I am a giant nerd. Whenever I get interested in a new subject, I immediately want to read a bunch of books about it*. I think a lot of the world’s problems could be solved if we all just read some more. But when it comes to personal finance, the blogs have it. In this department, I advocate blog learnin’ over book learnin’. Blogs are so much more dynamic, in-depth and personal about money, making it that much more interesting to the average reader (or person Googling “how the hell do I get out of credit card debt” and stumbling upon a gem like Get Rich Slowly). Blogs completely changed my views on money and I’m so happy I found the growing sphere of personal finance blogs. I enjoy every single one of these blogs, but there were a few posts that started it all and have since been bookmarked as a handy reference guide on getting out of debt. Whether you are thinking about getting out of debt, are knee-deep in the process or just want some guidance on understanding money, these are some of my favorite posts of all time!
American Debt Project’s Reference Guide on Ten Blog Posts That Will Change Your Views on Money, Debt and Life
1. 25 Traits of the Not So Well to Do: This is it. This right here was the single catalyst that started changing my views about how I spend money. I was reading Dave Ramsey, I was browsing the blogs, but it wasn’t until I found this post that it all really hit me. Practically every single trait of the “not wealthy” could be applied to me at some point in my life. I’ve referred this post more than once on my blog, and it is that good. If you can read this and not relate to it at all, you are not in debt. You do not have major money problems. But if you do relate to it, you’ll start to understand why you are always short on money, why your credit card balances never seem to go down, and maybe just a few ways to start changing those situations.
2. 75 Ways to Save Money Every Month Instead of reading one hundred terrible Yahoo! articles entitled “5 ways to reduce your expenses now” with the same tired advice, just read this list when you need some tips on saving money. You’ll find something new every time! This list has something for everyone and it works to save money because it is the little things that start to add up, and tips like #60 (Pay your credit card twice a month to cut down interest expenses) are ones that are saving me money.
3. Language of the Perpetual Poor makes you reassess your version of ‘hard times’. Are you really doing the best you can when it comes to creating savings and getting out of debt? Or do you get frustrated and impatient and need to reward yourself? I can identify with some of these as well and definitely could identify bad habits of lower income Americans. A lower income doesn’t mean you have to fall into these patterns. A lower income can teach you to live on less and when you begin to earn more, you will not immediately scale up your lifestyle to match.
4. 12 Steps to Financial Freedom in 2012 is a post that J.D. Roth updates every year for his Get Rich Slowly blog. It is plainly written and comprehensive. I started tracking every penny I spent in 2012 because of reading this. And once you read one GRS, you’ll want to read another. And then you’ll click to another article and you’ll find you just can’t get enough. Think of If You Give A Mouse a Cookie…
5. Forget About Your Debt. Just Forget It. Really. is what I refer to when I get discouraged about the seemingly endless grind of paying off debt. Every morning I wake up thinking about bills. That’s a terrible outlook. Afford Anything reminds me to be excited about how many opportunities I am creating for myself for the future. I was talking to a close friend yesterday and she also pushed me to stop worrying about debt. Keep doing everything to pay off debt, but stop thinking about it. Stop telling yourself you’re not free. You are free and you will be debt-free eventually too.
6. 107 Things That Make Good Financial Cents deserves an award for sheer quantity of ideas. I never read this list all at once, my head would explode. But it has so many good ideas and I like to go back and look at a few tips every so often to keep me going. It’s also one of the posts that is not just about debt but creating wealth. Paying off debt is just the first step on the financial journey. What are you going to do after that?
7. 10 Ways to Get Out of Debt is an article from The Street. This site should be one of your bookmarks. I refer to these 10 ways to get out of debt because it puts greater demands on you than just cutting the cable and buying generic cereal (although those are good things to do). You want to build your own business? You need to devote another 8 hours to it when you get home from work. Don’t eat out. Period. These are not easy tips, but they will work.
8. 10 Traits That Make You Filthy Rich is also from The Street. If you check out this post, you need to read all of the articles posted in the sidebar under Timeless Financial Advice.
9. Deliberate Practice and Personal Finance is from The Simple Dollar. Deliberate Practice is a great concept that Trent breaks down into three parts: 1) Focus on technique as opposed to outcome; 2) Set specific goals; and 3) Get good, prompt feedback, and use it. Deliberate practice can be applied to any part of your life you want to improve, sports and music being two examples where you can better develop your skills using these techniques.
10. 15 Ways to Stabilize So Your Dreams Can Materialize is from my all-time favorite blogger, Genius Types. Sadly, this is his most recent post and he hasn’t posted since July 2011. But his site is so full of material that it will take some time to read and process all of it. Since getting out of debt, he’s become an entreprenuer and real estate investor. But my main affinity for Genius Types is that he is interested in creative pursuits (me too!) and how to balance being an artistic type with creating a cash flow for yourself. I read this post often to figure out where I am in my process and I love this quote: “Financial stability starts with steady income and low expenses, NOT with a great investment or the next great entrepreneurial idea. It took me awhile to realize this, but it’s only when you have a strong base to stand on that you can take big risks.”
So that’s my guide. If you’re currently hoping to find your way out of a financial mess, the posts above are a great place to start. I’d love to know about the posts that totally blew your financial mind. Did I miss one of the greatest posts on money ever? Let me in on the secret man!
*I’m reading about the history of blogging right now, Say Everything. A blogger reading a book about blogging? I’m like those doctors who watch Grey’s Anatomy.