About Modest Money

At ModestMoney.com we strive to provide unbiased analysis of the best investing products and services.  These days there are countless investing products available to significantly help your investing efforts.  

Most of these products are extremely useful but they’re not all for everyone.  Some investing products are very specialized to help with very specific strategies or require certain levels of experience or knowledge.  So we want to give you the lowdown about such products and services.

If you’re looking for something to give you that extra edge, check out our reviews and comparison posts.  We’re also adding a plethora of educational investing content.  Being well informed is half the battle.

You may have noticed that our reviews are largely positive.   At this time we aren’t covering products with a poor reputation.  By the time you read this that may have changed.  As a small team our current focus is covering products we feel are genuinely useful.  In time we’ll likely review questionable products to try to determine if their poor reputation is deserved.  There’s only so much time in the day with running a website though.

Back Story of Modest Money

Modest Money was started back in 2012 by Jeremy Biberdorf.  Actually let’s drop the 3rd person since that’s me.  At the time I was facing a major life crossroads….end of a long-term relationship, sick of the 9-5 grind and Google penalizing my admittedly spammy credit card websites.

In an attempt to get my life back on track and hopefully avoid another soul crushing job I decided to give blogging a shot.  Since my previous online venture was in the finance niche that was the natural niche to jump into.  It’s been a niche I’ve been drawn to ever since I started my first website.

I figured I’d ride my long-time SEO career experience and just somehow figure out the writing side of things.  Once upon a time I was in advanced English in high school…so how hard could it be?  On a side note, RIP Christopher Dryvynsyde the greatest English teacher, no make that greatest teacher.  

It turns out this was exactly what I needed. Instead of coping with loneliness and depression on my own I found an incredibly supportive financial blogging community.  Ok I dealt with the former for a little while but came out the better for it with a major vice left behind.

In the early days of running my site I focused on a broad variety of personal finance topics.  Taking a cue from other finance bloggers I was very transparent, maybe more than I really should have been.  It was all pretty therapeutic as I was mostly focusing on financial mistakes.  Fellow bloggers were there to provide feedback or just to chat.

I don’t remember how long I kept up that grind but eventually I had to face reality and go back to an office job.  If I thought previous jobs were soul crushing, this one brought on a new low. 

Does anyone happen to know the structured settlement buying industry?  It’s essentially ambulance chasers but further down the line. They’re trying to find uneducated victims who happened upon a structured settlement whether via the lottery or some personal injury lawsuit.  These shady companies offer these victims pennies on the dollar to buy the person’s future settlement payments.  Hearing the phone reps the next room over just made me feel dirty.  I only justified it by saying if I wasn’t doing their online marketing someone else would.  In hindsight I know that line doesn’t justify any poor decisions.

So when I wasn’t working (or not being monitored) I kept trying to build up Modest Money.  It turned out it took a ton of time and effort to really compete in the finance niche.  Naively I figured since my previous spammy approach worked temporarily that I could legitimately compete with big finance companies.

As luck would have it I found my job exit not long before that employer screwed me over and got me banned from paypal.  I actually consulted a lawyer over that as it reeked of Walter White’s crowdfunding scheme from season 1 (sorry if that went over your head if you didn’t watch Breaking Bad).  Even though I did nothing wrong myself I should’ve known better.  Thank god I found another income source as I probably would’ve quit soon regardless.  I’m still bitter at them since paypal is pretty crucial for online business.

No, my new income source wasn’t Breaking Bad related.  I swear I didn’t try that approach since college.  Instead I was using Modest Money to broker advertising on other blogs.  With my SEO experience and blogger connections it was a natural fit.  I rode that hustle for about 9 years.  During that stretch I tried to build up MM on the side.  I wasn’t in full escape mode but the mindless brokering work got boring.  I think I tried 4 different approaches and tried working with multiple partners.  Nothing seemed to stick.  That evolution did shift the site to being investing focused.  By then this interested me much more than car loans and budgeting tips.

Fast forward to 2022.  I didn’t realize it at the time but I somehow set out to make a legit version of my first (very awful) affiliate website attempt (online-loans-and-mortgages.com).  Yes that domain name makes me cringe too but hey that kind of thing was somewhat acceptable back then.  Basically the plan was to do a mix of informational content and covering various investing products.  I do wish I took more advantage of the spammy days of SEO.

The new approach got the site making money but I was still hitting a brick wall.  I was just getting table scraps left behind by sites like Forbes, Business Insider, Investopedia, etc.  Coincidentally right as ad brokering was dying off my approach on MM finally gained some traction.  Funny how those transitions sometimes line up just like with my last day job (please, please last day-job ever).

Why Modest Money?

Maybe Modest Money isn’t a great name for an investing site.  Who wants to gain modest money over big money?  It goes back to the site’s personal finance roots.

Thinking back to my childhood we struggled financially for a while after my parents divorced.  Eventually my mom caught a break and our finances shifted in my teen years.  That contrasting experience gave me a different perspective of money. I wanted to be as successful as my mom but I wanted to stay modest.  I didn’t want to flaunt money and not truly appreciate things.

To this day I have the same kind of mindset.  You won’t see me worrying about expensive clothes or status symbols.  Some day I might splurge on a nice car or a bigger house in the expensive city we live in.  That stuff isn’t all that important to me though.  I’d be content just focusing on my kids’ financial future.

Back to the Modest Money name, I vaguely knew the band Modest Mouse.  I wouldn’t say it had any influence on the site name but turns out they became my favorite band as I dug into their music more.  Weird how that works out.

Modest Money Present Day

I doubt I’ll get around to updating this much as who’s even reading this far?  I guess since very few people are reading this far I can spill some secrets.

While I started out personally writing all modestmoney.com content, that changed once advertisers started buying paid posts on my site.  It’s pretty tough to turn down that easy money and exclusively publish the posts they send.  As that’s actually against almighty Google’s terms of service I stopped accepting those posts years back and deleted all of those posts.  Google do I need to say 10 Hail Mary’s and repent?

When I got more serious about Modest Money it just wasn’t feasible for me to handle all the writing.  My strength is SEO and I write incredibly slowly.  As a testament to that, it’s now past midnight as I write the one piece of MM content that will be from me.  My dirty secret is that I now use ghost writers to help with content.  Maybe I shouldn’t admit that.  That approach is a common thing though and does it make a difference if each post was attributed to a specific writer?  I carefully screen writers and have more than one person checking over their work.  With the way Google works now I’d be at a disadvantage to credit specific contract writers for the content they write.  It sucks that I need to jump through that hoop but it is what it is.

The key is that I have solid writers on board who I know will do proper research and write subjective content.  If they can’t manage that they get replaced.  Maybe down the road I’d hire expensive expert writers who Google already trusts.  Based on the comparisons I’ve done though, it’s still ultimately going to be pretty similar content.  I’m sure when people read content on big finance sites they don’t know anything about the writers.

So while contract writers grow the site I’ve got big plans.  Maybe this site won’t be the next NerdWallet but I’m pretty confident that we can keep building up a very strong resource.  Personally I’d love to maintain the flexibility to do exactly what I want with the site without needing to be working in an office and dealing with all kinds of red tape.  If that does happen I’m sure one of their first priorities will be to swap out this personal story with the typical corporate spiel proofread by lawyers. 

Maybe one day I’ll smarten up and replace this on my own.  For now though, here’s my rambling backstory to Modest Money.  If you’ve got any questions or feedback feel free to reach out here.