Writing Pays the Bills and Keeps Us Sane


In last week’s About You post, Johnny and I asked you to tell us what you do for a living. It’s always interesting to hear how others spend the 9 to 5 of their day. Our jobs don’t define us, but a pretty hefty chunk of our lives are spent working. And then we come home at night and savor those few precious hours before bedtime doing whatever the heck we want. It might be cooking a gourmet dinner, hitting the gym, going out with friends, reading a book, or just vegging in front of the TV for four hours straight (been there done that).

Johnny and I spend the majority of our work days writing (him) and editing (me). When Johnny gets home from work, he entertains Baby Girl while I make a quick dinner. We’ve tried to switch up dinner duty, but a girl can only take so many hot dog and grilled cheese nights. We eat, put the baby to bed, relax for a bit, and then work on this here blog for a couple hours. So why after almost an entire day of writing and editing would we want to end our day with a “hobby” that requires more of the same?

Well, let me explain. First, saying we’re writers and editors is kind of a vague explanation of what our day jobs entail, so here’s the real deets about what we do from the hours of 9 to 5.

What We Do During the Day

Johnny’s Job

Ever watch Mad Men? Johnny IS Don Draper, complete with the spiffy suits, greased hair, morning/midday/afternoon drinking, and countless affairs with women. Oh, and the copywriting aspect, too. Actually, nothing except the copywriting aspect. As far as I know… right, Johnny… Johnny? His “suit” of choice for work each day is a plaid shirt with jeans and Vans. And what does an advertising copywriter do? His job is to write words for those things that everyone avoids: commercials, billboards, and magazine, radio, and Internet ads. But Johnny does everything in his power to make it so if you do happen to look at, watch, or listen to one of his ads, it’s at least enjoyable. His writing at work is always constrained by a specific demographic, timeline, and voice that’s in keeping with the brand he’s writing for.

Joanna’s Job

My job, on the other hand, is so cool that it doesn’t need a TV show all about it. I correct grammar stuff all day. I’ll give you a moment to let the excitement sink in. Basically, I’m given projects that range anywhere from 15 to 40 pages in length, and I go through and edit them for errors and make sure they align with my company’s style guide. I’m not gonna lie. It’s pretty boring stuff. And I have to have complete focus to do it well. But I thrive off of organization (and marking things with red pens). So I find it rewarding to take unorganized documents and make them organized.

What We Do at Night

So why after a day of dealing with the written word would we choose to go and write on a blog for a couple hours? Well, there’s a reason we’re both in career fields that involve writing: it’s something we both really enjoy. The difference is that our blog doesn’t constrain us the way our jobs do. This is our sandbox where anything we want to say goes. We don’t have to play by any rules, so it’s a fun outlet. Johnny doesn’t have to fit 40 product benefits into a 10-word headline. And I don’t have to read and reread every sentence to make sure we’re using the active voice and avoiding misplaced and dangling modifiers. Writing on here is bliss, really. Although our blog still involves writing, it’s rejuvenating, and we write about stuff we actually want to talk about!

And there’s specific aspects each of us enjoys. Johnny actually started his career as an art director, so he loves the design and technical aspects. He designed the site look and feel and helps me put the finishing touches on any post images I create. And I enjoy writing original posts since my job only entails rewriting others’ content. And then for both of us our favorite aspect is reading and responding to comments. It’s so cool to know there are other money-conscious peeps out there who are trying their best to enjoy life while keeping things real in the budgeting department. We love reading everyone’s thoughts, insights, and personal experiences.

So that’s why we spend some of our precious free time away from work on this blog, “working.” It’s not work at all. It’s a fun escape, one that we can do together. What about you? What’s your escape from work? What do you do during those hours between getting home from work and going to sleep at night? We want to hear!

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies April 2, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Blogging is definitely an escape from the grind for me, too. I stare at numbers and computer code all day at the office, so it’s nice to use words and read other bloggers’ thoughts when I come home at night.

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      And night is where I get in my geeky coding tutorials and hacking around our site. Numbers on the other hand don’t happen. Ever. Glad to hear you’ve found your escape.

  • Reply Roo // NEON FRESH April 2, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Soooo I guess I don’t really have hours between work and bed. If I’m not working, I’m “Mom-ing” and after the girls go to bed, I do about an hour of housework before working until bedtime.

    I just realized how depressing that sounds. Haha, I really should try to fix that.

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      Between dinner and working, we’ve got maybe an hour, with most of that hour spent going up to soothe the baby’s crying fits before she finally crashes. And that’s with ONE CHILD. So it’s beyond us how you find time to brush your teeth or shower (do you?).

  • Reply Rachel April 2, 2013 at 8:23 am

    This is so funny because I’m a copywriter too (it’s my 9-to-5) and EVERYONE always asks me if it’s like Mad Men! Then people also ask how I can write for 8 hours and then come home to freelance and blog for a few more hours, but if you love writing and are passionate about it, it’s easy!

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Amen, Peggy Olson (assuming you watch the show). I’ve also found that my 9-5 writing gets sharpened and improved as a result of my “fun writing” at night. So that’s always a plus.

  • Reply Johnny Moneyseed April 2, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Johnny, dude, you need to learn how to cook!

    I really like the images you guys use on your site. I’m guessing that you make at least 90% of them yourselves. That’s pretty impressive. I just Google stuff until I find something that’s at least somewhat relevant (usually) to the topic I’ve written about). My escape from work is blogging as well. Writing, editing, chatting with blogger friends on Twitter, etc.

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      My menu of food items I can cook might be limited, but I can cook those items better than anyone. Maybe I’ll try to add another item or two to my repertoire this year.

      We’ve found it took us just as long to do image searches as making one from scratch. And we enjoy it, so we almost always go that route.

  • Reply My Financial Independence Journey April 2, 2013 at 9:56 am

    You both must love writing if you do it for your day job and your side-blogging job.

    My escape from work is more work – just in the guise of blogging and investing. Sometimes I do something fun too, but probably not often enough.

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      Writing is definitely something we both enjoy. But like you, we could probably afford to find more fun things to do in our lives. The caveat being activities/hobbies that are doable with a three-month-old in tow. So probably no white water rafting or rappelling. 🙂

  • Reply Grayson @ Debt Roundup April 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I come home from work and I blog at night. I like the escape and being able to say what I want. I like connecting with others that have the same mindset. If I am not blogging, then I am turning wrenches in my garage fixing up my Jeep. My wife doesn’t understand why I come home and get on the computer after our son goes to sleep, but it is because I enjoy it.

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      Before the blog, I would come home and hop on the computer to do freelance projects or brush up on design/coding tutorials and it would drive Joanna nuts. Little did she realize that I enlisted her help in starting the blog so that I could keep doing those things without feeling guilty anymore. Our little secret. 🙂

  • Reply Michelle April 2, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I love writing (even though I’m not the greatest) and my blog definitely keeps me sane. It’s fun and doesn’t feel like work one bit.

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      You’re a great writer, but how well you write shouldn’t be a determining factor. If it’s something you enjoy, you should totally do it.

  • Reply Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle April 2, 2013 at 10:47 am

    There is zero room for creativity in my 40 hour a week health care job and I am allowed to express my opinion when I write. Sometimes it is great, sometimes it is a battle to put 2 words together.

    It is forcing me to learn about my own finances and this week it is very frustrating as I was just refused for a great rewards credit card because I don’t make enough money. Now I have to figure out if being turned down hurts my credit score or if I should go ahead and apply for another one. A real learning experience.

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Writer’s block spares no one. I still get anxiety when I see the blinking cursor on a blank document.

      We’ve loved digging deeper into personal finance as a result of the blog and being more accountable. Like you, we’ve been forced to learn a ton and at times we feel like we’re drinking from a fire hose.

  • Reply Chris April 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

    You’re like the perfect team for blogging. When you write a successful post do you ever high-five?

    I don’t have many hobbies. I’m not a really creative person. I do workout for 2 hours every day after work. That’s my hobby currently. I also love to read and watch documentaries from about 8-10 while going to sleep. I usually don’t make it through whatever I am doing. I am going to start dedicating about 30 minutes every night to adjusting/tweaking my budget. I just really don’t like getting on a computer after work. It’s so mundane…

    • Reply Johnny April 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      Oh, we don’t just high-five. We Top Gun high-five. Actually by the end of writing a post and creating the image and putting it all together, we’re lucky if we go to bed without falling asleep on the way up the stairs. So not much in the way of high-fiving.

      Two hours a day?! Dude, that’s incredible. I’m stoked if I can find 15 minutes to put in to working out. That’s awesome. And if I could find an extra two hours or so, I’d definitely spend it watching a documentary on Netflix. Any good ones you’ve seen recently to recommend?

  • Reply Emory April 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    My husband and I are both gym junkies. One of my favorite things to do after work is go to the gym and spend time working out the stress of the day with him. He was a personal trainer before he switched careers so he is always willing to write up a workout for me. And if I am not at the gym you will probably find me running around the city somewhere. I find it so relaxing and enjoyable to explore our area and just about anywhere I visit on foot. I find some many more exciting places this way. Running gives me the solitude that I crave after a crazy day of dealing with meetings and people.

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:14 am

      That’s awesome. Joanna and I are waiting for the weather to get just a little bit nicer so that we can start running together with the baby in the stroller. Working out with your spouse/sig. other is awesome. And I’m sure it’s even more convenient having a personal trainer for a spouse.

  • Reply Rob April 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    What’s my escape from work? Well, in the years prior to finally retiring from work late last year and now I would say that I enjoy 3 main pastimes: reading, yard work, and being an intense net surfing freak. Over the years I would haunt many book stores (both new and used), looking for “treasures” – sci-fi, action, financial, business, self-help, computer, you name it. After the internet came along however, I then began to scale back on my book store visits, thus saving money and preferring to switch instead to ebook reading (which was cheaper and most of the time free). In addition I tend to spend hours searching for interesting web information, using social media sites, search engine sites, university sites (which offer free courses), as well as worldwide media sites (radio, tv, newspaper, movie). I’m always finding something new and interesting. That all said, whenever I just want to think about stuff quietly alone, I then will spend hours outside (around our “estate” – lol) just doing yard work. A tad boring perhaps but that’s me. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:19 am

      You’re not alone, Rob. I love yard work. Having a decent sized yard to tend to is definitely on our list of must-haves for our future home. It’s been years since I was able to mow a lawn. Just being outside with the smells and solitude. It’s the best. So if and when we finally do find that house with a yard, my blog/extra free time might get absorbed by the yard.

  • Reply Stephen at SE April 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    It is funny to me how many blogger tend to be people who are or have been in a field that requires writing as part of their day job. I actually dislike the writing part about blogging (ironic I know) but I like the satisfied feeling of having my thoughts clearly organized and on paper. The idea of helping other people makes the writing worth it.

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:22 am

      There are definitely days that I hate writing. In all honesty, I much prefer the design/code/marketing stuff. It’s not the easiest side project, but the handful of extremely kind comments saying we helped someone in a small way like starting a budget for the first time makes everything so so worth it.

  • Reply Lisa D April 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Ahh, free time! What’s that? Just kidding, but being in grad school plus working part-time definitely makes me feel that way sometimes. I love to run, do yoga, cook, bake, read (both novels, news and blogs) and veg out on the couch with TV (current obsession Homeland). Plus, living in a city it’s always fun (and free) to just walk around and take in the sites.; although in Boston that is typically weather-dependent. I’m actually looking forward to having a little more structure to my day with a 9-5 although I will miss the flexibility and freedom of basically making my own schedule.

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:27 am

      The school, part-time work schedule was never easy for us. It’s hard to have your feet in both worlds. I’m sure your transition into your career will be a sigh of relief. That and the fact that you’ll never have to write another paper or take another test. 🙂

      We really miss our night walks in Boston. It’s probably just now getting warm enough to start doing that for us down here, but it sure won’t beat walking around the harborwalk.

  • Reply Mark April 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Like you, guys, my whole day job is words, words, words. I love it, because I’ve always loved writing.

    When I do need a break from words, I head over to Codecademy.com to learn HTML, CSS, and PHP. Turns out learning to code is ridiculously fun.

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:29 am

      We’re cut from the same cloth. I spend a lot of time over at Codeacademy, although not as much recently. I was doing PHP and then using another site to learn Ruby. But I’ll probably need to start all over to pick it up again.

  • Reply Jess April 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    As a 9-5’er (well, okay, technically 9-4:30), I feel like I get way too little “free time”. After driving through the rush hour traffic, making dinner, eating dinner, feeding the dogs, etc. there is very little time to do much. But with the time I do have, I watch a lot of tv! I get obsessed easily with shows (two weeks ago it was Homeland; this week it’s Rizzoli &Isles) so that takes up a lot of my time. I’d say I’m a pretty big TV/movie buff! I also really like to read, but I get distracted easily so that doesn’t always work out too well. I also try to exercise a few times a week ad stay involved with my group at church and a few community groups I’m a part of. Whew. If I think my free time is limited now, just wait until August when I start grad school (on top of working).

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:34 am

      We definitely hear ya. Substitute dogs for cat and our schedules mirror each others’.

      That’s the second Homeland reference in this post, and I know my friends have brought it up a lot recently. We’ll have to give that a try.

  • Reply Andy April 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for an insight into your lives. I don’t want to look like too much of a sycophant but your writing and design backgrounds shine through on this blog and it’s always a joy to read.

    Thanks OFB

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:35 am

      Alright, which one of our moms paid you to write that. 🙂 Thanks a ton. It means a lot to us.

  • Reply Emily April 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Once a week when my husband gets home we have about 15 minutes to catch up and I head out to ‘work’ for a few hours. It’s mindless retail and a great escape from the house where I am a SAHM and just fun girl time. The rest of the week we are, um I guess I’ll call it ‘fooding’? I read many books about real food and how out of whack our country’s food culture is. We are cooking mostly from scratch. As you can imagine that takes a lot of time, but we are passionate about it and love it. I meal plan, prep snacks, dinners, search for recipes, etc. We are planning our garden for this year and marking the calendar for each month’s food activity: canning, freezing, baking, and sharing extras with our neighbors of course!
    Winter gets a little slow so we watch our fair share of TV as well … not the most productive, but a great battery recharger for us!

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:42 am

      Good for you guys! I have a ton of respect for the foodies I know. I’d love to be more health conscious about what goes into our bodies, I just don’t have the time to commit to it right now. And I know that my body is definitely worth investing time toward, but I justify my negligence by eating salads with most my meals. That counts, right? 🙂

      Whenever we get a place with a yard, we’ll come to you for gardening tips because I’m sure you’ll be a pro be then.

  • Reply Jen @ Cuddles and Chaos April 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    As a copy writer / copy editor / proofreader / blogger I can TOTALLY relate. Most of the stuff I work on for “work” is totally dry and boring. But the stuff I “work” on for fun on my blog allows me to let my hair down and go a little cray cray. Sometimes I look back and notice that my blog writing is more dry than I meant– I totes blame that on the day job.

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:46 am

      You know what we’re talking about. And like you, occasionally our day job lameness will seep into our fun writing. That’s when it’s awesome to have a second half to look through it and spice it up.

      Keep letting that hair down!

  • Reply eemusings April 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    When I spent most of my days editing, my blog was definitely more of a creative outlet. Now that I write as much as I edit (if not more) and my writing has matured, I find my blogging has changed – I’m writing less often, but better quality, and putting more time into individual posts.

    There are definitely some days I have no desire to write at all when I get home!

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 12:58 am

      I think at some point, we’ll probably scale back on the frequency of our posts. But for now, every week day is working for us. We realize it’s probably not sustainable with two full-time jobs and a baby, but until our quality or sanity suffers, we’ll keep at it.

  • Reply Michelle April 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Hmm, riding my bike, reading, hiking, hot yoga…happy hour, traveling, and my blog! My work is boring-I do immigration for international students. This year’s group of students is great! But, you never know who you’re going to get!

    • Reply Johnny April 3, 2013 at 1:00 am

      That sounds like a really rewarding job. Joanna and I often feel guilty that we’re not doing something more impressive or helpful with our careers. But whatever. You’ve got a lot of fitness and physical activity going on in your free time. We’re pretty jealous, so enjoy it all for us. 🙂

  • Reply Miranda April 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

    The first thing I do when I get home everyday is feed my three starving (not really, but they act like it) dogs and let them out to ‘go’. Then I generally spend about 15 minutes picking up the house and straightening things up (messes drive me nuts), figure out something for dinner, maybe do some laundry/cleaning, and then it’s pretty much veg/tv/internet/blogging time until the spousal unit gets home from work. Maybe we do house projects, maybe friends come over to chat, maybe we grab a late dinner and a movie, or maybe it’s more veg/tv/video game/internet/blogging time until bed. When we are both really into a book series, there is a lot of quiet reading time. Also sometimes I crank up the music and sing like I’m on American Idol and my dogs are the judges. There may or may not be underpants dancing…

    • Reply Johnny April 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

      That actually sounds a lot like our life pre-Baby Girl. But with three dogs, you’ve probably got your hands just as full as us. Joanna’s the reader between us and I’ve learned to not get between her and her book. Those are the days I watch documentaries that I know she’ll think are boring.

      But we’ll never be able to top your American Idol with dog judges. That’s amazing.

      • Reply Miranda April 5, 2013 at 9:10 am

        I used to naively think that caring for dogs was a lot like caring for children, until my niece and nephew were born, and then it was reality check time. Sure there is poop clean up and they demand to be fed everyday, but it the downtime that’s really different. Kids are so much fun but they can be so mentally exhausting (in a good way). When my dogs are driving me nuts I just put them in the back yard or give them a bone to chew on… I don’t think that allowed with babies. Right? I should probably check on that before we are pregnant.. 😉

  • Reply The Norwegian Girl April 4, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I`m a student so I have no fixed study hours. But my daily getaway is spent either blogging or baking.

    • Reply Johnny April 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

      Baking is Joanna’s other secret stress reliever. My stomach never minds when she gets on a baking binge. 🙂

  • Reply Charles @ CreditMedium April 4, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    It’s really cool to read about such a synergistic and encouraging relationship you guys have :). I too am a writer at heart, and my job involves analyzing other peoples content. But the blogging atmosphere definitely allows me to let loose and adds some balance. I don’t consider it a second shift if you will, but rather play time for my imagination…yes my imagination does partially dwell in the personal finance niche…

    PS: Very entertaining blog, I will be following you guys along your virtual trek =]

    • Reply Johnny April 5, 2013 at 12:16 am

      We know all about letting imagination run wild. It’s nice to have a sandbox for that.

      Thanks for the comment and stopping by, Charles!

  • Reply Catherine April 5, 2013 at 10:17 am

    When I’m not tending to baby both my husband and I run our own blogs which we love. We also watch baseball and hockey. We both enjoy a good power tool too 🙂 i also do my best to workout!

    • Reply Joanna April 6, 2013 at 12:26 am

      I know all about the crazy business of taking care of a baby! It’s hard to find time for all the other stuff. But it sounds like you strike a nice balance with mothering, working, and relaxing!

    Leave a Reply