The problem with “personal finance”

Perhaps because of my debt or perhaps because of the promise of get-rich-quick ideas, I always find myself stumbling into personal finance blogs. It is always fleetingly inspirational to read about someone’s rags-to-riches tale and peruse the sites for clues to make me wealthy. But in the mundane reality, all that most of them did was track their finances and think about money for more than two seconds. (Which I would imagine is the average amount of time most people think about money.)

As a result, I quickly get bored of PF blogs. There are only so many ways to write about increasing your income and decreasing your spending. So when I stumbled upon this interview with Helaine Olen about how personal finance gurus are usually full of it, I felt very validated. If you’re a personal finance blogger or reader, I strongly suggest you read it. The main idea is this:

We believe the myth of Horatio Alger in this country, but Horatio Alger wrote fiction. So it becomes this whole ideology where we’re sold on this idea that we can do it and we really believe this. We take a look at the economic situation out there, and we objectively know it’s pretty bad, but we internalize it as our own fault—and, because it’s our own fault, we’re pretty sure that there’s someone out there whose got the answer.

Of course, she ends the interview by saying that the solution is to talk about it more. Which is almost as if she’s encouraging the financial gurus, in my opinion. But what I choose to take away from the article is that there are no easy answers to finance issues and even good ideas have good odds of failing. And maybe it’s best to stop worrying about it so much and focus our energies elsewhere.

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3 Responses to The problem with “personal finance”

  1. Liz(a) says:

    I prefer to not read PF blogs. They always seem to be a bit too “try-hard and die-hard for money”, most of the time them feeling too good to be true.

  2. Manda says:

    I have mixed feelings on personal finance blogs. I’ve found some great ones, although it seems as though the ones that I like best discuss personal finance regularly in addition to other topics rather than confining themselves to one topic. So many PF topics are snooze-worthy, though. Not necessarily because of the topic itself but because it’s been done so many times and there are only so many ways you can write about maxing out an IRA or something.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I used to read a couple personal finance blogs, and I actually just got bored of them. Usually, the things they say just don’t apply to me at all because I don’t have a shopping habit and don’t spend that much money, and money isn’t an issue for me right now and it probably never will be an issue.

    My favorite personal finance blogs, though, all talked about other things in addition to personal finance. To me, it’s hard to understand someone else’s personal finance unless you hear about the rest of their lives too, because without that you don’t have a good perspective on their finances.

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