Hard Choices, Through Different Financial Perspectives

Everyone has different answers to spending priorities. I thought it would be interesting to re-visit my own family’s wants and needs list through the eyes of three different financial “camps”: 1) Frugal At All Cost, 2) Early Retirement Financial Independence (FIRE), or 3) Make More Money

First, some definitions are in order:

couponFrugal At All Cost are personal finance bloggers who espouse the benefits of saving money as the means to financial security. Methods include deal-hunting, coupon clipping, DIY, and other means of saving money. Some bloggers who I consider in this camp are: Surviving and Thriving, Frugalwoods, and The Simple Dollar.

MMM_bikeEarly Retirement bloggers focus on saving as much as possible in order to retire as early/young as possible. They are willing to make bigger sacrifices and be more flexible in order to save a lot of their income toward early retirement. One of the earliest blogs for this movement was Early Retirement Extreme. That torch is being carried by Mad Fientist, Mr. Money Mustache, Retire By 40, and many more.

RichMake More Money bloggers are the ones who tend to push side-hustles, second jobs and increasing your earning potential in order to reach millionaire status. I consider I Will Teach You To Be Rich and Financial Samurai to be in this group.

I know that my definitions are over-simplifications and may contain errors since I’m new to the FIRE world. If you read most personal finance blogs long enough, you’ll realize that there’s a gray area, or wiggle room, within those core principles. As an example, FIRE-blogger Mad Fientist had a great post cautioning about Financial Independence tunnel vision. Many bloggers acknowledge that there isn’t one path to financial security.

For this exercise, however, I was hard-core about following the financial principle of choice. 


This ended up being an interesting exercise for me.  Once I prioritize my spending list, it’s hard to re-think those decisions and realize that there are other ways to prioritize needs and wants.  

This is one of a series of tips/ideas to help you stay middle-class (HTSMC).  Whether you consider yourself on the lower- or higher-end of the spectrum, you can probably find some useful tips to help you stay there and find save more for retirement even as wages stay stagnant.


Why I Re-Started Reading Personal Finance Blogs

Around 2009-10, I stopped reading finance blogs. This was a huge change for me since I had read these types of blogs from the beginning, when the idea of putting a personal spin on finance, mistakes and all, was unheard of. I 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, World of Wealth, Give Me Back My Five Bucks and Blogging Away Debt. Many of these sites had not yet “monetized” and were more personal than they are now (some are gone).

dollar-bill-eye-providenceI also read and participated in some money “carnivals” which were a compilation of finance-related posts that was “hosted” by one blogger.   Reading and commenting on these blogs were a daily part of my weekday.

I had many reasons for going cold turkey on finance bloggers. The main reason was that reading all those finance blogs daily made me think of money ALL THE TIME.  That wasn’t healthy for me or my relationships.

This year, I returned to the fold so to speak. Things have changed!

I am glad to see the Budgets Are Sexy and Punch Debt in the Face were still around and as irreverent as ever. In contrast, The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly no longer had that personal spin even though their founders still publish posts from time to time.

I was also dismay to see the lack of comments and conversation going on. I remember when many of these bloggers had hundreds of comments per post. You could often learn a lot just from reading comments. Nowadays people communicate via other mediums or find it hard to comment if they’r reading via mobile. I’m guilty of that myself!

I discovered new finance “stars” like Mr. Money Mustache. It seems that people tend to follow those who are more “in your face” and strict about their finance philosophies.

It’s also interesting to re-discover 20-something money bloggers who are now older and often with a kid or two. Some bloggers I used to read are now parents (A Gai Shan Life and Little Miss Moneybags) or thinking about parenthood (Stacking Pennies).

Of course all this reading has made me think about money a lot more and I’m not sure that’s a positive thing.  I just have to make sure that I read other blogs that touch on different aspects of life like time management, work / life balance, fashion, and cats & feminism & academia.

What is your relationship with finance blogs? How long have you been reading?