Sometime ago now, Nelson at Financial Uproar published a post asking why aren’t personal finance bloggers wealthier . Whilst I don’t always agree with him, in fact I rarely do, I have a soft spot for Nelson: with his strong opinions, brash confidence and crude humour he makes me think and keeps me entertained. So, I read this post, thought it rather interesting and moved on. Well, Nelson didn’t really answer his question but then so many bloggers do the same.
My mind kept drifting towards this post because of two claims:
1) that ‘personal finance is not that complicated’ and it boils down to ‘spend less than you make’; and
2) that Nelson doesn’t read blogs by people ‘drowning in debt’ because ‘we are naturally drawn to the people we consider our peers’.
Three questions kept churning in my mind: ‘is personal finance really that uncomplicated’ and ‘do I read blogs by people in debt’ and ‘why’.
Is personal finance that uncomplicated?
Yep! At a very basic, technical level it is very straight forward: spend less than you earn. Similarly, at the most basic level keeping trim and fit is equally easy: eat less and move more. Most people find both of these very difficult to crack most of the time. Of course, we can assume that most people are very silly most of the time so they can’t fathom and obey such simple maxims. I believe that there is more to it than that.
Personal finance and personal fitness are two cases where what needs to be done is uncomplicated; how to do it is where things get a bit more tricky. When we get to ‘how’ personal finance stops being about technicalities and becomes a question of motivation, ingenuity, learning and growth, choices and decisions, and daring to be different.
I am always amused when, to post a comment, some blogs ask whether I am human. Yes, I am and this humanity makes the way in which I manage my life and my finances a notch more complicated than ‘spend less than you earn’.
Do I read blogs by people in debt and why?
One way in which Nelson’s post was haunting me is that it started this little voice in my head saying ‘let’s check whether this blogger has debt’. This is when I found that, in difference to Nelson, I read blogs by people who are in debt; particularly ones written by people who are racing towards paying it all off. Of course, the interesting blogs tell a story; they inform, entertain and tease. Simple reports of debt repayment are as entertaining or interesting as the telephone directory. But then again, every train has its passengers – and I am sure that reports of repayments have their audience.
I don’t read the blogs of people in debt because ‘we are attracted to our peers’. Where blog reading is concerned I am very promiscuous: I read blogs by people who have been in debt and are very wealthy, by people who have never been in debt and are wealthy, by people who are still in debt and making progress, by people who focus on investment strategies and personal growth. I don’t spend much time on blogs full of empty angst or sanctimonious and patronising drivel. I am attracted by all kinds of attractive knowledge and writing.
My answer why I read blogs by people who have been or are still in debt is below.
There are very few people who don’t make mistakes and these are often the ones who are most vulnerable – because they either don’t try, or never learn how to cope with their mistakes. I firmly believe that whether people have made a mistake or not is not what matters in life; what matters is whether people learn and what do they do after.
This is why I read stories about people’s journey out of debt. Having debt can be the crisis people need as a catalyst for their financial awakening. I respect the fact that people have had their ‘crisis’ and instead of falling apart they have changed, learned and started to build the solid foundations of their life and fortune.
Flexibility and ingenuity
Having been in debt and having paid it back is more often than not a great lesson in flexibility and ingenuity. ‘I have always been good with money’ is a state of mind that makes one successful in relatively stable financial environments and life situations. ‘I was in debt and paid it back’ is a statement of change and survival that can be very useful in times of crisis.
Getting in consumer debt is dumb, there is no denying it. But it is a mistake not a sin. Well, thinking about it, even sins can be redeemed – by prayer, donations and, at one time, by indulgences. People have innate capacity for change and renewal; they only have to learn to tap into it more often.
Do you think personal finance is uncomplicated? Do you read blogs by people in debt and why?