Monday, April 28, 2014
Preaching to the Choir
It's a weird irony, isn't it, that we personal finance bloggers are all preaching to the choir. That's not to say that we don't learn from one another. I do learn from you, especially from bloggers like Matt from Mom and Dad Money, Mad Fientist, Joe from Stacking Benjamins, Bryce from Save and Conquer, and, truly, from everyone on the blog roll. Your writing definitely improves my understanding of finance. Though if we're being totally honest, we should probably also admit that our readers, a lot of the time, already know the tips and tricks that we share with one another. By and large, our readers often already understand the concepts we write about because they, too, are personal finance bloggers.
But if we really are preaching to the choir, why write or read about personal finance at all? My take is that it's not really the sharing of knowledge that's the point, though it probably starts out that way. When we first start getting into the topic, we don't know much as readers. We don't know how best to pay off our debt or invest. But, over time, we learn. It's not brain surgery, after all. Track your spending, cut costs, improve income, and use the delta to pay off debt and invest. If you do those things, you become wealthy. Still, we find the topic interesting enough that we don't just want to read about these things, but to write about them, too. We decide to share our experiences and knowledge.
But after a few months of writing, we begin to see that the people writing back to us in the comments section, well, they've kind of have this stuff down already. So why do we do it? Instead of spreading knowledge, I think we write because, well, we're weirdos, and we are looking for other weirdos like us somewhere in the depths of our computer monitors. Being someone who chooses personal finance as a hobby makes me a very special kind of nerd. It means I am someone who enjoys crunching numbers and honing my skills in the last taboo subject of American society: money. The fact that I like it so much that I write about it on the regular only makes me more odd.
So, I'm a freak. But on these hidden pages of the internet, I learn that I am not alone. There are other guys and girls just like me, some who take this mild obsession even farther than I do, and they make me feel better about the whole thing. While we probably can't find a community in our neighborhood to chat about the nuances of a traditional vs. a Roth IRA, you can bet that there are a few thousand folks online who would love to have that debate. Friends and coworkers will look at us cockeyed if we bring up the subject of money in casual conversation. It's hard to know who is open to that kind of chat in real life. But on the internets, we can find our kindred spirits.
And isn't that the best thing the internet has brought us? While the world wide web may have destroyed newspapers forever and made pornography accessible in a way that our forefather dirtbags could only dream of, the internet's best contribution to society is the way it brings together people and information. No matter what kind of dork you are, you can bet that there is someone just like you, only a little weirder, just a click away. So you voluntarily build Excel spreadsheets for your monthly budget and map out CBAs for various tax strategies? You've hacked out some way to travel for free and want to share your secret? Perfect. Welcome home, nerd. We've been waiting for you.
*Photo is from the US Embassy Sweeden, at Flickr Creative Commons.