Why I Stopped Reading Personal Finance Blogs

About 4-5 years ago, I discovered the world of personal finance blogs, or PF blogs.  I loved how they put a personal spin on the rather impersonal world of finance.  I stopped reading traditional finance websites and spent hours reading blogs like The Simple Dollar, Boston Gal’s Open Wallet, Get Rich Slowly, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Fabulously Broke, and Blogging Away Debt.  Many of these sites had not yet “monetized” and were more personal than they are now (some may be gone, I’m not sure..).   I read and participated in some money “carnivals” which are basically a compilation of finance-related posts. You have to submit to the host blogger and get selected for inclusion.  Reading and commenting on these blogs were a daily part of my weekday life.  Then about 2 years ago, I decided to stop reading most PF blogs.  I still read Money Saving Mom and a handful of 20-something PF bloggers but not on a daily basis.

Why? Was I such a financial guru that I had no need for the words, wisdom or support of pf-bloggers? Yes and no.  I was getting more than enough information from traditional money websites and magazines.  I had set up my saving accounts and investments (index, no-load, watch those fees) and could consider myself an intermediate investor.  However, I could certainly still learn new things.  For example, to this day, I still have little knowledge of ETFs, bonds or college savings accounts.

OR Did I make so much money that I no longer needed to look for ways to save and earn more?  Definitely not!  As I mentioned, I still read Money Saving Mom and occasionally other money-saving blogs.  However, the frequency and participation is nearly zero.

OR Did I lose interest in the topic, period?  That’s not quite true either.  While I don’t like reading about pf blogs daily, I am still very interested in reading/learning about money, more so than most people I know.

So why did I stop reading?  Here’s the longish answer.  I once read about a study that reported wealthier people are often more selfish and less empathetic than those with lesser means.  While I am certainly not wealthy, I realized that reading all those finance blogs made me think of money ALL THE TIME.  With money on my mind, I worried more about finances.  Was I saving enough? Did I get the absolute best deal on those batteries and toilet paper? Even worse, I felt somewhat superior to those who were/are less concerned with money.  Since I thought about finance daily, I could not understand why many of my friends, co-workers and family members made “wrong” choices in regards to spending and saving.   Looking back, not all their choices were wrong, per se.  They were simply making choices based more on emotions than financial security.  In short, I lost my compassion and empathy.

It wasn’t actually easy to stop reading.  First, I reduced my list of favorites to a handful of blogs.  I also stopped trying to discover new pf-blogs.  However, I still read finance carnivals during the work week, and this habit kept me in the same money-focused mindset.  I realized that I had to go cold turkey.   I deleted all pf-blogs from my favorites list and did not read any for weeks.  It was relatively easy to stop reading but the hardest part was not finding out about sales and drugstore deals.   Luckily the arrival of kids cut my free time and I am now happy if I get a good-enough deal on household staples and groceries.

As they say, eventually your new routine becomes your new habit.  While I still occasionally visit a few finance blogs, I no longer read any of my old favorites on a regular basis.  A few weeks ago, I stopped by “The Simple Dollar” and “Get Rich Slowly”.  I skimmed a few posts and quickly moved on.  I don’t have a new focus, or rather my new interests are all over the map.  I like reading blogs by intelligent women on career/work and family.  I read some design/lifestyle and cooking blogs.  I get my money “fix” from finance websites or magazines.  If I do come across a pf-blog, I may look up a specific topic but I no longer browse numerous personal finance stories.

Nowadays, I’m mostly satisfied with my financial knowledge and choices.  I’m happier when I don’t think about money so often, even if I probably still think about it more than the average person!

Do you read personal finance blogs? If so, how often?

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12 responses to “Why I Stopped Reading Personal Finance Blogs

  1. If you have indexes, you don’t need to know about ETFs. 🙂

    We’re mainly only a pf blog on Mondays, so hopefully you’ll still stop by (even though we occasionally complain about people complaining about money on other days… sometimes we just don’t want to hear about emotion-based decisions that lead to more complaining later for the nth time… n-1 was ok though).

    I think about money almost every day for work. I have stopped doing regular pf blog reading though, including GRS… I’m just so busy. I do check oilandgarlic every day though!

    • N&M: Good to know re: ETFs. I’m all about low fees nowadays so I wasn’t sure if I’m missing out on something.

      You’re one of the ways I get my occasional pf-info.
      I check your blog daily, too!

  2. I stopped reading all the big ones a long time ago. mostly because the content wasn’t teaching me anything, and they weren’t very PERSONAL anymore. I still read a handful, mostly 20-somethings that I’ve been reading forever. but my blogging interest have expanded, partially thanks to some of your links, as well as nicoleandmaggie above. I really love readinng the blogs of highly educated feminist women, with or without kids.

    • SP- You’re so right. Many of those blogs stopped being personal long ago, and that was what set them apart from websites and magazines in the first place. Glad you’re finding new blogs to read, too!

  3. Interesting rumination. And I have to agree with you. At the outset, I also fell in love with the several of the big, original PF blogs, especially Get Rich Slowly. That was why I started my site — I knew I could write at least as well as Trent Hamm and wondered if I could do something along the lines of The Simple Dollar…only with my stamp on it.

    But I find it difficult to read them regularly anymore. The charm of GRS was JD’s unique voice; now that he’s farmed out the content to subcontractors, it’s just another PF blog.

    There are only so many ways you can say “get a job, get out of debt, stay out of debt, live frugally, and salt a sum into savings every month.” After you’ve read those messages a jillion times, they lose their luster.

    For that reason I’ve tended to write less and less about “finance” and more and more about “personal.” Probably FaM has become too personal…most of the time now, I’m writing about my own experiences or about the foibles of humanity. Just can’t bring myself to keep revisiting all those cliches.

    Some of the younger writers are pretty lively and I do like to seek out their sites. Also, sites that have a unique spin, like Blue-Collar Workman, can be pretty entertaining.

    • Funny – I used to read you, too. I actually do still drop by your site from time to time…. I like the personal aspects!

  4. I had a brief time of reading finance blogs when I had zero income and had big dreams of money getting made by my hard work and drive. But after reading them for awhile, I realized that all their advice going to solve my specific situation. I am not cut out for rags to riches. Sometimes they’re informative, but more often, I was just watching other people make money while I did not, haha.

  5. Pingback: Bits & Pieces #95

  6. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve ferociously tracked spending and obsessed about investments. I think that even these habits aren’t healthy if they just lead you to worry more about money than you should and not live in the moment.

    One can probably always make a case for depriving yourself today so that you can maximize retirement income, for instance. But lately, as I’ve encountered some health issues and also dealt with dear friends dying of invasive cancer or being struck down suddenly in mid-life I’ve been reminded of the importance of living for the day. If that means traveling, or spending money to do things you dream about, or to have life enriching educational or spiritual experiences, they should not be put off. Sure, mindless consumerism and all the toys in the world won’t make you happy, but sometimes money can buy you experiences which bring you happiness.

    Sometimes in the zeal to save money we can also waste time. Time is not a renewable resource. I think I was happiest when I was a poor college student, with the ability to master my own schedule. Now, I have more means, but am always on the clock. I long not for more money, but more time.

    And sometimes — in the zeal to maximize income or save money — we also don’t make time for our physical and emotional health. If you’re going to prepare for the future, make sure you’re around to enjoy it.

    I have been guilty of all of the above pitfalls, so don’t mean to sound preachy. I’m just reforming my ways.

    • Very well said. I just started reading some blogs written by people older than I am and there is definitely a fine line between balancing wants that make you happy and healthy while still having “enough” money to live on in your old age.

      One thing that is working for me is finding fun, frugal substitutes…like visiting a small acquarium if we don’t have it in the budget for the bigger expensive one, or buying a “good enough” purse/clothing item that makes me happy but not broke!

  7. I love this. It’s an excellent point, though I’ve been wrapped up in worry about money for longer than PF blogs. But when you read more of them, you definitely are acutely aware of what you’re *not* doing. The guilt — and just the time spent thinking about it — can be a huge drain on your life and mental well-being.

    Thanks for commenting on my and my mom’s posts.

  8. Too much of a great thing really can take away a lot of the pleasure. Too many people do not know the first thing about personal finance. How large of a difficulty is that for the rest of us?

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