The following is a guest post.
Would you believe that a Google search for “personal finance blog” returns over 593 million results?
When I started blogging three years ago, there were not as many blogs. Fast forward to 2012, there are blogs on every possible niche.
Lately, I have noticed many bloggers that run frugal living websites also call themselves “personal finance experts”.
I wanted to share some thoughts on why most people should take advice from personal finance bloggers with a grain of salt.
One major problem I have with many personal finance bloggers is their anonymous handles.
I understand why many bloggers choose to post anonymously. They may not want their friends and family to read the personal details of their life. They may also not be able to blog as themselves in the case they get in trouble with their work.
Personally, for myself to take a blog seriously, I need to see the writer’s face and identity.
An anonymous blogger does not have to care about their reputation and credibility.
In saying that I do enjoy reading the occasional anonymous post about their friend’s spending habits or their co-workers, however, would you make an investment decision based on a cartoon avatar?
Lack of Education and Credentials
What I have found with many blogs is that many bloggers simply do not have a BS in finance, a finance background or experience in business, investing, retirement or estate planning.
They may have a communications background, marketing or human resources which is an unrelated discipline to Finance. This is not to say that the blogger is unqualified, just has a different experience.
I disclose on my blog that I have my Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree and I also obtained a finance degree. I also state that I do not offer professional or financial advice, and my blog is intended to provide general information only.
I believe that most personal finance bloggers try to convey a message of ways to save money or share their personal stories or struggles paying loans and debt.
Not a Subject Matter Expert
If you were planning to run a marathon would you listen to someone that plans to run the marathon one day or someone that has ran at least one?
It is interesting that many bloggers suggest tactics or strategies to retire or invest when they do not have enough experience or background.
I would much rather read posts from personal finance blogs that show strategies that have worked in the past. I believe this is why several of the top blogs are written by older professionals that have years of experience.
This applies to several blogging niches. For example, the most popular food bloggers have baked or cooked hundreds of recipes. Travel bloggers have visited hundreds of cities around the world.
Many personal finance blogs do not disclose how much they make or what they do for a living or level of income (lack of a disclosure statement hides any credentials).
I understand that several run their blogs as just a personal blog but many do not reveal small things like their current job or level of income.
The more information a blogger discloses the more trust they establish with their audience. Major magazines usually publish a photo of the author or have a small bio at the beginning of the publication to show the author’s background.
I have found many bloggers in their 20s starting to write about personal finance but many are unqualified.
Many bloggers that write about personal finance do not have any major experiences like a move, buying a house, getting a mortgage, life insurance, or investing in your TFSA or RRSP.
This does seem harsh to some readers but this is just my opinion.
I enjoy reading personal finance blogs but before making a major investment or financial decision you should always consult a qualified source.
Author Profile: Steven Zussino is the President of GroceryAlerts.ca and posts grocery coupons and shows ways Canadians can save money on groceries. He also runs a personal finance blog, CanadianPersonalFinance.com where he discuss his personal investment strategies.
Editor’s Note: Thanks for the guest post Steve. I do agree that people should consult true experts before making major financial decisions. Still I think perspectives from people who aren’t experts can be extremely helpful and inspiring. I’m not a financial expert, but I know I can help others by sharing my experiences as well as things that I am learning along the way.
What’s your take on advice from personal finance bloggers? Would you trust all of the advice you read on personal finance blogs?