At equities.com, we’ve always been focused on building an active community among the leading voices within the world of finance. As with many other fields, in finance, we’ve noticed a significant shift away from traditional sources of financial news, tips and predictions, and toward a growing number of financial bloggers.
In this series, we profile some of the most distinct and noteworthy voices in the world of financial blogging. Here you’ll find our recent interview with Pauline Paquin, founder of the blogs Make Money Your Way and Reach Financial Independence. Read below to learn about the flexibility provided by financial blogging, Paquin’s strategy of investing in foreign currencies and real estate, and the importance of starting your savings today to live a full life.
EQ: What inspired you to start blogging about financial independence and money matters?
Paquin: I had been reading a lot of blogs for a while and I felt like I had something to say as well. There were a few blogs focused on early retirement, and they all seemed to focus on being pretty drastic with your finances. “You can get a jumpstart— start as soon as possible, save as much as possible.” But most of them were talking about living in really poor conditions, and not doing anything, basically. Not traveling, not living life to the fullest for ten or fifteen years.
I wanted to show that it was possible to live a full life – that you didn’t need $5 million to do it, just a little bit of sense. Save a bit, and earn a bit more, then you can afford to live life like it should be lived.
EQ:What were you doing prior to blogging?
Paquin: I was in Morocco, writing for a few travel websites, which is also what got me to start my own blog. I saw what I was making and what the blog was earning. I said, “Okay, if I just work for myself, probably the income would be much higher.”
EQ:How long did it take for your blog to start gaining traction?
Paquin: It took about six months. To build stats, I was guest-blogging and trying to get readers from similar websites. To spread the word, I was mostly guest-posting a lot, which is how I got most of my readers. Then, after six months, all the statistics improved, so Google Inc. (GOOG) started paying attention and sent me a lot of search traffic as well, which was nice enough.
EQ: That’s great. It’s nice to hear a success story in this field. After writing about travel, what series of events inspired you to focus on money?
Paquin: Well, it’s a topic that I never tire of. I was a bit burned out with travel blogging. You always talk about the hotel you slept in, and the restaurant you ate at. For me, it was getting repetitive and I knew if I wanted to go on my own, I needed to find a niche I could talk about forever and ever…and money it was.
EQ: When did you begin thinking critically about your own income and finances?
Paquin: Since my teen years, I was always babysitting, tutoring someone, or teaching after class. I realized from an early age that if you work enough, then you could make more than average and live better than average. I tried to tell my friends that because they were complaining, “We don’t get enough of an allowance from our parents” and stuff like that. I’m like, “Look, it’s easy. I got five jobs and I’m going to the States on holiday for the summer.” I know you cannot tell people to change, but at least with a blog you can hope that people who are going to read it are going to be interested in the matters. I have a few readers ask questions, and I’m always happy to help them get on track with their finances and improve financially.
EQ: When did you start your current site?
Paquin: I started in 2012.
EQ: Wow, that’s pretty recent.
Paquin: Yes, I’m going on three years. Then, a year after that I started Make Money Your Way, because I was talking a lot about all the things I was doing with Financial Independence and everyone was like, “But, where is the money coming from?” or “You always say it’s so easy, but we don’t believe you.” I started a site saying, “Okay, if you do this, and this, and that and get a second job, work pretty hard, and invest wisely, then you can do it too.”
EQ: So, aside from Reach Financial Independence, you write on a few other blogs?
Paquin: Yes, I have a couple more. There’s one called Make Money Your Way, where I talk about ways to make extra money like get an extra job, improve your career, make money blogging, invest in real estate, etc. I have a third one called Savvy Scot, which is mostly a UK blog so I talk about saving money and making wise money moves. As you can imagine, it’s more targeted to UK readers.
EQ: How much investing are you personally involved in?
Paquin: Only a pretty small amount, actually. I started about fifteen years ago while I was still in college, mostly I was trading Forex because I wanted to go on holiday and have an edge on the currency. I saw the dollar was really weak in January, and I wanted to go in summer. I would trade a little bit like that, always try to get a low margin low-risk investment. Then, when I started to get a real job, I had a company match, so I was able to get just index funds and forget about them, which is about the wisest move you could make.
EQ:How did you reach that conclusion?
Paquin: Well, research shows that if you try to day trade and you’re not doing your research, and you don’t have a lot of time, then it’s basically gambling. I didn’t want to invest the time and effort.
I saw an article recently — I don’t remember which firm did the study — but the author talked about the best account owners, and about their performances. They said, “Oh, we didn’t remember we had an account.” Basically, they just left it there for ten years and their retirement was great. Even beating some actively managed funds. I just forgot about that during my first jobs. Now I’m back to trading a little more actively, mostly for indexes as in S&P 500, the French one, which is CAC 40 and stuff like that. I tend to stick with what I know, which are currencies, because I manage my money in three to four currencies at any given time.
EQ:Because you travel so much?
Paquin: I own property in the UK. I used to have one in France. I still have most of my accounts in France. In Guatemala, I manage life in dollars. I buy property in dollars. You’ve got a really strong dollar right now. I’m trying to move the money back to Europe, for example.
EQ: That certainly seems to be an effective strategy. Do you have a specific piece of advice you’d like to give to our readers that are just starting to manage their finances?
Paquin: Just get started. It’s like running a marathon. If you never go a mile or run around the block, you’re never going to run the marathon. It may seem impossible to have, say, a million dollars twenty-five years down the road, but it’s possible to have $5 tomorrow and save it. Then, $10 the day after that, or the week after that if you cannot afford to do that every day. That’s my advice. Just get started, somehow. Find a way to save a buck, and then make it two.
EQ: Do you have a long-term goal for your blogs?
Paquin: No. Honestly, I’m just having fun with it. The day I stop having fun, I guess I can find another activity. But at the moment, it’s been going great and I’m having a lot of fun doing it. You won’t to get rid of me that easily. I don’t treat it at a business.
EQ: Have you built relationships with other finance bloggers?
Paquin: Yes, I have. We’re a pretty tight-knit community, actually. You have a few really nice people out there who are very happy to help at any time. We have a little group, maybe 10 or maybe a dozen people. We started three years ago, and most of us survived – and it’s really hard to make it past the first year. We’re still asking for advice, one to the other. For instance, if I discover something, I’m going to share it with them and say, “Oh, hey, look. I did that and it worked pretty well.”
Anyway, I tend to stick with my little group because I’m an introvert. I don’t often reach out to newer bloggers, but if they do reach out to me then I’m happy to pass it forward and just share the knowledge. I’ll say to them “Okay, that worked for me. How about you try it as well?”
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