I started graduate school in the fall, I’ve pushed off some of the tasks that I’ve needed or wanted to do with my blog. I let my Alexa ranking fall, and haven’t been as diligent as updating it as I should, but I will!

The Future of The Amateur Financier

But all of that is in the past. With encouragement from my fellow Yakezie members, I’ve promised myself that 2011 will be the year when I improve my blog and turn it into a world class source for personal finance information. Part of that includes sharing my knowledge with those of you here on the Yakezie network, so I can hopefully help others as well. Here’s to an excellent 2011 for all of us!