Jonathan at My Money Blog, just posted up a little piece about the flack that "frugal financial bloggers" have received lately.
Here's the link: Getting Defensive About Spending Habits » My Money Blog
And of course, the reply:
OK two points:
1. As an aside, the culture of people who save tons of money are benefiting from those who don't. Don't get me wrong, we could probably double the number of Jonathans in the world and still not notice. But when you buy stock or bonds, or rent real estate, you are benefiting from someone else's sweat. I'm OK with that.
2. We hit this vein when we talked about "frugal tips" and "lifestyle" a while back. At some point you have have to "do something" with the money that you're earning, and there are two sides to this.
Some people don't "get" that people do all of this saving b/c they don't have their own savings goals. But by the same measure, many people in the PF blogosphere are absolute horrible role models for showing off their savings achievements. They save all kinds of "retirement money" but then never talk about what they actually want to do in retirement.
How the heck can you be sure that you're saving enough for retirement if you haven't even defined what retirement means to you? Why are people saving all of this money when they don't have anything they want to do with the money? Most PF bloggers don't even list their interests anywhere in their Bios, it's like the only thing they do is "work and save money".
The typical PF blogger makes almost zero posts about the things they do buy, they just keep throwing out money savings tips and net worth updates, but they don't give us pics of the new rental property or the x-mas toys they bought the kids or the new car they bought in cash(!).
To the outside world, the average young PF blogger just looks like a freak. Like some money-saving hole with 100k in the bank and no dreams outside of owning a home. They post up these stupid "Net Worth IQ" plug-ins, but they don't actually have top-level links to the posts where they talk about their "dreams for the money".
Now, the two sites that are linked to? Yeah, they're probably taking some undeserved flak. But check out the "About me" pages on both of them. Not a word about what they do with their money, not a word about their financial goals, or their dreams or what they want to during retirement or where they want to be in the next 10 years.
That's horrible! That stuff should be front and center! Many bloggers actually do have them "sitting around", but that's not enough, that's not real, it need to be front and center.
David and Trent (the bloggers being linked to) are evangelists for the Frugal Lifestyle (tm), but they're not doing anything that makes me want to be like them. They've put frugality front and center as if saving money were some type of self-fulfilling cult. Check out Trent's post here. He puts like 1000 words into explaining his investment portfolio but at no point does he mention what he's actually planning to do with the money! He's just templating some "savings plan" and saying "this is good, it works", while completely ignoring the purpose of the money he's saving.
I'm sure that his aims are valiant, but "regular joes" simply can't buy into this concept. These uber-savers simply don't seem human, they don't have any desire connections (material or philosophical). They're not "saving money to buy their XBox 360" or "saving their money to help save the whales", they're just "saving money". And average people don't buy that b/c it's not really rational, you don't save money "just because", you save money "for something".
When you're writing a blog about frugal living you have to put the goals front and center. People have to see that you have something other than just numbers on a ledger. They have to see you saving money AND spending money. Otherwise you just look like some kind of freak.