On the money trail of Boston Gal

Tess Vigeland Jul 20, 2007
Mystery woman Getty Images

On the money trail of Boston Gal

Tess Vigeland Jul 20, 2007
Mystery woman Getty Images

TESS VIGELAND: She has $8,313 and change in a bank savings account. Her coin jar holds $103.99. The mortgage on her primary residence is down to $277,003.68.
You can find out every single detail of her financial situation at BostonGalsOpenWallet.com — every detail that is, except her name.

She’s 30-something, single, and part of a growing trend of anonymous online blogging about personal finances. Welcome to the show, and I guess I’ll just call you Boston Gal?

BOSTON GAL: Yes. Unfortunately, I reveal so many details about my financial history that I need to be anonymous. So I go by the anonymous name of Boston Gal.

VIGELAND: Has anyone figured out who you are yet?

BOSTON GAL: Not that I know of, and I hope not. That’s the only thing that could keep me up at night.

VIGELAND: Then why do this? Why open up your financial life to the world?

BOSTON GAL: I think I did it a little naively at first, thinking “No one will find me, no one will read this.” And then once you start posting and other people start reading, you get these comments and e-mails from people all over the country and the world, and it’s amazing how much knowledge there is out there and how helpful that can be. And I think once you start to receive help from people, you want to help others. Which is really why I started it, because I was a little frustrated. I had for years been reading things like Money Makeovers and Your Portfolio. And that was great, but how did that help somebody like me who was single, living on one salary and really confused about what I should do for myself for my finances to make sure I was taken care of.

VIGELAND: Well then, how does this help you?

BOSTON GAL: It definitely keeps me accountable. Since I started my blog about a year and seven months ago, my net worth has increased by over $100,000. Now can I say that that’s just from my blog? I don’t know, but what I do know is I’ve been much more careful about how I spend my money and how I look at my money.

VIGELAND: What prompted you to go this avenue in terms of helping yourself manage your money versus hiring a financial advisor or flipping through newspaper and magazine articles? I mean perhaps it’s a generational thing, but I think a lot of people wouldn’t automatically think “Oh, I’ll start a blog and that’ll help me manage my money.”

BOSTON GAL: Well, I think part of it was I discovered others, other blogs like mine. There was something about hearing personal stories and then being able to follow those ongoing personal stories, and then being able to voice my own ongoing kind of money story. And frankly, finances aren’t that interesting — but when you read how somebody else is doing it or trying to do it . . . at least I did, I found myself hooked. I found it very educational and inspirational.

VIGELAND: Are your family and friends aware of who you are and what you’re doing?

BOSTON GAL: Nooooooo.


BOSTON GAL: No. In fact, I believe my family would be horrified, and I’m sure there would be some kind of intervention to get me off of this. And I think that was part of the reason why I did it, was because finances were never discussed. I think since I started the blog, I’ve done things like upped to the maximum my 401k contribution. It’s not that I couldn’t afford to do it before, I chose not to do it before. I just kind of have decided I can’t keep doing that.

VIGELAND: Why do you think that money is really one of the aspects of our lives that we don’t choose to share publicly? You go to great lengths to make sure you’re anonymous, as do many other posters who blog about money. Why is that the area of our lives that we want to keep secret?

BOSTON GAL: Well I think the easy answer is a lot of people say identity theft or, you know, jealousy — they don’t want a coworker to know what they make or what you really have. And you can say “I can’t afford this,” or, you know, you can talk in general, “Oh, I don’t quite make enough to go on that vacation.” But to actually put hard numbers out there I think scares a lot of people. Because once you hear somebody else say how much they make, the implication is now you have to turn around and reciprocate. It’s like when you say “I love you” to someone, you want to hear them say “I love you back.” So . . . and maybe that’s the problem with money. People really don’t want to know.

VIGELAND: What do you think is the biggest thing you’ve learned about managing your personal finances by blogging versus anywhere else you might have learned about how to manage your money?

BOSTON GAL: I think that I can manage my own money. I feel pretty good about what I’ve been able to accomplish so far, and I feel pretty good about what I can accomplish in the future. And it’s not rocket science, you can do it — as long as you pay attention to it.

VIGELAND: All right. Well, Boston Gal, thanks for coming in and sharing your story with us.

BOSTON GAL: Thank you.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.