Friday, September 28, 2007

Getting Defensive About Spending Habits » My Money Blog

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.

7 comments:

TKO from Ontario said...

Finally somebody said it.

Thank you Gates for having the 'balls' to speak up.

Personal Finance isn't a goal in its self, but rather a means to achieving a goal.

What's the point of making money is you can't put it to good use, or share it with loved ones.

My goal is to be debt free by the birth of my first child in January 2008. What's yours?

Happy Thanksgiving,

TKO

Gates VP said...

I'm planning to pay for half of a 10k wedding in cash at the end of next August. I also racked up some debt in my move to Edmonton over this last year, so I'll be paying that down by April (tax time).

My fiancé is shooting for laser eye surgery in May or so (her job is still variable). We're attending 3 other out-of-town weddings this year, which should clean up our list of unmarried friends, but also sucks up a lot of money as it's about $400-800 to attend each of these weddings.

After our wedding we're saving for a car in cash (in the 5k region) and a honeymoon somewhere hot in February 2009. I'm hoping that presentation on the wedding will help pay for the car/honeymoon, that way we can spend a week in Vegas during the summer of 2009.

Long-term, I'd like to be able to drop down to 3 days/week or 8 months/year by the time I hit 50. I want to spend the extra time traveling or writing a book. We'd both like to save up some money for home of our own in about 10 years or so. I know that a home can be a giant money-hole that wrecks your cash-flow, so we're still working out the details of how that's going to work.

Sophia said...

I disagree, i read the blogs to read "frugal tips". I suppose if they mentioned what they *did* buy, it would be interesting. But i don't really need them

i guess the blogs cater for people like me? If they don't attract people who can't relate because they don't see them spending money, so what?

VixenOnABudget said...

Very thought provoking.

SavingDiva said...

Great post! I guess I should be more forward about what I am saving for. I do frequently blog about what I spend my money on (usually lame stuff that no one wants to see a picture of)...

Thad said...

I don't see any particular benefit in adding (or deception in withholding) what one will actually do with the money. Whether my goal is to sit on my couch and watch TV or fund start-ups in Africa, tips and insights or frugal tips are valid in their own right.

Personally, I assume most folks are just trying to replace there work income with investment income.

Focusing on how to save money is the common ground, not that one wants to travel or another wants to buy a boat....

TKO from Ontario said...

Finally somebody said it.

Thank you Gates for having the 'balls' to speak up.

Personal Finance isn't a goal in its self, but rather a means to achieving a goal.

What's the point of making money is you can't put it to good use, or share it with loved ones.

My goal is to be debt free by the birth of my first child in January 2008. What's yours?

Happy Thanksgiving,

TKO