The Morning After

I started writing NEXT BOOK this morning.

I know I’d been hinting that I was going to start writing, and that I was ready to start writing, but once I knew what was going to happen with The Billfold I realized that the best way to transition from “my life as it has been for the past five years” and “everything that might come next” would be to finish up my work with The Billfold and start my novel the following morning.

(Not that The Billfold’s work is finished, precisely. I still have to close out The Billfold LLC, but that’s just shutting down a handful of accounts and filing some paperwork with the state of Iowa. And paying for it, because you can’t open or close a business without paying a bunch of people.)

My most recent tarot reading — which was finally not about death — suggested that I pull back on the WORKING SO HARD ALL THE TIMES and, for the next lunar cycle, focus on my dreams and creating new things and being emotionally open with people.

The reading also suggested that I finish up all of this outstanding business-and-tax stuff and stash any money left over in my SEP IRA, which I was already planning to do.

So, in the name of being emotionally open with people, I’ll share the two pieces of music I had on constant repeat during this whole Billfold shutdown process.

Time is an illusion that helps things make sense
So we are always living in the present tense

It seems unforgiving when a good thing ends
But you and I will always be back then
You and I will always be back then

This one is pretty obvious. I put it in my earbuds and played it on my piano over and over. There’s a back then that will always exist, first as a memory of a place we wish we could return to, then as a memory of something fun we used to do together, and then just a memory.

Here’s the other one.

Everybody knows how this goes so let’s get over it
And let’s get this over with

After all the spelling mistakes
After all the groping in the dark
Can this page of strange gibberish
Get a final punctuation mark?

It shouldn’t be news, per se, that my experience of shutting down The Billfold has been a little different than the Billfolder experience. (And it’s not even completely over yet.) I went through the stages of grief about a month earlier than everyone else — and yes, you can go back through my emails and Slack chats and tick off every individual stage — but what isn’t popularly advertised is that there’s a seventh stage that comes after “acceptance,” and that stage is called “a bunch of administrative work.”

So yeah, I listened to “Let’s Get This Over With” a lot. Even though the thing I was trying to hasten to its end was something I loved.

But the other stage that comes after “acceptance” is “a wide open space that can be filled with dreams,” whether that’s an emotional space or, in my case, a literal space as well.

So I started writing my next book this morning. ❤️

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On Being Vulnerable Online

So… I kinda forgot that being vulnerable literally makes you vulnerable.

In the “if you reveal a weakness, people will poke at it” sense.

It’s not all “being honest about your own struggles will help you strengthen your relationships with other people and the world,” even though that’s the message you might take away from the TED Talk.

It’s also understanding (and accepting?) that people are going to refer to you as the personal finance writer who tanked her business due to her own financial ignorance.

And that’s both true and not true.

I’m also the personal finance writer who tried something new, realized she was in over her head, and quit before she lost a bunch of money.

Or the second entity to stop running The Billfold in just over a year.

I could have announced The Billfold’s closure in a way that made it sound like I hadn’t made any mistakes — one of those standard “going to pursue other opportunities” things. You would have known that wasn’t the real reason, because we all know what that particular line of text means, but I would have wrapped myself in boilerplate armor.

I could also have announced The Billfold’s closure in a way that placed the blame far away from me. It wasn’t my fault, I got bad advice! It’s true that I operated for most of the year under a particular set of assumptions and then learned that the majority of those assumptions were wrong, and it’s also true that those assumptions did not come fully-sprung out of my head. In some cases I did get bad advice. In others I didn’t know the questions I was supposed to ask, and so I didn’t get the answers I needed.*

But the two faults at the center of everything — my not talking to a lawyer or CPA before setting up the LLC, and my not bringing in enough money to support myself and the site simultaneously — are mine.

So I’m going to be honest about that, which is vulnerable in both the good way and the bad way.

Because it’s hard to admit to the world that you failed at something.

Some people will say “it’s all right.”

And other people will say “yep, you sure did.”

*I do plan on writing a piece about “the questions you should ask before setting up a business,” because the best thing I can do right now is share what I learned.

On Shutting Down The Billfold

This morning I announced that The Billfold would stop publishing new articles after February 20.

I’ve known this would happen for a while, long enough for me to process the loss and make plans for the future.

But breaking the news is still a very hard thing to do. (I mean, why would I write “still?” Telling someone that something they cared about is going to end is always hard.)

I’m at the point where I see The Billfold’s ending as a new beginning, and I did my best in the shutdown announcement to communicate that possibility to Billfold readers.

But they haven’t had the chance to process the loss yet.

So, Billfolders, know that I’m thinking of you and feeling for you today. ❤️

Read The Billfold’s First Book, Frugal and the Beast and Other Financial Fairy Tales

The Billfold’s first book, Frugal and the Beast and Other Financial Fairy Tales, is OFFICIALLY RELEASED! 🎉🎉🎉

Here’s what people are saying about Frugal and the Beast:

“The Billfold turns personal finance advice on its head, so it’s no wonder it would do such clever things with fairy tales. These stories reveal so much about who we are and how we live today.” — Mike Dang, co-founder of The Billfold and editor-in-chief of Longreads

“I never knew I need Rumpelstiltskin to involve Bitcoin or a parable about instant pots, but I’m so much happier now that I’ve read both. These stories will both delight and get you thinking about money.” — Lillian Karabaic, author of Get Your Money Together and host of Oh My Dollar!

The Kindle edition is $5.99 and the paperback edition is $10.99, but The Billfold earns roughly the same royalty either way so choose whichever one you prefer. Frugal and the Beast is also available for Kindle Unlimited, if that’s your thing! There are so many good ways to read this book, including reading the six fairy tales published for free on The Billfold (if you just want the free ones; if you want the full collection, you’ll need the whole book).

I am so excited to get Frugal and the Beast out to readers, and I hope you enjoy it. ❤️