“Personal Finance Experts” vs “Personal Finance Bloggers”: Who Are you Listening To?

coke bottle lenses

Did you catch CNN Money this afternoon?  Or what about the latest financial expert featured on Oprah?  Did their advice speak to your situation, personally?

Good, I didn’t think so either.

One of the issues I take with some of the personal finance expertsout there today is that none of the advice is truly personal. Their approach is often too generalized because they are catering to a large audience which means they lack true accessibility to people that need personalized advice.

We Need More Coaches (real people), Not Experts

Experts tend to preach and throw the advice at the people receiving it without any consideration for the individual situation they speak about.  Every one’s situation is different, right?  So why do we flock to experts? Rarely are they able speak to our lives the way someone who had the time to sit down and review our situation would.

Over the summer, I had an opportunity to sit and meet with a financial coach who reviewed my situation personally gave me advice based on my situation.  That’s something I really needed because my situation, is just that-my situation.  After spending what seemed like years sifting through certified financial planners who only wanted to set me up with the next best fee based investment account, I gave up.  They just didn’t get it.  I needed someone who got me and it was truly the best decision that I made for myself and for my finances.

Personal Finance Bloggers vs Personal Finance Experts

Recently, a “personal finance expert” confessed to me that she doesn’t mingle with personal finance bloggers since they dilute her message and dance in her space.  She felt this was a threat to her brand being that we essentially discuss the same issues.  Looking at her social media profiles, I could easily see why.  She spent more time promoting herself and “her brand”, rather than finding a way to intimately communicate with her audience about their financial issues.

This is something I have always taken issue with and just one of the reasons why I started this blog.  While Suze Orman is someone I’ve admired since the age of 11, I wanted to lend a more personal voice to the personal finance blogosphere.  Where these experts often miss the mark is they spend too much time talking at and preaching to their audience while never sharing much of their own experiences.

One of the reasons why personal finance bloggers are so popular (IMHO) is that readers are able to connect with them because we are just like you.  We talk about our daily struggles because we aren’t perfect. Some of us even tell our readers how much debt we owe, savings in the bank and what we spent this past weekend.

That’s what people want to see.  Experiences which look like theirs, not another book with regurgitated and refashioned financial advice like “save more” and “spend less”.  My advice to the experts?  Get real with your audience and help them see that you’ve been in their shoes while addressing their situations personally.

Become Your Own Money Expert

One of the things I value since starting this blog is the awareness about myself and the things I’ve learned along the way based on my own experience.  I don’t need Suze yelling at me telling me how silly I am for wanting to take that trip to Costa Rica because I am in debt.  I also don’t need a financial website for women to tell me about my money in intellectually insulting lipstick chatter while selling me blushes and blowing me kisses.  I want it straight with no chaser.  And, I think the best place to get it is through my own experience while sharing it with others.

You already have the answers, don’t wait for a “personal finance expert” to be the “be and end all” for your finances.  It doesn’t take an Ivy League MBA to help us understand why we should spend less and save more.   Sure, you may pick up one of their books to learn the basics but everything else is basically about your experience and the lessons learned from it.

What are your thoughts?  Who are you listening to and why?  Do personal finance experts have your attention?


  • Hal M. Bundrick CFP®

    There’s just so much noise in the financial advice arena. Most of it is “blah blah blah” — the same old stuff. As for bloggers: I’m not sure telling us what you spent your money on this weekend is really going to be of much help to someone seeking real financial insight. And I’m very wary of advisers that hawk advice on their blogs stuffed with ads and paid links while claiming to be “fee-only” fiduciaries. Advice should be administered without an agenda. As a former adviser, I’ve seen the dark side of the business. And I think it might just be getting darker.

  • http://www.joetaxpayer.com JoeTaxpayer

    The on-air experts are one level below the PF bloggers. A self-serving remark, I suppose, but by definition, they are speaking in vague generalities, and don’t really have the time to go back and forth enough to offer a full explanation to most questions asked of them.
    Of course nothing is going to match sitting with a paid pro who knows their topic. In that case, reading the PF bloggers first will help them understand the topic at hand enough to go to the pro for a deeper conversation and not have to start at ground zero.

  • http://www.fromshoppingtosaving.com/ From Shopping to Saving

    I much prefer personal finance bloggers…for instance, Ramit Sethi who takes a more personal approach to finance intrigued me way more than Suze Orman. Then I got addicted to Krystal’s blog and J$ at Budgets are Sexy. I would rather listen to real people and real stories than someone barking advice at me.

  • http://makingsenseofcents.com/ Michelle

    I prefer to read personal finance blogs instead of from personal finance experts. It’s nice to get a real picture.

  • http://www.smartbalancetransfers.com/ Jeff Weber

    I agree that many personal finance experts speak in broad terms and aren’t particularly personal. Bloggers tend to speak from personal experience and this perspective is often a more effective way of communicating with individuals rather than audiences.

  • http://www.thedebtprincess.com/ Jessica

    This is why I started blogging to begin with. I wanted to put a real face, real person with real stories out there to show people what the dangers of debt can do. Within my first 5 posts, I had announced how in debt I was and I’ve chronicled how I’m digging my way out, just like so many of us. I think hearing from “real” people is far more inspiring than hearing from a multi-millionaire who is making money off people who are trying to get out of debt by selling their products.

  • http://20andengaged.com Briana Myricks

    I definitely trust the bloggers more than the experts because the bloggers are a lot more genuine in my eyes. Like you said, they bring us in to their lives and their wallets. I know that they’re regular people

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  • http://kathrynsconversations.com Kathryn C

    ah men. BEST quote I’ve read on a women’s PF blog “I also don’t need a financial website for women to tell me about my money in intellectually insulting lipstick chatter while selling me blushes and blowing me kisses. I want it straight with no chaser.”

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  • http://blog.familymoneyvalues.com Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

    I like to get my input from a variety of sources (but especially my own learning experiences) and them make my own decisions. Some personal finance blogs are super, others are mediocre. Some professional ‘experts’ are spot on, others are irrelevant to me.

    Thanks for provoking thoughts.

  • http://www.directionsforwomen.com Eleanor Blayney


    I think you raised some really good issues here. In my work as the Consumer Advocate for CFP Board, and as the founder of Directions for Women, I am constantly seeking to be relevant, practical, and truly helpful, while also needing to be general enough to speak to a large audience. It’s a challenge, but as long as I keep my focus on the real needs of consumers, particularly women, and not on myself as “expert” or personal brand, then I continue to believe I can do some good. As for financial websites for women, we designed Directions for Women precisely with the idea that our visitors are smart, intelligent women who need empowerment and education around their money issues. No blowing kisses or lipstick chatter, I promise!

    Keep up the excellent work that you do for women!

    Eleanor Blayney, CFP®

    • Ginger

      Thanks Eleanor for your kind words!

  • Ginger

    Starting to wonder whether Suze is more of a brand rather than relevant.

  • http://formerbanker.com Will

    “David Bach write the same book five times with a different title”… Big LOL
    I can’t for the life of me understand why people would take financial advice from Suze Orman. The woman’s money isn’t in the stock market: almost all her money is in municipal bonds! That’s not exactly the profile of the person I would want to get investing advice from.
    If you want to know more about Suze Orman, you should check out this article from MSN Money:
    Very enlightening

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  • AverageJoe

    I flippin’ love this topic. Having been on both sides of the fence (fee based advisor and personal financial blogger), I totally agree that you generally get more motivated, fun and inspiring people in the blogger universe. You also rarely have to worry what the agenda is, since it’s pretty transparent.

    This doesn’t mean the quality of advice is necessarily higher, though. I’ve read some pretty suspect “tips” from bloggers alongside incredibly insightful advice. All in all, though, if I have to decide between listening to Suze yell at another caller or David Bach write the same book five times with a different title, I vote for the blogger every time.

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  • http://www.shebloggs.com Jen @ SheBloggs

    I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve never been able to gain much from personal finance experts because I simply couldn’t relate.

    I’ve learned more from my fellow PF bloggers than I ever have from ‘experts’. It was so much easier to relate and connect with PF bloggers who are completely open about their debt, saving or any other personal finance challenges. Their transparency allowed me to be more open and motivated with my own debt challenges.

    I think of it more like a PF community and the interaction is fantastic!

  • http://wohlnerfinancial.blogspot.com/ Roger Wohlner

    Enjoyed the post. I would tend to agree with you regarding the so called personal finance experts. As far as financial advisors go (full disclosue I am one) your experience with a fee-based advisor does not surprise me. Fee-based generally means a fee for the plan then implementation with commissioned products. This is as opposed to fee-only (again full disclosure I am a fee-only advisor) advice in which services ranging from an hourly consultation to a financial plan to ongoing advice is delivered for a fee. There is no compensation derived from any financial or insurance product sales and hence none of the conflicts of interest that this can lead to. Check out NAPFA or the Garret Network next time you find yourself in need of unbiased financial advice tailored to your needs.

    • Ginger

      Thanks Roger for the clarification. It’s taken me a while to figure out why I was having so much trouble finding someone to connect with my situation.

      I’d love to collaborate with you around a topic looking at the pros and cons of a fee based vs fee only vs financial coaches.

      Let me know if you’re interested!

  • http://carefulcents.com Carrie – Careful Cents

    I totally agree with you on this point. Personal finance bloggers are much more personal. They share their personal stories, the good with the bad. That’s definitely what everyone is interested in. Well said.

  • Ginger

    Good point Darren, I never quite understood it either. I think it’s the experience of having Suze saying I CANT buy this which seals the dal for them. They knew all along but when Suze says it then it’s golden hehe

  • http://infolific.com/money-management/ Darren Berardi

    Speaking of Suze Orman, I’ve always wondered why people send her their questions about what to do. Is it really so hard to figure out if you can afford to buy a couch if you have already demonstrated the presence of mind to be able to gather all of the data that Suze uses to make her decision on TV? You hit the nail on the head with your statement of being aware and not needing Suze!