The world of personal finance in the internet



This week’s post comes early as we are I am having a long holiday.

I have read much about personal finance online that I automatically group them into the different school of thoughts and say to myself – you don’t need the next financial advice. So here what I learned about us.

I may sound bias towards certain group but that’s because I want to make things interesting and sassy. I rate the group based on the “success” measure – that’s the published wealth figure. Deep down, I am neutral towards all group. They are all real people, making the best of their finances in the way they want it to be.

The Freedom Group 

What’s it about: The people that talk about freedom chart, freedom number, freedom day, retirement time. Once a while, you will find complex derivation equation and variables substitution like the 4% withdrawal rule. They are usually the most successful group in terms of wealth.

There are no requirements to join this group but most of them have these criteria in common:
  • A relatively good job (USD$70-100,000 & above per annum)
  • Save at least 30%
  • Have invested for a minimum of 5 years
  • And of course, they don’t spend excessively.
I also notice they have strong faith in the government – they invest max in 401K or Roth IRA.

If you are earning minimum wages or live in third world country, we know it takes a lifetime of employment and three times the effort to catch up with any of them. Still, that doesn’t discount the fact that they desire, aim and they get to COUNT THEIR WEALTH IN MILLIONS. This is definitely the 5-stars winner.

The Handy Tools Group

What’s it about: The group that advertises and shares about the best tools, plans, and web hosting programs they are in. These posts are action packed. From homeless to five figures a month, now go sign up the special link I have for you. My observation shows that 95% of these post is affiliated or handsomely paid. Although most financial people are truthful about the product features, it’s also a fact that any financial programs can be the new favorite tool of the blogger if the agency is willing to pay somewhere from the range of USD250-500. Affiliation programs, on the other hand, earns between 5-50% of the sales.

I give them 4 stars because this group earns sexy amount from affiliation. And that’s what personal finance all about at the end of the day.

The Budgeting Group

What’s it about:  Zero sum budgeting, the perfect budget, the complete budget. This is the real group. They are mostly conquerors of past personal financial issues – mainly student loan or consumer debt and have emerged as a winner. It’s a group that talks about spending habit revolution so that they live under their budget. Good planning and faithful execution. They gain followers as they post weekly, monthly, yearly reviews. Budgeting brings you towards freedom, sooner or later. If you like to teach your kids about money, this is where you start.

I think this group deserves 4 stars too because it is nothing fancy but down to earth real and practical.

The Challenge Group

What’s it about: Daily no spend challenge, weekly coffee challenge, no purchase month, quarter saving rate, yearly saving ratio. These usually work for paying off debts. Most of them are new, wanting to start reducing debt. Or they saw how successful others have done preaching about such challenge. It’s also a rather creative thing to write because you can always twist, spin, expand this topic into gazillion other post and never, never run out of post ideas. Save up to $1,000 with no haircut challenge - I just made this up.

3 stars for being extremely effective at the beginning, particularly for the first $1,000. Success keeps the motivation going.

The Bye-Bye Clutter Group

What’s it about: Clear your clutter, a thing is once money, don’t’ buy things. They have decided that not spending money means good. The message boils down to household items depreciate faster than a car. If household items appreciate in price, I am sure many would turn around and hoard stuff. And I can’t really appreciate the idea that all my things should be kept as money because these currently useless things once bring value to my life in other measures.

2 stars because what is life without some clutter to live with. But you do get to live with more money.

The Frugal Group

What’s it about: The lower you go in life, the more you set to gain. Here is the birthplace of most brilliant saving tips. There are many levels of frugality to scream about, from ‘Wow, I never thought this saves so much money’ to ‘What!!!You never flush your toilet!?’ People do it for many reasons, I estimate about 70% of them are about the money, while other 30% do it for the greater good of the society. Earth is under population stress and we need to help everyone survive.

1+1 stars. Frugality is a great idea, sometimes it leads you to greater savings. Behind every splurge, there’s an untold frugal story. But it could only bring you this far in terms of finance and you have fewer parties to go.

The Motivation Group

What’s it about: A lot of reviews, encouraging talk group. Sharp wits, endless tales. I love to peek into others account and read all the interesting stories from them. Like, the poor young boy who gets a toilet bowl seat as his birthday present because the house needed that repair.

This is my MOST bookmarked and read group but generally 1 stars in real monetary measures. If there are one thing I learned, true motivation comes from within.

The Advisory/Investment Group

What’s it about: A lot of economic terms – love them hate them. New investment ideas, entrepreneur parties, magic dust, unicorns and all that.  The more charts, the more professional they sound. I applaud this group of people for the effort they put in, especially those who draw entry and exit point for equity trading. Great reference for people who trade shares or plan to have new side income/business.

1 stars - 5 stars depending on who’s who, what’s what. ☆-

The Unit Trust Group

Maybe not that popular with the international audience with access to ETFs but rather common in Malaysia. They talk about being smart with money, comparing peers and how much returns you get from investing in high fees unit trust. They are also commission based agent for a financial agency.

2 stars because both the agent and the reader wins.

We Are Not Created Equal

There are at least thirteen hundred active finance blogs out there. We are all unique combination of the above groups. There will be some outliers but..Nah..haven't found them.

Now, if you like to reach the financial freedom at the shortest time, progress this way.  First, be determine on your financial goals, then start by joining the Frugal Group, next move to the Advisory/Investment Group and then jump right into the Freedom Group.

Let me say that again,

Shortest path: Frugal --> Investment --> Freedom

I see myself leaning towards to motivation group for now because I am still searching for my goal in life. I hide my fine dining expenses as long as my finance is under control and then "social media share' about it. So I swing between motivation and investment. But staying in motivation will cost me more time to reach Freedom.

But We Are The Privileged Ones

I have try to make use some of the ideas above to educate a poor community – it didn’t work. Tricks like double up meat portion with vegetables; they don’t have much vegetable to begin with. Buy fewer clothes; all their clothes are donated. Negotiate a raise; they get fired. These online methods, tools, advice helps people who have skills or could access to money to manage money, which is us. For people who are poverty sick, the chance of using these methods to get out of poverty is just as good as hitting a jackpot. So it didn’t matter which group are you in, how many half stars you have - when you are here, you are among the shining stars.🌟

Take a look at my pie budgeting method if you are looking for a simple way to budget. It's just a 700 words read.

Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances, they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. (Psalms 62:9 ESV)

Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. (Psalms 62:9 NIV)

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