They’re written by experts in wealth management and investing, writers who’ve clawed their way of debt and every-day people sharing their best money-saving tips and strategies. They cover a wide variety of topics from budgeting to credit, retirement savings to getting out of debt.
And if they weren’t already popular enough, there’s nothing like a financial crisis to draw more attention to personal finance blogs (or PF blogs for short). Bloggers put a human face on the facts and figures, and the medium — part journal, part magazine — allows writers to offer personal anecdotes and opinions in addition to useful information and instruction.
There are tens of thousands of PF blogs on the internet, so where’s a good place to start? We’ve picked out a few favourites to point you in the right direction:
Canadian Capitalist. Tired of reading advice geared to U.S. readers? This blog tackles investments, taxes, policy changes and a variety of related topics, all written from a Canadian perspective (and written for Canadians). Canadian Capitalist has caught the attention of many Canadian media outlets, and was even featured on BNN. Watch for “This and That” posts that point to interesting stories in the news, new research and other articles you may want to check out.
Canadian Financial DIY. This Canadian investor has been managing his own investments for more than a decade, and blogging about it for more than two years. If investing and number crunching are your thing, this blog is also worth a look. Another bonus: this blogger is over the age of 50, adding a fresh perspective to a blogosphere that is often dominated by Generation X.
Canadian Personal Finance Blog. The title says it all: “Personal finances and consumer concerns, essays, stories, and how-to articles written with a Canadian perspective.” Big Cajun Man (as the writer is known on the site) is a baby boomer with four kids, so he’s not afraid to talk about how family life affects the finances. If you like a personal style and sense of humour, he’s worth a read.
Gailvazoxlade.com Gail Vaz-Oxlade, host of TV’s Til Debt Do Us Part, brings the same energy and no-nonsense style to the web. Her blog focuses on our relationships to money — like what we expect from it, how emotion plays into it and how to re-think our approach to it. She’s not reluctant to tell people to “smarten up” and take responsibility for their finances, and she tackle some tough subjects like what happens when your partner dies.
Get Rich Slowly*. You won’t find complicated financial advice or get-rich-quick schemes here — blogger J.D. Roth’s philosophy is that almost anyone can build wealth over time. Not only does Roth tackle subjects like tackling debt, cutting costs and investing, he also looks at our relationship to money as well. His style is approachable and invites interaction from his readers — as evident in the numerous comments and discussion in the GRS Forums. The wide variety of guest bloggers and new staff writers bring additional expertise to the mix.
Million Dollar Journey. This blogger’s personal goal: build a net worth of $1 million by age 35. However, the blog isn’t really about FrugalTrader’s journey (though he does provide regular updates) — his goal is to educate people about investing and personal finance. Don’t let his age or goal turn you away: the topics apply to a broad audience. Contributing writer and volunteer financial coach Kathryn offers opinions and advice too.
The Simple Dollar*. Writer Trent Hamm isn’t shy about his past — a childhood in poverty and early adulthood in overspending and debt. If you’re a new reader, it’s worth dipping into his archives to see how he turned his finances around. Now, this family man tackles all facets of finances from an “everyman” point of view. (After all, his blog’s motto is “financial talk for the rest of us”). Other bonus features include regular reviews of personal finance books, a blog version of a book club and his reader mailbag every Monday.
Squawkfox . Living well on a budget is the forte of blogger Kerry K. Taylor, a writer and organic farmer hailing from British Columbia. Her playful, down-to-earth style earned her blog third place on Globe and Mail’s list of Top Money Blogs. Food is a hot topic, and Taylor often features recipes that are both budget-friendly and healthy. Readers can also download her e-book, The Insider’s Guide to Frugal Fun and Fitness on her website, or check out her recently-published book, 397 Ways to Save Money.
Wealthy Boomer. Many bloggers build and maintain their own websites, but that doesn’t mean you should give mainstream media a pass. The Financial Post‘s Jonathan Chevreau writes specifically for Canadian boomers, but many of the issues (like retirement planning) affect younger and older audiences too. It’s a great place to keep tabs on the business world, and to learn about new books, products and policy changes.
WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com. It’s a question many people are asking these days, and this former Canadian financial planner Preet Banerjee is here to offer some insight. Whether you want to have more control over your finances or you’re already financially savvy, this blog runs the gamut from budgeting to investments. (The Globe and Mail readers voted his blog in at #5 in the Top Money Blogs).
(*Note: These blogs are U.S.-based but have international readers and contributors. Much of the advice is universal or can be adapted.)
Naturally, this list is just a fraction of the PF blogs on the internet, but they’re a good entry point to the financial blogosphere. The blogging community is a supportive one, so it’s easy to find connections to other bloggers you might want to follow. Watch for “daily links” or “carnivals” that link to other blogs and websites that may be of interest to you. Also, look for the “blogroll” — usually in the right hand column — for a list of the writer’s favourite blogs and websites.
You can also test out ranking websites, like PF blog Wisebread’s list of 100 Most Popular Personal Finance Blogs which ranks blogs based on a variety of tools. But a word of caution: Popularity isn’t everything. Many Canadian blogs won’t top the charts because the audience is smaller (after all, the U.S. has a much larger population).
If you’d like to test drive a few blogs, try an aggregating site like PFBlogs.org, which streams the latest entries from it’s member blogs.
Tips for new readers
If you’re new to the world of PF blogs, here are some tips to get you started:
Look for quality content. An engaging style and relevant topics are only half the battle. Like all information on the internet credibility is key. Many professionals are clear about their credentials, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to people without a bunch of letters after their name. (After all, sharing personal experiences and learning is part of the charm of blogs). Just check to make sure writers are using credible information from reputable sources — like research from well-known organizations — to back up their facts and figures.
Stay current. Due to the timeliness of some financial advice, be sure to check the date on the blog entry to evaluate whether it’s still relevant.
Browse the archives. Some advice may go out of date, but a lot of the content is still relevant and the advice is still good. You won’t see it unless you look for it as bloggers seldom repeat topics unless there is new information to offer. In addition, you can see how some bloggers got their start and how they got out of debt.
Interact. Sometimes the most compelling part of a blog entry is the discussion (and yes, you can subscribe to that too). Readers (many of whom are experts themselves) are eager to share their ideas and offer a contrasting point of view. More blogs are also incorporating user forums where people can discuss ideas at length. In addition, you can follow bloggers on Twitter, or join their pages on Facebook as well. Many writers use these networking sites to ask and answer question from their readers.
Many bloggers also offer contests or giveaways — all you have to do is comment or “tweet”.
Aggregate. Many bloggers offer email newsletters and RSS Feeds to keep you up to date with the latest posts. If you want to get the information immediately (or don’t want to clutter your inbox), opt for RSS rather than the newsletter.
Be prepared to do some sifting. Personal finance content is just that — personal . There are always going to be entries and advice that don’t apply to your situation, so try a blog out for a week or two to see how useful the content is to you.
Go beyond borders. You probably noticed that not all of the blogs listed above are specifically for Canadians. Depending on what you’re looking for, much of the money-saving advice is universal, and the investment advice is somewhat transferable. Sure, different countries have different tax policies and financial vehicles (401Ks instead of RRSPs), but much of the advice translates. Many American blogs have readers from Canada and other countries around the world — and they bring something new to the discussion.
Take it with a grain of salt. Bloggers thrive on their relationship with their readers, so they generally don’t try to annoy them or mislead them. However, most will also warn you that what they post should not be construed as professional financial advice, and you should still talk to an expert. Instead, consider blogs as you would a conversation with a good friend. Trust, but verify.
Overall, there is a lot to learn from personal finance blogs. The personal angles and opinions make them a welcome addition to any financial reading roster.
What PF blogs do you read? Share your favourites in the comments.
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