On Sunday, Monday and Wednesday this week I devoted chunks of my life on earth to scouring the internet in search of the best blogs about personal finance. Ones I could commit to reading cheerfully, without a sense of penance. Each time I launched myself into the labyrinth of an internet search, I started out curious and relaxed and ended up tense with brain-hurt.
Hours of link chasing and double-clicking and scrolling and scanning seemed to be taking me further and further away from what I’d hoped to find. Given that research is a significant part of my day job, I know too well how quickly the delight of surfing can turn to despair …
Hence, the rationale behind this 1st assignment: to pick just 3 personal finance blogs to follow.
The reason this was a time consuming task is that there are truckloads of personal finance blogs out there. And it takes more than a quick click to assess them. Who’s the blogger? Are the topics covered relevant to my situation? Are they published regularly? Is this blog just trying to sell me product? Will reading this blog smack me with too harsh a reality check? Or just bore me to smithereens … crushing my good intention to re-wire my relationship with money? This final criterion became the most expedient to ask first … it speeded my frenzied click fest through the cyber-space of cash counting counsel. Since, yes, most of them are dangerously boring.
For starters, the vast majority of personal finance blogs are about how to be more frugal.
Given the economic times we’re in and the fact that just about anyone can get expert on how to save pennies, this shouldn’t have surprised me. But all this scrimping, saving, discount-hunting and clever money-saving ways to either cheat the system or relentlessly spy on yourself is exactly what I don’t want Counting Zeros to be about. I want the way I handle my money to better mirror what I really care about and while being more frugal in some areas is no doubt part of the answer, one of the benefits of my financial situation is that spending as little as possible isn’t necessary or desirable. (The fact that I’m well-paid and have debt I can handle means my financial fuckwittery is not currently life threatening, it’s just life-limiting and dumb.)
Roughly speaking I discovered 3 types of blogs:
- Those penned by ordinary people who, like me, have decided to publish their own “journey” (Man vs Debt is an excellent example). This is by far the largest category, where it’s easiest to get lost hunting for quality
- Those tied to offline publications such as Money Magazine
- And those created to share the musings of well-known personal finance gurus such as Martin Lewis in the UK or Suze Orman in the US. Surprisingly this last category proved fairly useless — obviously these people make their money by other means (publishing books, offering products on their websites or selling their content to magazines).
In the end, after much time sinkage/investment, here are the 3 I chose:
- Most likely to educate me — lovemoney. Good for general financial intelligence (FQ). Advice on all aspects of personal finance, comparisons of financial products, easy-to-read articles. An all-rounder which is specific to the UK. (Similar to the American Money magazine blog)
- Most likely to inspire me — this was a tough call — I wanted to choose Fabulously Broke because this blogger is definitely onto something inspiring … minimalism, which is a lot more interesting to me than being frugal. As a hoarder, I’m always fantasizing about having a wardrobe that could fit into one small-to-medium sized, beaten-up, old leather, sticker-marked suitcase … being able to pack just like Maria does in The Sound of Music (she ran through mountain meadows with exactly the sort of suitcase I’m talking about, remember?). But in the end FabulouslyBroke is a written by a 20-something Canadian with an alternative lifestyle, so I’ve decided to go for TotallyMoney since these bloggers liked Fabulously Broke and had her guest blog so hopefully they’ll continue to hunt down equally interesting writers while offering me a blog run by a group of London-based women with lives more like my own. With a series of posts entitled “confessions from the chaos”, I do believe I have found my people!! Click here for the guest post from the wonderful Fabulously Broke.
- Most likely to challenge my thinking in a good way — iwillteachyoutoberich. Cringe-y name, but full of practical ways of looking at money differently. I knew from the outset that if I had the stomach to follow the advice of gurus such as Suze Orman I wouldn’t be Me (neither the good nor the bad parts). However much of a champion Orman is for righting financial fuckwittery (particularly the female variety), she’s too dull, too hardball and too parental for me. But it does seem wise to throw into my mix of 3, a bona-fide self-help expert (if that isn’t too ironic a label), so even though the guru behind iwillteachyou… is US-based and weighted towards people younger than me, his advice immediately clicks with my values. Like this: “I think that money is only a small part of being rich.” Or better yet, this: Forget about budgeting, it’s a joke! Instead “create a Conscious Spending Plan that will let you spend extravagantly on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.” Like it.
These are the 3 that, for now, seem the best choices for me. Assignment One completed.
If you’re interested in finding your own favourites, these sources will save you time:
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1st time visitor to Counting Zeros? Check out the Q&A section at end to find out what I’m up to. Everyone else, see you tomorrow for next week’s assignment from the Deck of Small Change.