My Personal Personal Finance Blogging Philosophies
Next month will mark two years since I first started this site. During my time running a personal finance blog, there’s no doubt that I’ve learned a lot about personal finance and blogging. Now, as I reflect on the past two years, I’ve also been thinking a lot about my philosophies on both of those components.
Admittedly, personal finance is a topic I kind of stumbled into. While I always enjoyed writing, I wasn’t always so good with money. Thankfully, I learned from the errors of my youth and, once I got married, my interest in changing my financial ways grew even stronger. Somehow, two of my passions managed to meet and, today, there are few things I enjoy more than talking (and writing) about money.
Now that I’ve set the table, today I wanted to dive into some of the different philosophies I have regarding writing about personal finance and why I think each is so important.
My Personal Finance Writing Philosophy
Speak from experience, not judgment
Personal finance blogging can be a bit tricky sometimes. While writers want to share knowledge and help people master their money, there are times when well-intentioned advice can come off as condescending, unrealistic, or even antagonistic. It’s a fine line to walk, which is why I strive to share my experience as much as possible and preface it by explaining that the tips I’m citing are merely what worked for me. This isn’t to say that I feel the need to hedge every assertion I make or not share my honest opinion, but I do think it’s important to keep others in mind and try not to cast unfair judgment.
Present pros and cons when possible
Something I do a lot of for my column on Dyer News and, to a lesser extent, on this site is review different products and services. More often than not, I have pretty nice things to say about the subject I’m reviewing, but there are times when I’m not as impressed. It’s actually these times that present a more interesting challenge to me.
As Anton Ego — the food critic voiced by Peter O’Toole in Pixar’s Ratatouille — once explained, negative criticism is fun to write and to read. Because of this it’s easy to turn lukewarm feelings into a dunking contest when it’s time to put your thoughts into a post. Despite the occasional case where a harsh review may actually be in the best interest of the audience, the times when a more nuanced approached is more appropriate are surely more numerous.
Something I strive to do whether in reviews or while exploring various topics is to try to present pros and cons. Even if I’m writing about something I don’t believe to be a good option, there may still be legitimate reasons one might choose this path over “better” ones. Similarly, I think it’s important to acknowledge certain elements that might be dealbreakers for someone else even if they’re not a big deal to me. Again, for me, it comes down to sharing my experience while keeping in mind that it’s not the only experience out there.
Offer further reading and resources where applicable
In case it wasn’t already clear, there are many topics on which I am not an expert. This means that there are times where I need to do some research before I’m able to write about certain subjects that interest me. Instead of trying to pass off this newly-gained knowledge as something I’ve always known, I’m always happy to cite my sources or link to other resources I think are worth my readers’ time. To me, this is not only ethical journalism (not that I consider what I do “journalism” otherwise) but is also a great way to serve my audience. Of course it also allows me to share what I’m learning and bring people with me on my journey without having to know everything ahead of time.
Over the past two years of running this blog, I’ve developed a few philosophies that have helped inform my writing. As I’ve said before (and as cliché as it may be) chief among these beliefs is that personal finance is personal. Because of this, I strive to not only insert myself and my point of view in my work but to also remember that what works for me might not work for everyone else. Hopefully I’m succeeding in my goal to present my thoughts on money in a way that’s helpful, engaging, and motivating — and I look forward to doing so for many more years.