These days it seems like you can’t turn a corner without tripping over a few personal finance blogs along the way. Personal finance blogs are extremely popular, and continue to pick up speed – and with good reason.
I believe that everyone should have their own personal finance blog. Whether it is publicly shared like mine, or private just for themselves. Whether all information is shared freely, or they seek to profit off of ads, affiliate marketing opportunities, or selling their own products.
You can only improve that which you can measure. And finance is one of those ever-elusive parts of our lives that tend to go unmeasured, unmanaged.
It’s so easy to simply drift by life on the bare minimum. Got enough money to buy that trinket? Great, buy it.
Don’t have enough? That’s fine too, just whip out the credit card and POOF it’s yours.
Let’s not focus on the fact that deep in your bones, you only intend on making the minimum payment when that bill comes due. And that the remaining balance that you will be stuck with will be paying 20%+ interest.
At least you got the thing!
And if you never stop to do the math on how much that trinket will REALLY cost you over the course of the next 20 years, then you’ll be good – you can sleep well at night.
It can be painful to be a reformed consumerist. And much like religion, some will denounce the existence of their deity of choice, and yet feel a subtle, but ever present anxiety in their bones.
Not enough to cause physical pain, but enough to make you a little uncomfortable in the silence.
The cure for financial anxiety
Writing your own personal finance blog is the best way that I know to pull that hidden anxiety out into the open. To see it for what it truly is, and not simply a balance on a spreadsheet or in some budgeting app.
Because while using tools like Personal Capital is an amazing way to get a headstart towards cleaning the mud that might be your own financial life, it only deals with the surface of the problem.
It will show you the numbers, calculate your expenses, balances, investment returns. It can even project your future retirement picture!
But it doesn’t explain the deep-seated emotions, experiences, and deeply formed opinions you have about your money, your goals, and your life.
And the crazy truth is, that truly understanding, measuring, and mastering the “soft side” of your personal finance life is the only way to create a sustainable, stress-free financial future.
Don’t believe me? Then why are so many highly-paid professionals living paycheck to paycheck, while normal middle-Americans are able to retire after a short 10-year career to a life of financial freedom where work becomes a passion project, not a requirement to make ends meet.
Let’s assume I have you at least convinced that it’s important to understand the emotions behind your financial life. Why is blogging the best way to course correct?
Once you look at the alternatives, it will become very clear.
Alternative #1: Your Friendly Financial Advisor
Financial advisors are great! They make you feel good about yourself, they talk all sorts of crazy finance jargon whenever they meet with you.
They’re super smart and have your best interest in mind, right? As they pull up in their leased Benz for your next quarterly meeting, and park next to your 8 year old Camry, you may scratch your head a moment.
“How are they paying for that fancy car?” Of course, you already know the answer to that. With commissions on your money.
Which is definitely not a bad thing itself – if they are providing you a valuable service.
But if that service is to put you into high-cost mutual funds and constantly look for other “services” to upsell you on over time, you have to start to wonder.
Because as studies over time have consistently shown, one of the strongest predictors of future performance of a fund is costs. That is the only thing you can control, and it tends to be an overlooked, especially when advisors are trying to sign you up for them.
But some financial advisors must be worth their weight in gold (after all, you will likely pay that princely sum over the next 10 years to one if you stay).
Helping investors make wise decisions about their goals…
… Preventing investors from selling out at the wrong time when market volatility spikes….
… Ensure that investors stick to their plan…
Hm, sound familiar? These are all very “soft” skills that they bring to the table. Their true value is intrinsic – it is in their ability to help you stay the course and manage your emotions.
Here’s the catch though. Listening to others explain something to you is only so effective at cementing that understanding into you.
Listening to lectures may get you to pass the test, but getting up in front of the class for a semester will truly make you an expert.
And blogging your own financial journey gets you out of consumer mode and into teaching mode. You will explore topics that you know you don’t know, and over time, you will come to master it in a way that no advisor will be able to.
Alternative #2: Listening to friends and family
I love my family to death, but when it comes to finances I think it’s important to have a healthy separation between them.
Many friendships and families have been torn apart by money issues.
You’ll have the savers in the family, and the spenders. And when finance gets put out into the open, it is hard to avoid judging one side or the other based on their personal choices.
It’s called personal finance for a reason! And your opinions about a loved one’s money habits shouldn’t impact your opinion of them as a person, but sometimes the lines can be blurred.
To me, I want to make sure that every time I see my family on the holidays, it is a happy and loving experience. Separating money and business from family goes a long way to ensuring this!
Bringing it back to blogging
OK, so the two alternatives have some major gaps. So how is blogging a win-win-win?
Win #1: You win by building up an amazing understanding of your personal finance life
As you document your entire philosophy around money, you will grapple with issues that you have neglected to think about. Hard topics, but important topics.
Things like inheritance, how to deal with lending money to friends, how you will handle a market correction, etc.
By unpacking these issues through a blog, you will feel much more at peace and prepared for what the future holds. You will begin to truly know yourself.
Win #2: Your portfolio wins through cost-savings and additional income
Simple, low cost investing is an incredible way to build wealth. When you push the financial advisors out of your life, your investment expenses could be reduced by 50-90%. Add in some simple rebalancing, and you will have a rock-solid portfolio for the future.
That drag will benefit you and your portfolio for years to come.
Not only will your costs go down, but your income can actually go up! Blogging is a great way to earn extra income. I think it’s one of the greatest side hustles in the world.
You can work where you want, when you want. You don’t need to go mow lawns for extra cash anymore!
Of course, making a profit shouldn’t be your focus on day one. Simply seek to understand yourself better and help others through your learnings, and over time that consistent effort will come back to you in profits!
Win #3: The world benefits from your sharing
Financial independence is beginning to catch people’s interest. You can be another voice that propels the world forward towards a smarter, more conscious lifestyle.
We have the opportunity to change lives through our own experiences.
How many financial mistakes have you made in your life? If you’re like me, the list is very very long.
But by sharing those experiences and the lessons learned, we can mentor an entire generation to do things just 1% better than us. And over time, that continuous improvement can make the world a better place.
But if we hoard that knowledge, keep those lessons to ourselves, we will continue to live with a scarcity mindset. We will stomp out the smolder of action just before it takes flame.
I choose to help. And so on Nine to FI I will continue to share my money lessons and habits to help us all find a brighter financial future, free from the chains of paycheck servitude.
Will you? Share your own personal finance blog in the comments below, I’d love to check it out!