Why Reading Personal Finance Blogs is Good For You

Not to toot my own horn, or that of my colleagues writing about personal finance, but today’s post is going to be a little one-sided.

I’m going to try to make a case for reading personal finance blogs, even as the mass media paints us as “unreliable” and “amateur journalists.” Fortunately, I think blogging is here to stay.

Here are a few reasons why I believe personal finance blogging is not only useful, but highly effective, for learning about money:

  • Joe the Blogger – First, I threw the question out to the Twitter community. Stephanie from Poorer Than You (@stephonee) noted that you can learn how regular people get started with cleaning up their finances. I think that hit one of my main feelings on the head. They say that the more specific the experience of “one,” the more universal its application. By learning from and observing the stories of many individuals, we can learn quite a bit about what works and what does not. Who cares about the “average” person? I want to know what you have done.
  • Blogger Freedom – Blogging allows for almost unlimited freedom in subject and media. Write about investing in Argentina today. Make a video about your brother’s garage sale tomorrow. Your subject and your audience are as broad as you want to make them. By the same token, reading financial blogs exposes you to a large variety of money-related information that’s difficult to get on mainstream sites.
  • Accessibility – Blogs are a unique online media for many reasons, not the least of which is accessibility. While almost all online writers are “accessible” these days, there’s nothing quite as direct as a comment in response to a thought-provoking post that reaches the author in minutes. In many cases, the author takes the opportunity to respond and interact with the audience and the content of these discussions can often out-perform the usefulness of the original post.
  • Long-Term Community – There’s a reasons why personal finance forums like that of Get Rich Slowly are churning at a furious pace. People who need help with their money want to be part of a supporting community that’s always available. We gather and interact with blogs that care for their community because we enjoy the flow of information and learning from one another in a unique way.
  • The Collective Answer – The charge against bloggers is often tied to misinformation and poor advice. I object. We aren’t here to give direct advice to our readers, or to provide complete information, although we try our best to do both. To me, blogging is a collective effort of the entire community. When I read about “Cash for Clunkers” on 25 other personal finance blogs, what I took away is not individual advice but the idea. If someone’s made an error in their facts, the community is there to pick up the slack, point out the hole, and everything continues on its merry way.
  • Interconnectivity – I don’t mind sending you to another personal finance blog to learn about a related topic – it’s what the blogosphere is all about. Highly interwoven networks of blogs can function together, filling voids of missing information, or presenting alternative points of view. It’s what makes blogs cutting edge – we are always trying to find that missing niche and fill it.
  • Authority by Community – Authority and trust of a blog are rarely established by credentials, how much money or influence you have, or knowing the right people. The best blogs rise naturally to the top because they have the most useful content, are linked to and read more frequently, and care for the communities they are creating.

I read mainstream news and finance sites on a daily basis. But none of them have quite the depth and personality of information that I get from the 300+ personal finance blogs I follow. And really, that’s the only proof I need.

What do you think? Are personal finance blogs just people writing about their own thoughts or can you actually take something away from the reading/interacting experience?

13 thoughts on “Why Reading Personal Finance Blogs is Good For You

  1. Pingback: Personal Finance Buzz
  2. As you mention above… I think the power lies in the “regular Joe” writing about his personal experience. Most people themselves are “regular Joe’s” so they can relate to blogs much easier and more fully than to large & often disconnected mass media outlets. Good stuff man.

    1. Like I said, I love big financial websites – I read them almost every day. But it’s hard to find advice that’s easy to execute because it’s so impersonal. Like you, I can relate to other bloggers on a much more human level.

  3. The power lies in all of us helping each other to improve ourselves – sharing our experiences, giving advice, telling others what has worked – and what hasn’t – for us. Interesting post!

    1. That’s what makes it fun for me. I’ve learned more about personal finance in the last 6 months than I ever knew existed. Blogging is a fantastic experience.

  4. Reading a personal finance blog seems to be a much more open platform. People like to have the ability to relate to someone else going thru the same experience. Even better, someone that made it into the financial ‘clear’ and lived to *gasp* have an internet connection that allows them to maintain a blog. I find a lot of comfort in reading the personal experiences and sacrifices that were made in order to straighten out their debt.

    1. I agree – the “journey” somehow makes it real for us. It’s cool to read about someone’s background and how they’re facing the day to day challenges of financial management. As opposed to reading about the latest “top 7 ways to cut costs” on a website.

      Not that I don’t like “top 7 ways to cut costs.” I do. I write them too. 🙂

  5. Great post! I found this on Tipd.com and I was glad I did. I totally agree with you about there’s plenty of big financial websites but they tend to be a bit impersonal.

    Personally, I feel like we all would be so much better off if our education systems made it more mandatory to take more personal finances classes while in school. There’s just not that much emphasis on it.

    It’s really nice to see more people sharing their passion and knowledge with personal finance. We run a webiste called 8 Pillars that focuses on the “Old School Financial Values”. We hope to share our knowledge on personal finance and help everyone we come across.

    Great post, keep up the great work!

  6. I think you can get a lot out of reading personal finance blogs. Sure, you get a lot of their opinions and personal twist, but its a great way to encourage you in your finances as well as see how other folks like you are doing. Plus, I like to hear things in easy to understand language, not just the uppity-up language of the big sites.

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  9. I think you can learn more not only by reading personal finance blogs but contributing, and even starting your own. I can’t even convey how much I’ve learned about my finances since I started my blog and just how valuable that knowledge really is.

    1. Absolutely, that goes without saying for me. I’ve considered starting up blogs in other areas I want to learn about because of how good this experience has been. 🙂

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