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How My Frugal Mindset Almost Killed My Business

One morning as I loaded my dishwasher, I was assaulted. Not for realz but in my head. Ramit Sethi read my mind, pulled out a major problem I was hiding, and then proceeded to beat me to a pulp.

Choosing to live frugally did wonderful things for my budget and saved my family from bankruptcy... but it almost killed my business. Are you making these same mistakes?I was catching up on some podcasts and decided to listen to the one that I had been avoiding.

Amy Porterfield interviewed Ramit Sethi about changing your mindset to gear yourself for success.

[Get this podcast.]

Even though a part of me KNEW I needed to listen, I didn’t want to because I had a feeling it was going to challenge me in uncomfortable ways.

I was right.

A little background

My husband and I made really bad financial decisions before we met and continued making huge mistakes after we married. Soon, we had six figures in debt and faced bankruptcy.

Recovering from this spend-thrift lifestyle required a tremendous change in how we thought, and the change did not happen overnight. For a decade, I woke each morning trying to make better financial choices and sought a very frugal mindset. I would tell myself the same things over and over again:

  • Less is more.
  • Do it yourself.
  • Save a penny.

The self-talk constantly reminded me of my failures, and I was determined to never return to the days when we could not afford groceries. I reprogrammed myself.

During this same time, I was learning to blog and shifting from blogging as a hobby to blogging for a profit, and without me realizing, that frugal mindset was carrying over into my business.

Paying for my own domain name (which can be purchased for only $0.99 through GoDaddy) seemed like a HUGE expense. Paying a monthly bill for self-hosting felt frivolous. Even so, I made these small investments and saw a great return on my investments.

But that is where the investment stopped.

Changing my mind

My blogging business was growing but it was slow. The income was a trickle compared to what I was hearing other bloggers made. I was just about ready to give up.

On a whim, I asked my husband about attending a conference for bloggers. Attending this conference would mean eating beans and rice for a month because the money was not in our budget, but he was extremely supportive. So, we risked it.

Literally, that one conference and the lessons I learned changed not only my blogging business but our lives.

From that point forward, I struggled with my frugal self-talk: Should I pay for a plugin? Can I afford this e-course? Can’t I just find a tutorial and do it myself?

The time it was taking me to learn and make changes was eating the majority of my work hours. Blogging was infringing on my family time and my home was a wreck. Life was way out of balance. Again, I was ready to give up.

My frugal mind-set was still at work. My children were well-fed but my business was starving and I was completely burned out.

Putting money into my business

Remembering the impact my first conference had on our lives, I decided to try putting more money back into my business in three specific ways.

1) Investing in my website

Free plugins and themes were only taking me so far but I wanted more for my websites. I wanted the look of a truly professional website and I wanted the control to create an online destination that would generate more income.

This required buying a premium themes from Studiopress for my websites, add-on features for Woocommerce, plugins that would capture email addresses when I offer a freebie, and more.

2) Investing in a staff

Do you know what my greatest strength is? I can do anything. Seriously. Give me a tutorial on YouTube and I can blow your mind. But… should I do everything? No. I can save money this way but I am wasting my time and the bigger my blog grows, the more valuable my time becomes.

So, I hired out some duties that were demanding huge chunks of my time: creating printable packs for my subscribers, checking and sorting my email, moderating my Facebook groups, etc. Paying for these services took a huge bite out of our budget but I was willing to try.

3) Investing in myself

You want to know my greatest weakness? Self worth. I will spare you the details of how the voice got there but there is this nag in my head telling me that I am a failure and therefore, I often quit before I try. How could I silence that bully in my brain? I had to invest in myself. I had to push myself outside my comfort zone.

Join the Inspired Bloggers University before April 15th and save 15%. How? This introvert went shopping in a department store (not online but a REAL store with dressing rooms) for a professional wardrobe and started attending blog conferences regularly. I took some paid courses online and subscribed to a magazine for bloggers. I bought books that would strengthen me in the areas where I was weak.

The ROI

After learning to think frugally in my personal finances and strategically in my business finances, did I see a return on my investment? Absolutely.

In one year, my income quadrupled. I had more expenses but my net value still increased more than three-fold.

I gained a confidence in who I was. I even bought makeup and pitched myself to the local media, becoming a monthly contributor to a live lifestyle program.

What this means to you

Now that you know the ends and outs of my brain, how does this apply to you?

Are you living a frugal lifestyle? Great! But is that mindset choking your business? Do you answer each problem with “I can do it myself”? Do you stop short from buying the tools and courses you need because you are cheap?

Stop limiting yourself by not investing in your business.

Wait… I hear that voice in your head. I know it is refuting everything I have said. The voice is telling you that you cannot afford these investments.

Do this… send an email to your favorite BIG blogger and ask him or her one question:

If I want to be a successful blogger, is it necessary for me to invest financially in my business?

Now tell that voice in your head that you canNOT afford to NOT make these investments.

The harsh truth is that it takes money to make money. If your vision is to blog for profit, realize that with income comes expense. There is a reason why every business runs a monthly profit and loss statement. You cannot have one without the other.

So, sit down and silence your frugal mindset with a business budget and start investing in your business.

Your thoughts? Leave a comment.

  • Have you struggled with a frugal mindset killing your business? How did you overcome this battle?
  • What have you learned about investing in your blogging business? Have you seen a return on your investment?
  • What was the best investment you made into your blog? What was the worst?

9 thoughts on “How My Frugal Mindset Almost Killed My Business

  1. I have been in this exact same boat! Recently, I’ve just bitten the bullet and enrolled in 2 different online blogging courses including Inspired Bloggers University Lifetime. My husband was very supportive even though the money wasn’t really in our budget. I just know that if I want to someday make a living through my blogging I need to learn everything I can and doing it piecemeal was not very efficient.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. We are still on a bare bones budget for our blog, but we have invested in a few things to make it look as professional as possible. We have a list of investments we want to make once we start generating an income. It is all going back into the blog for a while, but I believe it will be worth the investment.

  3. What timing. I am working on the framework of my new blog and trying to make it “my real job” I am trying to be frugal and make decisions that will support my blog. Thanks for the reassurance.

  4. Wow. I’ve blogged since 2007. I’ve made little or no money at it. It wasn’t a for money thing when I started. You’ve got me thinking.

  5. I totally agree on this. After selling three of my websites a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to come back to blogging but I wanted to do it the right way. I’ve def spent some pretty pennies on quality photos vs free ones, and I’ve taken more time to post quality articles. I’m just starting again, so I am hoping it will pay off. If anything, it scratches an itch to come back to blogging.

    1. Welcome back, Lisa! I’m sure your investment will help. Best wishes for much success!

  6. Great Article. Thanks for the info, super helpful. Does anyone know where I can find a blank monthly profit and loss form to fill out?

    1. I just create a spreadsheet in Excel (or Numbers if on Mac). Maybe one day I can create a planner for everyone. 🙂

  7. I am one of the most frugal people around who gets nauseous when I think about frivolous spending, but luckily I am not stingy when it comes to investing in my business.

    I think my desire to be successful wins over my frugal self. That and the fact that I am quick to admit that I have huge aspirations but am lacking the tools to accomplish them.

    I have received such value in everything I have invested in when it comes to blogging including my lifetime membership in IBN.

    This is such a great post, Tabitha!

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