Centsibly Rich Blog, Money, and Life Update: March 2017

Centsibly Rich Blog, Money, and Life Update: March 2017

Centsibly Rich Update MarchAt the beginning of the year, I posted about my new, exciting vision for the New Year and promised to update you. Here’s how we did at the Centsibly Rich household in March.

Giving and Random Acts of Kindness

Alan and I binged on podcasts on the road trip to Alabama. This Tim Ferriss podcastΒ featuring Adam Robinson had some moments that stuck with me. One thing Adam talks about is delighting and creating magic for others. He says “it gives you infinite power because you want nothing and your offering everything” and when he does this he’s playing a game he “can’t lose” (start around 0:53).

This is one of the main reasons I wanted to make 2017 a giving year. I’m far from perfect and, though I haven’t given a ton of money, I have been more focused on others. I’ve been more kind and more conscientious of what might be going on in their lives. I’m paying more attention. I’m focusing more on them than myself. This is far more beneficial to me than it is to them, and what if it spreads? Focusing on “creating magic” for others is a win for everyone.

I committed to doing at least one random act of kindness, and/or give one unexpected gift, each month this year. My inspiration came from the generosity of the Rockstar Community Fund (RCF). The RCF has touched many lives and spread a ton of good – check out exactly how much has been given and how far-reaching it is on the Rockstar totals page!rockstar results

Here’s what I did in March:

  • Contributed $20 to the RCF (If you’d like to help, go here!)
  • I went to Aldi twice this month and put several dollars worth of quarters in the carts (this is great fun!)
  • As I was heading to the grocery store, I noticed a woman with a sign – “Broke and Hungry”. I bought her some food and gave her all the cash I had ($15)


I love blogging. It has changed my life. It’s making me a better person. It is forcing me to do wonderful things I wouldn’t have otherwise done. Best of all, blogging has allowed me to connect with so many great people, many of whom are now amazing friends. For all of this, I am grateful.

Did you feel a “But” coming? There is something that’s been holding me back. Something that has had me focused on the “wrong” things (wrong for me, that is). The focus on earning, selling, pushing to get more page views isn’t feeling good to me right now. I’m not saying these are bad things. But, for me, at this moment, they are a distraction and steal my joy.

That said, nothing will noticeably change on Centsibly Rich. I’ll still write posts and share on social media. But I’m not going to worry about the statistics right now. I still want the blog to continue to grow and if it makes money, that would be great (it does make a little). This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s freeing my mind to focus on what’s important to me right now (both personally and otherwise). If I don’t please the masses, so be it. And if I don’t make much money, that’s totally okay (btw I do have a great product idea for the future!).

So here’s my not so specific update: for the first quarter of 2017, traffic dropped compared to the last quarter of 2016, but it is rebounding nicely. Income is up due to freelance work. How’s that for non-adherence to SMART goals (I’ll get back to it, just need a breather). πŸ™‚

Financial Updates

Rental Property

The search for a rental property is back on!!! More properties have been coming on the market too. We’re excited to start looking again, but the competition is fierce!


From the Mad Fientist Laboratory, here is how long we have until FI, if we stay the current course:

March Mad Fientist Lab

Two months less than last month! Most of this progress was due to maxing our IRAs for the year – we didn’t see significant market returns this month.

Savings Rate

Last year, our savings rate was 46%. My goal is to get it to 51% in 2017. Our savings rate for the year so far is 72%! Oh, but don’t let that number fool you – it will continue to drop as the year goes on. The tax return is to blame for the huge spike.

We use our tax return to help fund our IRAs each year. I loaded up the IRAs the week the market was trending down. Though I don’t believe in trying to time the market, I was happy to get in on a down day.

Our Digit balance is $2780, but that will go down when I pay the credit card bill for our recent vacation.

Personal Updates


Mayo Clinic had a cancellation and I got in for my evaluation sooner than expected. This whole thing has been life changing in many ways, but I’m still processing it – expect more on that in the future.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have Mayo Clinic within driving distance. The clinic itself is amazing, full of beautiful music (a baby grand piano in the atrium!) and fantastic artwork (including museums!) throughout. Their focus is on the patient, with the recognition that a patient’s emotional state and surroundings have a huge impact on their ability to heal. And, of course, they have the best of the best when it comes to doctors.

As for my diagnosis – I have multiple nerve tumors in my leg (they say hundreds) and have a very rare condition called Schwannomatosis (a form of Neurofibromatosis). The great thing about it is the tumors are benign. The not-so-great thing about it is I’ll have it my entire life and it can be painful. But, if you’re going to find out you have hundreds of tumors in your body, the fact that they are benign is the absolute best news you can get, in my opinion.

Since there are so many tumors, they can’t remove them all. Plus, they really don’t know if my body will make more or if the existing tumors will grow. The doctor said I will need “lifelong surveillance”, with surgery to remove the most bothersome tumors. I may need multiple surgeries over the years to manage the disorder.

head scan
You’ll never look at me the same way again! Talk about transparency. They did a scan to make sure I didn’t have any tumors in my head. The doctor stated the results were “completely unremarkable”!!??

I am soΒ grateful for this diagnosis. I’m grateful the tumors are benign, I got an accurate diagnosis, and for my supportive family and friends. And I’m relieved to finally have an answer and feel like I can move on with my life. πŸ™‚

Sooooo, I’m having surgery tomorrow. I’m not sure of the extent of the surgery yet because I will have another MRI prior to surgery to determine which tumors will be removed. Later in the spring, I will have my knee scoped to take the tumors out of my knee joint, but this will be much less invasive (hopefully). My goal is to reduce some of the pain and be able to have better range of motion in my knee (which would be glorious for rock climbing and taekwondo!).


Sold! We had a mad rush at the end of March and now have an extra $10,000+ in our rental property fund! I did not want to complicate the savings rate, so I chose not to include this in that calculation.Β 

I admit, it was a sad day. We had so many great memories of camping over the past 10+ years. And we’ll miss it, but it’s just a normal transition to a new stage of life. πŸ™‚


The tomato and pepper seedlings are started and the sweet pea, lettuce, broccoli and cabbage seeds are planted. I should be able to start harvesting rhubarb in a month (can’t wait for rhubarb mulberry crumble!). And the strawberries are up and spreading like weeds this year. Can’t wait to start sharing harvest pics!

Overall, March was great for us in so many ways! How was your March? Did you reach your goals for the month?


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54 thoughts on “Centsibly Rich Blog, Money, and Life Update: March 2017

  1. Best of luck with your surgery, Amanda.
    And what great financial numbers, both the savings rate and the giving amount for the year!

  2. I’ll be thinking about you tomorrow! And I’m excited that some more potiential rentals are coming on the market. I think I’m addicted to Zillow. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Ms. Montana! πŸ™‚ I have a date with Zillow every morning. We looked at two properties last week – total dumps. I’m fine with that, but they were priced too high for us to do the reno and still cash flow. But I’m not giving up!

  3. Amanda, SOOO thankful to hear the tumors are benign! Good luck with the surgery. LOVE your attitude. I’m posting my “2nd Birthday” update next week, and make a point that I don’t focus on the statistics, either (tho I will share them, and they’re good). Write from the heart, produce great content, and the rest will fall into place.

    1. Thanks, Fritz! πŸ™‚ Happy 2nd Birthday! I used to check stats almost daily. And I would feel great about the higher traffic days. But on the days when traffic was down, I would ruminate over why it was down and what I needed to do to bring it back up. It was taking up too much focus. So I gave myself permission to step away from the analytics in March and it felt great – I just checked in at the end of March to see approximately where I was. I may get back to figuring growth in a few months…

  4. Good luck with the surgery, tomorrow. I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible.

    I am with you on the blog issues. When I started I felt a lot of pressure to monetize and to get my views to a certain number so that I could make some money. I have completely backed off of that whole thing. I have no ads, no real push for email addresses, and I removed my only real monetization which was a page of books that I have talked about with Amazon affiliate links. I’m just writing to help anyone that I can help, to become a better writer, and to be a part of this great PF/FI community. If it grows to the point where I can make some money later, then great. But if not, I am 100% okay with it, and I am not pushing in that direction.

    You’ve got me beat by 14 months in the Mad Fientist lab. πŸ™‚ I was leaping forward every month for a while, but I expect it to be more steady now that my higher spending months have all fallen off the algorithm.

    1. Thanks, Matt! πŸ™‚

      And thank you for saying what I’m feeling about the blog! It felt great to take money/traffic out of the equation for me. No pressure. I did keep the ads to pay the bills (my host is a more expensive one). Like you, I want to write to help people as much as I can, get better, and be part of this amazing community. I also want to feel free to write about what I’m feeling compelled to write (not just to drive traffic). By the way, I was just telling Alan the other night how I much I enjoy your posts (we were talking about Stoicism).

      You’re doing great in the Mad Fientist lab, Matt! Isn’t it fun to see the months drop off?!

  5. I am SO GLAD those pesky tumors are benign! And I’m even more grateful you’re having the surgery early so we can go to Minneapolis! Keep me updated with the rental property search!

    ps your brain may look unremarkable but it produces some remarkable ideas!

    1. Thanks, Gwen. I am really looking forward to MN later in the month! πŸ™‚ Awww, thanks for the compliment. I read “completely unremarkable” and cracked up.

  6. Mr. FAF and I love rental property too. I’m glad we share the same interest in real estate.

    1. Thanks, Ms. FAF! I hope to have more news to share on the real estate front in the coming months. The search has been rather frustrating.

  7. Thinking of you for your surgery tomorrow…or is it today when I’m reading this? Post pictures of your garden as it grows! My one pepper plant seems to be struggling a little bit. πŸ™ Making money with your blog and being true to your voice is a challenging balance to find. I’m trying to do that myself! And lastly, I know how hard it can be to let go of something that represents a hobby. I cried like a baby when I sold my snowboard, even though I hadn’t been in a couple years. Same with my surfboard.

    1. Thanks, Tonya! πŸ™‚ Surgery is tomorrow, April 7. I’ll have to start putting the garden in my updates. Or maybe a monthly garden post?! My peppers are soooo slow this year too – I just hope they start to take off soon! I think I’ll be able to start harvesting rhubarb in a couple of weeks. On the blog – yes! That’s it – you put into words what I’m feeling. I’m trying to be true to my voice (and actually find it). It was a sad day when that camper left – it took a day or two, but since cancelling the insurance, getting a refund on the registration, and freeing up a ton of space (and time), I know it was the right decision.

  8. All the best tomorrow, Amanda! : ) Looking forward to a positive report in your next post!

    1. Thanks, MMM! I don’t expect anything but positive! πŸ™‚

  9. Looks like a great month overall. Incredible saving rate so far! We had a good march too. Best of luck with your surgery,

    1. Thanks, Brian! It was a great month for saving. Probably the best we’ve ever had, but we don’t get a tax refund and sell a camper every month!

  10. So happy for you and your family that tumors are benign! Also happy to hear that you’re writing for yourself and not for others!

    All the best tomorrow!

    1. Thanks, Ty! πŸ™‚ I had all my posts done through April, thankfully. But expect a shift in content come May.

  11. Surgery tomorrow?! Good luck, Amanda!! I am so happy your diagnosis is as good (?) as it is and we are all rooting for you. πŸ™‚

    I haven’t heard that episode of Tim’s podcast but I love the result it gave you and I LOVE the idea of putting quarters in the carts! Great idea!!

    As for the blog – I totally hear you!! I haven’t been at this long but I know that I can’t push content or try to build hype, it just isn’t for me. It’s funny, when I let go of that in my head I have been far more successful in deepening my relationships with other bloggers. I don’t need to focus on numbers, but the quality of my interactions. I’m glad I’m not the only one!!

    1. Thanks Miss Mazuma! πŸ™‚ It is a “good” diagnosis!

      I love that you have been successful in developing those relationships with bloggers. That’s one of the absolute best things about being a blogger in the pf community, I think. I’ve made some great friends and I love the supportive environment. And I would love to take more time to get to know more of you all!

  12. Great job!

    Saving over 50% is amazing.

    It must be such a relief to know the growths are benign. I had some moles sent in for tests not to long ago and it really put a scare into me!

    Great steps moving closer to your FIRE goals.

    1. Thank you! I wish I could have that savings rate all the time! Yes, it’s always good to hear “benign”! Though I wasn’t surprised, it was nice to hear it from the doc.

  13. Bummer to hear about the diagnosis, but I’m sure you’re relieved to have a diagnosis, and a benign one at that. I hope all goes well with the surgery (and anesthesia!) — I know how that can be.


    p.s. I love your generosity. Giving is good.

    1. Thank you, PoF! πŸ™‚ It is sooo nice to have a diagnosis! I’m not too worried about the surgery – I know I will have great doctors (like you!). Giving is good. You’re pretty awesome at that yourself!

  14. Wishing you well for tomorrow and hoping for a speedy recovery! Go get ’em!

  15. I love your thoughts about blogging and how obsessing over the stats and growth is not bringing you joy right now. It’s all about being honest with yourself, right? Your attitude about your diagnosis is an inspiration as well — focusing on gratitude will serve you well throughout. Good luck with your surgery tomorrow!

    1. Thanks, Kendal! You’re right, “It’s all about being honest with yourself”! And thanks for the good luck. The surgery went well – hoping for a speedy recovery! πŸ™‚

  16. I’m sorry to hear about the diagnosis but I hope your surgery goes well, especially if it helps doing the things that you love like Taekwondo and rock climbing πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much, MSM! The surgery went well. Once I get that knee scoped and heal up, I’m hopefully I can do everything better than before! πŸ™‚

  17. THANK YOU Amanda for sharing our project!! We’re seeing some new donations come through which helps us to keep on doing the mission! And gooooooooooooooood luck with the surgery stuff too – such wonderful news about the diagnosis, in comparison πŸ™‚ God wants to keep his angel around and we’re all so much better off for it.

    We love you!

    1. Thank you soooo much, J! πŸ™‚ It’s great to hear you are getting new donations! I love everything about the Community Fund and anytime I can help spread the good word, I will. Surgery went well – working on healing up.

  18. Amen on focusing on giving! A generous mindset can do wonders for our own lives in addition to helping others. And oh my! Wow, I’m so sorry about your illness. It sucks to have something like that to worry about for years to come, but how amazing that they are all benign. Thank you for sharing this and your positive attitude towards it all. Hope the surgery went/is going smoothly and recovery will be swift!

    1. Yes, Mrs. COD! I think it all comes full circle. When we send out gratitude and positivity, it comes back into our own lives in amazing ways. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your good wishes! The surgery went well, and I’m working on recovery. I’m finding the trick is rest – not an easy task for me!

  19. I wish you all the best for the surgery Amanda, hope everything will go smoothly! You have an amazing attitude towards receiving the news on your diagnosis and this is something I definitely want to learn from you! Also thanks for the update on your goals, looking pretty good so far!

    1. Thanks, T! Surgery went smooth! Thank you so much for your kind words and wishes. πŸ™‚

  20. Ryan R

    I hope your surgery went well today, Amanda! That is great to hear you received a diagnosis and the tumors are benign! I am interested to hear what your product idea is and I am glad to hear you and Alan are back to looking for rental properties. What an adventure that should be. Hopefully, I run into you guys at one of the monthly BiggerPockets meetups in DM.

    It’s always nice to see garden pictures, so share away πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Ryan! πŸ™‚ Surgery went well – thanks for your well wishes. And, yes, so far the search for properties has been an adventure – and a little frustrating. I would love to get to one of the Bigger Pockets meetups – I was just thinking I need to find a group in the area. Thanks for the heads up on that! Once I get back on my feet, I want to get serious about finding something. Garden pictures it is – coming up next month!

  21. So happy to hear that the test results came back as benign. I’m with you on the blog metric monitoring – I have to constantly keep myself in check to avoid getting caught in the pageview emotional roller coaster. If you have any tricks that are helping you with this, please share. I can use all the help I can get πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Chris! πŸ™‚ I’m glad to see others can relate on the blog monitoring. You know, I just stopped checking stats regularly at the beginning of March. I check in once a week (sometimes less) to see what it looks like, but have tried not to judge it as good/bad. It is what it is. As long as I’m doing the best I can with the time and energy I commit to it, I feel good about it.

  22. Judge

    I hope your surgery went well yesterday. Obviously you have a close family and are a strong willed person with a great outlook on life. That will get you through anything.

    What caught my attention, was your refocus on content and less on stats,money etc. . “Something that has had me focused on the β€œwrong” things”

    I agree there is nothing wrong with making money, which is really just a by- product of or measurement of how good your product is, but I feel it can’t be the key driver.

    For sometime now I haven’t had a good feel about the sincerity of the blogging community, with all the back links, stat postings, etc. It was refreshing to read some other bloggers/commenters supported and agreed with your mindset.

    Cheers to a swift recovery.


    1. Hi Judge! Thank you! Surgery went well. And you’re right, I am fortunate to have a close family and great friends to help out. I’m not one to sit still long, so even on day 2 recovery seems slow. I’m positive, but I need to work on my patience! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you understood where I was coming from on blogging. It’s been a process, as I’m only a little over a year into blogging, but I’m just now starting to find my groove and have a good idea of where I want to go. I want to help people, stick with it, and write what I want to write – and I feel like, in order to do this all well, I have to do it on my own terms. Thanks for your comments, Judge! Much appreciated.

    1. Thanks, Francesca! πŸ™‚ Yes, surgery went well! Working on recovery now. March was great – albeit unusual. Hoping for a great April!

  23. Oh Amanda, thank goodness for this diagnosis. Though I know that doesn’t equate to a walk in the park. Saying a prayer for a very speedy recovery from your surgery. Take the time you need to focus on your health and your soul. xo

    1. Thanks so much, Linda! πŸ™‚ I really appreciate your support! I now think recovery may take a little longer than I planned…but can’t wait to be back on my feet and digging in the garden! Until then, lots of time to rest, read and crochet!

  24. Putting money into shopping carts for other people does sound like a lot of fun!
    The part you wrote about how you’ve been feeling towards the blog lately is exactly how we were feeling about 6 months ago – it feels so good, so free, to just be able to let the attachment go of “pushing for more”. We have stopped all that now and just are back to our raw bare-bones blogging and are enjoying it much more again! I was worried that the views would just drop off the face of the earth if we weren’t “micro-managing” all that blog stuff to keep generating more.. But honestly, it keeps growing by itself – so much nicer this way!

    I really hope the surgery went well (probably just need to read a more recent post and I’d find out!)

    Mrs DDU

    1. Oh, Mrs. DDU, I LOVE putting the quarters in the carts. You should see people’s faces when they go to get a cart and half of them (everything I can reach anyway) already have quarters. They’re puzzled. In a good way, I think.

      I’m happy to get the feedback on blogging. It is freeing and more enjoyable! And, it’s so good to hear that you haven’t seen any real drop in engagement. I’m considering going to one post/week during the summer and have been concerned about losing readership.

      Surgery went well. I’m feeling pretty good – on my feet much more this week! I did end up with a different diagnosis after the surgery, but nothing surprising or all that different.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mrs. DDU! Hope all is well down under! πŸ™‚

  25. Mrs. Centsibly, I suffer from MS and although it is a COMPLETELY different medical situation there is something I think we would mutually benefit from: Wahls Protocol. I highly recommend reading it. There are two things it has been routinely improving – Autoimmune disorders that effect the nervous system and cancer diseases in which the body over produces cells. Both an over reacting immune system and over reacting cell growth can be manipulated (to at least some degree) by the fuel we give our body and the outdoor exposure we put our bodies through. Our bodies, like cars ,are driven by fuel. This is nothing new to science, or even the layman, but Dr. Wahls (a MS survivor herself) recommends a specific regiment to increase nutrients in the forms of minerals and vitamins digested through foods. It has changed my life AND my annual MRI results. I have improved both symptomatically and diagnostically (it is Wahls Protocol that I attribute to of “healing” my MS myelin sheath, as seen on MRI despite the doctors saying it couldn’t be done!) It may or may not be applicable to your situation, but there is nothing to lose and only vitamins and minerals to gain. I wish you the best!

    1. Danielle, I can’t thank you enough for this information. πŸ™‚ I had read about Wahls years ago when I thought my symptoms resembled an autoimmune disorder (I actually do have Raynaud’s syndrom, which is autoimmune), but had since forgotten. I LOVE that you have seen results from the protocol and I actually do think it could benefit me! (And, by the way, I LOVE that you’ve proved the doctors wrong.) I just found out yesterday that the initial diagnosis was wrong (though not far off), and I want to take steps to prevent any future complications. This may be the answer, and like you say there’s nothing to lose! THANK YOU for speaking up and sharing this with me!!! πŸ™‚

  26. Using Digit to save for a vacation is a brilliant idea. I haven’t tried Digit before, but it sounds really neat. I think the $2.99 per month price would still be worth paying if you are able to save so much using it in a year.

    Our family enjoys vacationing at Dauphin Island, AL, which isn’t too far from Orange Beach. It’s about an 8 hour there drive for us. We haven’t been to the USS Alabama Battleship, yet but we have been wanting to go.

    Looks like you guys had a fun trip! I enjoyed your post πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Brittany! πŸ™‚ I’ve been on the fence about the $2.99, but am going to leave it for now. I do like Digit as a savings tool, but I liked it better as a free tool.

      We really loved the AL beaches! We would like to go back when it’s a little warmer sometimes. You should definitely check out the USS Alabama. It was fascinating (and huge!).

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