I Gave Up My $2k/month Blog Income (& don’t regret it!)

I gave up being an influencer. I gave up the dream that every blogger seems to be chasing nowadays. I gave up an additional $2k monthly income.

And I don’t regret it one bit.

You’re probably wondering – did I get a raise that I could forgo $2,000? Did I get a sugar daddy? Did I win the lottery?

No to all that and yes, an extra $2k per month on top of my salary would be nice but not worth how I had to obtain it.

A little back story. I’ve been blogging for over a decade. If you’re 13 years old, I was probably blogging before you were even born.

Blogging, to me, was an outlet. A stress reliever and a memory keeper. I treat blogging as if it’s my diary. I will share with you my deepest and darkest fears; my embarrassing moments; my fights with my then and/or now boyfriend; my failures and my successes; I will share everything. Honestly, it’s probably one of my oldest hobbies and I don’t ever see myself giving up.

But, I’m stuck in my old ways. I love and miss the blogging era of 2009. Nowadays, every blogger seems to want to make money. Every blog is a lifestyle blog that more or less gives the same bullshit advice on morning or night routines; on skincare; on starting a blog; on studying.

It felt like personal blogging was dying and no longer a niche. It feels as if you were a personal blogger, you won’t be “successful” in the blogosphere. You’re old and outdated. Now is the time to recycle the same 10 tips to make your life easier and try to get some money out of that.

So, I did exactly that.

A few years ago, I rebranded into a “lifestyle” blog. For the first time in decades, I’ve created a blog that didn’t have my name. I felt like if I attached my name, you know it’s a personal blog – hence, Coffee with Claire.

I did everything a lifestyle blog did. I posted reviews on products, services and business. I spammed my posts on Twitter and Facebook groups to generate views.

I even had personal photoshoots! I stopped using stock photos. I took the time to edit my photos.

I had a planner filled with ideas that I think readers would like. Ideas about relationships; fitness; finances; blogging; etc.

In a short time, I started to get PR inquiries and sponsorships. My ads were generating some decent income because of the traffic.

I started writing reviews and sponsored posts because, hell, I was being paid for it and it was based on topics that were targeted to my readers.

For a year, my blog was netting me $1,600 – $2,000 every month that I withdrew to my bank account.

When I received the notification from my web host that I’m set to renew my plans, I decided to hit no and cancel the blog. I took off my PR page and contact details and deleted my blog’s email. I decided to let my blog slowly die off.

I’m not another entitled Millennial. It’s not like I’m saying I gave up an income because I didn’t want to work anymore.

I just hated how I felt about my blog. It didn’t feel like it was mine anymore. Near the end of the blog, I felt like I was a sellout, writing for brands just to have an income.

I had friends always asking me how the blog is going and I hated that. They thought it was cool that I managed to earn money from my blog but I felt like the fact that they did know I earned money, I always had to upkeep my blog to make sure it was generating a monthly income.

I also went on vacation last year for two weeks and during those two weeks, my blog crossed my mind several times. I was growing anxious with the PR emails and tried to keep up with the demands of posting from the companies.

Ultimately, the biggest reason why I decided to quit being a paid blogger was the fact that I no longer enjoyed my favourite hobby.

After work, I would go home and review my blog stuff. By the time I was done working with the brands, I barely had time for my own work. I’d want to update my theme and can’t bring myself to do so because I hated looking at my own blog for so long.

It wasn’t tiring per se, but it was tiring emotionally to drain my creativity and my passion for my favourite hobby that didn’t give me that happiness and relaxation that it once gave.

Yes, the extra money was nice but I hated how it controlled my life and how it ruined my hobby.

Now? I’ve rebranded back to a personal blog with a few lifestyle posts here and there. I’m much happier knowing I can leave my blog alone for two weeks and have no one drilling my ass for an update. I’m happier because I’m back in the 2009 era of blogging where my stalkers can envy my eventful life. Where I can share my thoughts and have feedback from others outside my friends group. I have a place I can rant freely with no worries what others will think or say – because let’s be real… if I don’t like your comment, I’m going to delete it 😛

I deleted my PR page and no longer sign up for any campaigns. I have a healthier balance of life, work and blogging.

More importantly, I’m happy and love my blog again. I found my love and passion for blogging again and it gives me immense happiness to hit the publish button.

It’s not to say that I hate paid bloggers or that it’s not possible to have a healthy balance between paid and unpaid posts but I just overall want to avoid any paid posts. It’s just not my thing because at the end of the day, I turn to blogging if I’m stressed, bored, unhappy, or my brain is running too wild.

Money Diary of a 25-year-old HR Admin in Melbourne | Dec. 16th-22nd, 2018

Doing a new segment called Money Dairy that logs my spending on a weekly basis (excluding rent, subscriptions (eg. Netflix, Spotify, gym and Scribd) and debt payments). I love looking at how my peers spends because it makes me less guilty of my habits, but it’s only fair that I contribute my weekly spending habits as well. Be sure to check out my other money diary entries over here!

Sunday, December 16th
11am – Kicked off the nice Sunday with some Starbies… $11.80
12pm – Went to my beloved Target for a better pillow and some workout clothes… $19.00
12:30pm – My shitty Skullcandy headphones broke so I had to buy a replacement from JB-HiFi. I decided to go with Sony this time… $30.74
1pm – Since we were in the city, we decided to stop by Sushi Hub for lunch… $15.40

Monday, December 17th
1pm – Hit the wall at work and went for a cup of coffee from a fancy shop… $4
6:30pm – Grabbed some groceries for tonight’s dinner from Woolsworth… $24.47

Tuesday, December 18th
9am – Was craving that delicious Vanilla Latte from Cotton Mills Coffee so I skipped the usual 7-11… $5.50

Wednesday, December 19th
8am – I forgot my banana for breakfast so I purchased a slice of banana bread with my coffee at 7-11… $3
6:30pm – Got too lazy to go food shopping and cook so we ordered Yori Yori Sushi from Uber Eats… $36.48

Thursday, December 20th
9am – I don’t know why, but my dumb ass decided to skip 7-11 today and went for a fancy latte again… $6

Friday, December 21st
3:00pm – I got off work early so I decided to stop by TK Maxx (the Aussie version to Winners/Ross/Marshall’s) to browse around without being rushed. I ended up picking a pack of seamless undies and lavender essential oil… $18.95
4pm – Of course, the mall I was at had a Starbies… $5.50
6pm – I promised Dan that I’ll cook dinner so I dropped by Woolsworth again to grab some groceries… $29.76

Saturday, December 22nd
Hallelujah, I did NOT spend a dime today!

Total for the week? $210.60!

Not bad, compared to last week’s, eh? It’s the week before the holidays so I was downtown a bit more, and it was an odd week that I craved Vanilla lattes so much!

Lessons from this week? Do not buy Skullcandy in-ear headphones… and maybe plan my groceries a bit better so I’m not constantly heading to the groceries stores.

For those who are wondering, I’m not including my monthly rent, bills, subscriptions, and student loan repayments. I don’t know why, maybe I should?

Money Diary of a 25-year-old HR Admin in Melbourne | Dec. 8th-15th, 2018

After reading a few money diaries out there, I thought I’d give this thing a shot! I love discussing finances and seeing how my peers live. I also think seeing things outside of my statement could put my spending habits in a different perspective.

Saturday, Dec 8th
2pm – For lunch, we went to a nearby McDonald’s… $18
5pm – I read a few articles that eczema cream helps with KP so I went out to grab a baby eczema cream from The Chemist Warehouse… $20
6pm – After dinner, I treated Dan and myself to Starbucks… $10.60
6:30pm – A little mishap while on the train and accidentally loaded up my card with another transit pass and top-up money… $175

Sunday, Dec 9th
9:30am – I went into the city and purchased a Christmas gift from Perfect Position for my work family back at home… $19.96
4pm – Was hitting a wall and went to 7-11 across the street for an iced coffee… $2

Monday, Dec 10th
11am – Finally decided to gather the courage up and get laser hair removal after getting fed up with shaving my armpits on a daily basis in this hot country. The clinic was having a Christmas sale of $9 per session for armpits if you prepay for 10 sessions. I also ended up getting their aftercare system as well… $180.67
12pm – Hit the wall again and grabbed a cup of coffee at 7-11… $1
12:30pm – Tomorrow is my first day of work so I went to Woolsworth to buy some grocery for my lunch meal prep… $34.57

Tuesday, Dec 11th
8am – Grabbed a cup of coffee from 7-11 to start the day… $1

Wednesday, Dec 12th
8am – Grabbed a cup of coffee from 7-11 to start the day… $1
12:38pm – Went to get a coffee and a snack with a colleague… $7.30
7pm – We went to the Summer Night Market and withdrew some money for the cash-only event… $28 ($25 spending limit w/ $3 ATM withdraw fee)

Thursday, Dec 13th
8am – Grabbed a coffee and a loaf of banana bread from 7-11… $3
5pm – I read a few blog posts about a caffeine shampoo that promotes healthier hair and hair growth. I’m self-conscious of my hair at the moment so I’m willing to try anything and picked up the shampoo from The Chemist Warehouse… $14.99
5:15pm – Grabbed some dinner at Sushi Hub… $6.60
5:15pm – Also grabbed some dessert for Dan and me from Uncle Tetsu… $11.30

Friday, Dec 14th
8am – Grabbed a coffee from 7-11… $1
1pm – Forgot my lunch so I had to buy lunch… $15

Saturday, Dec 15th
12pm – I believe this run’s groceries at Woolsworth included next week’s lunches as well as some snacks and dinner… $68.85

Total for the week? $619.84

So… obviously, this isn’t great, haha. I did splurge a bit with the services and got caught up with some of reviews for the products. I was a bit annoyed that I messed up with my transit pass but whatever – it’s all good because I would’ve had to purchase it down the line anyways.

In hindsight, I also didn’t need to buy the aftercare laser treatment kit from my clinic as well but oh wells, haha… I’ll use it throughout my entire sessions anyways.

What We’re Doing to Save for Australia

Obtaining a working holiday visa and moving abroad is expensive. For us to move to Australia, it’d cost us about $5,500 AUD which is more or less the same converted to Canadian currencies. The $500-and-something is for the visa application alone. The $5,000 AUD is what the Australian government requires all holiday visa holders to have when they pass through immigration because that 5 grand is supposed to be a safety net for when things go south and don’t work out.

So, that’s expensive. Not to mention the airline ticket to get there!

What We're Doing to Save for Australia

But, we’re serious about moving to Australia. We’re not renewing our rental lease next year. We’re not looking at adopting a pet. We even skipped out on Black Friday/Cyber Monday TV deals because it wouldn’t make sense to drop $600 on a new TV and not see it for another 2 years or so.

So what else are we doing to further our savings for Australia?

  • Buying Starbucks only 1-2 times a week and substituting coffee with other caffeine filled drinks such as green tea. Dan even makes instant coffee to reduce our spending at Starbucks. I’m trying my best to eventually cut out Startbucks entirely (save for maybe a weekend treat) and have coffee at work instead.
  • We’re only watching movies with promo codes and not whenever we’re just “bored”. My dad’s cellphone provider offers discounted goods and movie tickets is one of them. We get 2-for-1 deals every two weeks! Alternatively, I think we’ll just wait for the movie to be on rental or available on Netflix.
  • We joined Costco to buy bulk and reduce our trips to our local supermarket. Things at Costco are definitely cheaper than our supermarket and we’re so happy to join Costco. We live about ten minutes away to our nearest Costco as well.
  • We always meal prep. I had a bad habit of buying lunches because I was too lazy to cook. Earlier this year, I learned how to cook proper meals and developed the habit of prepping every Sunday. Dan is always on top of his meals since he requires specific calories and foods to maintain his physique and weight.
  • We only order out twice a week (or less) and always below $50. You can still save while indulging and not giving up on everything in life. We had a habit of pretty much ordering every week, and on some weeks, even more than once. We decided that we’re only going to order every second Sunday and our entire meal has to come under $50 (including tips and/or delivery fees).
  • We buy what we need. Long gone are the days where we threw out money on useless crap “just because”. We now stop and critically think whether we need something or not. Most of the time, it’s just another item we could do without and wait until it comes on sale, or when we’re not trying to save for such a big moment of our lives.
  • We seek cheaper alternatives and discounts. This makes us so uber cheap but we’re slowly switching to no-name brands. We look at Groupon and essentially let Groupon decide what to do (if we can’t find anything free to do). I make the time to visit student salons instead of being lazy and visiting the closest salon to me. Did you know I managed to get a $5 student haircut? IT’S JUST HAIR FOR CRYING OUT LOUD – WHY AM I PAYING $20+?!
  • I’m using my credit card more. I shy away from my credit card because of the way I abused it when I was younger but I’ve slowly started using my CCs a lot more and still within budget. I use it so I can rack up points and redeem as a cashback or a flight. Just the other day, I used my points to pay for half my ticket to San Francisco!
  • I’m limiting my nights out. I’ve told all my friends that I’m saving for Australia and it’s up to them if they want to hang out on the cheap. It’s not to say that I say no to every invite I get but if I do go out, I limit myself to a cheap appie, and no drinks (or one drink).
  • We’re selling our crap. Decluttering has helped me curb my excessive shopping habits and now, we’re selling anything of value that we no longer need/use. We chose not to sell everything because my mom is able to keep some of our stuff in her garage and we believe that some of our stuff has no value but could cost us more to buy them back when we move back to Vancouver.
  • Downgrading and cancelling services. We’re not crazy – we’re still keeping Netflix and Spotify but I’ve downgraded my cell phone bill to $15/month; I’ll be cancelling my monthly waxes and switching back to trimming (or maybe I’d take a look at some waxing Groupons); I’ve cancelled my monthly subscription to Pixel Scrapper (digital scrapbooking); shit, I’m evening keeping a free WordPress domain until I’m good to spend again!

Why I'm Not Letting Student Loans Hold Me Back Anymore

On a bright sunny day in September of 2016, I handed in my last final exam of my undergrad. I was unofficially done school!

I told myself so many times that I’ll move to New Zealand once I’m done my schooling but the more I thought about it, the more I was hesitant. I was scared to move halfway around the world with student loans. I was scared that I didn’t have a “safety net” to fall back into if I couldn’t make a monthly payment. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to pay rent, expenses, and my monthly loan repayment.

So, I told myself that I’ll pay at least half of my debt before I move. I won’t travel for the entire year of 2017 to prioritize my loans. I’ll just work and get some experience on my resume before moving overseas. I don’t know if I was just making excuses up for myself or genuinely considering this as my plan.

Why I'm not letting student loans hold me back anymore

Vancouver is a social hub for young travellers on the working holiday visa. I’ve met many thus far with different backgrounds. Some have no money whatsoever; some have student loans that they’ve barely made a dent on; some saved their money.

The more I got to realize, and the more I took my responsibilities seriously, something clicked in my head. If I can manage my finances perfectly fine, and experience first hand from other people that moved across the world with student debts… well, why can’t I?

If everyone kept to themselves because of their debt, how far would we progress, culturally? Where would I have met all my foreign friends from Ireland? Spain? Australia? The UK? I started to realize that my scenario wasn’t uncommon. There are billions of other people with debts, some bigger than mine, that is still moving on with their lives, seizing opportunities and moving to foreign places and lands.

What’s so different that I can’t do that despite having an education, experiences and most likely a smaller debt?

Nothing is different. It’s just the matter of breaking out of your comfort zone and accepting the fact that a student loan isn’t a debt sentence. The other day, my colleague described student debt as something that’s “just part of life nowadays”. As I reflect on this newfound feeling and realization, I honestly believe I was just making excuses to delay my move to another country… because I was scared. Excuses to not see at least one new city a year because my student loans would cripple me if I dare go out and enjoyed myself.

I’m not saying that I’m going to forgo paying back my loans and take my precious time and rack interests up. All I’m saying is that I’m still going to move on with my life, take fantastic opportunities and risks and just go with the flow with my loans. There will be months when I pay back only a few hundreds of dollars, and there’ll be months that I’ll drop hundreds down on my loan. All I know is that I’m still going to travel and see new places, and have fun, and pay off my loans within 2-3 years (the average Canadian takes approximately 9 years to pay off their student debt)! I don’t want to view my loan as a debt sentence anymore; I’m starting to view my loans as just another part of my life that I’ll need to get over and I will. Not ten years from now, but in a few years.

Student loans seem so scary when you’re fresh out of school, but is so many people can do what you want to do with (bigger) debt on their back, why can’t you?

I’m excited to not view my student loans as set back and using it as an excuse for things I want in my life. I think with proper management and handling, loans are just another mountain to slowly hike and climb over. It’s right in front of you, and it can look big, but you’ll get over it one day. Just keep moving!

With that being said, I promise that I won’t use my student loans as another petty excuse to not achieving one of my goals and seizing the opportunity to move abroad to Australia.

5 Tips to Saving Money on Your Vacation

I just got back from my New Zealand trip and it was amaaaaazing! I’ll be posting up pictures and recaps over the next few days/week!

But, I think everyone agrees with me that vacationing can be expensive. Whenever I plan my trips, I try to stick to my budget (aka budget travelling) but not limit myself to what a foreign city has to offer.

Skipping aside the generic tips on saving money (eg. finding cheap flights), here are some extra tips to saving money on your vacation(s):

Hostels can be your best friend.
I adore hostels. I mean, $30 per night?! Count me in! I don’t believe in spending $100+/night for hotels where A) you’re only there to sleep/refresh and B) it’s “stuffy” aka nothing fun to do. Hostels are cheap and fun! During my stay in Wellington, I stayed at YHA Wellington City and absolutely enjoyed it. Because the thought of sharing a community bathroom and room with 6-8 people terrifies me, I chose to chip in a few more dollars for an ensuite room where I shared a room with only three other females and had our own bathroom. If you’re interested in trying out hostels, check out this guide!

Skip the souvenir shops.
If you’re one to buy souvenirs for yourself and/or friends/family, this one can save you tons of money. In my local dollar stores, they sold a lot of Canadian keychains so when I was overseas, I checked the dollar stores for souvenirs (especially those dollar stores located in touristy streets). To my surprise, I found beautiful glass souvenirs for $2.50-$3.00 (whereas this would have costed me probably $8-13) and keychains for $2. I remember seeing a beautiful keychain for $8.50 and found a similar one at the dollar store for only $2.50! I did venture into souvenir stores for specific items I couldn’t find in dollar stores.

Speaking of souvenirs, carefully plan out who you want to get souvenirs for. Does Billy from two cubicles down really need a souvenir just because he purchased coffee for you a few times? I used to buy souvenirs for co workers and acquaintances. Now, I buy them only for close friends and family.

Stay in.
Travelling doesn’t mean you have to be outside 24/7. Stay in! I chose to stay in a few times during my trip in New Zealand and had no problem whatsoever. After x amount of days on our feet and damaging our wallets, one (or a few) days relaxing allowed us to replenish our energy and gave our feet and wallets a break. In Wellington, I chose to stay in at night time rather than window shop (and potentially spend more money) or hit the pubs. Plus, my hostel was doing movie night.

Don’t dine out for every meal.
During my vacation, we went out to eat for only for lunch and a quick snack from time to time. We never went out to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and rarely ate out for two meals a day. What we did was went out to eat for one meal and usually for dinner we hit the grocery store for stuff to cook or a huge precooked chicken that lasted for days. Just like dinner, breakfasts consisted of things found in the fridge rather than on the menu.

Pack what you have, don’t buy what you want.
It seems like a no brainer but I’m surprised by the amount of travelers that don’t pack what they already have (eg. towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc) and instead, buy them upon arrival. Some would argue it’s to save luggage space but you’re wasting money. I chose to pack what I need and in a small suitcase so it limits what I can buy on vacation. I think everyone is tempted to hit up the shops and see what fashion is trending in foreign cities. Because I had limited luggage space, I carefully chose what I purchased which helped me save a lot of money because I knew for a fact that if I had a bigger luggage, I would have purchased more. Yes, I had days dedicated to shopping during my trip but that didn’t kick me out of my budget.

Will you be travelling soon? And if so, where?
Share some of your money saving tips while on vacation!