Because I own a personal finance blog and it commands at least some of my thoughts, I often find myself thinking about some really big picture stuff. I wonder why y’all even show up here, anyway. Why exactly would somebody read a personal finance blog? And if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

That last one really boggles my mind. I think about it while doing meditation, yoga, and tai chi all at the same time. Multi-tasking helps me relax.

Anyhoo, after doing a little brainstorming with all my friends (the cat and any bugs she might play with before devouring them), I came up with a few reasons why y’all might read PF blogs.

They include:

  • Being part of a community of like-minded folks who are into the same DEVIANT MESSED UP stuff
  • Inspiration to keep your nose to the grindstone
  • Potential investing ideas
  • General personal finance tips you can apply to your situation
  • You like the author’s rugged handsomeness/you’re entertained by his shenanigans

I’ve always tried focus on the bottom three, trying keep the fluff about my life to a minimum and pack my posts with actionable finance tips you can actually apply to your situation. These tips might be basic stuff on how to deal with only having one car or how credit cards make money. They get a little more advanced when I talk about investing in real estate, and then I get into some stuff that’s pretty advanced sometimes, like using Norbert’s Gambit or when I talk about Covered Calls. And so on.

The point is this. I’ve always tried to make sure y’all learn something at the end of (most) every post. Some of you learn a lot each time you visit the FU machine. Some of you are about as smart as me, so you don’t learn much. And others are geniuses, and they correct any errors I might have made. Those people are worse than Satan.

And yet, I’m convinced there are people here who clearly know more than me, and keep coming back despite the fact I teach them nothing.

Why? I’m not sure. But I think I have an idea.

Why people don’t just stop reading

Okay, it’s time to get to the point. Enough navel gazing.

There are a bunch of people out there who read PF blogs because they’re looking for some sort of silver bullet, that one personal finance tip that’ll move them from the ranks of the poor and indebted to the status of Kanye West, a simile that made sense in my head that one time. Even though they’ve read the same sorts of things over and over again, they keep going.

But they’re never going to find it. In the world of personal finance, there’s no magical tip, no miracle cure. It’s just the same old crap we discuss over and over again.

  • Create a big savings rate, either by cutting expenses or increasing income
  • Invest those savings
  • Wait a long-ass time
  • Become wealthy

There’s more to it than that, of course, but those are the main points. All the other financial tips out there are just more detailed looks at the same general points. It’s all pretty basic stuff once you think about it. If it wasn’t, morons like me couldn’t write about it. There’s a reason why I write about finance and not nuclear physics.

Any personal finance tip worth following is timeless. Sure, you could take the latest credit card promo or transfer your money for a little better interest rate. I think that’s a smart idea. But a few extra dollars from a slightly better interest rate will barely matter. Making $5,000 extra per year is infinitely more effective.

Stop reading. Start doing

Reading financial tips is all fine and good, but there comes a point when you’ve got the basics down pat. When that happens, it’s time to act.

I’m not just talking about putting these tips into action. I’m talking about putting down the book and getting the hell to work.

Entrepreneurs suffer from this all the time. They study and study and come up with great ideas for a new business doing whatever, but nothing ever gets done. They just can’t execute.

Personal finance folks are the same. I know people who bill themselves as financial experts who haven’t even maxed out their G.D. TFSAs. I’m hardly immune to this; at one point a few years ago, I actually had a mutual fund in my portfolio. And not one of the good ones, either.

We can all try and try and try to find the best finance tips out there, whether they’re in blogs, personal finance books, or anywhere else. But it won’t matter that much unless those tips are executed. Ideas are worthless without execution. And often, we spend too much time on the idea part and not enough on the doing part.

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