Most Personal Finance Bloggers Are Rich, Self-Righteous, And Inflexible?

by golbguru on October 3, 2007

Recently, a reader added some extra dimensions to the topic which amounted to saying that most personal finance bloggers are rich and self-righteous. [Editor's note: I had the comment quoted here, but the author wanted it removed, so it's gone now]

Any thoughts?

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Moneymonk 10.03.07 at 7:28 am

The average pf blogger to me have a nice cash cushion, make about $70K a year, college educated with at least one child and live in the suburbs!

I remember a lawyer once told me we are all one medical emergency from being bankrupt.

The thing with personal finance that it is “personal” every case is different and unique.

It is no one size fits all.

2 Steve Austin 10.03.07 at 7:48 am

I don’t understand the motivation behind the original post. Now that I read the comment quoted above, I really don’t understand the topic. It’s likely that I’m missing something fundamental about this thread.

If people do what makes them happy and it doesn’t encroach on the happiness of others, why “hold anything against” or have pet peeves about them or their hobbies?

The quoted commenter may be confusing a hobby with a public service. If a PF blog helps a reader, great; but that’s gravy. A PF blog is just a hobby, right? A bunch of folk yapping about what they enjoy. (I’m not a PF blogger, so I don’t comment with authority.)

If the commenter sees a dearth, why not fill the void rather than rant about the dearth? If no one reads, then the dearth is natural and appropriate; there is no market for hardship PF blogs.

3 Wil 10.03.07 at 7:51 am

This poster has some very valid points. In addition to people who actually ARE lazy, stupid, etc, etc, there is also the group of people that life just deals a brutal hand to.

4 Enough Wealth 10.03.07 at 8:00 am

I’d fall into the “rich, self-righteous and inflexible” group of PF bloggers. But that’s because I blog about what I know firsthand and my life experiences. Only people in roughly similar situations (or planning and working towards that condition) would read my blog and get useful information from it.

However, I would disagree that “most” PF bloggers are like this - there seems to me to be a truckload of PF bloggers who are either poor students or poor, low- to middle-income family people who are struggling to get out of debt. They offer plenty of advice on how to arrange “terms” with credit card companies, short-sell houses to avoid foreclosure, and budget from paycheck to paycheck using labelled envelopes. But I haven’t seen many who started out like this and are now well-healed (although I remember frugal duchess had some posts from a self-made millionaire from a disadvantaged background last year).

Finally, I suspect that the reason most bloggers don’t post about how to become rich while homeless, unemployed, disabled, or disadvantaged is because they don’t have a clue about how it could be done. If, for example, 5% of readers on above-average incomes and in good health can achieve financial independence (perhaps by reading bloggers who have trode a similar path before them), then the percentage of readers with negative net worth, a poorly paid job with no prospects and bad health who could “make it” would be practically nil.

It’s a bit like complaining that all the carpentry blogs are done by people who have a home workshop and a set of power tools. Where are all the bloggers who live in a trailer park and can post about how they built house furniture using just old packing crates and chewing gum?

5 golbguru 10.03.07 at 8:01 am

Steve: To add to your comment, I don’t think there is a dearth of bloggers who are in difficulties (although, these are far less in number than well-to-do bloggers) - I know quite a handful of them who are blogging about their debt and related issues. Now, it’s quite possible that they are not as popular as “other” PF bloggers - but I don’t want to guess why [in fact, I know a few who have a large audience -- so there might be some market for hardship blogs too].

It may be a question of motivation. From the bloggers’ point of view, it’s quite possible that people who have been successful with their finances have a better motivation to share their success stories. From the readers’ point of view, there is a motivation to follow these success stories.

The other possibility is that many bloggers don’t really disclose their income at all. So the feeling of *rich* or *poor* might just be a perception based on the style of the writing.

“The quoted commenter may be confusing a hobby with a public service.” - apparently, a bunch of people don’t look at it that way, not just this commentator (although, I wish they did). If you look at the original post, you will see a lot of such rants.

As for the purpose, well it’s just to get a general feel of the audience. Although, it’s a hobby, people are writing because someone else is reading it, and it’s interesting to get some feedback from the readers once in a while. Who knows, some blogger might be able to get some good points out of it.

6 ms. m&p 10.03.07 at 8:09 am

I’ve gotta agree with some of what she said. I think that there are some bloggers who think that if people are in a bad financial situation, they are responsible for it. And to some extent, I think the bloggers are right. But there are SO many different circumstances that they can’t be right in every case. Most of the people I know personally who are in bad financial situations are there because they grew up poor. And most of the wealthy people I know personally are wealthy because they were born with money. There are certainly exceptions in both cases, but a lot of your financial health is not because of responsibility–it’s because of luck or what circumstances you were born into.

This is really getting down to your fundamental world view–I just described mine, but I know it contradicts how a lot of people think. I’m also a pf blogger, so I guess I’m in the minority according to her comment–but most of the pf blogs I read are genuinely hard workers and are also compassionate and open minded about other people’s circumstances.

Great post!!

7 Steve Austin 10.03.07 at 8:54 am

golbguru, in the spirit of your blog, I thought I’d contribute a couple of Tao Te Ching one-liners to the thread. ;-\

“When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.” -8

“Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.” -23

8 Lynnae @ Being Frugal 10.03.07 at 9:02 am

I think this commenter isn’t looking hard enough for PF blogs written from the perspective of people who are struggling. I have just that type of blog, and I have a whole feed reader full of blogs written by people trying to get out of debt.

I think the most popular and most visible PF blogs are written by people who have been successful in their finances. There could be several reasons for that. These bloggers might have more time to blog than someone who is struggling and working a couple of jobs. And they might appeal to a broader audience. My “get out of debt” blog probably isn’t too interesting to someone who is completely out of debt and wondering where to invest his money, because debt is that his past.

Investing is my future, however, so an investing blog will be interesting to me, as will blogs from people who are trying to get out of debt.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but that’s my rambling opinion on the subject. :)

9 Jenyfer 10.03.07 at 9:49 am

OK, anytime finances come up it is likely to be an emotional subject. For anyone who has set a financial goal and NOT MET it, there is, at least for us Catholics(this is just a joke), an amount of guilt associated with a failed goal.
I am college educated and under employed. I have a detailed excel spread sheet with all income and expenses and savings. I don’t knock myself over the head if I have a small binge of spending; but I am able to see how it directly affects the lead time on being free from debt.
This spreadsheet is the best tool I have found in my 45 years. It gives me a visual on where I am and where I want to be. But that’s me. I prefer to think of pf bloggers as sources of inspiration and ideas to get where I want to go.

10 The Digerati Life 10.03.07 at 10:01 am

This is an interesting view point. PF Blogs come in all shapes and sizes and are molded from someone’s personality, writing style and perspectives on finance. How a blog comes about is based on one’s goal — is it to track one’s financial progress, to be accountable to one’s finances, or to offer advice? People usually blog as an avenue to share expertise and so it’s no surprise that those who are good at something are willing to share their thoughts on that subject. Blogging can be a hard and lonely “job” and you stack the odds on your side for succeeding in this effort by blogging about what you like, what you’re passionate about and where you feel successful at. So it’s a natural thing for bloggers to keep at a subject they feel they have expertise — it’s part of the credibility they build to become successful in their blogging endeavor.

That said, there are many successful “hardship” bloggers and their approach to pf will be clearly different from those who write from the “success” point of view. I believe there is room for everyone. If you check pfblogs.org regularly, you’ll see the great diversity of blogs in there.

11 C.G. 10.03.07 at 10:33 am

I think the commentator hit the nail on the head.
I have stopped reading most of these pf blogs simply because the content is recycled and its a nice club where Peter links to Paul and vice versa.
And then they throw theoretical advice at you like ” if you could invest $x for 30yrs in the stock market with 8% returns”..I mean come on gimme a break… the performance of the stock market in the last few months itself has been liked a yo yo.
I’m even more astonished when I see that their feed numbers run into thousands, are so many people craving for financial advice that they will eat up any gooblygook.
I think I’d rather read Kiplinger and Smart Money and give these blogs a miss!

12 paidtwice 10.03.07 at 1:08 pm

Whew! I have an obstacle! So I’m okay. lol

Really - there are all sorts of PF blogs out there. Lots from people who know a lot about personal finance. Lots from people struggling their way out of debt. Lots inbetween or different places too. If you want to read about people struggling out of debt… just look a little harder. You’ll find them. MMMM even links to them on a regular basis ;).

Anyone that feels lonely and wants some struggle, I’d be happy to share mine with them… just send me a check ;)

13 hejustlaughs 10.03.07 at 1:13 pm

I’m not educated nor do I make a lot of money.

However I’m still in college and work 32 hours a week to pay my way.

14 Rebecca 10.03.07 at 1:17 pm

While I think that the quoted person had some good points, I also think they were projecting quite a lot. I don’t see most PF bloggers as telling me that if I don’t do what they say and fail it’s my own fault. I see them saying that this is what they did to succeed. The guilt is coming from that person, not the bloggers.

15 Matt 10.03.07 at 2:54 pm

No one wants to read stuff from a whiner. If she doubts this she can always start her own blog.

Everyone faces difficulties in their lives. It may not be financial but it could be with family or work. And yes, smart people do face less dramatic circumstances because they take the time to learn from others’ mistakes. They invest part of their time and money into preventionary measures.

The winners in life face their challenges head on and figure out a way to overcome it. It may take years but they definitely don’t sit around whining about unfair life is.

16 Flexo 10.03.07 at 5:22 pm

The comment above is another in a long line of comments across blogs which seem to group all personal finance bloggers together as if we form some kind of homogeneous community. There is so much diversity among bloggers that there is surely something out there for all readers. I don’t even understand why this is a topic worth discussing… obviously it is because it always draws lots of comments, including this one from me.

17 NCN 10.03.07 at 6:31 pm

A few thoughts..

I’ve been blogging about my finances for more than 2 years. When I started, I didn’t even know that there were other “pf blogs” - I didn’t even know that there was a term for what I was doing. I just wanted a place to “share my story”. So, I created No Credit Needed and I began to type. Now that I’ve created an audience and connected with other bloggers, I’m amazed by the WEALTH of information, free to use, that is available to all, pf blogger or not.
I missed my first goal by more than 4 months - and only achieved my second goal through some last minute eBay action. I’ll probably miss my savings goal for 2007 AND my automobile’s transmission is dying. I can’t speak for others, but I blog from “among the folks” and not “from the mountain top”. I know “how” to do a few things - but I’m still learning about “how” to do a million other things. I do write posts about “invest x for y months at z interest” - b/c that’s an excellent way to begin a dialog about the power of compound interest, investing, and saving for retirement. But, I also write about waisting money buying too many groceries, about not knowing how to open a SEP IRA, and losing my debit card in a restaurant. Blogging should be, first and foremost, personal - my story, my goals, my opinions, my hopes, my failures, my words - and I, for one, an thankful for the opportunity to blog about my personal finances.
NCN

18 MossySF 10.03.07 at 7:11 pm

If a blogger is at some stage in life, he/she will blog about that stage. Surely you can’t expect them to post about things in the past in anything less than a cursory manner. I had a hefty amount of credit card debt back in 2000 but I don’t remember any details about that period anymore. If I was blogging, what could I write about?

19 mapgirl 10.03.07 at 8:51 pm

I agree and disagree with the commenter.

1. I don’t think this commenter reads ALL the PF blogs out there. If so, I think they’d find that there are lots of people with negative net worth who are sick with a major illness. Who did get laid off. Who are victims of life’s terrible circumstances. Just read Save Leigh Ann or JW Thornhill’s blog. Life happens and those blogs are out there if you look for them.

2. If you don’t like what you are reading. Just STOP. I don’t understand this part of the comment. If you don’t like the blogger and don’t find them likeable, don’t read it. I stop reading books after 10 pages if I can’t get into the story. Same goes for a blog. Filtering to get a better signal to noise ratio is what life is about. Learn to cope.

3. Life is about choices and sometimes the message about smart decision making is a little tough to take. But really, we all make choices and the harsh advice given out by PF bloggers to get out there and make a positive net worth change in your life is helpful and tries to be encouraging. I doubt there is a PF blogger out there that says you’re going to hell if you don’t meet your budget. M should stop making us a single monolith, oops. I’m reiterating point #1 with that comment. It’s a tough kind of love, but if people were really spending less than they earned, would we have to keep repeating the message and shouting it from the rooftops?

4. PF bloggers are not inflexible. They try to live by their principles which happen to be about frugality and saving. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all break the budget and go a little crazy at times, but what’s wrong with planning a little fun in our lives with a budget? A lot of us are struggling with doing this saving thing, regardless of our income class. Exceptions are made all the time. Just take SingleMa and her daughter’s homecoming dress budget. No one is perfect, but I agree there’s a lot of self-righteous around. Heh. And I do name names.

I wholeheartedly agree that most blogs out there are not people who are about to have the heat cut off and lights turned out. I’ve met people in those situations and it is a TOUGH ROW TO HOE. I do not doubt that for a nanosecond.

I’m about to counsel people in those kinds of situations. They are as real as any other, but if that’s the information your reader is looking for, s/he needs to get in touch with Health and Human Services in their area. S/he needs to call the local food bank, the utility company and get some assistance. There are resources like ModestNeeds.org which can help.

I feel like the crux of their argument which is not explicitly stated, is that most blogs are not about the truly impoverished in our nation. I suspect a lot of those people are working 60+ hours a week and don’t have time for bloging bullshit because they’re so busy working and keeping the lights on.

20 Laura 10.04.07 at 5:59 am

While there are some PF bloggers who fit the description of being self-righteous, most that I read are wonderfully humble and personal.

Maybe I was fortunate in finding PF blogs because I haven’t read where they belittle or criticized their readers about being lazy or not committed. I’ve found them encouraging.

As for the rich/ high net worth part, I do notice that there are many bloggers with a good amount of net worth, but I attributed it to their years of saving money.

As a college student graduating in December, I find that some blog posts do not apply to me (yet). I’m not at that stage in my life. I have a small emergency fund and I paid off my credit card debts. My internship doesn’t offer benefits such as retirement.

I do read some of them so I can get a guide as what the next steps will be. If like have a flash light while walking on a road at night. Every once in awhile I try to see things in a distance, but right now I’m focusing on my current circumstances.

21 MoneyDummy 10.04.07 at 5:59 am

I’ve noticed the same phenomenon with many pfbloggers; some of them seem to have large incomes and fairly inflexible attitudes. Another thing I’ve noticed is that while they write about personal finance, they don’t seem to write about THEIR personal finance much, instead focusing on articles, legislation, or recycling the same old pf concepts over and over and over again. I don’t hold this against them; people are entitled to write whatever they want to on their blogs. I just also don’t read them much.

22 English Major 10.04.07 at 6:28 am

I’d have to agree on at least one point: I think there’s a higher adherence to the doctrine of “personal responsibility” in the PF blogosphere than in the world at large, and I do often think it’s alienating and somewhat shortsighted. I do think it’s easy for us to fail to recognize our advantages, our privilege, even our plain dumb luck, and it’s very easy for that blindness to turn into a kind of “if I can do it, so can you, and if you haven’t, what’s your excuse?” kind of dogmatism. For this reason, I like when bloggers (especially the big dogs) confront truly difficult situations sent to them by their readers, and for this reason, I try to check my own privilege on a regular basis.

As-is, though, I’m hardly a tycoon. I live in Manhattan on $32K and a smile. There are a lot of bloggers out there in similar situations–forgive me for the generalization, but it seems that they are mostly younger women–and lots of bloggers writing about getting out of debt and confronting the necessity of entirely changing their financial habits. If this reader is interested in finding a PF blog that suits her style, I think she has options out there.

23 vh 10.04.07 at 6:36 am

What a strange thing to bellyache over. If that’s all you have to worry about, life must be good…or maybe you don’t read the newspapers.

This is like complaining about the quality of what’s on television: if you don’t like it, turn it off. Go do something else.

Spending time and energy bitching about other people builds stress and eventually will make you sick. You can find better ways to occupy yourself.

24 Itch 10.04.07 at 7:00 am

I’ve seen complaints like that on line, and in other blogs as well. And it always kinda reminds me of the book Nickel and Dimed. That’s the one where the author tried to work to menial jobs and survive before going back to her white collar world.

In it she complained about how wages -are- to low, no one can survive, etc. But on the flip side she talked about the need of cable tv, or smoking Pot and how that could effect her employment. The rest of the book echos what was said in the last paragraph of post’s comment.

And those are telling statements. I agree life can knock you on your butt. It could happen at any time. What I also wonder is how far those in bad situations have changed their normal habits in order to climb back out. Back all the way off to essentials. No cable TV - rabbit ears work just fine. No internet (which maybe why we don’t see that many of those types of pf blogs). Libraries for basic news, net access and entertainment.

This is all just something I’ve wondered about when I come across comments like this. Those 2 alone could be a monthly saving of about … 70 a month to be on the cheap side.

Those that differ in opinion, please step up! I’m not claiming God like knowledge here. In fact I’d love to hear those that are struggling to see their entire budget. This is just something that I’ve always wondered about, and …. bugged me when I hear someone complaining about being broke while watching the latest fight on cable.

25 guinness416 10.04.07 at 7:41 am

Be fair folks, the comment wasn’t unsolicited - if I’m reading correctly it was appended to a post that specifically asked for feedback. I have a lot in common with the bloggers with nice salaries and savings, so can’t complain much about content - I’m reading my peers. One thing I find on many of the higher-traffic moneyblogs (who do often link to their peers too rather than the different blogs mentioned in the comments above) that draw a lot of comments is that there are so many well-written and interesting experiences and stories buried in the comments. When I read them I always think that these devils advocate comments, real-life experiences and alternate opinions, or responses to them, would make really great posts, and definitely provide a different POV. I know many of you do, but I wish all the moneybloggers would engage with the commenters on their “front page” more so it appears in my RSS reader.

26 Kevin 10.04.07 at 7:54 am

These are extremely valid points. Everyone’s situation is different, and everyone has a different attitude toward money. I sure as hell wished I made $70K a year. It is more like $25K a year.

My attitude toward money is that I like to collect it. Some people collect baseball cards, music, or DVDs. I collect stocks, bonds, and cash. If you want money to buy all the fancy things in life, I will pass not judgement on to you. But if you expect me to pay for your tax breaks because you have children and they need an education, but you spent all your money on that vacation to Maui, then go cry somewhere else. Don’t take what I worked hard for at the barrel of a gun.

My response to the idea that if you don’ succeed you are lazy or whatever, is that there are no guarantees to success in life. The spot where you start has no bearing of where you will end. Statistically someone born of wealth is more likely to be wealthy, just as a child who has a parent in prison is more likely to land in prison.

I make my salary from teaching, and what you see while you teach is not lazy people but people who are either destitute in the knowledge of their own abilities or do not know how to do things that could possibly lead to success. I hear a lot of “I can’t do this.” To me that means “I won’t learn this.”

So what I am trying to say is that while success isn’t a guarantee from all the knowledge you may learn in life, at least you tried. My definition of happiness is having no regrets on my death bed. Knowing I have done all that I can do and learned all that I had the power to learn is good enough.

I posted about this on my blog at http://profaningthesacred.blogspot.com/

27 Chris 10.04.07 at 8:50 am

Thanks for the post. It made me think about the hardships I have had to deal with. There will always be naysayers.

28 Sistah Ant 10.04.07 at 8:54 am

I think there are lots of people blogging that are not affluent, you just have to blog-hop until you find them. I can’t relate to the means of many bloggers. I’m in way more debt than many of the bloggers I’ve found to read when I first started reading, and actually, I started to feel bad about it and wish there were more people at about my same level of debt, so that I wouldn’t feel alone.

That is a major part of why I blog: so that I don’t have to do this alone. I understand the commenter’s desire to have COMPARABLE people whose blogs she can read. In fact, I put a net worth progress bar on my blog, so that when people visit for the first time, high-debt readers can see how much I still have to improve and not feel alone. I talk about my shortcomings, struggles and victories, and I like reading about others’ problems and solutions, too. It especially helps when they’re near my age, or near my income, or near my same depth of the debt basement.

But I still read other blogs where the blogger makes way more, or is debt-free, because I can learn from their journey about what’s ahead of me in my journey. I like the more personal blogs, instead of the more instructional ones. I find that the ones I like generally seem less popular than the ones where people give advice or condense articles and books without focusing on what they’re going through - maybe most other people just want gurus instead of peers.

29 lulu 10.04.07 at 9:22 am

Tell the person who left the original comment to read my blog. I do not earn anything even close to the national average.In fact I was unemployed for a long time because I am a foreigner here. I have been turned down for many jobs just because they do not do visas for foreigners to work in the US (even though I was qualified for the position). I ended up having to go back to school just so that I could stay here.
The commentor needs to see some of what I am going through since I am not what he/she thinks of the PF Blogging world.

30 The Decision Strategist 10.04.07 at 9:54 am

I don’t know, I guess I don’t know the financial status of the pf bloggers I follow. Most of them seem to be concerned with getting out of debt, which is something that people of all levels of income seem to share these days.

I honestly haven’t picked up on what she it talking about. The only thing I’ve really noticed is that sometimes they do make unrealistic suggestions, like telling someone who can’t afford bills that they should save up an emergency fund.

31 paidtwice 10.04.07 at 10:26 am

@ Itch - I work from home using my internet connection so I can’t cut it or I’d be in some serious trouble. I can’t do my work from the library :)

I can deduct it as a business expense though… lol.

As for the cable… right now it is free (we got a signup deal when signing up for phone/internet/cable together that was cheaper than any two alone) but when that expires next April, I’ve told spouse we’re dumping the cable. Spouse told me he’d rather be in debt than cut his cable.

life is about the art of compromise :)

32 devil 10.04.07 at 10:59 am

I’ve read blogs written by people who are on the verge of having the lights turned off, no food, etc. They just weren’t PF blogs. And the reason I didn’t feel sorry for the broke blogger? Because they refused to cancel their cable/internet even when they couldn’t afford medicine for their baby (!!!). Anyone who can afford a blog isn’t THAT poor.

Plenty of PF bloggers have financial challenges. The best ones don’t whine about them, though, they work to fix them.

33 plonkee 10.04.07 at 11:42 am

Its true that most pf bloggers that I read are in relatively fortunate positions. The most successful seem to earn good salaries (augmented no doubt by the their blog incomes) and so they are capable of getting out of debt relatively quickly and then build a high net worth. Most seem to be married, which could be seen as a success of another thought.

I guess that if you are suffering from a true setback in life, its probably consuming your time too much for you to blog about personal finance (you might be writing about the problem itself - that probably being more important to you).

It is difficult to be truly empathic to people in difficult situations, because you cannot help but look at things from the perspective of your own level of education, background and character. Things are much harder when you have to live them from the inside.

34 Tyler 10.04.07 at 12:32 pm

Excellent comment and I see much of it the same way. As a matter of fact my wife and I were considering starting a practical pf blog because not many bloggers address difficult situations such as ours. We are living in southern California with one of us attending school, two kids, and low paying work available to us forcing us to live well below what we would like and also making it almost impossible for us to save. Unfortunately most pf blogs I read could never begin to comprehend or address the problems posed to us on a daily basis or give us more unconventional ideas to tighten finances even more.

We’ll see if we ever get the blog off of the ground ;)

35 Jon 10.04.07 at 1:01 pm

Well there are approximately 3 types of PF bloggers: A) those in debt and not getting out, B) those in debt and making progress, and C) those not in debt and increasing their net worth.

There is a 4th possibility of a blogger who already has a high net worth but is constantly getting poorer. That would be rather interesting to read, but may require a degree of prescience on the part of the blogger for the blog even to exist to document the process and some real guts to continue after having analyzed the issue.

Anyway, of the three predominant types, A is just depressing (entries might be “Still have no job. Broke my other leg.”) and doesn’t offer the reader much except gruesome entertainment. B is inspiring and often contains first-hand tips on how they are doing it. There are many popular blogs in this category, like The Simple Dollar. C is hit or miss, often boring but may contain some good tips for advanced wealth building (investing, credit card arbitrage, etc).

So it’s no surprise to me that the most popular blogs are about people who are making good progress or have already succeeded in paying off their debts.

As for the comment about personal responsibility being overemphasized in PF blogs… well that’s ignoring the very real possibility that personal responsibility is an important characteristic of successful people (in terms of net worth)! That’s not to say that people can’t be in bad situations that aren’t their fault (like health problems) but then I’ve never heard a blogger say “Gee, you need to get over your cancer and get a job!” so it’s rather a strawman argument.

36 English Major 10.04.07 at 2:01 pm

As for the comment about personal responsibility being overemphasized in PF blogs… well that’s ignoring the very real possibility that personal responsibility is an important characteristic of successful people (in terms of net worth)! That’s not to say that people can’t be in bad situations that aren’t their fault (like health problems) but then I’ve never heard a blogger say “Gee, you need to get over your cancer and get a job!” so it’s rather a strawman argument.

I assume this is directed toward me, but it radically misinterprets my remark.

Aside from the fact that I never posited a scenario like the one you describe (quite the opposite, in fact), we are not taking a sample of people across the net worth spectrum and determining that the ones who are doing better are more invested in the idea of personal responsibility. We’re working with a self-selected group here–people who choose to write about their finances on the internet–and so there’s no way to draw a correlation between success in general and the doctrine of personal responsibility. We can, however, draw a connection between personal finance bloggers with high net worth and the doctrine of personal responsibility.

I would argue that such a connection is easily explained: it satisfies us. People who are concerned enough with managing their personal finances to write, or even read, about it on the internet want to believe that our control is perfect, that if we make all the right moves, we’ll win the game. We don’t like to think of ourselves as at the mercy of unpredictable circumstances. Furthermore, we have a hard time realizing how many advantages we’ve had, because of how normal they can seem to us (I, for example, never realized I came from a family that was quite well-off until I made the switch to a public high school).

This is not to say that people with high net worth haven’t made a lot of smart financial moves. They have. But can lower net worth always be attributed to defects of character and motivation? I don’t think so, and I think many PF bloggers, in our eagerness to believe in a predictable and thus manipulable system, often forget this.

37 golbguru 10.04.07 at 8:02 pm

m: There is no need for an apology on your part (if at all, I should be apologizing for making a post out of your comment - and adding a seemingly sensational title), we are just here to discuss the thoughts behind your comment and there is no reason for people to judge you (or others) based on the way you have reasoned your argument.

I didn’t mean any harm or judgment on my part, and hence I let the comment be as it is without biasing it either ways. If you want me to remove the comment text in the post above, let me know and I will respect your decision.

As for the title, it’s just a call for discussion - not a judgment call. :) I am sorry if it sounded too sensational and didn’t really represent the exact thoughts in your comments (although, I though it did when I made this “post”).

38 Robert 10.04.07 at 8:34 pm

Maybe it is just me, but I still find the comment a bit, well, whining in tone. Sure some people are dealt a bad hand, but as someone famous has said, it is how you recover from that that makes you grow.

There are devastating things that can happen, such as medical issues, but everyone _can_ recover if they truly want to. While I have not had such a blow to me personally, I have gone from having very, very little and making very, very little to being rather comfortable. Do I have a great rainy day savings? Not yet. Do I make a lot of money? Maybe more than average, but it wasn’t always the case and I went from bad to worse, financially, before I got better.

In other words, quit whining and make it happen. Most PF bloggers are sharing their experiences to help others financially and motivationally.

It certainly won’t happen overnight, but it can happen. And stop pointing fingers at those who are sharing and, in a sense, calling them frauds, misleading or whatever.

39 Steve Austin 10.04.07 at 9:13 pm

“Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.”
-79

40 xshanex 10.04.07 at 10:27 pm

“Sure some people are dealt a bad hand, but as someone famous has said, it is how you recover from that that makes you grow.”

Exactly. Some people have horrible things out of their control like illnesses which wreck them financially but I have a hard time finding a lot of other examples where something out of the realm of the person’s control affect the situation like the original commentator asserts. I would love some other examples of obstacles that are out of the control of the person which makes climbing out of debt nearly impossible.

I’m much more interested in people’s stories about how they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and changed the situation they were in through their self-involvement via short and long term planning, frugal living, economic choices, education, career choices, and sound financial decisions. Why would I read about people who can’t improve their situation and blame external when I can learn from people who have changed it for the better and are a success. Life isn’t that hard and any situation is recoverable with very few exceptions which relate around medical issues. Nothing is impossible in this country and other than medical issues the only thing in the way of people is themselves

BTW I agree in that I would think a pf blog by someone who has a terminally ill, disabled or spouse/family member or themselves have a disability would be a welcome addition and would add some more depth to the pf blog community or someone

41 The Financial Blogger 10.05.07 at 3:03 am

Whoa! That’s a lot of comments, but I still want to bring my point of view. If you want to know how to drive a car, would you really ask your brother who had five accident in the past year on top of having tickets after tickets for all kind of reasons? Or you will ask your other brother who’s driver instructor?

My point is, how can you get valid financial advices from a PF blogger that is about to declare bankruptcy? Most of the times, people with financial difficulties don’t blog about finance because it is definitely not part of their core of interests.

Anyway, If you don’t like a PF blogger, just stop reading him :-D (and start read mine, lol!). Seriously, there are so many PF bloggers out there, I’m sure everybody can find what they are looking for.

42 askprofit 10.05.07 at 5:39 am

I can understand the points made here and hear the bloggers frustrations. I think that everyone out there can have financial setbacks at some point in their life. Why not try and take something away from each individual situation?

43 Itch 10.05.07 at 7:22 am

@ Paidtwice
Compromise. beautiful word ain’t it. And my wife is same way about her haircuts/straightening. No matter how tight money ever becomes, its a worth while expenditure. ;)

If your spouse isn’t a sports fan, check out netflicks. I know alot of tv series are on there. Some of favs aren’t (mythbusters for instance) otherwise that’s what we would do.

44 Blog Reader 10.05.07 at 2:01 pm

There are many bloggers who are not rich and do blog about their struggles.

For example, http://englishmajormoney.blogspot.com/

45 Velvet Jones 10.05.07 at 4:19 pm

Sometimes people aren’t looking for advice, but support from people in the same boat, with the same objectives. So to to borrow the analogy of a previous commenter, it seems more like the OP is studying for the driver’s test and looking for others who are studying as well trying to reach the same goal together. Yes, there is value from the driving instructor, however like a study group, there’s value and growth and building a community of people in the same situation working and learning together for similar goal. It depends on what you want to learn.

Also, I agree with the OP that there is a ridiculous amount of self-righteousness with a number of well-to-do PF bloggers. I find the “if you’re in debt, it’s because your stupid and you want to be there so poverty your fault” arrogance difficult to choke down, so I avoid those blogs. Pretty simple.

46 singlema 10.05.07 at 7:26 pm

@ mapgirl - you have an email in your inbox regarding your comment above.

@ the original commenter - I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and you have no reason to apologize. I, nor should any other PF blogger, take offense to what you said because it is just that - your OPINION. Furthermore, your original comment had a few valid points, but I hate to say it, many were assumptions about individuals you don’t know personally.

And here’s what I find interesting about your original comment, follow up comment(s), and the follow up post on your blog. You are looking for PF blogs with certain criterion that appeal to YOU and you tend to write about specific PF topics that apply to YOU. Have you ever considered that other PF bloggers do the exact same thing?

We write about our own PERSONAL experiences and what we know. Any other way would be foolish. If I tried to write about the financial hardships of someone who has suffered from cancer, I’d fail miserably because I’ve never experienced it myself nor has anyone close to me. I realize this is a blessing, but I’ve experienced my own kind of ‘hardships’ that YOU may not even consider hardships at all. But again, it’s all about perception and your own PERSONAL experiences. I’ve overcome many obstacles of my own and I often write about my past, but I will NOT apologize OR downplay my success because of it.

Lastly, I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think any PF bloggers are so fortunate that they think their shyt don’t stink. We all know a medical emergency (or ANY emergency for that matter) can throw our financial lives into a whirlwind. That’s part of life and we’re all human so we roll with the punches. But the least we can do is “try” to plan for the small part we can control by way of an EMERGENCY FUND. This is touted by almost every PF blog I read so I find this part of your comment “Such people seem to refuse to accept that many things in life are not in our control and that sometimes no matter how much, how hard, and how “smart” you work and try, things are not going to go as you want or need” - uh, a little odd - for lack of a better word.

I think you should enlighten us and show us the other side of PF blogging that you think is missing. It appears that other readers share your sentiment so your PF blog should be a breath of fresh air to many.

At any rate, your comment was interesting and thought provoking. I wish you luck in finding the types of PF blogs you seek!

47 mapgirl 10.05.07 at 7:59 pm

“A lot of us are struggling with doing this saving thing, regardless of our income class. Exceptions are made all the time. Just take SingleMa and her daughter’s homecoming dress budget. No one is perfect, but I agree there’s a lot of self-righteous around. Heh. And I do name names.”

Oh. I have to rephrase. I meant that Single Ma is a recent example of a PF Blogger who isn’t a perfect budgeter and that I do agree that there’s a lot of self-righteous around in the PF blogosphere.

The naming names is a reference to a well-publicized set of posts on my blog regarding such a situation. I suppose I am not one to shy away from controversy either. But that’s neither here nor there at this point. I am only here now to clarify.

48 Fabulously Broke 10.06.07 at 8:15 am

I think I definitely fall into that small category of being privileged and lucky to be in the situation I’m in now.

I don’t deny that I do earn a lot of cash for my age and am in an easier position to clear so much debt, but if you just read a single post here and there about the situation I am in NOW, does not ever really reflect what I had to go through before I started blogging: like working a full-time jobs along with my bf (now husband) working 2 full-time jobs as well as my going to school FT… I don’t blog about that stuff because it’s not the position I’m in now.

I also don’t blog about my dad getting cancer and us kids having to foot the bill for it, because it’s over and a different part of my life.

Maybe I should…. I see where the commenter is coming from, but like everyone has pointed out - a) stop reading the blogs you hate, or b) find a blog that speaks to you and connects to you and your situation.

Honestly, I just blog to keep myself on track because I’m proud of what I’ve done and am doing right now (even if some people miscontrue that as arrogance).

49 Millionaire Mommy Next Door 10.06.07 at 9:04 am

Contrary to some of the previous comments, I’m under the impression that the vast majority of PF blogs are written by people blogging their way out of debt. I’ve found only a handful of blogs written by debt-free and high net worth individuals.

I was concerned about sharing my financial life online. My friends didn’t know I was wealthy and I wanted to keep it that way. Why? Because I worried that it would alter our relationship.

I think we all have a rather unique relationship with money. For instance, my dad is one of many that tends to equate money with greed and selfishness. Despite his extraordinary intelligence, top-notch graduate level education and workaholic nature, he purposely avoided making a decent living. I grew up on food stamps, free school lunches and handmade clothes. He recently inherited a couple million dollars and now I see him giving it all away. To my dad, money means selfishness. To my mom, money meant fear. Me? Money means choices.

As a PF blogger, my intention is to share my somewhat unique financial story. I went from minimum wage (20’s) to millionaire (age 40). I certainly hope that readers don’t think I’m self-righteous and inflexible simply because I’m now “rich”.

I’ve found that my life becomes what I focus most on. Early in my adult life, my focus was on making money without a college education (I couldn’t afford tuition). I was already accustomed to living frugally, so I managed to avoid a heavy debt load. In my 30’s, my focus became growing my money through investing. Now, in my early 40’s, my focus is financial freedom and giving back to others less fortunate.

Via personal experience, I am painfully aware that most people are one medical emergency away from financial ruin. I cared for my mom for two plus years recently. I watched her life transition from a healthy, independent, self-employed life to one with cancer, bankruptcy and dependency. My takeaway? Prepare for the worst AND enjoy your life today.

Each blogger appears to have a distinctly different personal relationship with money. That’s what I feel makes reading a wide variety so interesting!

50 Millionaire Mommy Next Door 10.06.07 at 9:35 am

Another thought…

Find mentors that are successful in doing what YOU want to do: If you want to get out of debt, learn from those that have; be frugal, learn from the frugal; start a business, learn from entrepreneurs; get rich, learn from the rich.

Alternatively, perhaps you want to commiserate about your financial woes with people that are experiencing the same issues.

There is such a wealth (pun intended) of knowledge and experience shared by PF bloggers. Take what applies to your own needs and desires.

51 Mrs. Micah 10.07.07 at 4:35 pm

To expand on what you wrote, Millionaire Mommy, I think that finding those who may still be in debt but are making significant progress is good as well. I’m very inspired by bloggers like JD who’s about to pay off his debt as well as those who still have a long way to go but have paid off significant portions.

I’m one of the one’s who’s still new to this and I like to see those all over the spectrum. Those who are almost entirely out make me so excited and hopeful. Those who have gotten free are inspirational. And then I identify with those who are working hard to pay it off but haven’t finished yet. :-)

52 Tired 10.07.07 at 10:08 pm

Okay, you want a PF blog about real people making real mistakes and learning about finance? Here’s mine: http://www.tiredintucson.blogspot.com.

Yes, I have a degree. Yes, I have cable internet. But I’ve been unemployed, had to move and leave good jobs, racked up $50K in student loans, had two kids, been sick and had a lot of issues to deal with. I haven’t had a debilitating illness, but I have struggled with depression and chronic fatigue. I haven’t really talked about that on my blog, but that didn’t seem to be the point to me.

I think PF bloggers focus on financial responsibility because it seems like people just don’t take responsibility anymore. I come from a blue collar family and I know how hard it is to make ends meet. I’ve lived that life of not having enough money for food or the rent. But still, at some point I have to assert myself or wallow in self pity. Because I do doesn’t mean that I discount the difficulties of the poor; it means that I, for myself, have had to take charge and try to DO something.

This year our net worth went down, not up. We lost money on our house, a lot of things broke, and stuff just didn’t go well. I’m still a PF blogger, and I’ve been honest about what happened and what mistakes we did and didn’t make. I thought that was the point, after all.

So we are a four-person family living on $56,000 a year ($47,000/year up until two months ago). I don’t consider us wealthy by any means, and I hope I’m not self-righteous. But I am a PF blogger, and I have to say I don’t believe your generalization fits me.

Whether the blog of a lower-middle-class family without a lot of assets is an interesting read — I can’t answer that. I do it for myself, because I like it, and because it helps.

53 Jenn @ Frugal Upstate 10.13.07 at 10:23 am

Wow, amazing comment string!

I just wanted to point out to the original commentor M that she may be interested in looking for blogs such as mine that fall in the subsection of Personal Finance Blogs-Frugality blogs. Most blogs that characterize themselves as frugal tend to concentrate on the actual WAYS to save money and live well on lower incomes, rather than the investing etc. It seems like that may satisfy some of your reading needs a little better. There is an entire Frugal Blogroll as well. . . you can either google it or I have a link in my sidebar.

54 SquirrelInTheWorldTryingToGetANut 05.26.08 at 12:55 pm

When it comes to what blogs I read, or focus on, its not so much what the blogger is going through but his or her mindset and the steps they take to make a change for the better. To me, I like reading about someone thats in debt (a little or alot) or maybe has paid all of it off…but either way they haven’t lost focus and continue to hustle, scrape, scratch, and claw their way to more and more savings.

55 The Art of Saving Money 07.30.12 at 7:53 pm

I have a blog ( http://www.DealProdigy.com ) and try to keep topics as light as possible and not judge other’s situations.

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What a shame that the author wanted that article to be removed. I got even more curious to read it after you said that… Is it profitable to blog about finance? …maybe it should be my next career.

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