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Dealing With The Sophomore Slump

As I write my 92nd post, I am now fully in what many people refer to as the sophomore slump. I’ve written 92 posts over the course of the last 5 months, this post may publish out of order but suffice it to say I’ve been writing for a while now. When I first started posting it was easy, there was a never ending supply of ideas. In fact before I even started I wrote 10 posts. However, as I’ve covered more and more topics it becomes harder to pick out something new and unique to this blog.

My Sophomore Slump

The concept of a sophomore slump seems to originate with sports. Often times you will see a football player that played a hot hand in their rookie season have a mediocre year the next time around. Just like my blog it becomes harder after you’ve hit a certain level. Expectations are higher the second time around. You’ve already achieved some form of established readership for a blog or point production in the case of football. I have already hit 3000 page views a month, and yet things have slowed down on the track to 4000. A step back is perceived both externally and to your own self esteem as a failure. And yet your first year could have had a great streak of luck. In football, perhaps, you were surrounded by a fantastic team. In blogging, perhaps, you stumble on just the right subject matter for a few posts. Your initial performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance, nor what you should judge it by. It also may not be indicative of where you are going.

The Sophomore Slump as Applicable to Finance

Now for those who read my blog often will realize I don’t just write state of the blog posts for the fun of it. I use these rare posts as a lead in to something applicable to your financial life. Well today’s post is obviously no different. Just like the blog or football, you can have a financial sophomore slump. Your financial turn around is divisible into phases. The first is debt removal, then you go to the accumulation phase. After that you go into FI and from there Early Retirement. The time in these phases can be measured in years, which presents the sophomore slump problem. In the first year you’re all gung ho to eliminate debt, to save, to prepare yourself for early retirement, and to actually be retired. However as you go to the second, third, or even twentieth year in any get phase it gets harder to keep going. You see, you saved 50% of your salary in year 1, but only 30 % in year three, and it can be really discouraging. And yet you will never succeed if you don’t push forward and keep at it. If you push through the slump itself your chances of success improve dramatically simply because you’re one of the few that will.

Solutions to the Sophomore Slump

There are a few things you can do to push through this period:

  1. The first and foremost is to seek like individuals out for encouragement. For the blog I recently searched out the rockstar finance forums for encouragement. The discussions about fellow bloggers trials and tribulations have helped me to keep going. Similarly, for financial items seek out those in similar phases to your own and talk with them. Visit their blogs and use it to continue to encourage you to keep going. So far I’ve found some good blogs on each phase: Debt: Centsibly Rich. Accumulation: Budgets Are Sexy.  FI: I’d like to think you’re on it 😉  Early Retirement: Think Save Retire.
  2. Set mini goals that give you reason to celebrate in sizable chunks. In the case of the blog I’m still working towards some interim goals like guest posts and comments that will raise regardless of my page view/session growth. These help to keep me positive. In your financial world you could consider things like setting a spending holiday or covering a specific expense with a side hustle.
  3. Set a plan ahead of time on how to address the slump. Planning ahead and sticking to that plan will make it easier to deal with. This is especially true with your investments.

Ultimately, this blog won’t be going away anytime soon, nor will my financial progress.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that sometimes it is a struggle. I suspect I am not alone. Do you struggle with things after the initial wave of dedication rubs off? How do you handle the inevitable let down after the initial year?

14 Comments

  1. The Green Swan
    The Green Swan February 17, 2017

    You’re definitely not alone! Like you said, persistence pays off. Developing those habits and the right mindset early can help set yourself up for success. Great idea to reach out to others for encouragement too, that can definitely help prevent a backslide.

    I’ve had years financially where I wish I had done more, hit certain bonus milestones, or net worth accumulation…I just strive to learn and improve for next time…slowly bu surely brighter days are ahead.

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] February 17, 2017

      Everything is a learning opportunity, even your failures. In my specific example I’m learning a lot from those other bloggers.

  2. Erik @ The Mastermind Within
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within February 17, 2017

    Hey FTF, you bring an interesting perspective to this topic and I like it. Focus and discipline are two things I’ve been trying to work on lately with regards to life, personal finance, my job, and my relationships with others.

    I was chatting with my roommate and he was saying how he wants to do things he wants to do. At the end of the day, it’s his time and he should do what he wants with it. I completely agree with him and have been trying to apply it in my life. It’s awesome you have a few thousand views a month after 5 months. I was chatting with a web entrepreneur I went to high school with and he said someone would take a blog getting 2k views for $500. I was shocked!

    Have a good weekend FTF

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] February 17, 2017

      Actually I’m not that surprised a 2k view blog would sell for 500. You would think the value of a blog is tied to its annual revenue like any business. From what I understand 3-4 dollars per thousand views is a high end target for ad revenue (non affiliate). At that rate you’d have revenue of 48 dollars a year. If someone valuated the business at ten times annual earnings it makes sense. My site is a business only in respect to wanting to make enough in revenue that the IRS is cool with me writing off the costs of hosting, but I do find the financial aspects of blogging intriguing.

  3. Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com February 17, 2017

    Hey FTF, from time to time, I also feel that the daily grind of staying on track with your finance is really tough. To go around that, I too, use a little reward for myself whenever I need a motivation boost. I sometimes treat myself to a good meal here and there, other times I tell myself that the harder I work, the faster I will reach FIRE. And FIRE is definitely providing the burning design for me not to overcome my current slump, but fuel to reach the next level. Thanks for the reminder. Slumps are okay, we just need to find our way to conquer it. Just like in football.

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] February 17, 2017

      Leo, Great suggestions on simple low costs motivational rewards. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Mustard Seed Money
    Mustard Seed Money February 17, 2017

    I definitely know what you mean with hitting the sophomore slump. I’m always reminded of my p90x routines when Tony Horton says just hit play and follow along. A lot of days when I lose motivation I just think just get things going and it will roll down hill from there. I’m always amazed when I look back and think wow how did I think of that article or what was I thinking there. Anyway…keep up the awesome work!!

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] February 17, 2017

      Thanks MSM. Starting is usually the biggest hurdle in any endeavor. I was on vacation last week and it provided me a bunch of post ideas. Now I just have to start writing.

  5. Rich @ pennyandrich.com
    Rich @ pennyandrich.com February 18, 2017

    Hey FTF — first of all your blog is awesome. When I see my 3 faithful readers show up on my site stats, I take comfort in that I’m doing it for the creative outlet and not the money. Ha! But seriously, I’ve been impressed with the quality of writing out here in the blog community, and you’re part of that.

    Regarding financial goals, I relate to missed opportunities and progress feeling slow. For those of us who are Gen Xers, midlife smacks us in the face sometimes. I’ve come around to embracing the fact that I’m not going to “retireby40”, because I’m already 40! I have small kids and plenty of career ahead.

    Probably the most important realization I’ve had is that I need to live according to my priorities every day rather than waiting for some (illusory) future state where life will be more perfect. Life, including financial life, is as much about the journey as the end goal. So work toward your goal but be sure to enjoy the ride, whatever that looks like, because you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Or a Corvette (thinking positive)!

    So when I’m feeling the slump, this is what I do. I look at my life and remember that this is the life I want, that I have a ton to be thankful for, that I have a bunch of it left, and that I don’t want to miss it.

    Thanks for the thought provoking article … –R

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] February 19, 2017

      Thanks Rich. Very good point. Remembering how good you have it is an excellent way to power through those slumps.

  6. Mr. Zero
    Mr. Zero February 19, 2017

    FTF – Although my page views are still quite low [by Erik’s measures, my blog is worth between 10 to 25 cents], I view my blog much like I do my finances. Quality of my plan (posts). Patience – I’m getting rich slowly (keep posting).

    I think the fact that you didn’t feel your sophomore slump coming until after 90+ posts is a a very good sign you have a lot to say.

    – Zero

  7. Go Finance Yourself!
    Go Finance Yourself! February 19, 2017

    It’s easy to get into a slump with financial goals. For many of us shooting for FI, the end point is several years down the road. Like you said, a useful strategy is creating several small goals that will help you get to the end goal. That’s one of the reasons why I broke up my FI goals into 3 different stages: Bare Essentials, Current Standard of Living, and Livin Large. Much easier when you have check points along the way that lead you to your end goal.

    Keep at it and power through the tough times! Good times will be sure to follow.

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] February 19, 2017

      Hi Go-finance-yourself,
      Great idea to split the plan up into stages. Too long between achievement can be detrimental. Also those checkpoints can allow you to change strategy if necessary.

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