Personal finance is one of those topics where art meets science. While many goals are universal - creating an emergency fund, saving for retirement and eliminating debt - the strategies that people adopt can be quite creative.
Some of the best personal finance techniques come from the blogging community. Beyond tips, tricks and cookie-cutter lessons, bloggers inject personality into whatever they write, teaching lessons apart from what we'll typically find in a textbook or how-to guide. (For more on Budgeting technologies, read 6 iPhone Apps To Help You Budget Better.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Whether you're buried in student loan debt, disputing credit report errors, clipping coupons or adjusting your lifestyle, these six blogs provide creative thought leadership to help you get started:
This blog's objectives are straightforward: "to develop a community of people who are trying to make financially sound decisions" and to teach people "how to avoid scams and financial predators." Following this statement, the blog caters to people from all walks of life, young and old, who are looking for an educational resource. Adopting a comprehensive approach to personal finance, MoneyCrashers focuses on topics including banking, budgeting, taxes, credit, debt, careers, real estate, economics and public policy. Visiting this site, you can learn about everything from hidden travel fees to going to college to learning what you should do if you win the lottery.
The Credit Karma Blog
Your credit score has so many moving parts, and can be both tough and expensive to understand. Credit Karma is a free service that allows people to track their credit information. Focusing on consumer rights and financial education, the company has developed a blog to help empower people with knowledge and creativity. With topics like "How to Grocery Shop for Five on $100 a Week" and "The Nice Guy's Guide to Haggling," Credit Karma addresses everyday situations that people face.
This blog's author, a 20-something-year-old woman, became a "minimalist" back in 2006 when she gave up her apartment, packed her belongings into a suitcase and put her belongings into storage. Working as a freelance consultant, she eliminated $60,000 worth of debt in a year and a half on a salary of $65,000 per year. Beyond covering topics of debt, careers and consumerism, this blog teaches us how we can achieve balance in our busy lives, following the philosophy that "financial peace and security comes from owning less." Could you be a minimalist?
Acquired by Intuit in 2009, Mint.com is a website that provides free web-based money management solutions. On this website, users can track all of their credit cards, bank accounts, loan information and account balances from one dashboard. People can also create budgets and savings goals. On top of Mint.com's product, the blog features additional stories and resources to help people manage their money. The site covers topics including goals, savings, investing, how-tos, trends and education. The site incorporates the perspectives of writers from all walks of life. Covering topics like "The Real Cost of Attending a Football Game" and "The Three Levels of Scam," Mint.com has also developed a reputation as a resource for beautifully streamlined infographics.
More so than a blog for personal finance, Visual Economics provides a resource for macro-level trends. The authors of this blog will take information and streamline it into a consolidated and simplified visual. Using charts, graphs and illustrations, the site breaks down complicated information relating to consumers and businesses. Recent topics include "Choosing a Certificate of Deposit (CD) vs. a Savings Account" and "How Busy are Americans?"
This blog teaches us that common sense is one of the most valuable sources of advice. Living with skepticism for financial advice and intolerance for debt, Frugal Dad teaches us how to make the most out of what we have. What makes this blog interesting is the author's perspective - his financial expertise comes from his experience handling customer service for credit and bank products. It's the tough and negative experiences that taught him valuable lessons about family and personal finance.
The Bottom Line
At first glance, personal finance may seem to be a boring topic. However, bloggers teach us that there is definitely more to what initially meets the eye. Despite our goals, incomes and spending habits, successful savings strategies can emerge from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. To find inspiration in addition to education, bookmark and regularly read your favorite blogs. People just like you can help you make more out of what you already have.