July 27, 2012, 6:05 am

Epicness Time (Free Rant Included)

by: MD    Category: Financial Rambling
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I have to get a little rant out here this weekend. I really want to ask you guys something:

Why are so many personal finance bloggers broke?

Is this a common theme? How does this work in other fields? Are fitness bloggers out of shape?

I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus and I’m not trying to offend anyone. I’m just surprised that so many folks that are in debt start personal finance sites.

What do you think about this? Do you want to follow the journey as someone gets out of debt? Did JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly start a new trend?

The most interesting post of the week fits in with this theme:

$25,000 Paid Off, and How We’re Going to Fit in a Vacation: Joan’s Mid-July Financial Update @ Man vs Debt.

I have to give Joan HUGE PROPS for paying off $25,000 worth of debt. That’s amazing. I also give her so much respect for owning up to her real amount of debt owed and sharing it with the world. I love to see stories like this.

I just don’t get the interest in taking advice from someone in debt. I’ve worked hard my whole life to graduate from school debt free, send my parents on a few trips (because we grew up poor), and so that I would never have to owe anyone anything.

Do we like the underdog story? Do we just like to see others overcome a struggle? Why is it that there are so many broke personal finance bloggers?

Time for some carnivals…

Carnival of Financial Planning – Way Too Hot Edition #246 @ Wealth Pilgrim.

Carnival of Personal Finance #371: Proud To Be a 99%er Edition @ Sweating The Big Stuff.

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I think they offer stories and inspiration for those in similar positions and it shows that you can dig yourself out. My girlfriend has a ton of student loan debt that she is working on digging out from so I could see why people follow these blogs. I wouldn’t necessarily take blind financial advice from any blogger but sometimes they offer a great idea to look further into.

GUILTY! But starting to write about my financial situation has helped me be less broke — just like if I were overweight, starting a “watch me lose 34 pounds” blog would motivate me and get me motivated because there are real people out there that help keep you accountable! Strangers are better than friends for this, because friends don’t tell you if you’re fat or irresponsibly spending.

@Kathleen that makes sense. That’s cool to hear that blogging has helped you improve your finances. I love to use my blog to hold myself accountable for my actions. It’s a whole different ballgame when you have others following you on your journey.

I think you’re right, though, and that’s why the advice I write is along the lines of “look, you shouldn’t have gotten into debt, but since you’re here now, you’re among friends, and here’s what worked to get me out.”

Personally, I’d much rather read about getting out of debt from someone who has actually done it versus someone who has never been in debt. I’m not sure why that’s so mind-boggling. Just like if I’m going to read an article about painting my bathroom, I want to read one written by someone who has literally painted a bathroom, not someone who bought a house that already had a perfectly painted bathroom.

Debt blogs are a sub-niche just like investing blogs or early retirement blogs (or make money online blogs). Obviously if you aren’t in those particular situations, the information there might not be for you. But I think it’s wrong to assume that those sites have no value just because you personally don’t need that information.

As for the concept of “advice,” I don’t go to blogs for advice. I go for entertainment. If I want advice, I call my accountant.

Haven’t you ever seen Rocky?

I’ve been amazingly successful in many facets of my life, but I’m also blogging about something that I’ve been least successful with. I think it focuses the mind and encourages accountability. I find myself drawn to those who are undergoing similar things, as well as those who have already been successful.

I do not think they are broke. I think they give the *appearance* of being broke as a part of showing frugality.

A lot of people are blogging because they want a source of cash flow, not because they want to share their knowledge. This whole idea of “you don’t need to be an expert to start blogging” and “perception is reality” has created a generation of people who don’t know what they are talking about, but are spending huge chunks of their lives positioning themselves as experts. After I saw this de-motivational poster, I kept chuckling for days:


There is an old saying: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

That said, I have seriously thought about going into blogging for the past few weeks (and semi-seriously thought about it for 9 months). I have accumulated a lot of knowledge and life experience around personal finance; have had bankers tell me I’d be a natural at it; had dug my way out from deep in debt to a fully liquid six-figure net worth; have taken 1-3 month vacations to beautiful places around the world; have a good career; great friends; girls who call me back; I could go on.

But. Being a successful blogger has little to do with how well you know your subject. Instead, it is about building a following. I do not know how to do this. Therefore, I hesitate to commit the next 6 months-3 years of my life into something whose success has little to do with what I know, and everything to do with what I don’t even know how to learn.

I guess my biggest reservation about the whole internet marketing industry is it seems to lack integrity in a big way. “Perception is reality” matches my experience that MOST people I’ve met in the space just do not care about providing value; they want to be PERCEIVED as providing value. (There are exceptions: so far I like Mike a lot, and I am giving Sam a chance)

Bottom line: Why would I want to give up what is now a good life, to live an existence of poverty and desperation, just so I can chase down the sales brochure of smoke and mirrors? If the successful, popular financial bloggers are struggling to scrape together $750 for a vacation for four… then perhaps if I want to actually have money to my name I should stay away.

MD: That is my long-winded answer to your question. 🙂

I feel the same way as Andrea: I’d rather learn form someone who’s been there.

But I’m not a broke personal finance blogger either. I have student loans, but I also have financial assets and live a pretty spendy life. I just started my career (I haven’t even been working for a year yet!) so I think it will be interesting to look back at my financial growth as my income continues to increase.

Maybe there are a lot of broke personal finance bloggers because there are a lot of broke people out there :). 70% of the US population makes less than $58,000 per year. We live in a consumption-based society that encourages high consumption and waste and credit is easily obtainable (this is not the case in every country, many countries do no have mortgage lending on the scale of the US or Canada). Our savings rate although i has gone up to 4% is still shockingly low compared to other countries and just compared to common sense–we should all be saving more than 4% annually. Personally, I blog about understanding those things and changing our own behavior and local communities to reflect values that make sense to us, not what’s shoved down our throat via media. I can’t remember if you are Canadian so sorry for all the US stats if you are. Also, blogging about getting out of debt is not necessarily all advice. It’s about sharing a story and giving people insight into your situation, and if you are making progress, other people can be inspired and make their own changes. This is why I started blogging. I read Frugal Dad and Free From Broke, both formerly broke people. Their blogs changed my outlook! I loved their blogs and I love the blogs of anyone who is on a journey or sharing their successes and failures with money, weight loss, business, whatever. Success comes after failures, mistakes and lessons learned. If someone is like “I am absolutely perfect with money, always have been” then that doesn’t really interest me because I am not in their same situation. I suspect many people can relate to blogs about getting out of debt and they are interested to see how someone else is doing it. Don’t hate bro!

Sorry for all the typos, it’s late and my eyes are getting tired 🙂

Not hating.. just asking aloud where is the self-actualization, the truth, the Dharma in all of this. Big difference.

MD, just don’t read the debt blogs yeah?

Read what you want. That’s the beauty of the internet. We can read, say and do what we wish!

@FS You’re right. We can even pretend to be middle aged lol!

Thanks for all the comments guy. I loved all of the feedback. That’s what I love about the personal finance blogging community. We all have different perspectives, yet we can all agree on similar goals and overall philosophies.


I get so angry when I read some of those same blogs and they are talking about insurance planning, business planning and/or estate planning! All I can think is that your estate/net worth is in the negatives and you never studied finances or law what are you telling people?!

@Evan That’s a strong point. It’s like me giving parenting advice just based on the idea that I plan on being a parent one day.

[…] week we discussed broke personal finance bloggers and we received some pretty interesting comments. I really love this community and the readers that […]

Hi Mike!
It’s all about being the underdog. People love to read rags to riches stories, and generally most people want to see others succeed. The rest I guess you can call them haters..LOL

[…] Bloggers Broke? Aug 09, 2012 ~ Leave a Comment ~ Written by John The question, “Why are so many personal finance bloggers broke?” was asked by Mike, the financial blogger.  I think that’s a valid question.  In my short […]

[…] I was reading the other day this question over at The Financial Blogger: why are so many personal finance bloggers broke? It was a interesting question, but in reality I […]

“Just like if Iâ??m going to read an article about painting my bathroom, I want to read one written by someone who has literally painted a bathroom, not someone who bought a house that already had a perfectly painted bathroom.”

Andrea’s off-the-cuff remark really reveals a deeper insecurity, irrationality, and bitterness. I’m not in debt. I have never been buried in debt. I graduated from school with a positive net worth. Did my life come with a “perfectly painted bathroom”? No. I’ve faced plenty of adversity and challenges; the difference is I worked HARDER to put myself in a BETTER position. It wasn’t handed to me; it would have been MUCH easier to buy things I wanted, chillaxed during university (while taking a loser BA program), and buried myself in debt. The ONLY advantage I had — and my parents DID NOT give me a dime, other than a laptop, for school and I didn’t live with them — was that my parents were SMART about money. But that can be acquired and taught.

My problem with these “Happily-in-debt-and-blogging-about-my-European-traipses” is that, often, they don’t recognize their own stupidity and they assume everybody else somehow has an unfair advantage. Ridiculous and insufferable. Terrible attitudes.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be in debt, durrr”. Yeah, you’re right, I don’t know what it’s like to be an idiot and then tell other people how to live their lives. I prefer to give unique insights, useful analysis, and solid advice.

[…] Financial Blogger wonders why so many personal finance bloggers are broke.  Good […]