Monday, March 13, 2006

Bye Bye Privacy...the new blogging trend

In America it is often deemed rude to ask someone what their salary is, or how much money they have in a savings account. Most people feel downright uncomfortable telling others how much they earn. People pay financial planners the big bucks to help them out confidentially in reaching their financial goals.

Well, say goodbye to that folks. MyMoneyBlog.com is one of many on-line web logs where bloggers have been going for “an open-source approach to finance.” I found out about this new trend in blogging in the March 6, 2006 issue of BusinessWeek. The only thing kept secret on blogs like these are the user's real names. At this particular blog, bloggers “list financial information down to the dollar in retirement, brokerage and savings accounts.” Why would someone be inclined to do this? Well, the article follows a 27 year old, named Jonathan. He has some plans for financial freedom in mind and would like some advice on how to reach his goals. So, he posts on MyMoneyBlog.com and many people post comments and advice. Other users respond to his blog--they recommend investment options, how to get out of credit card debt, etc.

Jonathan says that whenever he comes up with new ways to make or save money he posts it for others to benefit from. Is the age of hiring financial planners out the window? Are we really going to rely on complete strangers to give us financial advice? The users of this website are in the age range of 22-35. These people are internet-savvy, but how far can you push it? This generation that’s writing in these blogs is one with hefty student loans in a tight job market. These bloggers are described as “do it yourself” people who want financial independence. But they certainly aren't experts.

For many of these people, managing money has become a sort of hobby. They offer up advice on which savings accounts offer the best promotions and which credit cards have the best incentives. People can post financial scenarios and receive multiple comments and ideas from other bloggers, giving them helpful advice on what to do with their money (or lack of). These bloggers are well aware that these are complete strangers and take discretion. They say reading other people’s personal finance blogs can be helpful in that they begin to learn from other people’s mistakes by reading through stranger’s financial trials and tribulations.

One group of financial fanatics in Oregon launched NetworthIQ.com, a social networking website for financial fanatics alike. You can create a profile based on your worth and then compare and contrast yourselves with others. Then they track financial progress through blogs.

Can these types of blogs really be beneficial when you don’t even know who is giving you advice? Are multiple opinions from complete strangers actually helpful? I’d like to hear if any of you guys heard about this new blogging phenomenon, or if you know someone whose done it before.