Earning an Extra 13,291 in 6 months through Blogging

In the past few weeks I’ve highlighted many of the largest money saving tips that have helped us reach our goal of more than doubling our savings rate for 2016. I’ve discussed everything from cutting our grocery and restaurant bills in half, to sharing my girlfriend’s perspective on what it means to be on the same page financially. Today’s post will focus on the NUMBER ONE factor that has earned us an extra $13,291 this year: blogging.

As Ben Franklin put it, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” I couldn’t agree more.

If our income is already marked for a future purchase, then is it really OUR income?

Let that sink in for a minute.

Our income becomes someone else’s income as soon as it is in our hands. This scary thought is the reason I’m pursuing financial independence. I need my income to go towards buying my freedom.

This pursuit of financial freedom is part of the reason I decided to launch Distilled Dollar earlier this year.

This post will explain how I managed to earn an EXTRA $13,291 in such a short amount of time. I will share with you the same strategy you can use to keep more of YOUR earnings before the end of this year.

Before I do that, I need to establish some credibility:

In a recent study performed by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, people who publicly declare a goal and are held accountable once a week by a partner, are more than twice as likely to achieve their goals compared to someone who keeps their goal to themselves.

At the beginning of this year, I publicly stated my girlfriend and I are seeking to more than double our 2015 savings rate from from 23% to over 50%.

I used to make this same goal EVERY year, as far back as 2013. That’s THREE years where I didn’t live up to my expectations.

When 2016 was approaching, nothing had changed.

Failure wasn’t due to a lack of awareness on how I could do it. Each time I reviewed my budget I found multiple areas where I could improve. Despite having the knowledge, I failed to execute.

Fast forward to today and we’ve already saved more in the first 6 months of 2016 than in nearly all of 2015.

If you don’t think the power of public goals is real then you’re fooling yourself.

Four decades of research by professor Edwin Locke, confirms that, “so long as a person is committed to the goal, has the requisite ability to attain it, and does not have conflicting goals, there is a positive, linear relationship between goal difficulty and task performance.”

This blog has inspired us to stick with our goals through thick and thin, and I want to give credit where credit is due. I can’t tell you how many nights we felt lazy and compelled to get take out. Instead, we remembered that this blog is holding us publicly accountable now. So, we rolled up our sleeves to cook dinner.

You don’t need to start blogging to achieve similar results. You only need to make a goal specific and then tell someone about it.

Blogging was an easy answer for me because it allowed me to share specific details in a public setting while maintaining a veil of anonymity. People are able to, and do, critique my approach. Differing ideas and perspectives actually help us to course correct or take advantage of something we weren’t aware of before.

If you’re interested in starting a blog to create a side business, that’s great, but do it for the right reasons and because you truly want to achieve or say something.

I’m encouraging you to make a blog because you can immediately benefit from the power of making your goals public.

Creating a blog has never been easier and you can set up a new site in under 15 minutes using BlueHost.

If you don’t plan on becoming a blogger, then think of your site as an online diary that you can use to stay accountable as you publicly list your goals.

Before I had more than a dozen visitors, I can vividly remember thinking that this site was already paying off because I was much more diligent, confident, and happy with my pursuit of financial independence.

Of course, my bank account is happier as well.

By definition, I’m creating my vision while expressing my beliefs and disciplines. The moment I write something down is the moment it begins to take shape.

If you’re serious about pursuing financial independence or just saving more money in general, then I highly encourage you to tell a close friend about your goals. If you’re uncomfortable with telling someone your goal, then consider creating a blog.

I hesitated to publicly declare my goals for a long time because I was afraid of failure.

On top of failure, building a website and creating this blog has been entirely outside my comfort zone. I’m a CPA who works with tax laws and numbers all day. That’s my comfort zone. Not writing poems about personal finance.

Anyone who has read to this point knows that all the available information about personal finance is out there. The first and last step to achieving it, is taking action.

Have you been on the fence about sharing your financial goals? Have you seen a similar uptick in success when you share your goals publicly? What have been the benefits to you after starting a blog?

Master Distiller

47 comments… add one
  • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap Jul 25, 2016, 5:45 am

    You had md there Matt. I really thought you had managed to earn over 13 grand just from your blog and you had me jealous as hell hehe. Great teaser! I was really keen to learn what your secret was. Haha nice work.

    Great post though. Just shows the power of not only positive thinking but the reinforcement and motivation you get from putting your goals out there.

    And you’re dead right. All the info is out there. Just got to get up and make it happen.

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:06 am

      Exactly! With all the information out there, the last step is taking action. Putting together our goals in a public place has been a game changer for us. I’m excited about the possibilities still to come, given the site is still so new. I will be surprised if the rate of learning keeps up.

  • The Green Swan Jul 25, 2016, 6:19 am

    Good for you and your girlfriend! I believe it’s all about muscle memory too, once you start building the habits of saving more and more it becomes easier.

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:48 am

      That’s a great way to put it. Once the muscle memory is there, it becomes much easier to set things on autopilot. I’m glad we’re developing the right muscle memory this year.

      I was concerned about lifestyle inflation, and we do some of it, but we find that we’re already very happy with the activities we do.

  • [email protected] Jul 25, 2016, 6:35 am

    That’s awesome Matt! Congrats on stepping out of your comfort zone (and there is a clear expectation now for more poems!) I am totally out of my zone too – but it has been great fun. I think building the relationships is key too from these experiences. I did some consulting this weekend with someone through my blog and it was incredibly rewarding. These are experiences I never would have had without “jumping in” and giving it a try. Another thing to consider – writing (active) vs. sitting and watching the TV (passive)….clear benefits there too.

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:52 am

      Jumping in is a great way to put it, since I felt a bit of overwhelm after realizing all the little pieces that needed to come together. But, piece by piece, it does come together. The end result has been a much deeper feeling of happiness and feeling grateful.

  • Jon Jul 25, 2016, 7:15 am

    Well done Matt! This is one of the reasons we always have written business plan goals at the office and written personal development plans at work as well. Writing down the goals makes them tangible and allows you to track your progress (as long as they are measurable). You are also held accountable by your boss and peers.

    Applying those same principles to personal finance makes a ton of sense and is clearly working for you!

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 5:56 pm

      Thanks Jon. We couldn’t be happier with the progress this year. We also have a track record of making incremental improvements, so we’re confident to see even more gains in the coming 6 months and following years.

  • TheMoneyMine Jul 25, 2016, 7:21 am

    I have to totally agree with this. What’s important is to see why our goals matter and touchbase regularly to see progress.
    My wife and I review our goals on a monthly basis and we track them in a google presentation (I know, that sounds very corporate and it is, but it works so well). It turned into more than a financial review and includes other family topics as well.
    Congrats for you and your girlfriend achieving your goals. Use the same method again and again and you’ll be FI in no time!

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:00 pm

      Our goals are basically tracked via excel, although I’m the one keeping them there. It does help to keep track of everything, especially when there are a lot of small goals (such as visit best friend XYZ who lives in ABC city). So I agree 100% – it does work well!

  • Apathy Ends Jul 25, 2016, 7:23 am

    “The first and last step to achieving it, is taking action”


    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 5:57 pm

      Hah, I knew you would like that one – especially with the theme of your site!

  • FinanceSuperhero Jul 25, 2016, 7:28 am

    What a tremendous accomplishment for you and your girlfriend, Matt! I’m always encouraged by seeing others experience success through the accountability and focus that a blog demands.

    Many people have “goals,” but I firmly believe that most goals remain dreams until they are written down in an actionable, measurable manner. Factoring in how clearly you have identified your goals and laid out a plan to move from employee to investor, I’m not surprised by your success.

    I agree that putting your goals out there requires the element of uncommon vulnerability. I was hesitant to establish 30 goals for this year of life for many reasons: worry about ridicule, fear of failure, and worry that nobody would care. My concerns were largely unfounded, I discovered, and I have gained another layer of accountability and motivation to boot.

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:03 pm

      30 goals for ONE year! That is ambitious!

      Once the goal is written down it also becomes much scarier, since I feel more committed to getting it done. Adding the public level of commitment makes it all the more certain that I’ll find a way to get it done, but I find I might hold back on telling people about a goal if it is more in that “wish” category. But, after a long enough time, I eventually put it down on paper.

  • Financial Samurai Jul 25, 2016, 9:06 am

    Congrats Matt! Tell everyone your goals indeed! Best of luck in the next 6 months.


    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 5:58 pm

      Thanks Sam! It is like something you said, if we’re not saving enough each month to the point that it hurts a little, then we’re not saving enough! Luckily, we find a lot of joy in this process of cutting costs.

  • Dollar engineer Jul 25, 2016, 10:24 am

    Great stuff Matt and an impressive start to 2016! I completely agree about putting your goals out there vs keeping them to yourself. I think so many people are not just afraid to talk about their goals but money/personal finance in general.

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:04 pm

      Money can be such a scary subject! I know many of my bad habits growing up were the result of money never being discussed. It can be hard to build wealth if we absorb all the marketing that gets thrown at us.

  • Tawcan Jul 25, 2016, 11:56 am

    Great stuff Matt and girlfriend. It took me a while to start my blog as I kept wondering if there’s any value in me writing the crazy stuff I have in my head. I’m so glad that I did as through my blog I’ve managed to connect with so many like minded people

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:05 pm

      Well said! Connecting with people on a similar pursuit leaves the door open for excellent learning opportunities.

  • Stefan - The Millennial Budget Jul 25, 2016, 12:04 pm

    What a teaser! It is great to see what being accountable for your actions is and that writing down your goals is important even in this digital age. Glad to see everything is working out for you, cheers to early retirement!

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 6:07 pm

      Haha – It might be a little misleading, but the impact on my bank account is real! 🙂

  • Kevin - The Financial Panther Jul 25, 2016, 6:50 pm

    I’ve been thinking about it the same way when I talk about blogging with my buddies. It’s a benefit to you even if you don’t make any money at all from the blog. Another benefit I’d point out is making yourself a better writer. If you write for a year, I guarantee you’ll be a better writer than you were a year ago, right? Nothing wrong with knowing how to get your thoughts on paper.

    Great job on the savings also! I almost got mad thinking this was another get rich quick blogging post.

    • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap Jul 25, 2016, 7:43 pm

      Totally agree with you Kevin on point 1, blogging does make you a better writer. After only 5 months I compare my first posts and how I write now. Hopefully my readers will agree with me that it’s definitely getting better.

      And point 2, great teaser title. I had to read Matt’s post to find out how he had made so much income from his blog. And if he can do it, so can I. Doh, fooled again by clever marketing!!

      • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 9:26 pm

        Part of me agrees but part of me is also convinced the money would have been spent if it wasn’t for this blog.

        And if someone clicks through with the idea of making a quick buck, but walks away committed to writing down their first savings goal, then I’ll consider it a job well done. 🙂

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 25, 2016, 9:24 pm

      “It’s a benefit to you even if you don’t make any money at all from the blog.”


      I wrote this article with the idea that I was speaking to my younger self. I know if I had read this article three years ago, my journey to financial independence would have had a few less bumps in the road.

      There’s plenty of great information out there available to everyone, but taking that step to commit is where the tires meet the road.

      And yes, I would love to think my writing has improved…although maybe not my grammar.

  • Mrs. PIE Jul 26, 2016, 6:53 am

    Ha! you had me there!
    But it’s very true that blogging helps to clarify thoughts and ideas. Putting something in a readable format for others (or yourself) forces you to consider details you may not have otherwise considered. Even writing a post about quarterly portfolio performance can reveal details you may not have otherwise thought of.
    The other thing I’d add about blogging if the wonderful sense of community. That’s a big driver for us, knowing there are others out there rooting for you and with similar ideals. Yay for the internet! 🙂

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 27, 2016, 7:57 am

      The community is great. It is supporting, encouraging, and helps me stay accountable. Plus, as you mentioned, it can point out my blind spots.

  • Chris @ Sleepy Capital Jul 26, 2016, 7:48 am

    Great post! Making goals public definitely keeps you to them. I started my blog just four months ago and have voiced my goals to others close to me. Doing so has helped keep me diligent and motivated to succeed and achieve them. Congratulations on your success and goal achieving over the past 6 months!

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 27, 2016, 7:59 am

      Thanks Chris! It is nice to see so many others describe the same momentum I discussed in this post – thanks to publicly declaring our goals.

  • amber tree Jul 26, 2016, 2:05 pm

    Our benefit of blogging has multiple legs
    1- me and my wife are now better aligned. Not only my blogposts, also the blog posts of others help us to define a common vision.
    2- by blogging, we have increased a saving a little by leaving less slack on the table
    3- We have a better idea of what we want and makes us happy. this is priceless

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 27, 2016, 8:01 am

      Yes! I’m glad you mentioned #1 since that was actually the very first motivator I had when launching my site. It turned out to be accurate. Instead of me trying to discuss a topic with my girlfriend, I can just write it out and she can see my thought process.

  • Paige @ Live, Laugh, Budget Jul 26, 2016, 5:49 pm

    Great job on the savings! I agree, putting yourself and your goals out there does add a little bit of pressure to stay on track. Even though I have only had my blog running for two weeks, I started writing posts a few months ago and it has led me to searching for other ways to reduce expenses and how to better invest and save for the future. My bank accout has definitely noticed the new efforts.

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 27, 2016, 8:02 am

      Awesome! I’m glad to see more people are leveraging the power of the internet.

  • Ricard Torres Jul 28, 2016, 11:14 am

    Awesome job! It’s amazing how making your goals public always helps you to achieve them – not sure how it works; it just does!

    Great point also about coming out of your comfort zone. Blogging is often a very personal thing, and it takes guts to get out there and share things publicly. I hope you keep trying to get out of your comfort zone and keep growing! Like the famous quote says, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”.

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 29, 2016, 3:39 pm

      Thanks! I agree – my focus lately has been on expanding my knowledge and my comfort zone. I try not to stray too far outside my circle of competency though.

      Public goals have been incredible to us this year and I plan on making even bigger ones next year.

  • Dividends Down Under Jul 28, 2016, 10:54 pm

    The PF community has certainly made us more motivated and do even better. It’s extremely beneficial to be kept accountable, to inspire other people and to hopefully share our journey 🙂

    We’re at a stage with the internet where there is gigantic amounts of information and lessons out there. Brokerage costs are the cheapest they’ve ever been. There are so many options like Vanguard out there. Lots of cool apps like Robin Hood, Acorns etc. Why not take control?

    P.S You tricked me too 🙂


    • Distilled Dollar Jul 29, 2016, 3:43 pm

      I love this growing trend. I think people are waking up to the idea that employers will not take care of retirement for you. It is on us to do it and the resources out there are available for anyone who wants to utilize them.

  • Elsie @ Gundomoney Jul 31, 2016, 10:44 pm

    Very cool! It’s so important to hold yourself accountable. If you can do it in some public way, all the better. It’s amazing how we can surprise even ourselves with our achievements.

  • Paul Andrews Aug 1, 2016, 8:59 pm

    Public accountability is everything, I used to work for a charter school where our academic goals were posted at least twice in every hallway; we all knew what the expectations were! Even when we didn’t achieve those exact goals, our results were still quite good. Congrats on savings over 5 figures 🙂

    PS – I’m going to push you a bit on the “Penny saved = penny earned” bit. I just wrote last week about how I think that phrase is just slightly misguided. If you get a chance, check it out! Great post!

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 2, 2016, 8:37 pm

      I liked the post a lot and left a comment. Loved the description of a “used” book store.

      If anything, I should have then increased the $ amount from my title then! 🙂 I agree, a penny saved CAN be worth a lot more, and by acting in a cost saving capacity, we’ve constantly looking for ways to boost that $13,291 and make it even larger in the next 6 months. Maybe I’ll detail in another post all the various small tweaks we made in a matter of minutes that led to a high $/hr. I’m working on the large overall $ amounts now (housing/no car/walking) and I may work my way down. As I noted on your site, one of the biggest factors over the last 12 months for us has also been on negotiating better prices or salaries.

      Thanks for the comment Paul and I’m glad you liked the post.

  • Finance Solver Aug 7, 2016, 10:31 am

    Making your goals public is certainly a scary one.. I told my friends that I want to retire in the next 15-20 years but I’m a little scared in that it will backfire and I will be looked down on if I don’t meet my goals when time is up. It’s great that life is long and I get to have an extra 10 years if I fail in my goals as a buffer! Thanks for the motivation!

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 10, 2016, 6:29 am

      15-20 is so far out that I wouldn’t be surprised if they forget in a year or two! 🙂

  • Millennial Millionaire Aug 30, 2016, 8:31 pm

    I’m new to the blog and think its great. I too am a Millennial who started a personal finance blog for my fellow generation Y cohorts less than one year ago. I totally concur with broadcasting your goals on your blog to help hold yourself accountable. My goal is to have a network of $1 million dollars by the age of 45. Keep up the good work…I’ll be following along your journey.

  • J.R. Duren Sep 22, 2016, 8:27 am

    Just curious…is your blogging income dependent on affiliate $$ from your Bluehost links?

    • Distilled Dollar Sep 22, 2016, 11:38 am

      $0.00 from BlueHost so far. I think that’s because I haven’t created a “how to start a blog” page.

      I definitely will as I love the benefit I’m seeing from publicly declaring my goals. The engagement with people and the personal growth is well worth the investment imo, but then again, some people can get a similar result by telling a close friend who will hold them accountable.

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