Tanja over @ Our Next Life wrote a blogging manifesto to call out bloggers who are not representing their income or financial independence accurately to their readers. The Physician on Fire followed up with a post to come clean about his site, and we decided to join the fray.

What is a Manifesto?

Definition

From the Google: “a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.”

We’ll be using it as an open floor to restate our mission for the blog, and hope to clear up any assumptions or misleadings from this point forward!

Our Goals & Mission

Below are the top goals we have for starting this blog, which sprung from two main events:

First, I asked a few of my friends that had asked me in the past for personal finance advice a question: “If there was a guide or roadmap for the general steps of financial stability, would you read or follow it?” They all answered yes.

Second, I asked Jack if he would want to write and help out with the site because he had the advanced knowledge, great writing style, and intriguing stories that make the blog unique. With our two different perspectives, we felt that it was going to really help connect our stories and advice – leading to change in others finances no matter their stage in life. That leads me to goal #1.

Goal #1: Help the world build their financial kingdom

The VIP goal that drives to wake up early, stay up late, and use our weekend hours to write blog articles versus the allure of relaxing or otherwise pursuing pleasures in our spare time.

We started this blog to help people! There are financial advisers not following the fiduciary rule, taking advantage of the ignorance people have when seeking help for their future. Our wonderful personal finance community and Reddit helps get information out to people interested in their monetary policy, but it can be hard to digest it all or know where to start.

We decided that if we provided a simple roadmap with the basic steps, then those who are just graduating or starting on their finance journey had a place to turn to as they get started. Jack could give them advanced techniques or write on analyzing a business, while I could show them what it is like paying off student loan debt.

Helping people continues to drive us, and as we reach an average of 100 page views a day – the passion hasn’t changed one bit!

Goal #2: Inspire Change

People in America are not ignorant of the importance of being good with money – they have trouble knowing where to start. Both of us have watched loved ones make poor financial decisions that alter the trajectory of their future. Money is a topic that a lot of people avoid in-person but will happily digest through the written word. So we turned to blogging.

Through sharing our own stories and mishaps, we hope to inspire our readers to take on a new challenge: one that changes their fundamental mindset and beliefs about money, so they can begin to be the Duke of their greenback army – leading them to victory!

Goal #3: Personal Accountability

The authors of Duke of Dollars are very much just humans like you. Our bucket lists aren’t cheap and neither are some of the dreams we want to accomplish while working or during early retirement.

By posting our stories and some of our financial goals (like our Great War of Debt), we are using it for personal accountability that we expect you all to hold us to. How could we plant the seeds for financial stability and not live it ourselves?

The stories we tell and experiences we share are from our lives. The community and discussions we have to help us stay true to those and yes, we do make mistakes, which we will unequivocally accept and pass on to you. Learn from us and use the experiences to avoid those mistakes in the future :).

Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger both agree that life is about avoiding the huge mistakes as much as you can because those biggns’ are the ones which can have the profound second and third order effects on you. By studying others’ lives, stories, and admissions, readers can glean knowledge that helps them navigate their own lives. We strive to make the learning process entertaining along the way.

Goal #4: Charity

There are people in this world who aren’t able to find a meal each day. Children without a consistent bed to sleep in and mothers with 2-3 jobs trying to make ends meet. We want to help those people too!

Both of us make a point to be generous with our money. Once we monetize Duke of Dollars, you can safely assume that we will be utilizing a percentage to help the world even more!

Do We Make Money from the Blog?

Current Monetization

We don’t. Not a dime.

We have taken off ads and don’t have any products like e-books for sale. Our main focuses at the moment are developing good blogging habits and growing our reader base. Through content, we’re trying to reach a bigger and bigger audience. A new wave of recent graduates is on the horizon – let us all cross our fingers they are introduced to the personal finance community now, instead of later.

Future Monetization

Will we use ads or sell e-books in the future? Absolutely. Affiliate marketing? If we find products that we truly believe in – why not?

The most important thing for us will be to transparently make that change. We’re being honest now and we want to be honest in the future :).

Reasoning for Monetization

It takes at least 2-3 hours for each article Jack and I write. Yes 2-3! With our current attempt to maintain a 2 post a week schedule, we’re spending at least 4-5 hours on writing alone. Add in maintenance and networking and you’re looking at ~10 hours a week.

The choice has and will always be ours to make on spending that time, meaning that we take full responsibility for using it in this way. Time is money as we all know in the community, and yes, we love the fact people are reading our articles, if people feel that an e-book or our site (with minor ads) adds value to their life, then we will be happy dukes!

When you factor in our goal of charity and also the costs to keep the blog up and running, our decision for monetization makes sense to us – we are a small business after all (I’ve always wanted to say I had one!! Go us!!).

Our Advantages in our own Kingdoms

Privileged

We were both born as US citizens, white, and male. Although outside of our control, the statistics show the advantages in that. Neither of us is a tall dude but the kingdom closet does have stilts available if we need them.

Industry

Jack and I both work in the IT industry. This hot job market has really helped us build our own kingdoms, and both of us have been higher income earners because of it. Our blog aim is two-fold, those who are just starting in the personal finance realm and individuals looking for advanced strategies as they cure onemoreyearitis (like Jack is currently doing).

Early Start

Through our technical savvy, utilizing the world wide web of knowledge and the tools to boot have been immensely helpful in our early start towards better financial lives. Those who are in their 50s (like the great ESI), might not have had the same opportunity after their graduation. Have you tried searching for information on dial-up internet? It wasn’t a fun experience.

Jack: shut up about struggles of the early days of the internet, Chris. You know not of what you speak, young’n!

Parents

Chris: I am very lucky to have been brought up in a two parent household, who provided meals and shelter for me throughout my early life. This is a huge indicator of success in the US, and I acknowledge that it has been a very big help and how fortunate I am for that.

Jack: I also had two parents growing up who provided meals and shelter. They also provided me with access to computers at an early age. They weren’t good for much beyond that, but credit where credit is due.

Our Disadvantages in our own Kingdoms

Inheritance

Chris: The trust fund money isn’t coming my way!

Jack: My wife’s parents were killed, and we did receive a substantial inheritance of about $500k. I’d give it all back and everything else I have if doing so would reverse the loss. My in-laws were the only family we had: just the four of us, down to two now. I’ll write about it at some point. My wife and I started our lives together with a net worth of -$50k and built it to +$250k before the inheritance hit. The inheritance moved my ER date forward in time about 5 years. Because of my career with current annual earnings > $250k, the vast majority of our net worth today comes from money I earned.

Education

Both writers paid for and worked our way through college. Both of us had full-time jobs and full-time course loads, simultaneously, for the majority of our undergrad experience. Both of us received minor scholarships and grants making up < 10% of college costs.

Life Hardships

Like everyone, both Jack and I have had troubling experiences that really changed the way we think about the future. I’ve started to share a bit of mine with my rice and bbq for dinner story. Jack shared his upbringing at J. Money’s Budgets are Sexy.

There’s much more to share, but we don’t want to spoil the future stories now. In dealing with hardships, we aren’t abnormal here – only recognizing the fact that some of the hardships have had adverse affect on our financial plans, life experience, and general well-being. We’ve taken responsibility to change ourselves in the aftermaths, to the best of our ability, and we’ve leaned on emotional support from friends and family to help along the way.

Our deep experience with hardships is one of the ways we plan to set ourselves apart from the PF blogosphere. We hope that the stories we share will help readers pick themselves up from their own difficulties and push forward. It’s not how hard you get knocked down; it’s how resilient you are when you get back up.

Why Does Any of This Matter To You?

Our blog and perception of this blog is very important to both of us. Hopefully this level of transparency will inspire more trust in us and understanding of the work that we are publishing.

Decision time

This moment of your life, when you’re sitting here reading a blog about building your financial kingdom, has been built by a series of decisions from childhood to now that led you to where you are. For the sake of your future self, seize this moment to take responsibility for the future decisions you make.

By cultivating this mindset, you gain the mental dexterity to navigate an optimal path forward with those decisions. You can taking ownership of the life you live. You are the Chair(wo)man & CEO of your life – never forget that!

Opportunity to Change Your Situation

The plausibility of the life turn-around is real. Note, we are not saying easy. Life ISN’T easy. If you aren’t where you want to be, then ask yourself – is this situation because of the decisions I’ve made in the past?

Next, answer the question: “Where do I want to be in my life?”

Explore the paths that take you to that point, and from this day, remember your role of navigator as you approach every fork in the path. Personal finance and personal situations can be changed – we just have to be willing to make the changes to get there.

Don’t believe us? Check out a few people who changed their life below!

Both of us writers started in the red, built careers that led to high income, and have overcome hardships in our lives. We believe in you, dear reader, as you seek to better your life as well!

Milo & the Principle of Progressive Overload

We wrote about the story of Milo in the past,

It boils down to recognizing that change doesn’t happen in one big fell swoop, most of the time. To change your situation, your income, or financial difficulties, you MUST start somewhere. The small wins and habits each day add up to the results you wish to see. Combine those habits with better decisions as you navigate towards the future you see – and now my friend, you have become a true Duke!

Tell us what you think or let us know if you have any questions below!