reading a personal finance blog post for dummies
Welcome to reading a personal finance blog post for dummies!
You may have just discovered the wonderful world of personal finance blogs, or may well be a seasoned veteran, but I am hoping the advice in this article will be helpful across the spectrum.
Reading a personal finance blog post might seem like a simple task to perform but judging from some of the rookie mistakes I see out there that people are making repeatedly, over and over again, I thought it was time to step in, help out, and make the world a better place.
Of course, many of the principals I talk about here hold not just for personal finance blogs but for blogs in general, but in particular those kind of blogs who like to dish out advice and/or are written by strongly opinionated authors.
Here are 5 basic rules to get you started on the road to mastering how to read a personal finance blog post without making any faux pas or causing yourself any unnecessary grief.
1. don’t take it all so seriously
It’s just a bunch of words on a screen you happen to be currently reading. Come on! There are more important things in your life right now. If you read something you didn’t particularly like or find offensive just press the little x in the top right corner (red dot in the top left hand corner if you are a Mac user) and move on with your day.
Blog post says: “If you buy a brand new car every 5 years, congratulations! You have successfully booked your spot as the village idiot”
Reader comments: “ERRRR Pot Kettle Black!?! It is NOT idiotic to buy a new car every 5 years and in fact I upgrade to the latest model every 3 just to be on the safe side, and I haven’t had any major repair bills for 7 years so who’s laughing now bloggy mcblogface?”
This is called a joke, which as well as being hilarious, are sometimes used to make a very serious point. There is no need to get outraged by this, no one is really calling anyone the village idiot, it’s not real!
If however, you are someone who is currently buying a new car every 5 years then rather get all angry and up in the blog post authors comment section grill about it, wouldn’t it perhaps be a better idea to do some introspection on why they might think this is such a bad idea and whether you do really need the new shiny thing so often. You can even question your own spending without insulting yourself if you prefer to go it the humourless route.
2. don’t take it so personally!
Following on from above, a blog post is a load of words on the internet, written by someone you don’t even know! (Well there is a very, very small chance you know them. If you read something on your Mum’s blog and she’s been slagging you off, I guess it’s time to start taking that personally).
Blog post says: “People who wear a shit ton of bling are surely just doing this to show off and are overly materialistic. Maybe they would be better off trying to deal with their self esteem issues and getting respect via other means”
Reader comments: “Hey you don’t know me girlfriend! Don’t make judgements when you ain’t ever even met me, you ******* ****bag who ****s their **** every ******** big donkey **** ****!”
My advice here would: Chill your beans dear reader!
The author is not, repeat NOT judging you or any other reader in particular. You got one thing right in that they don’t know you so you cannot take anything they write personally. When you look at it logically, that would be rather silly now wouldn’t it? If you read anything and it seems like they are talking to you personally, even if it seems insulting, please remember that they did not write that with you in mind and so you can keep calm and carry on.
Finally, in a recent groundbreaking social study it was found that a persons likability was inversely correlated to the amount of donkey related insults they wrote on the internet. Something to bear in mind perhaps.
3. take on board what you want, forget the rest
I often find people throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to personal finance blog posts. Try not to fall into this trap!
You can have a really well written blog post with loads of great advice but people can focus on the one tiny thing that they disagree with and then decide the author is a total moron and ignore anything else she has to say. What a waste!!!
Here’s a much better idea: skip over the bits you didn’t like but try to take at least one thing you can use from any given blog post.
If you can’t find anything then I often find you can slightly modify any ideas you find to fit your own situation much better. If you can do this it means you really “got” what was going on underneath (i.e. from first principles) the post’s main bullet point advice, which is great. I would try to teach you that here, but that is probably the subject of another “for dummies” book in it’s own right. Hey whaddaya know* 1.
4. keep an open mind
Just because you disagree with someone or you read something that challenges your current world view doesn’t make them an idiot or what you read incorrect. If you come at everything you read (nay, everything in life in general) with an open mind and with the humility that you could be wrong about any given subject this will give you the greatest chance of growing as a human being, and you know, actually learning something along the way. What’s not to like here?!
5. constructive criticism is usually welcome
If you do want to leave a comment, you don’t just have to write “Great post”, “I agree”, “OMG I was just thinking this exact same thing you are amazing” and such. You are more than welcome to disagree but make sure you do it in a reasonable tone and you are bringing something constructive to the conversation.
Some more helpful examples of what not to do:
“What a load of codswallop. You couldn’t string a coherent argument together if it was made of string, which it’s not, so you can’t, but you wouldn’t be able to even if it was. Hah!” – This is just plain disagreeing and is not helpful to anyone.
“Why should I listen to you when your website looks so shit anyway!? Jackass!” – Ad hominem attacks are equally not welcome in most comments sections.
It is harder to give an example of a good comment but usually they are more than one paragraph and present an argument for or against what the blog post says (or any additional related subject) in a rational and polite manner 2
What are your top tips on reading blog posts for the rest of the dummies out there who haven’t quite got this whole thing yet? 🙂
- This page contains affiliate link(s)to amazon,each one is brought to your attention with the ‘*’ denotation. What is an affiliate link you ask?! OK well it’s fairly basic… If you click through and then subsequently buy anything (not just the originally linked product) on amazon I may receive a small fee, which will help to support theFIREstarter blog. The key thing is that it will not cost you anything extra to use these links, although don’t go clicking on them willy nilly just because it may help me! If you think you will find the product/service useful and do click through, then a sincere “thank you” for your support. ↩
- Actually if you really want some good examples just look at most of the comments on this fair blog. I’ve managed to avoid most of the internet whacko’s so far it seems, thanks to TFS readers for being so damn normal and more importantly polite, even when you disagree with what I’ve written! *GROUP HUG!* ↩