The world of personal finance bloggers
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Tess Vigeland: You'd think I'd get enough personal finance news working on this show, right?
Wrong! I spend an inordinate amount of time reading personal finance blogs and I've wondered "Why did this person decide to open his or her financial life up to the world?"
So we decided to get a few of my favorite bloggers together and ask 'em!
Lynnae is the founder of beingfrugal.net, Jim runs Blueprint for Financial Prosperity and Steve's blog is called bripblap.com.
So how'd you guys get started? Jim?
Jim: I got into personal finance blogging about three years ago. None of my friends were interested in the whole personal finance thing. You know, you're coming out of college and you now are making some money and none of that retirement and investing, that doesn't matter.
Vigeland: That's a long ways away, right?
Jim: Yeah, it's difficult to talk to your friends about it when they don't really care, so I thought I'd go online. I saw these other blogs and I said, "Hey, I can do this," so I started blogging about it and learning. It's been fun.
Vigeland: OK. Lynnae, how about you?
Lynnae: Well, I'm Lynnae and I started my personal finance blog beingfrugal.net about a year ago. I didn't even know personal finance blogs existed. My husband and I are trying to pay off some debt and just live a frugal life and so I started blogging and the rest is history.
Vigeland: OK. And Steve?
Steve: Well, I actually had been writing a political blog for several years and finally got frustrated with it and decided it wasn't really worth my time. At about that time, my wife and I had our first child and I got much more interested in the subject and decided to switch my blog from being about politics to being about personal finance.
Vigeland: And I have to ask you where did you get the title of your blog: brip blap?
Steve: Yeah, that's a farely common question. There's a movie starring Jack Lemmon called "How to Murder Your Wife" and in it, he apparently describes somebody who's having wild emotional mood swings as "brip blap" and my parents thought that was a funny line and I was, apparently, as a baby, very frequently changing my moods and so they called me the brip blap baby and I've continued to use that name from time to time.
Vigeland: Tell me a little bit about what you think your mission is as bloggers. Do you consider yourselves journalists? Are you financial experts? I guess what I'm asking is what qualifies you to be talking about finances
in such a way where people are actually coming to you for advice. And Jim, I'll start with you again.
Jim: That's difficult to answer. Where I see myself is just someone who's just keeping public journal online that others can read for either information or entertainment becuase a lot of things that I write revolve around the stories that happen to me. So for a while, I was writing a lot about buying a house and so I would just write about that and I think people would learn about my experiences and be enteratined and somewhat educated by it. I don't really see myself as a personal finance expert.
Lynnae: I see myself more as an encourager. I've been a stay-at-home mom. We've been a one-income family in a nation where two-income familes are the norm and I try to encourage my readers who are maybe struggling a little bit financially that you don't have to have $100,000 income to survive in this world and it's just kind of a place for people to go to get ideas on how we can save money when we need to.
Vigeland: And Steve?
Steve: Well, I would agree with that. I don't view myself as a journalist or reporter, certainly, but I do share my own experienecs and thereby inspire other people to think about their own experiences.
Vigeland: Jim, you're one of the many, many personal finance bloggers out there who on your website list things like credit card or balance transfer arbitrage and this is where you get a credit card, borrow against it, put it into a savings account and then before your zero-percent balance time is up, you put it back in and so therefore you've gained a lot of money on your savings interest rate. Do you ever have any concerns about people coming to your website and thinking that they can do this when they really shouldn't be?
Jim: I don't really get to concerned because I outline all the risks that are involved in doing these moves and even now, I would tell someone not to do it because the savings rates of all these online banks are so low that just the amount of effort that you need to put into it to get a return is way too much. I mean, it's risky from the sense that it deals with credit, but it's really an exercise in how diligent you are and how exacting you may be. If you follow up with everything, it's really not that much risk.
Vigeland: Alright. I want to ask each of you what's the best tip that you've got on your site right now? I'll start with you Lynnae.
Lynnae: The best tip would be just to live within your means. Don't go into debt for things that don't appreciate in value. I think all of us have probably at one time or another made the mistake of getting into credit card debt. It's hard to get out and so just don't make that mistake in the first place.
Vigeland: Anything you regret putting on your website?
Lynnae: Not really. My life is an open book. I've definately put mistakes, like taking out $10,000 in student loans for a degree I never finished was a bad idea, but if people learn from that, that's great. I don't regret putting it up.
Vigeland: Yeah, yeah. Jim?
Jim: It's similar to Lynnae's: just spend within your means. Save up a good emergency fund because you never know when an emergency's going to strike.
Vigeland: Alright. And Steve?
Steve: My best tip, actually, that I got a lot of feedback on was I said that after you have concentrated on cutting your spending, you should forget about that, maintain that and start concentrating a lot on earning more.
Vigeland: And anything that you've posted that you thought, "Shouldn't have done that?"
Steve: You know, I wrote actually a series of posts all around the general theme of why having a stay-at-home spouse was infinitely superior to having two working spouses. As you can imagine, I got a lot of feedback.
Vigeland: Alright, well, I want to thank all three of you for doing a lot of research and for sharing your stories. Lynnae, your website again?
Vigeland: OK. And Steve?
Steve: Mine is bripblap.com and I'll spell it: it's bripblap.com.
Vigeland: Alright. And Jim?
Jim: My website is pfblueprint.com.
Vigeland: Alright. Well thank you all for joining us.
Steve: Thanks Tess.
Lynnae: Thank you so much.
Jim: Thanks a lot, Tess. It was fun.
Vigeland: Starting this weekend, you can find another blog on our site: Mine! Look for the link to "Makin' Money," where each week I'll take you through the sausage factory that is Marketplace Money.