5 Years, 6 Figures – A Blog Anniversary Celebration

Balloons for 5 Years 6 Figures Celebration“You write about what?”

“But of all the things to talk about! Money?!”

“You, uh, know money stuff?”

Five years ago, I decided to start this blog. I wasn’t writing as an expert or as anyone with anything particularly interesting to say. Instead, I wanted to chronicle my journey of trying to spend more cents a little more wisely — and share some stories about picking up pennies along the way.

Over the past five years (otherwise known as half a decade!), I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also found some real success. But what that looks like maybe isn’t what you’d expect.

So here’s a quick look at five years of blogging and how it led me to a new six-figure milestone:

The truth is, the Internet is overrun with Experts and Overnight Success Stories. Five years into blogging, I can happily say…I am neither.

I’m a teacher clinging onto my early 30s married to another teacher who is solidly middle aged. (He’s two years older than me and doesn’t read my blog, so I can tell you that!) We have one little boy who is the love of our lives and also an absolute tornado. Our little family lives in a suburb of Chicago where we pay too much money for, well, everything compared to the rest of the Midwest in exchange for the priceless benefit of being near family.

We aren’t millionaires. We still don’t track our net worth to the penny. Ballparks work fine when you’re not planning on retiring early. Plus, I’m not interesting in pretending that progress is a straight line anyway. A chart would only get my hopes up and proceed to dash my dreams.

So if I’m not an expert, what exactly what five years of blogging gotten me? 

The Big Sexy Six-Figure Milestone

We’ve hit some pretty impressive milestones. At least, I’m impressed. We’ve thrown a ton of money at our mortgage. Considering I didn’t even know a mortgage was debt when I first gave Bluehost my credit card number, I think we can all say that I’ve come a long way, baby.

RELATED POST: Three Years of Blogging Started with a Bluehost Link

In fact, we just recently got to the point where we saved enough that we can fell the mortgage in a single swoop click when we’re ready. Six figures of savings and some serious debt pay down is certainly more than I was dreaming of five years ago. (Let’s be honest. Five years ago, I was still dreaming about buying another pair of Jimmy Choos to keep my wedding shoes company.) 

Most recently, though, we crossed another big milestone. My Roth IRA crested the six-figure mark last week. After celebrating briefly with Vanguard on Twitter, I spent some time thinking about how I got here.

Not long after starting this blog, I got some advice and virtual hand-holding from a few blogger buddies. With their encouragement, I rethought my investing approach. We’ve all heard that the first $100,000 is the hardest. I’m here today to add to that wisdom. It’s that much harder when your idea of investing is socking away money in a Roth IRA…in a bank CD earning maybe 2%.

With some online encouragement, I stopped trying to roll that particular boulder and opted to make my life a lot easier. Once I moved my Roth to Vanguard (I started in a target date fund!), I committed to maxing it out every year. For five years, I’ve done exactly that. I buy the highs, I buy the lows. Even when the market noise tells me the sky is falling, I keep putting money in.

And now, I’m here: $101,105.79

Not too shabby for someone who opened the account and wasn’t entirely certain I wouldn’t somehow end up owing the stock market money in the event of a downturn.

Of course, I know the market could tumble enough tomorrow to take me back to five figures. That’s OK. I learned how to get here. I arrived once–I can do it again.

A Future Millionaire

Using a compound interest calculator, the money gods say that my Roth will be worth $580,700.21 in 30 years, compounded annually at 6%. That’s if I add exactly nothing. If I add another $6,000 a year, I’ll be looking at $1,055,049.33 in 30 years.

Should I use a more optimistic rate like 8%, the outlook gets even brighter. Even without adding another penny, I cross the million-dollar mark in 30 years. If I indulge the delusions of Dave Ramsey and pop in 12%, I might quit my job now. (Kidding. I’m in it for the long haul!)

RELATED POST: I’m All for Investing, I Just Don’t Believe in Those Rates

In five years of blogging, I’ve spent more money than I’ve made on this blog. But I’ve also turned myself into a future millionaire based exclusively on my Roth IRA.

What Success Really Looks Like

Success is slow. It’s messy. It’s downright unrecognizable when you’re in the midst of it.

Are there overnight success stories? Sure. But most of the time, there’s clickbait and a spotlight on the last few seconds of a very long journey most of the time. (I’m looking at you, Business Insider editors.) 

So I’m going to call this a success. I’m not a millionaire yet, and I won’t be one for a while. I’ll get there eventually. 

Of course, there’s still plenty of room for mistakes and for growth. Maybe in the next five years, I’ll figure out what to do the with traditional IRA I accidentally opened up in college when I didn’t know the difference. Maybe. 

Only time will tell.

So Tell Me…What successes are you celebrating now that you have a clearer view?


  1. Beautiful!

    Congrats for reaching this milestone!

    Please do keep g(r)o(w)ing!!!

    Success is sometimes a messy, multidirectional, unclear thing when you’re working on it. Very often what seems like an overnight success comes with many years invisible hustling, grinding and behind-the-scenes preparation-work. When someone or something becomes successful it’s simply then that people start taking notice.

    What is success?

    For me it’s having chosen the “red-pill”: Bringing up the courage to un-box myself and live life on my own terms. It’s having the time to create a positive and uplifting life for our family. Eventually getting to inspire and impact others to help them with their path. In my view, success is living a happy and truly meaningful life.

    Earlier this year we’ve celebrated 3 years findependence.

    Congrats again Penny and all the best!!!


  2. You should absolutely count it as a success! Congratulations on joining the 5 year club. I’m so very glad you joined the community. One day when it’s safe to visit Chicago I’ll come visit! Best wishes for this school year ?

  3. Slow and steady wins the race. You are most certainly a success. I’d rather read anything from someone like you than the hype machines out there that are just trying to make a dollar. Congrats on 5 years!

  4. WOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOO! 5 years! Way to go!! That puts you damn near close to the oldest thing on the internet (just kidding, but kind of not kidding though).

    And congratulations on the big money milestone too. One of the great things about having such a personal blog is that your wins feel like our wins! I’m so happy about your 100k milestone in your IRA and am sure that you will have many more money wins in your future.

    Keep us posted on your money wins (and money neutrals and (hopefully super rare) money losses)

  5. Congratulations, Penny – on both the blog and the Roth. It’s always a pleasure reading your writing. You may not be a guru, but you’re a great example of how to constantly move forward with realism and principles.

    Best to you and future successes!

  6. Nice Penny, congrats on the 5 years of blogging. I had no idea that my blog is a year older than yours. I’ve always thought we started around the same time. 🙂

    Amazing stuff with the six figure Roth IRA. Woohoo! Compound interest is so awesome.

  7. I love this! As much as the idea of FIRE excites me, it’s not feasible right now with the lifestyle we’re intentionally choosing at the moment—one where I stay at home with my kids and my husband is working with a small company still trying to hold onto a corner of the market. But I DO believe in saving and sacrificing and investing and paying down debt, so I love that your story feels so relatable to me!

    Well done on reaching your first $100K!! You inspire me!

  8. Something tells me you’ll hit millionaire status in less than 3 decades.

    Congratulations on reaching the 5-year mark of blogging — I’ll bet <5% of those who start a personal finance blog make it that long. Here's to 5 more!


  9. Happy first of many half decades (I hope!)!! It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you over the years.

    I’m grateful for all our online connections particularly in this time period, I’m grateful for your thoughtful voice and the fun HP anecdotes and I hope we’ll see our way through this crisis intact, sooner than later.

  10. J O

    Congrats on your accomplishments so far! It will get better!

    I wish you, and other blogs, were around when I was in my mid 30s. Thats when I started to get serious about my finances. Should have started in my 20s though.

    Twenty years later I hope to retire in five years at 60 with a pension, solid portfolio and hoping a couple of revenue streams and side a gig.

    Still got a way to go but with your help hope to get to the goal and the stretch goal!

    Thanks and keep going!

    • That’s amazing! It’s so easy to tell ourselves that we should have started sooner, isn’t it? But it sounds like you’ve done so well for yourself. Keep going to you, too! 😀

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