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Do you read blogs by people who are in debt?

Sometime ago now, Nelson at Financial Uproar published a post asking why aren’t personal finance bloggers wealthier . Whilst I don’t always agree with him, in fact I rarely do, I have a soft spot for Nelson: with his strong opinions, brash confidence and crude humour he makes me think and keeps me entertained. So, I read this post, thought it rather interesting and moved on. Well, Nelson didn’t really answer his question but then so many bloggers do the same.

My mind kept drifting towards this post because of two claims:

1)      that ‘personal finance is not that complicated’ and it boils down to ‘spend less than you make’; and

2)      that Nelson doesn’t read blogs by people ‘drowning in debt’ because ‘we are naturally drawn to the people we consider our peers’.

Three questions kept churning in my mind: ‘is personal finance really that uncomplicated’ and ‘do I read blogs by people in debt’ and ‘why’.

Is personal finance that uncomplicated?

Yep! At a very basic, technical level it is very straight forward: spend less than you earn. Similarly, at the most basic level keeping trim and fit is equally easy: eat less and move more. Most people find both of these very difficult to crack most of the time. Of course, we can assume that most people are very silly most of the time so they can’t fathom and obey such simple maxims. I believe that there is more to it than that.

Personal finance and personal fitness are two cases where what needs to be done is uncomplicated; how to do it is where things get a bit more tricky. When we get to ‘how’ personal finance stops being about technicalities and becomes a question of motivation, ingenuity, learning and growth, choices and decisions, and daring to be different.

I am always amused when, to post a comment, some blogs ask whether I am human. Yes, I am and this humanity makes the way in which I manage my life and my finances a notch more complicated than ‘spend less than you earn’.

Do I read blogs by people in debt and why?

One way in which Nelson’s post was haunting me is that it started this little voice in my head saying ‘let’s check whether this blogger has debt’. This is when I found that, in difference to Nelson, I read blogs by people who are in debt; particularly ones written by people who are racing towards paying it all off. Of course, the interesting blogs tell a story; they inform, entertain and tease. Simple reports of debt repayment are as entertaining or interesting as the telephone directory. But then again, every train has its passengers – and I am sure that reports of repayments have their audience.

I don’t read the blogs of people in debt because ‘we are attracted to our peers’. Where blog reading is concerned I am very promiscuous: I read blogs by people who have been in debt and are very wealthy, by people who have never been in debt and are wealthy, by people who are still in debt and making progress, by people who focus on investment strategies and personal growth. I don’t spend much time on blogs full of empty angst or sanctimonious and patronising drivel.  I am attracted by all kinds of attractive knowledge and writing.

My answer why I read blogs by people who have been or are still in debt is below.


There are very few people who don’t make mistakes and these are often the ones who are most vulnerable – because they either don’t try, or never learn how to cope with their mistakes. I firmly believe that whether people have made a mistake or not is not what matters in life; what matters is whether people learn and what do they do after.

This is why I read stories about people’s journey out of debt. Having debt can be the crisis people need as a catalyst for their financial awakening. I respect the fact that people have had their ‘crisis’ and instead of falling apart they have changed, learned and started to build the solid foundations of their life and fortune.

Flexibility and ingenuity

Having been in debt and having paid it back is more often than not a great lesson in flexibility and ingenuity. ‘I have always been good with money’ is a state of mind that makes one successful in relatively stable financial environments and life situations. ‘I was in debt and paid it back’ is a statement of change and survival that can be very useful in times of crisis.


Getting in consumer debt is dumb, there is no denying it. But it is a mistake not a sin. Well, thinking about it, even sins can be redeemed – by prayer, donations and, at one time, by indulgences. People have innate capacity for change and renewal; they only have to learn to tap into it more often.

Do you think personal finance is uncomplicated? Do you read blogs by people in debt and why?

26 thoughts on “Do you read blogs by people who are in debt?”

  1. If personal finance were so easy, then everyone would be wealthy and there wouldn’t be any wealth because that is relative as well. But there might end up being gradations of wealth which is what you might see if you only read your peers. But then you miss out on the majority of what is real in this world which is the fact that there is extreme poverty and extreme wealth with every combination in between including bloggers in debt.

    I read all kinds of blogs because I feel that I can learn from anyone. No one is beneath me.

    • @Cash Flow Mantra: Now this is very interesting: if everyone is wealthy there won’t be wealth. A long time ago, I was in this debate where I was explaining to people that communism (proper) is possible onlt when everyone has so much that the fact that someone has more doesn’t matter (hence Marx had to resort to technological determinism and John Lennon said ‘imagine there is no money’). And glad you agree that PF is not that simple!

  2. I like to read blogs by people who are similar to me because it reminds me that I’m not alone–that while we make sacrifices, other people make sacrifices too. I hate reading blogs of other newlywed couples who are traveling the world because it just makes me angry. It seems so unfair. SO I don’t read those.

    • @NWoaB: Knowing that you are not alone is good. It is interesting though, because I never think it unfair that someone lead a different, or better life than me. I feel jealous is a funny kind of way: the way where I think that I want to be there with people rather than instead of them.

  3. I read many PF blogs including those by people drowning in debt. I started my blog when I was in debt. You can share your story and opinions regardless of your circumstances. I think the key thing is not whether you will read someone blog based on their circumstances, but how do you frame what they say. For example, are some of the megablogs different now that the founders are no longer struggling? My suspicion is yes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have things to say regarding finances that might be relevant to their readers. Otherwise, why would anyone listen to millionaires Ramsey, Kiyosaki, Orman, etc?

    • @Roshawn: Very good point,as usual. Yes, change of circumstance is highly likely to change the nature of blogs; this shouldn’t necessarily make them less relevant or interesting. Because the experience is still there; it is just processed in a different way.

  4. First, I really DO think personal finance is uncomplicated and simple. But as you said human mind is not. As you can figure out from my blog one of my favorite topic is psychology of money. Given the exact same situation, you and I might react with exact opposite solution. That is how we are.

    For you second question, I read blogs by people who are in debt because (1) It is an inspiration to watch someone going through the difficult phase of admitting what was wrong and fixing it. I have problems with weight loss and it is no different. (2) I do have an academic interest in behavioral finance. So I read other blogs, debt/no debt blogs (most of the time the debt blogs are more personal so it really gives more insight into how people think). I also visit dating sites and have no interest in dating, but the statistics on the dating sites are fascinating to me. So I am weird that way.

    • @Suba: Can PF be separated from the human mind? This sounds like an unfair question but it isn’t: it is about onthology and definitions. On the importance of psychology I do agree; in fact I have been doing quite a bit of research on ‘mentality’ myself.

  5. Stories are powerful vehicles for communicating points, and the story of redemption through budgeting rigs a bell in the current economic turmoil.

    Plus, we all love to root for the underdog! So yes, I read debt stories, but I read more of the “what’s next” stories. I love the different answers to “What are you gonna do with that freedom?”

    • @Bax: Hi and welcome! Redemption, I believe, is a right. Socrates said that there is a sun in each and everyone of us: we just have to give it the chance to shine.

    • @Miss T: Learning is the key word, I suppose. But some behave as if being down on one’s luck is a contagious decease; so not a good idea to get close. In times like that we ought to remember our humanity.

  6. Maria, very well written. Thank you for this. I read all kinds of blogs, not just ones about personal finance. I read blogs about people in debt and I write a blog about being in debt. At first, I was writing online because it was anonymous and a way to be accountable. Now that I am part of a PF community and seeing the many different opinions held by others, I am starting to feel a little less inclined to share with everyone. To be honest, it seems like some bloggers are very judgmental and consider it to be a deep character flaw to be in debt. That’s their choice and I would never try to defend myself or tell them “No! Read my blog! I’m awesome even though I have debt!” Personally, could I have avoided debt? Yes. But I never understood financial responsibility until a short time ago. I am learning, I am wising up, I am making sacrifices I never made before. I guess if some people think I’m a loser for being in debt, there’s nothing I can do to convince them otherwise, nor do I want to. I am here to grow as a person and to clear my debt and change my habits when it comes to money.
    I also can understand that some people could be in debt even when they have been responsible and careful (unlike me) simply because of a socioeconomic situation they have been surrounded by. You can absolutely change your economic situation (especially here in the US) but it takes a level of persistence and determination that most people lack.

    I try to keep my blog a positive and entertaining read, so that it is not a “woe is me in so much debt” tireless complaint.Hope you continue to come back 😀

    • @ADP: Thanks for sharing and the rest! Yeah, I’ll keep coming to yours – I like it and like the company. I also don’t doubt that you will change this fast (as fast as possible) – and debt can get anyone down. The trick is to approach it rationally as a problem to be solved rather than emotionally as a trauma to be lived through.

      • Wow, I really like that last sentence “approach it rationally as a problem to be solved rather than emotionally as a trauma to be lived through”. Excellent point! I need to shift my thinking sometimes. This is a good way to help it.

  7. When I first started reading blogs, I almost exclusively read ones that were about getting out of debt. I am glad I have branched out to reading different kinds now. I suppose I wasn’t looking for advice on how to get out of debt or finance in general, I was looking for people who were like me striving to get out of debt.

    • @Niki: Thanks for raising a very important point; we read blogs (and novels, newspapers and magazines) not only for information but also for entertainment and the feeling that we belong to a community.

    • @Nick: I probably should submit to this one (thanks for letting me know). I think that finance is simple and the personal can be simplified. Together, however, they are neither simple nor straight-forward; and any technocratic approach can be couterproductive. In many cases, telling people how to organise their finances is like telling them to stop eating chocolate ot, for that matter, smoking. Technically simple but the craving, the ‘devil on our shoulder’ is where the failing is.

  8. Yes, I think that personal finance is uncomplicated.  I agree with you that humanly following the uncomplicated rule of spending less then what we make in real life can be quite challenging and complicated, but that in my opinion does not change the fact that personal finance is uncomplicated.  The rule as in what to do is uncomplicated, how to do it can be complicated or challenging and that is where each of us has the opportunity to conquer, be innovative, call upon our inner strength, resilience, smarts or any personal resource to stand the test and meet the challenge.  Whether our personal challenge was mild or huge, whether we failed or succeeded should not change the fact that the rule is uncomplicated.

    On the legitimacy of reading the blogs of those in debt, your words got me thinking…  I cannot shake this feeling inside that those sitting and spending time writing blogs on the subject of personal finance while they are in debt, or even in debt still, are not really totally devoted and focused on getting out of their debt.  Why?  I think because those committed to getting out of the debt prison in life know full well what a terrible prison it is to be in, and to be fully committed and occupied by the ongoing effort and work to get out of this prison I think means that there is no physical and mental time and space to sit and write a blog to the world about personal financial responsibility before one successfully got out of debt and into some promised land that offers the mental space and equally important proven personal experience to write anything meaningful to others about debt and getting out of it.  I also think that each personal journey of successfully getting out of debt is unique.  So I totally agree with you on the value of being in debt and getting out of it in contrast to not being in debt, but I personally would not be drawn to those wanting to tell me stuff about it before they completed the journey successfully.

    I had my share of being in the debt prison, and no doubt it was a challenge that I turned into an opportunity, a challenge so daunting and overwhelming that I would not have dreamed of having the mental space with integrity to sit and write to the world about my journey, not to mention having much to tell as yet.

  9. I often read blogs about those fighting to get out of debt. There is something special about a person standing up and saying “That’s it. No more”. I don’t really get much knowledge from them, but as Niki said, they are stories for us to follow and connect with.


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