One Year Of Frugal Dad, A Look Back

Hard to believe I have been writing here at Frugal Dad for an entire year! In some ways it is hard to remember a time when I wasn’t writing, but in other ways I can easily remember being a fan of so many other blogs, but hesitating to start one myself.

I have been a great starter all my life.  But I haven’t been a great finisher.  This is the first idea I have started and stuck with for longer than a few months.  It is also the first quasi-business idea I have had any success with.  In the past my wife and I have started a number of at-home businesses including things like custom children’s books, Avon and web design.  All fell flat after a few months of draining our wallets because they lacked a key ingredient:  passion.

I am passionate about what I write about here at Frugal Dad, and I hope that comes through in the writing.  I try my best to lead a frugal lifestyle, and to adhere to the money principles I discuss here daily.  But, I am human. I make plenty of mistakes, and don’t mind sharing them along the way in the hopes that someone else will learn from them (and avoid them).

Never in my wildest imagination did I expect to attract nearly 5,000 subscribers in one year.  Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me during what at times has been a rough 2008 for me personally. I found the personal finance blogging community to be one of the more supportive groups around, and that includes both readers and fellow bloggers.

The fact that I have been able to monetize the site a bit has helped our finances by reducing debts faster than my single income could have alone, and we have beefed up our emergency fund.  Writing has become my side hustle, and one I thoroughly enjoy!

To celebrate my one-year blogging anniversary, I thought it might be fun to look back at a few of the more popular articles over the last twelve months.

  • February 1, 2008 Planning a Frugal Family Fun Night.  One month into blogging I shared a little post about how my family often spends our Friday nights.  Nothing elaborate, in fact I think it was popular because of its simplicity.  At the time this was the first article to get double digit comments from my new readers.
  • February 4, 2008 Goodbye Expanded Cable TV: What Will I Miss Most.  A sad day in the Frugal household.  Here I shared a few things I miss without cable television. I’m proud to say a year later we don’t miss any of the things I mentioned here as we have plenty of frugal alternatives.  The one-year-without-cable experiment will continue in 2009.
  • March 3, 2008 Square Foot Gardening, a How To.  I’d be willing to bet this is how many of you long-time subscribers found me.  I wrote up an article about a weekend project with the kids that was featured on Life Hacker, and then made the front page of the popular bookmarking site  I had to immediately research what the word “viral” meant.  The article remains one of my top landing pages from search engines.  Fun stuff!
  • March 27, 2008 There Are No Financial Cinderellas.  I’m often told by visitors and new subscribers that this is my most inspiring post.  I still get fired up when I watch that commercial linked in the bottom of the article!
  • April 11, 2008 How to Teach Compounding Interest to Kids.  This remains my most popular “kids and money” article.  It was my attempt at taking a tough money concept and explaining it in terms my kids could understand.
  • April 14, 2008 Language of the Perpetual Poor.  I took a lot of heat for this one.  Many people thought it was an attack on poor people.  Quite the contrary.  It was an attempt to show how the language we use, and the actions we take on a daily basis, ultimately lead to a financial success or failure.  Commenters were right about one thing–I have never been poor.  But I sure have been broke!
  • May 21, 2008 How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt, and Stay Out.  My most popular “how to get out of debt” article, and the subject of an upcoming side project here at Frugal Dad (stay tuned!).
  • June 16, 2008 75 Money Saving Tips to Survive a Down Economy.  I worked on this post for days, adding a tip here and there as I had time.  I wanted it to be the “mother of money-saving articles.”  The work paid off.  The article was mentioned on Smart Spending, a blog on MSN Money, and ultimately made the front page of MSN.  The traffic surge knocked out my site, but lead to a big boost in new subscribers.
  • July 28, 2008 In Memory of Randy Pausch:  Inspirational Videos to Watch When You Are In a Rut.  Probably sounds a little vain to admit that I bookmark some of my own posts, but this is one of a couple posts that I refer back to frequently.  I was deeply saddened by the death of Pausch, and still turn to his inspiring videos and others when I get down.
  • August 6, 2008 Note to Readers:  Family Emergency.  Little did I know at the time that this family medical emergency would play out for the next four months.  On August 4th, my mom was diagnosed with a giant cerebral aneurysm at 53 years young, and underwent a number of surgeries to treat the aneurysm.  The final procedure was on September 12th, and in the recovery process she suffered a stroke.  She remained hospitalized for 102 days, much of that time in neuro-ICU, returning home just two days before Christmas.  She is currently wheelchair-bound, but has regained the ability to talk, eat, and has movement on her left side.  Her fight has been both an inspiration and a sobering reminder of the importance (and in some ways, the insignificance) of the things I write about here every day.  The lesson learned for our family is to have a solid emergency fund, strong disability coverage and to become debt free as quickly as possible.  You never know what emergencies are lurking around the corner.
  • October 28, 2008 The Most Important Election In Our History, Not Really.  I think I speak for most people when I say that I’m glad to have the election news behind us for a couple years.  I’d like to think that a week after the election many people agreed with what I wrote in this article.  Life went on.  Since election night we have learned that Obama may not be as radical as some feared, and that McCain was more gracious than many gave him credit.  Sarah Palin wasn’t the demon the media made her out to be, and Joe Biden is still Joe Biden.  I hope at some point both parties will again find fiscal conservatism, but as the recent bailouts have proven, it is safe to say we are entering an era of unprecedented government spending.  That terrifies me much more than any one man (or woman) in the oval office!
  • December 3, 2008 Introducing the One Dollar Give Project.  It is a shame that I waited nearly a full year to join forces with other bloggers for a great cause.  Some of reason for delay was that I figured I had little to offer, in terms of financial support or blogging clout, and a lot of it had to do with what was happening at home as we “circled the wagons” to support my mom.  As things smoothed out, and continue to smooth out in 2009, I plan to make this a higher priority throughout the year because I think blogging provides a great platform for spreading news of the great work by others.

Over the next few days I plan to share more of my goals for 2009 (blogging, financial, and personal). I encourage you to join me this week by taking some time to think about your goals for the coming year, and get them down on paper (or in my case, online).  Thanks again to all of my readers, advertisers, and fellow bloggers who have helped Frugal Dad become the success it is today.  Without you, I would have thrown in the towel long ago.


  1. Many congratulations to you for reaching your one year blog birthday. FD is a huge accomplishment and I look forward to following FD for years to come. 😀

  2. Only a year? I am new to blogging but you are so popular that I thought you had been around for a while now. Congratulations that’s amazing! I hope that my first year can be even remotely close to as succesful yours was. Any suggestions or advice for a new pf blogger?

  3. @Studenomics: Thanks! Three pieces of advice for any new blogger:

    1. Try to write something every day if you want your blog to grow, and grow quickly.

    2. If you are treating your blog as a hobby, treat it as a hobby. If you are treating your blog as a business, treat it as a business. Crossing the two up rarely leads to much success.

    3. Keep your head down and keep writing daily, guest posting occasionally, commenting on other blogs, etc. for the first six months. The PF blogging space is becoming more and more crowded, but many people drop out within the first 90 days. A lot of blogging success can be attributed to attrition–just keep writing while others hang it up. You will eventually float to the top!

    Best of luck! Feel free to drop me a line any time if I can help. That goes for all of you.

  4. Congrats on your 1 year anniversary! I know it’s been an amazing and trying year for you and your family, and I hope 2009 is an improvement on all accounts! 🙂

  5. Congrats, been hooked on your blog for a few months now and appreciate all the posts and advice, even though I’m nowhere near to being a dad. Looking forward to 2009.

  6. Hello Frugal Dad,
    I have a wonderful idea you might like to include in a post. I can’t figure out the POP mail thing–so I can’t e-mail you directly. I just spent 20 minutes trying–computer challenged, I suppose. Please e-mail me. Thanks–and I am changing my life because of your blog! Blessings to you and yours.~Christine

  7. I have been a great starter all my life. But I haven’t been a great finisher. This is the first idea I have started and stuck with for longer than a few months

    yeah understand that one.

    On a more personal note blogs like this have totally completely and radically transformed our lives, I often wish I had discovered blogs 20 years ago we wouldn’t be moaning about why we waited so long to finally change things.

  8. Congratulations, FD. And our very best wishes for many more great years to come.

    And if you ever need one, I’ll stand as a witness to say that your posts also exude the passion that you feel.