Category Archives: Sneak Peak

Saturday Sneak-Peak: PFfirewall.com

Welcome to this weeks edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every week I explore a personal finance blog and give a brief review of the site. My major intent of the adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is PF Firewall.

Firstly, I want to congratulate Jesse. He and his wife added a new bundle of joy this past week! If you don’t click on any of the links, at least leave a comment and congratulate him on this great blessing (they had a girl). ūüôā

Jesse has been blogging since February and has been know to have lengthy, well-thought out posts. He averages about 15 posts a month so those of you who do not like to be bombarded with posts, he is your guy!

Here are some of my favorite posts from him:

Selling Oil Changes Door-to-Door?

Shopping Out of Season

The Real Reason for Lehman Brothers’ Downfall

Now off to the questions!

YMR: Why did you want to start a personal finance blog and what blogs did you read before you started?

Jesse: I started my blog for several reasons. I am actually really new to the blog scene, I hadn’t even read any blogs previous to late 08 aside from The Consumerist, which I didn’t realize was a blog.

When reading The Consumerist, I read about a girl that paid off around $14k in debt by following some Consumerist tips. This led me to think about my debt which I was completely ignoring. One of the tips was to call credit card companies and ask for rates to be lowered, and if they didn’t lower the rate, transfer the balance to another credit card. While searching for credit cards with better rates, I happened on MyMoneyBlog.com, which led me to a few other personal finance blogs including GetRichSlowly.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and BrokeAsASpoke.com and I was hooked on Personal Finance blogs. I started following blog networks and finding more and more blogs about personal finance to read.

So I decided to start a personal finance blog to track my finances. I also thought if my finances were out there in the open, I would be more accountable and wouldn’t be able to ignore my financial incompetencies.

A second reason, I have always felt like teaching is the best way to learn. By researching what I want to write about, I learn so much about finance from those out there that know more about it than I do, then I can share the information with my readers knowing it is accurate.

Yet another reason was that I am a pretty big geek, and having my own website is one of those things that I wanted to do, coded completely from scratch of course. I had started several websites from scratch but none of them really had a purpose so I would code them, put them up and never update them. I felt like this was holding me back from learning more about web development, so I thought if I started a blog that was really easy to update, using a blog engine like WordPress instead of coding from scratch, I could get the content rolling, get motivated, then be able to spend time coding and modding the blog. I am happy to say this is working. I recently released a new custom theme for my blog, I have been doing a ton of design work in photoshop such as logos, banners and icons, and I have even been hired to redesign someone elses blog.

I even started another site coded from scratch with a purpose/idea that I found while writing my blog. This new site hasn’t really gone public yet as I am still designing it but it fills my geeky void ūüėČ

YMR: Which post (on your site) has been your favorite and why?

Jesse: I think my favorite post was The Most Important Part Is Starting: Debt Recovery and the reason is I felt like the post, massive as it was, was really going to help people. The post was spurred by a friend that was having trouble getting started on the road to debt recovery. I realized there may be more people out there like her that have no clue on how to get started repaying debt so I was really happy to be able to help a friend out as well as anyone else that may read the post.

YMR: How would you describe your writing style?

Jesse: Another reason I started my blog that I left for this section is that I wanted to use my blog to start a writing portfolio. I have always loved to write and thought of doing some freelance writing but I have no public writing experience.

So my writing style reflects this desire. I write as if I am writing for a newspaper. Factual, informative and to the point. I try to hold myself to professional standards. I am known to be long winded but I want to make sure I cover all the facts and leave nothing out that may be important. On that same note I try and make the information more understandable as if I am talking to my readers versus writing to them.

YMR: Tell us something about yourself that some may not know.

Jesse: I am much geekier than I let on in my blog. I am a Linux user..I worked on the Geek Squad when I was younger..and even my TV is running on Linux. I even switched keyboard layouts to be more efficient when typing. I use the Dvorak instead of QWERTY layout and now type a few dozen words per minute faster than I used to. It took about a year to fully switch.

I am much geekier than I let on in my blog. I am a Linux user..I worked on the Geek Squad when I was younger..and even my TV is running on Linux. I even switched keyboard layouts to be more efficient when typing. I use the Dvorak instead of QWERTY layout and now type a few dozen words per minute faster than I used to. It took about a year to fully switch.

YMR: Tell me a little bit more about this financial highway adoption you got going on.

Jesse: Well, I started my blog to be more financially responsible yet I spent about a hundred dollars on hosting. I knew it was necessary especially on the commitment and motivation side but I felt bad about it. Even before I started trying to get my finances in order, I had a real hard time spending money on myself for any reason. Even my play sites that I mentioned before were hosted on my home computer, making them unbearably slow. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for donations in the traditional way because I felt like a hypocrite, telling people to save money yet asking them to give me money. So I started thinking of ways I could reduce the cost of my blog without asking for a hand out.

My adoption system does just that. When someone adopts my blog, they pay a small piece of my costs, roughly the cost of hosting per year divided on a weekly basis, and in return get recognition from my readers for doing so. They get a banner in every post of their week and a banner on a dedicated page, forever.

I also want my readers to feel like they are a part of the little community my blog creates. Through the people that have adopted so far I have made some great contacts and friends, and gotten to know some of the bloggers that read my blog much better.

Thanks Jesse! Have a great weekend everyone! I am heading off to PA so limited posting this weekend.

Saturday Sneak-Peak: MoneyBeagle.com

Welcome to this weeks edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every week I explore a personal finance blog and give a brief review of the site. My major intent of the adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is MoneyBeagle.

MoneyBeagle has been blogging since last August and has had plenty of great articles. Here are a few of my favorites:

When is a Kid’s Birthday Party Too Much?

The Drive Home: Part I – Introduction

The Drive Home: Part II – Does the A in USA Still Stand for Auto?

I’m a Little Bit Less of a Fan of Amazon

I asked MoneyBeagle some questions to help you get to know him. Here they are!

YMR: What do you like most about blogging?

MoneyBeagle: I love the idea that I might make a difference in someone’s personal finance world.¬† Whether it be passing along a tip on savings, or sharing some lessons learned from a project designed to save money, I always take satisfaction in knowing that I helped someone (or may help a future reader).¬† I also love reading through other blogs and seeing the different approaches that each of us take to some of the fundamental things, such as saving for retirement or paying down debt.

YMR: Which post was your favorite to write?

MoneyBeagle: There are two that I’ve enjoyed (hope that’s not cheating).¬† I enjoy passing along savings tips or experiences when I’ve been able to save money on things that I was going to buy anyways.¬† The second was when I hosted a carnival for the first (and so far only) time. I hosted the Money Hacks 47 Carnival back in January.¬† It was a great experience because it made me appreciate how much work people put into the carnivals, and it also illustrated how much great content there is out there that I haven’t had a chance to read yet.¬† I’m still finding new blogs to read all the time!

YMR: What keeps you continuing to write?

MoneyBeagle: I continue to write for a variety of reasons.  First, I enjoy sharing my experiences and goals.  Sharing those goals and my progress towards them is motivation to achieve them, and it also lets others provide input and advice to do things that I might otherwise not think of.  Second, I love the interaction with readers and other bloggers.   I enjoy passing along my experiences and learning from those out there whose blogs I read or who comment on mine.  Finally, I am always looking to improve my communication skills, and blogging is a great way to do that.

YMR: How would you describe your writing style?

MoneyBeagle: I try to keep things informal and simple, and to write as though I would be talking to someone or to a group of people.  I always try to add a personal touch or connection in my blogs, but I know I have some tweaking to do to get this to where I want it.  One thing that I have been trying to actively work on, though I know I need more work, is my sentence length.  My wildly long sentences have been a problem since high school.  I can still remember my 9th grade English teacher trying to break me of this by having me attempt to diagram particularly long sentences in my writing assignments.

Many thanks to MoneyBeagle for letting me interview him! Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday Sneak-Peak: MoneyTLD.com

Welcome to this weeks edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every week I explore a personal finance blog and give a brief review of the site. My major intent of the adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is MoneyTLD.com. Mike has contributed to the discussion on the site a few times and I greatly appreciate that.

Mike has some great tips on his site and I suggest you head over there and check them out. Here are some of my favorites:

Five Tips for a Successful Phone Interview

When Should a House Guest Start Paying Rent?

When is Mega Millions Worth Playing?

I asked Mike some questions to help you get to know him. Here they are!

YMR: What have you enjoyed most about blogging?

Mike: I most enjoy the ability to learn more. Although I consider myself knowledgeable in the area of personal finance, blogging forces me to think about that knowledge in a more structured manner. I have to organize my thoughts to make them coherent for other people, so I learn by teaching. If I don’t have the details right, then I do research to make sure I do have them right. I try hard not to fudge my knowledge. Plus, my readers shouldn’t hesitate to call me out on something if it looks like I did. Without that give and take, I’d just be in an ivory tower and would lack the capacity to improve.

YMR: What post did you enjoy writing the most?

Mike: While I didn’t necessarily write it, I really enjoyed hosting the Money Hacks Carnival on March 25. Compiling it was ridiculously time-consuming, but hosting that carnival really enabled me to see what else was out there. And even for the blogs already in my feed reader, I got to re-examine the posts that those bloggers thought were worth submitting. I find that much of my reading online is simply skimming, so this gave me a better chance to really delve into and think about the material.

YMR: How would you describe your writing style?

Mike: Conversational. In my head at least, I write the way I talk. As a result, I probably use too many cliches and could certainly write more tersely, but I hope that my writing thus feels familiar and readable.

YMR: What did you learn since January (about blogging) that you did not know before?

Mike: Hmm, that’s actually a pretty tough question. I’ve been blogging for several years at various sites, so the process isn’t new to me. However, if there’s one thing I’ve relearned, it’s that keeping up the pace is really difficult with blogging, especially when starting a new blog. At the beginning, you have no readers, no advertising income, and no real motivation to write aside from the idea of creating a kick-ass blog. Without a big marketing budget or celebrity status, gaining a readership is a very slow, organic process. While getting into blogging is super-easy, continuing to blog is very difficult. The many out-of-date blogs littering the internet attest to this fact.

I want to thank Mike for letting me interview him. It was a pleasure! Please head over to his site and poke around. I am positive that you will find something that you will enjoy!

Do you have a new blog (less than 6 months old)? Would you like to be featured in a Saturday Sneak-Peak? Contact me and I will set you up!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday Sneak-Peak: PimpYourFinances.com

Welcome to this weeks edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every week I explore a personal finance blog and give a brief review of the site. My major intent of the adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is PimpYourFinances.com. David has commented on the site a few times and I greatly appreciate his input. This blog would be nothing without you readers!

David is a twenty-something college grad who is just trying to get his financial house in order. He is tired of his debt and wants to rapidly decrease it while increasing his savings. David has a very unique writing style and I think that is what has given him a lot of success over the past few months (he has only been blogging since October of 2008). Here are a few of my favorite posts:

Are Savers Dooming the Economy? NO!!

What Would Bilbo Do? 14 Money Lessons from “The Hobbit” (Featured on MSN SmartMoney)

12 Easy Ways to Sabotage Your Financial Life In College

The Escalator Not Taken

I also asked David a few questions to help you get to know him. Here they are:

YMR: What inspired you to start a PF blog?

David: When I started making money at a real job, I had no idea what to do with it. So I started look around PF sites, and was disappointed that there wasn’t more stuff aimed at young people.

I started thinking that if I was desperate for information, there were probably a lot of people in a similar position.

YMR: You have had some pretty rapid success getting your name out there over the past few months. How do you explain that?

David: Thanks! It’s very flattering to think that my name is getting out and others consider me a success!

I think there are a few reasons.

First, I just try to be myself. I don’t try to write that same articles that other people are writing. I write articles that I’d want to read, especially if no one else is writing about them. That also means that I try to keep a very strong sense of humor and sarcasm.

It also means that I’m brutally honest about myself. I’ll admit the mistakes I’m making. I’ll tell people exactly how much debt I have, and the things I know I should be doing, but I’m not. I think people can relate with that, and hopefully use it to avoid¬†similar mistakes. I’ll never pretend that I’m doing everything right.

Another big reason for what I’ve accomplished is¬†that I teamed up with someone else when I started the site. I handle all the writing, and¬†he does all the technical stuff. It’s allowed me to focus on writing and content – things I enjoy (and that take up most of my free time). It’s allowed him to focus on coding, layout, presentation, etc… stuff he enjoys, and is very good at.

By focusing on our strengths, we’ve done a lot more than we could have done by ourselves.

I’ve also tried to build strong relationships with other bloggers. I link heavily to the sites I like to read, especially ones that are similarly sized to mine. I need to be better about commenting on other sites though.

And one thing I definitely can’t leave out is Tip’d. It’s a social media site for personal finance. They’ve embraced bloggers, so it’s given me a way to publicize my site that didn’t exist a few months ago.

YMR: Which article has been your favorite so far?

David: The most fun I’ve had is with a post on What Would Bilbo Do? 14 Money Lessons from “The Hobbit”.

The reason I enjoyed it so much is that it came naturally. I love J.R.R. Tolkien, and have read the Hobbit / Lord of the Rings trilogy constantly.  At least 10-15 times each by now.

One day, I saw some financial undertones, and started taking notes. It came together by itself. I even ended up with 14 lessons Рthe same number that Gandalf intended Рwithout trying. So it was fun and easy to put together. Plus I got to embrace my inner nerd.

And more than anything I’ve written, it struck a chord with the masses.¬† Get Rich Slowly linked to it.¬† Then MSN money did, and so did Mental Floss Magazine.¬† It was huge!

It was never a marketing ploy. I just wrote about something I was passionate about, and others picked up on it. It was a very cool feeling.

YMR: Do you think we will ever have too many PF Blogs?

David: Never!¬†I think we all compliment each other. It’s great to having multiple opinions, and multiple points of view.

Even if we run out of unique ideas, you can always learn from the experiences of others.

Also, no one knows The right answers. We can all share our thoughts, but no one has it exactly right. By reading a variety of opinions, hopefully we’re all getting closer to the Truth.

It’s like good¬†music or food. You can never have too many options. Each has their own audience, and even if¬†they’re not normally¬†your thing, there are some times when it hits the spot perfectly.

That’s it! I wanted to thank David again for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview. Head over to his site today and poke around! You will find many great things there, trust me.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday Sneak-Peak: StretchyDollar.com

Welcome to the first edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every Saturday, I will be exploring a personal finance blog and giving a brief review. My major intent of this new adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is StretchyDollar.com. Jeff has been a frequent commenter on YMR and I greatly appreciate it.

Jeff is a twenty-something blogger who started StretchyDollar as an outlet for his ideas and as a place to interact with other people in similar situations. Although Jeff has only been blogging for three months, there are plenty of great articles over there to check out. Here are a few of my favorites:

10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s

Get (Real) Rewards for Searching the Internet

I also asked Jeff a few questions to help you get to know him. Here they are:

What have you liked most about blogging so far?

I enjoy blogging for two main reasons:

1. Meeting and networking with awesome people who have interests similar to you who can teach you a lot. It’s fun to connect with people and share a part of you with them.
2. To learn through ‘teaching’. I enjoy researching and learning something, and then trying to present it in an interesting and understandable way.

What have you disliked most about blogging so far?

It’s not a dislike, per say, but the hardest thing for me so far has been coming up with a great idea for a post and then seeing it executed better somewhere else. I’ve had a couple ideas that I thought would be cool, and then I see someone else do a great job writing about that topic and I feel like I shouldn’t do it because I wouldn’t do it justice, or they would just think I was copying them. It’s difficult sometimes to come up with ideas that I think people would be interested in actually reading.

What has been your worst financial decision so far and how did you learn from it?

Due to a landlord problem, my wife and I were backed into a corner and due to a lack of time had to rent an apartment we couldn’t really afford. We made it work for a couple of months off of gifts from our reception (it was right after we got married) and extra money that my wife had, but in the end we had to move. It wrecked us financially, and we were on the ropes for a bit, using credit card advances just to get by. It took us months to really fully recover from it, and we missed out on some great financial opportunities because the money wasn’t there. It was really the thing that got me interested in learning about personal finance. The main concept that I learned from that experience was to plan ahead and do my research, and to live well within my means. Just because I think I can afford something doesn’t mean I really can.

Which of your posts did you have the most fun writing?

That’s a tough question – I’ve enjoyed writing each post for different reasons. I’d have to say the most fun was maybe one of the first I posted on StretchyDollar.com – ‘The Value of a Vision.’ It talks about having an overall plan/dream about what you want your finances to be, and then working towards it. Most people really don’t want to be financially strong, because they aren’t willing to put in the hard work and make the sacrifices to make it happen. If you can decide, have a goal, and works towards it, anything is possible.

I want to send out a big thanks to Jeff for letting me interview him. Head over there today and be sure to check out his posts and comment on ones that connect with you.

Do you know of a blog that you would like to see on Saturday Sneak-Peak? Head over to my contact page and submit the name/URL of the blog. You can submit your own blog if you like.