It’s the time of year for us all to reflect on how well the past year has gone and to envision how we would like the next one to unfold. For myself, 2015 has been a very exciting year for both my day job and my side projects.
Up until 2015, I’ve been living the life of a 9-5 job, working for an employer and saving as much as I can for retirement. Fortunately I love the career I’ve built over the years and have worked for wonderful employers all along the way. Still, reaching the end of my career and beginning of a life of financial freedom has been in my sights for many years now.
Tools 4 Retirement is Born
In early 2015, after years of planning our family’s journey to financial freedom, I decided to start Tools 4 Retirement as a platform to share personal finance tips and tools with others.
Joining the personal finance blogging community has been an amazing experience. For most of us, personal finance education has been shockingly limited. This is the main reason the personal finance blogging community is such a beacon for people interested in getting their finances in order.
I was already an avid reader of personal finance content. Once Tools 4 Retirement was launched, and I became a content creator, my appetite for studying and experimenting within the realm of personal finance grew immensely. One of the personal finance concepts I really resonate with is the “side hustle”.
The primary reason I began studying up on side hustling was because Tools 4 Retirement was my first side job, and I realized there was so much to be learned about how to hold down an increasingly demanding day job while starting a side job. Once I began to get a handle on managing the first side hustle, the idea of adding a couple others into the mix became enticing.
One side hustle we tried was retail arbitrage through an Amazon service called Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA). In a nutshell, FBA involves finding products for sale at discounted prices, purchasing them, and sending them into Amazon to be sold at the going rate while allowing for both Amazon and you to profit on the difference between the purchase price and the price the item is sold for on Amazon.
One of the exciting things about FBA was that it was well suited for my wife and I to do together. So, we embarked on a path of learning this side hustle through blog posts, podcasts and YouTube videos. I won’t go into details in this post, but suffice it to say, most of the “how to” information out there will lead you to believe FBA is super easy to start with a quick learning curve and little capital needed.
In practice, we found FBA to be far more challenging than we originally envisioned and a much larger time commitment was necessary than expected. The online FBA platform is not very user friendly and there is the ongoing commitment of time required to go out and hunt down products on sale, which are cheap enough to allow for a healthy mark-up through FBA. Then there is all the time necessary to carefully pack up the goods and ship them of to Amazon.
We began experimenting with FBA in June 2015, which was about four months after the Tools 4 Retirement blog was launched. Then came one of the busiest times of year for my day job, being July – August. All of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of a perfect storm for burnout.
Burnout Documented in the Data
The image below is a screen shot of the Tools4Retirment.com Google Analytics Dashboard showing the monthly number of users coming to the site between the blogs inception in February 2015 and November 2015, which was a couple months after burnout set in.
You see that cliff drop? This, my friend, is what burnout looks like.
This chart is a great depiction of how burnout set in from spreading myself too thin by striving to do too many different things at once.
As I’m sure you have felt before, the losses we experience from burnout are much more than just running out of time and energy. Rather it’s giving too much of your time to date, requiring you to take a time-out to recuperate before you get back in the game. As a father and husband with a reasonable income coming from my day job, the side hustles were the areas that needed to be pulled back on.
I’m now re-invigorated and excited to get back to building Tools 4 Retirement. This phase of burnout has been a lesson on the need to focus on what really matters and to “keep my eye on the ball”. I really enjoy interacting with my readers and look forward to sharing more stories, tips and tools with you from here on.